The Merchant and Mills Ellis Dress
Posted on Thursday the 17th October 2019 by Sewstainability
Hey Minerva Makers!
This dress has been a year in the making and I am so glad that it’s finally here! One year ago I saw pretty much this exact dress on Instagram and when I asked what pattern it was – I was told it was the Merchant and Mills Ellis Dress made exactly as it was shown on the pattern back cover. Now I know we sewists like to make things unique so that we have something that no one else has, I don’t think I have ever copied another sewist or a pattern cover before but I just couldn’t let this idea go – I had to have one!
I made a lovely spring version of this exact pattern early this year in a Robert Kaufman metallic linen and I have worn it loads. Then in July of this year I ordered some chambray to make this but it was much too lightweight and it was destined to become some Burnside Bibs instead. I now knew I needed some mid to heavyweight denim to really achieve the look on the pattern cover.
I finally settled on this 8oz washed denim and went for the indigo blue colour and I am completely thrilled with my choice. It is exactly the weight I wanted and it hangs heavy but still with some drape. There is a lot of fabric in the skirt and it looks weighty but doesn’t feel too heavy to wear.
The obvious appeal of this version is all the topstitching. Each of the six darts are topstitched as are the pockets and hems. I chose to use Gutermann jeans thread in the mustardy yellow colour. It’s a bit thicker than regular thread but doesn’t fight my machine in the same way that topstitching thread does. In other words, I am a big fan!
I really took my time with the topstitching as I knew it would be really visible and I am very happy with the finished result. I think it has the exact utilitarian/workwear vibe I was going for and I just cannot wait for the denim to start showing wear and aging beautifully. I love the idea of this dress just as much now as I did a year ago and I think it came out exactly as in my vision so I am sure that I am going to love and wear this dress for many years.
I don’t think it conforms to a particular fashion or current style so I am not worried about going off it, I think that makes this a particularly sustainable make. Last month there was an Instagram challenge called #sewyourselfsustainable and there was a discussion about heirloom makes. I said I wasn’t sure if I had made anything that could be considered an heirloom but I now feel fairly confident that this dress is it.
I had no problems sewing this, it is no secret that I love working with denim. The only change I made was to the shoulders. After I set in one sleeve I tried the bodice on to see how it went and I was quite surprised to see the sleeve head was about an inch away from my actual shoulder. I took an inch out of each side and I think it changed the way the sleeve sits slightly but ultimately I am very happy with the fit.
One final detail that I think makes this dress a bit special is the opportunity to use one button at the back neck, it’s a chance to do something playful or unexpected and I am very happy with this unusual yellow button that I chose. I am really in love with the design and I definitely think I will be ordering some more of these in different colour for another project!
I know I am gushing but I am just so happy with how this one turned out, I wore it to our local harvest festival to get these pictures and doesn’t it just fit in perfectly?! I will gladly be swanning about in this all autumn and winter as it is warm and comfy and the dress equivalent of comfort food – like soup, or maybe hot chocolate?!
Anyway, until next time, happy sewing!