Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

M&M Work Wear


RYE5506-816x1024I didn’t complete the Merchant and Mills Workbook this summer – yeah, yeah  – bad girl!

There is one pattern that I know with absolute certainty that I will definitely not like:  ievet will not suit me and I will never wear – so why make it?

The last and unmade pattern is The Saltmarsh skirt. This is, in a nutshell, a rectangle (with some darts) with a drawstring waist. To its credit the skirt has pockets and you could make it any length you want. Just not for me so I skipped it. Certainly for many others, this might just what you’re looking for.

I have come the end of a torturous, enforced (it’s in my contract) six week vacation and I now have to start thinking of ways to intimidate and scare the new students who will walk through my classroom doors in a couple of weeks. Apart from my irascible personality and well practised scowl, one of the best methods is clothing.

I have loved my wrinkled linen and cool cotton M&M garments and they came in really useful for our one day of summer which happened last Tuesday but I turned to the Workbook once again in preparation for the upcoming start of term to make some workwear.

The fabric is institution grey in a fine cotton chambray: a gentle drape with just the right amount of wrinkle-ness to soften the severe look and is gorgeous to wear against the skin. Found at Cheapest Fabrics UK (which is the most unbecoming of ebay shop titles) in spite of some of the loveliest cloths I’ve found this summer. Most of my M&M wardrobe was supplied by this shop.

I made another pair of Strides and another Heron wrap top for a complete, serious and “Don’t-Mess-With-Me” look from the students’ perspective and will equally take me to the boardroom when The Management rely upon my wisdom and experience to advise and help them through the upcoming tumultuous year of yet more restructuring and budget cuts without offering me a bonus or pay increase.

So, instead of casual linen here’s the professional version and hopefully shows how a simple change of fabric can change the look and appropriateness of the same garment.


The grey chambray had a darker wrong side and I used this on the reveres of the Heron to try and break up the uniformity of plain grey from head to toe.


I added 1″ to the trouser length and this way I can wear flats (as in these photos) as well as a slight heel for extra intimidation appeal. With flats the trousers have that slouchy Great Gatsby look and with heels they take on a more tailored appearance.


At the armholes on the Heron wrap top I sewed the gap much closer this time so it’s perfectly respectable to wear without a cami underneath – people of any age or gender just won’t take you seriously when your old off-white bra is on show! However, the armholes are not tight enough that I can’t wear a long or 3/4 length sleeved top underneath.


Remember, these are waist-high trousers and so the pockets are also higher than you might be used to. Waist-high trousers are lovely in my view – good coverage, no muffins or thongs on show and at my age, much more comfortable and reliable – my tucked in shirt stays tucked in!


My first pair of Strides were cut, sewn. made and worn exactly from the pattern and I found the back was a tad roomy, even for baggy trousers. This pair had the back crotch dropped by 3/4″ for a better fit at the back. I made no alterations to the front apart from grading into the new back crotch line and there’s still plenty of room there. But these are intended to be baggy trousers – that’s their style – too much tinkering will take away from the original aesthetic.


Should I ever wish to go along the Churchill WWII look or join the impractical jumpsuit following, then all I have to do is tuck the Heron top into the Strides; but I can still use the Ladies room without completely undressing.

While the public view is school grey bland, the inside tells a different story.


A bit of quilting cotton not used for teenage son’s quilt found a perfect home as pockets and fly guard. See how that chambray presses into a perfect crease?


Didn’t have a flat trouser hook and loop in the notions box so to close the front waistband  I extended it and used a button instead. Use what you have, adapt and change and don’t let a pattern intimidate you.

The only thing you want to see the backside now though don’t you? I must admit, this is one view that is missing from the M&M workbook, so here’s mine instead.


Draglines – don’t you dare!!!

And uneven hemlines – that’s merely my posture – carrying shoulder strap handbags on my left side has made me droop. Note to self-do more yoga.

I intend to continue my workwear wardrobe using M&M Workbook as I have already purchased and sitting waiting some navy wool/alpaca/linen blend (imagine!) for a second Haremere jacket which will be a coat, and some navy-denim-ish wool/linen/cotton blend for another Curlew dress. Wouldn’t it be really nice to make the coat the same length as the dress and the dress hem just right to cut the top of knee-high boots? The Boardroom Boys won’t know what’s hit them and the Boardroom Gals will just be spiteful of my erudition because I’ll be better dressed than them. Oh the perils of sewing your own clothes!

Of course, this is just planning at this stage; I have a jacket to make for teenage son yet and in a fit of generosity the other night (might have been the wine talking though) I offered to make jackets for my son’s two lifelong friends from primary school who are also heading off to uni this year. One mother – you know who you are! -pushed her luck and wanted one for herself instead, in fact she asked for a Chanel first! – we’ll see…………

Thanks so much for all your pattern suggestions for this jacket – I have already started so just wait a week or two for hopefully the finished item.


