Purposely choosing fabric for the Whittaker dress by Merchant & Mills




This past week I was in New York City visiting a good friend of mine while continuing my currently nomadic lifestyle. While there, I got a few occasions to wear my favorite piece of clothing I have made: The Whittaker dress by Merchant and Mills. I love this dress. It is so comfortable and just plain adorable. I also love the fabric I picked out: a lightweight denim.


I wasn't sure if I was going to like the dress. I just was not sure of the cut. I bought it more as a challenge to myself because the skill level of this dress as rated by Merchant & Mills as 'experienced'. Well, I am definitely not that, but for a beginner I am experienced, if that even makes sense. So far I've made quite a few clothing items - sweatpants, two skirts, a few dresses, and so many other items. It was intimidating to think that I could sew an 'experienced' pattern, but really I should not have been.


I bought the pattern at Stitch Sew Shop in Alexandria, VA when I was down visiting friends a few weeks ago. I talked with the attendant at shop who is a sewist herself and we discussed the reasons why it could be rated as 'experienced.' She thought it was maybe because the pattern involves sewing buttons. I told her I'd done that before (I mean, my sewing machine does it for me!), and so she felt confident that I could handle the pattern. Also, my friend Chloe pressured me into buying a new pattern to commemorate the trip sooo I bought it!


I came back to New Jersey after that trip and went to another local sew shop called Acme Country Fabrics in Pequannock, New Jersey. You see, I was just going to use some fabric a friend had given me, but it's a much fancier fabric (don't ask me what type - it's heavy and glossy) that just did not match the style of the dress. So I decided to be an adult and buy an appropriate fabric to use. The ladies at Acme Country Fabrics are great! They helped me pick-out fabric and interfacing. Every time I walk into that store and talk to them I'm like, "I have no idea what I'm doing" and they help me figure it out! This last time they helped me out, even when I failed to bring the actual pattern pieces with me. Apparently I thought the little envelope the pattern pieces came in would be enough.

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The steps to assemble the dress were difficult to work out sometimes. I screwed up the lining and interfacing; not realizing that I was supposed to add the lining at some point (in my defense, it's really not clear in the steps). I still have NO IDEA what I was supposed to do with the button hole stands. Apparently I was supposed to tack them at some point, but by the time I realized that, I had blown by the opportunity and did not feel like un-doing some of my work. I think that is part of why the pattern is for 'experienced' sewists - there are just some things you are supposed to know/infer since it's assumed you have more advanced knowledge than what is spelled out in the sewing steps. But having to add the lining as an afterthought and not having the button hole stands tacked really does not impact how the dress looks on. It's only when you turn it inside-out that you notice. I'm really the only person who cares to do that. I showed two of my friends who don't sew and they were like, so what?


This is one of the only times I've ever bought a fabric purposely for something I was sewing. I'm so glad I did because now I will actually wear the dress. It will become a part of my wardrobe unlike some other pieces I've made with any old fabric I've had around. I'd eventually like to be knowledgeable enough to buy fabrics that are ethically made/sourced and/or repurpose fabrics/clothing items. For now, I'm working on improving my sewing skills and learning how to pick the right types of fabric for different sewing projects.




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