Tried & True: Merchant & Mills Top 64

Hi folks! I’m Jen and I’m from Leeds in the UK. I recently started a sewing blog over at Pins & Whiskers — I’m still getting going so its a little bit sparse at the moment, so when I saw the call out for TNT contributors, I jumped right in. My mum taught me to sew when I was little but I only starting sewing for real in May last year. My boyfriend bought me a Husqvarna Emerald 118 for my birthday (better known as Lagertha because she’s a Swedish viking, obviously) and I’ve never looked back.

I think I’ll start this post by saying that I’ve always had a funny relationship with clothes. I don’t think I’ve ever had a good idea of what my personal style is or been confident enough to really pull it off. I was ‘gifted’ with big boobs and big hips that I’ve loved and hated in equal measure through my adult life, and I’ve never really learnt how to dress my shape or style. I’m not one for bold colours and patterns and generally prefer to be the wallflower. Before I started sewing, if I found an item of clothing I liked, I would buy it in every colour. Most of my outfits were a copy and paste job of what went before. To an extent I still do this with sewing — when I find a pattern I like, I make it a bunch of times. The beauty of sewing though, is that I can be more adventurous with each new make and slowly but surely I think I’m starting to move out of my comfort zone.

Now, I’m a little bit worried that you’ll call me out on that once you see the three Merchant & Mills Top 64s I’ve made! Because, well, now that I think about it, they all look very similar…and they’re all blue. Ah.

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When I saw the call out for contributors I thought, ‘I’ve been wanting to make another Top 64, perfect!’ I had been wanting to make another in some petrol blue linen I had in my stash, but when I looked at my existing two I realised they were both blue and it would be daft to make another. So, I bought some new fabric… and naturally its blue. I have a problem.

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But wait wait wait! This lush denim from Fabric Godmother is different in that its reversible, and I thought that the stripes on the reverse would be great to play with. Add that to the really versatile Top 64 pattern, and hopefully, I’ve made something a little bit different this time. Baby steps though.

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I love this pattern. It was the first pattern I made successfully without having to do it three times to get something wearable. Its a great pattern for beginners but there’s plenty of scope to make something unique (should you be more adventurous than me!) It’s pretty much all straight lines, there’s no fastenings, and the raglan sleeve means you don’t even have to set the sleeves in. The pattern calls for a lot of topstitch but thats where you can have fun; contrasting thread, different widths or even no top stitching at all if that’s your jam. I’ve played around with the sleeve length too because the first thing I do with sleeves is pull them up, and nobody likes a sad, baggy sleeve. I’m super proud of my top stitching on this version — behold, my armpit!

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Even though the three tops I’ve made are all blue, they each have qualities that make them very different — and that’s what I love about this pattern. Choose a different type of fabric and you get something completely different.

The first one I made was in some fab wool jersey. It sewed up like a dream, but sadly I think I’ll have to move to Siberia to get a lot of wear out of it *sweats*. The second, which has become a long running favourite, was made up in some beaut Sevenberry Linen and it gets better every time I wear it. The linen is breathable and comfortable, and I love how the fabric has relaxed and softened over time.

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I think my newest addition is going to get a lot of wear too — and might outlive me, judging by the denim! It’s got a tiny bit of stretch so its not too constricting, and I think it’s going to wear in really nicely. The only bump in the road I’ve come across so far is that I only seem to have jeans to wear with it — so if you have any suggestions for bottoms that are a little less ‘Canadian Tuxedo’ let me at ’em!

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Between writing this post and recently giving my wardrobe a bit of a cull, I think I might have given myself a nudge to try something different with my next make. I still don’t think I’ll be wearing anything too wild any time soon — but where do you draw the line between pushing your boundaries and still being comfortable? Do you fall into old habits when you’re sewing or are you a fearless crafter?

Jen x