Since I spent most of last summer running around in loose-fitting sack dresses (including my Camber dress), I decided I was on to a good thing, so when a new batch of Merchant and Mills patterns arrived at work I decided to add a Factory Dress to my collection.
I haven’t always been convinced by the Factory Dress (in fact I was very derisive when I first came across it…) but after seeing some great versions on Pinterest I was confident that it could look good in an oversized Japanese style sort of way.
I had a really clear idea in my head about the fabric I wanted. It had to be linen, not too light weight, and what I’ve started calling ‘old-Dutch-painting blue’ – a dark, lapis blue that’s navy but also not quite navy. I find that this is a good neutral colour for me (I’m too pale for black..) and it works really well with my favourite catsick green scarves…
After uhming and ahing online over Merchant and Mills linen (which was a little too light weight, and not very budget friendly) I found this beautiful Irish linen for a very reasonable £10.50 a metre, at local fabric treasure trove Stone Fabrics .
As expected, it was a well drafted pattern, but I found the instructions frustratingly vague and inconsistent in places (e.g. the diagrams aren’t properly mirrored when showing the inside of the dress, so I got confused about whether it was referring to the inside or outside. Also, sometimes it specifically instructed you to finish seams before proceeding and other times it didn’t, but the diagram for the next stage would show magically overlocked edges). They’re not major issues, and anyone with a bit of dressmaking experience could easily work these things out, but it did have me unnecessarily scratching my head wondering if I’d cut/marked my pattern wrong, or missed out a crucial step.
That said, this may be my first ever dressmaking project without any major sewing disasters and it all came together fairly easily. Even my ninja (can you spot it..?) topstitched pocket looks acceptable!
I made the smallest size and didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern, other than shortening the skirt by a good 13cm before hemming. All the seams were overlocked apart from the back neck facing, which was finished with some chartreuse bias binding left over from my Camber dress. I’m still planning to stitch the neck facing down by hand, as it won’t stay put, despite lots of pressing and clipping.
I had a brief moment of doubt when I first tried this dress on when I wondered if it was a bit comically oversized. I hadn’t been entirely sure how it would fit, even after looking at other versions, as quite a few people have sized down to reduce the amount of ease. Oversized can be it a bit of a fine line and no one wants to look like a school dinnerlady…
I think I got away with it though…? I wore this dress everyday for a week after I finished it, and it’s proved comfy and surprisingly versatile. I’m patting myself on the back for my colour choice, which works really well with the rest of my wardrobe, and is neutral enough that it can easily work in winter or summer. I also really love having pockets to shove my hands into (more dresses need pockets!).
I think it’s going to be a great basic workdress this summer. All in all, another win from Merchant and Mills!