Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

M&M Story


Now, here’s another story…….this has been a summer of reconnections and reconciliations for me.

Haworth - The Bronte's home village

Haworth – The Bronte’s home village

I was making myself look better than I am on Linkedin a few weeks ago when, for some reason, I began to think about an old friend of mine from way back when I lived in London and thought she might be listed too. We lost touch – no fall out or dramatics – our lives just headed off in different directions. So I began to search for Caroline. Couldn’t find her but I did find her husband and I messaged him.

To cut a long story short: they have divorced but I did get an email for Caroline and I contacted her. A few emails later I booked the cheapest flight option possible and flew to Manchester, England. We haven’t talked or met in 20 years but I have just spent the most relaxing, chilled out and pleasant 4 days in Lancaster with a very dear friend. It was like we had only said goodbye last week. It’s good to be impetuous sometimes!


I packed my Merchant and Mills capsule wardrobe (sans dress) as I was travelling with only cabin baggage.

Four Bantams, one pair of Strides, one Curlew long sleeved top, one Haremere jacket and a few other items.

Caroline is a very talented photographer these days; she’s one of those people who is successful in whatever venture she tries. She kindly offered to photograph the remaining pieces in the Merchant and Mills Workbook for this blog. So most of today’s pics are in focus, perfectly lit and cropped.



First up is the trousers from the Workbook – Strides. These were made in a lightweight wool blended with cotton and METAL! The metal threads hold the wrinkles and creases and the fabric looks like linen.

Strides are wide-legged, pleated in front and influenced by classic menswear. I haven’t worn pleated trousers since Bananarama! Slanted front pockets, front zip with inside fly guard and a waistband that sits at the waist.

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The pattern is easily adapted to make shorts or any other length of trousers you want. I traced and made UK 12 straight from the book without any alterations at all. They fit perfectly. I am so impressed with these patterns – really enamoured.


While pleated and loose, Strides are not overwhelming or baggy; the pleats are minimal. Worn in these pics with two Bantams, white cotton jersey and black muslin.

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Inside, the fly guard is buttoned. Roobeedoo pointed out that there is a mistake in the instructions and they are a little confusing about what’s on the left or right hand side. Take your time and figure it out and it will be OK.

DSCN5474An overlocker (serger) is useful when making M&M patterns but not essential – your zig-zag stitch will do the job too for finishing seams. I’m so pleased with these trousers that they get the ultimate accolade of my label!



The Strides are described as “probably the most advanced pattern in the book” but personally, I thought the Haremere jacket was.

The Haremere


14 pattern pieces with lined sleeves and quarter lined shoulders; patch pockets (lined), two piece sleeves, dropped shoulders and a rolled shawl collar. No tailoring for a casual, relaxed look.

© again traced and made exactly from the book. The Haremere comes in sm, med and large. I made the medium. My sleeves are a touch on the long side so I’ve adopted the folded back cuff look which shows off the lining.

© of overlocking the seams I Hong Konged them (rather badly) but it was my first time doing this technique so I’ve learnt a lot along the way.

This jacket is made in a grey/white striped linen with a cotton voile lining. I didn’t want to put a sweaty polyester on the inside. You could leave the lining out completely if you wanted a quick make but you do need to finish all internal the seams. The front facings and all the hems are interfaced for a little bit of structure.

© had a bit of trouble finishing the inside where the front facing meets the hem so I sewed a couple of triangles to cover the mess. Otherwise, it sewed up fine.

DSCN5548This pattern can be easily lengthened to make a coat and will work in both lightweight and heavier fabrics like tweed.

© (1)

Thanks again to Caroline for taking the photos and giving me a home from home for a few days. You can check out Caroline’s photography at – well worth a look!

PS: thanks to you all for such supportive and encouraging comments on my last post. I couldn’t reply to each one as I was away and couldn’t remember my own password! But I was, and continue to be, touched by your kindness.

