Versatile. Timeless. Super comfortable. The perfect addition to anyones wardrobe!
To be honest, I don't wear a lot of dresses. In order for me to buy, or make, a dress, I really have to be in love with it.
However, when it came to the Merchant & Mills Florence dress, I found it fitted my style perfectly! It's quite minimal in design, with the interest created in high/low gathers. It's oversized and swingy (you would never catch me wearing something fitted), and lends itself perfectly to be being made from linen (my favourite)!
I have made this dress twice now, so I thought I would share my review of this beautiful and versatile pattern.
Merchant & Mills
Let's begin with a little background on the makers, Merchant & Mills.
The company was founded in 2010.
Despite being based in the United Kingdom (store in East Sussex), their products can be bought online through their website (offering worldwide shipping), and via a number of stockists located across the globe.
They offer sewing patterns (including dressmaking and bag making), fabric, tools, and tutorials.
They are focused on slow, not trend driven, sustainable fabrics and patterns that you will wear for a long time.
Their website is really helpful. The site includes a large range of quality photos of their completed patterns utilising a variety of their fabrics, and in a range of sizes.
A simple search of their fabrics and patterns' hashtags (e.g. #florencedress) will return a number of results, so provide a great source of inspiration.
The quality of their products is amazing! I can personally vouch for this, having bought a number of different fabrics and notions from them. They also arrive beautifully packaged (plastic free of course)!
The Florence pattern
The Florence pattern was actually the first pattern of Merchant & Mills that I have used, but definitley not the last.
The pattern, which is available in paper and PDF formats (sizes UK 6-18 or 18-28), offers two options - a cropped style top and a dress. Both versions feature a centre back button placket with three buttons, back shoulder darts, high/low gathers and a neck binding.
The Florence is not for the beginner, but I also wouldn't consider it an advanced pattern.
The pattern will have you creating a placket, sewing buttons and button holes, setting in sleeves, creating a lot of gathering, and adding a neck binding.
I particularly liked the the method of neck binding - not a method I have done before - where the binding itself is turned to the inside, and only a single row of stitching is visible on the right side of the garment (see image below). A really neat finish.
I also found myself simply stay-stitching the bottom of the bodice instead of attaching seam tape, and found this to have worked just as well for the fabrics I used.
The instructions are pretty easy to follow, featuring clear diagrams. The only downside, and it's minor, is that they come as loose A4 sheets, not as a booklet, which can make it a bit tricky to keep in order and follow.
In regards to the fit, I can only comment on the size 6 dress. But, I had no issues, finding the dress to be "suitably" loose fitting (see image to right). In regards to length (I am fairly short - 155cm), I found it to be a really nice length, finishing at my mid shin. The pattern does include quite a deep hem (4.5cm) so there is a little room to play around. I also found that the sleeves sit really nicely on the shoulder (something I always looks out for).
If I was to make a third (which is highly likely), I would probably experiment with adding side seam pockets. I find these to be a nice inclusion in styles like this. This was really the only thing I found to be missing from the pattern, but would be a fairly straightforward addition.
The suggested fabric is lighter weight, with drape. I therefore opted for a lightweight double gauze first time around, and then a laundered linen. I found both to have worked really nicely.
Version 1 (pictured above): I chose Merchant & Mills' 100% GOTS, and Oeko-Tex certified, black organic cotton double gauze, which essentially comprises of two layers of fine open woven cotton, attached together with tiny stitches in a grid like pattern (not visible though). This fabric is super lightweight, so lends itself perfectly to a floaty style like this, while also being perfect for the warmer months. I also opted for Merchant & Mills' 15mm cotton buttons in black, with a matte chalky finish.
Version 2 (pictured below): I went with another Merchant & Mills fabric, choosing their 100% GOTS, and Oeko-Tex certified, European laundered linen in Calamine (a pale pinky grey, with lilac tones). I love linen (check out my 'Fibre focus: Linen' to find out why), so this version was a no brainer. Merchant & Mills offer a range of buttons that have been dyed to match their stock range of linen fabrics, including this one, making the decision process (especially when buying online) much easier for patterns such as this. I therefore picked their matching 15mm organic cotton buttons, that also have a matte, chalky finish.
I love pieces like this that are easy to dress up or down and can basically be worn all year around.
I have found myself wearing my black double gauze version on summer holidays with simple flats, and also pairing it with tights, brogues and a cardigan during winter for work.
While I am yet to wear my lilac linen version (this has been made for a particular occasion), I just know I will live in it during the upcoming warmer months, pairing it with simple espadrille sandals during the day, and my wooden Swedish Hasbeens at night.
Please get in touch or leave me a comment. I would love to know your thoughts on this review. Maybe I have inspired yout to check out the Florence pattern, or the amazing products on offer at Merchant & Mills!
Thanks for reading.
This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions contained on this site are my own. I am not affiliated with any brands, products, or organisations mentioned, and do not receive any sponsorship, payment, or other compensation for any of the content on this site.