We’ve written about the wonderful haberdashery and sewing brand Merchant & Mills before, but last week while on a trip to Rye I got to visit the shop and readers, Middleagedad nearly had to throw a bucket of cold water over me I was SO excited by it. You may think this tragic but if you are a sewer, finding a shop that is stylish, inspiring and drop-dead gorgeous to look at is almost impossible. (There are some exceptions)
Many fabric and haberdashery shops have yet to move out of the early 1980s with their products, which is not their fault as we all started buying fast fashion rather than fabric so it became very difficult to survive as a business and many closed. Founders Carolyn Denham and Roderick Field spotted a gap in the market in 2010 for timeless, stylish patterns around the time we all stopped fashion-binging -either because the funds had dried up or because it dawned on us how the clothes were made and why they were so cheap (talking to you, Primark) .
Now there’s a big Maker Movement happening all around the globe with a resurgence of interest in sewing and knitting and Merchant & Mills now finds itself in stylish sewing departments such as Liberty in London, as well a trendy shops such as Corso Como in Milan (chicest shop on the planet) and Love Adorned in New York, to name a few. Their extensive selection of every type of pin and other essential-but-hard-to-find bit of sewing equipment is carefully sourced from mostly quality British manufacturers (some of the fancy pins are from France) and repackaged in beautiful boxes (designed by Roderick) to make them extremely appealing to people like me.
The lovely graphics and generous portions make everything very hard to resist….
The card patterns are proper tailor-quality standard, lasting forever, although Carolyn told us they are launching paper patterns too, in late August, as these are easier to send through the post and are cheaper. The idea behind Carolyn’s collection of styles is a love of timeless, classic simplicity. Do watch the video below to understand the couple’s design aesthetic, it is a joy to behold. Also, don’t you love her hair?
The styles I saw in the store and immediately wanted to make were the Factory Dress, above left, which is a brilliant easy-fit shift dress, the Top No 64 long sleeved tunic top with pockets, seen below left in a soft wool gaberdine and the almost perfect summer sundress (below below right) which I’m not sure is on line, but is similar to the Panel Dress
Although the store is small, it has already attracted a cult following, including actor Bill Murray, who shopped when he was in Rye filming.
There are patterns for cushions and bags, such as the oilskin one above, as well as a range of understated, quality fabrics to make the patterns up in. And organic cotton thread.
The shop style is ‘industrial sewing chic’, like a factory after All Saints have come along and stripped out all the hand sewing machines, with a good ranges of stationery and notebooks too, I know, they really must have had me in mind when they thought it all up.
Visit the store if you can, it’s a gem and there’s all of Rye to see too. If not then check out the website and keep an eye out for those paper patterns launching soon. Now, where’s my needle and thread?