31 thoughts on “M&M Story

  1. Great story, photos, and garments. Well done Ruth and I’m glad that you found your friend again.

  2. These are great clothes. I’m sure it’s partly because of the fabrics you’ve chosen. When clothes are simple, the fabric becomes almost everything, doesn’t it? You’re looking terrific.

  3. Love the photos of your surroundings. Great clothes to take traveling too!

  4. Great to see your merchant and mills wardrobe, very inspiring, I hope to make a curlew top or dress.

  5. What a memorable few months you’ve had. I am beginning to lust after that Merchant & Mills Workbook. I’m unsure of my skill set and my time isn’t my own anymore, but …….love your fabric choices and so very chic you look.

    • Yvonne, each piece is relatively straightforward and simple to make so you don’t need an advanced skill set. 15 mins a day? Try short bouts of sewing – they soon add up. Thank you.

  6. Beautiful clothes. You and M@M are a perfect match. How lovely to reconnect with an old friend too.

  7. What enjoyment! and how nice you caught up with a friend. Last year I looked up my college roomy on LinkedIn – and found her! We haven’t visitied, probably won’t, but it was so nice to exchange emails. Now – the garments. I am so loving the jacket. I won’t be able to wear it a lot here, but I’m going to make it anyway! You look great in the Bantams, Strides, and Heremere. I really like the layering of the tops.

    • Coco, choose a lightweight cotton or linen and you’ll absolutely be able to wear your jacket. So glad you got the Workbook ’cause I really want to see your versions as we are the same size.

  8. oh what a lovely post Ruth! nothing beats meeting up with an old friend again and having it be smooth as silk. I love how her passion for photography just happened to match up with your own passion for sewing clothing….leading to great photos of wonderful clothing and an easy way of friends being together shining through it all.

    These M&M pieces suit you fabulously! Have you sent them any pictures/links to posts? They would be thrilled to see them i am sure. heehe, i must say that the ‘gamine’ side of you seems to be shining thru especially in these M&M garments. The Hong Kong finishes on the inside of the jacket are just the absolute best surprise!

    • Stephanie, I’m for sure not gamine enough! But thanks anyway. No, I haven’t contacted M&M – just thought you sewers would prefer an honest opinion.

  9. My family come from near Howarth so I have been so many times that you get used to it! But it is a very special place. And it looks like sunshine rather than rain (which is not how I remember it!)

    I love the idea of a perfect travel wardrobe with just a few items that mix and match. Well done!

    • Ha Kate, we picked our moments in the sunshine! I’ve been East of the Pennines many times but this was the first on the west. Just lovely and I think a return visit is a certainty.

  10. Perfect travel outfits (wow-metal in the mix?) , wonderful story of reconnecting friendship, fabulous photos, what a great post!

  11. Cool clothes and cool location for a long awaited reunion! Hooray for you to get up the courage to start the ball rolling and make that connection, Ruth! The buildings look all to familiar when I spent 8 years in the Liverpool Area and beyond…big stones, lots of moss and character…such a great backdrop for posing in well made casual clothes. Wishing you many more long talks and visits with your friend!

  12. Your trousers and jacket are brilliant! The metal in the trousers fabric sounds intriguing, and I love your jacket inards. I have jackets on the brain at the minute because I’m going to make one. We’ll see how it goes!! And yey to meeting up with an old friend.

  13. You look so stylish and relaxed in these photos and I love the soft-looking short hair. Over the years I’ve come to associate you with vibrant colours but these fabrics and styles really suit you. What next? Another reinvention?

    I enjoyed reading your story; it’s been a summer of bridge-building, initiated by you, quite bravely I feel.

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  20. Hello. I read quite a few reviews, however this one on Merchant and Mills Workbook was extremely informative.
    I live in the US in Colorado which has become a wasteland of fabric stores, but I was recently in Minneapolis and purchased the factory dress and I’ve been thinking of purchasing the Merchant and Mills workbook. I studied pattern drafting and specialize in vintage designs, however I enjoy these simple dresses and coats. It’s great that we’re able to purchase these wonderful patterns and fabrics from Great Britain. Thanks for your reviews.

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