Was this summer? And is it over?

53 thoughts on “M&M Work Wear

  1. WOW…best looking M&M Strides ever…I have seen some pretty saggy baggy ones and dropping that back crotch curve is always a winner. I love your idea of changing shoes for more or less intimidation factor…you go, Ruth! The color is divine and really suits you! Now all you need is a killer belt for when you tuck the top in! Great job, great fit…win/win!

  2. You look fab in that Ruth!

  3. I love it!

  4. Lovely outfit and great fit.

  5. Beautiful outfit – that chambray is really pretty, what a nice drape. and you ironed creases in the pants! you really are serious about this going back to work business 🙂 Like you, I’ll probably pass on the skirt, but would love a long heremere jacket. Which I could never wear here in Florida. But, gosh, what a good looking pattern. Nice fit, girl.

  6. Love everything about this ensemble. The patterns, the fabric. Looks great on you. Thanks for sharing b

  7. This color is absolutely incredible on you!!! Just beautiful.

  8. I love it! The fabric is a great colour and hangs nicely. And the fit is perfect!

  9. I totally love – LOVE – your trousers! What a superb pair. It’s a perfectly intimidating outfit.

  10. Exceptional work wear. Those students don’t know how lucky they are to be intimidated by such elegant clothing!

  11. Lovely! What a great fit. I’ve started my Autumn workwear, I’m afraid I’m a boardroom gal at a college, so what do you wear to cope with cuts!!! Wish I had someone like you to admire their style here!

    • Mags, last year’s clothes with patches on them – see the cuts are affecting me too!
      Hard job you have but your own clothes are extremely stylish. I also think that if I’m well dressed then I’ll work well. An attitude thing.

  12. You look like you should be running the place in that outfit – it looks wonderful.
    I hadn’t come across Cheapest fabrics uk but will check them out, despite the name!

  13. You really rock a great pair of strides madam. Although you passed on the skirt I imagine in the right fabric it might look great on certain figures.

  14. Lovely outfit. Using the reverse side of the fabric for contrast is very effective.

  15. Love, love this outfit on you Ruth. I tend to wear plain fabric rather than patterned so your fabric choice totally hits the spot to me, and the right shade of grey is fabulous on us blondes, or in my case, umm, silver!!
    The Mand M book is getting higher and higher up on my wish list.

    You look totally terrific in this outfit, you must show us pictures of you in the heels…………will it be the VW’s by any chance??

  16. I’m so sad I will miss all of your wonderful outfits this year, I would have had you tortured!

  17. Any chance for a fitting newb you could explain why dropping the crotch curve would take away bagginess in the back? It seems so counter intuitive, but then so does a lot of fitting advice.

    • I’d been puzzling over that too!

    • It goes like this Carol – reducing the curve in the centre back means you are cutting out less fabric, so less bagginess. But of course you are lowering the crotch too so if it’s too low then you take this away from the waist: like 1″ off the crotch curve = 1″ off the top.

      It is completely counter intuitive – if your trousers are too tight at the back then you need more fabric and so you add more to the centre back by raising (increasing) the crotch curve (making the pattern piece bigger).

      check out – Surefit designs for video tutorials.

      • That is helpful; I was wondering too, thanks!
        Hope you had a lovely summer. I’m absolutely horrified to hear you’re ending it by sewing for someone else x 3 or 4!

  18. I like the uniform/Eastern vibe this has- nicely done as always, Ma’am!

  19. This is lovely! The contrast is a nice touch. Must say though, you don’t look too scary….polished and professional, but not scary. (Of course I’m very far away)

  20. You look awesome in this outfit. Perfect match! 😀

  21. Love this outfit on you! The choice of fabric and how you used it brings a lot of interest to the outfit. Lovely!

  22. Urgh! Looks like WordPress ate my comment – or did I forget to hit ‘post comment’? Who knows!? Anyhoo, just wanted to let you know that I love these garments that you have made. I am enjoying my Tina Given’s /Lagenlook right now, but I am always swayed by new ideas and your fabulous garments are making me think about Autumn and a shift in style! I love what you have made and how you have given the garments your own twist. Scowl on, I say. Take no prisoners!

  23. Yes my love I know who I am! Totally unjustifiable that you should squander your amazing skills on 18 year olds, much better that you should cast your pearls where they’ll be loved & appreciated! No pressure…

  24. Pingback: More M&M Workwear | corecouture

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  26. Smashing outfit! Thanks for sharing the back view, my all time horror in class. Good idea to scare them with clothing. Haven’t tried that, will now, however. So far I was afraid to look like Umbridge in Harry Potter. These M&M patterns might change that, I’ give it a try and buy them.

  27. I’m just cutting out the Heron top in a cream linen, to me the ties look very short did you lengthen them? You look wonderful in the pictures. I will take your advice & close up the armhole.

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