Merchant and Mills Workbook
As you would expect, this third book is beautifully photographed and illustrated throughout. However, what's important to note is that it isn't a beginners guide to sewing, it assumes you have a certain level of dressmaking skills to build on.
The aim of this book is to encourage the maker to try out and learn new skills, with the reward being a stylish multi-layer wardrobe which works all year round.
At the beginning of Workbook there's useful information about choosing cloth, The Merchant & Mills way is to work in natural, traditional fabrics - "Choose the right cloth for the job and buy the best you can afford" - and that's something that we wholeheartedly agree with here at The Draper's Daughter.
They also encourage you to really think about what your own sense of style is, and that when dressmaking you should take time to explore different fabrics and discover which ones YOU really like - "Making your own wardrobe is not about economy but about having something that money cannot buy"
Workbook comes with full-size paper patterns for 6 totally new designs which are neatly packed into a card wallet on the inside front sleeve. Each project pattern is graded from size 8 to 18 with the exception of the Haremere Jacket which, because it's an oversized style, comes in just 3 sizes: small (8-10), medium (12-14) and large (16-18). The instructions, as with the other sewing patterns designed by Carolyn Denham, are really comprehensive and clear.
The new designs within Workbook include the following styles:
The Bantam is a casual, stylish loose-fitting vest with a boxer back detail, bound armholes and neckline; which can easily be adapted to make an effortlessly elegant dress.
The Curlew comes in three variations using two patterns. There's an elegant bias-cut, scoop necked, dress with extra long skinny sleeves and a curved back waist seam to give a very feminine silhouette. A sleeveless t-shirt which you can make from it's own separate pattern, this has a slightly higher neckline so that it can be worn under the dress and is just visible at the neckline. As you can see these styles have been really well thought through! Then finally The Curlew top is made from the t-shirt pattern with the dress pattern sleeves.
Next comes The Saltmarsh, this simple long-line skirt is gently gathered at the waist with a drawstring tie. The pattern has been made as a maxi length, but it can be cut to whatever length you choose!
The Heron is a bat-winged wrap top, with a shawl collar and a side tie fastening. This short sleeved style has an elegant silhouette with deep, open armholes for ease of movement.
Next we have an oversized drop-shoulder jacket called The Haremere. It has a rolled shawl collar and front patch pockets.By extending the body pattern pieces the jacket can be beautifully lengthened to make a knee length, mid-season coat!
Finally, The Strides pattern makes a pair of straight, wide-legged trousers which can easily be shortened to create a neat pair of shorts!
There are also clear instructions for tracing off the patterns, this is really useful both as a way of preserving the original pattern, and it also means that you can use your patterns for more than one garment size.
We've found this book hugely inspiring, the photography makes it worthy of a coffee table book for the imagery alone, so the fact that you can make yourself an entire wardrobe of unique clothes makes it really good value for money.
We can't wait to start sewing!