When Merchant & Mills announced their new TN31 Parka sewing pattern on Instagram I was blown away by their tweed version. I had seen some fabric in Abakhan that I thought would work well, so I dashed off to buy it and ordered the pattern.
The fabric is one that you buy by weight, what appealed to me was the tweedy green colour, but also the reverse it is a black soft jersey so it would feel super soft and warm. The pattern comes with either a lined or unlined version, with this fabric I could have the convenience of the unlined version, but still with warmth. Merchant and Mills have a fantastic range of ribbing, but none that would work with my fabric unfortunately so I bought mine from this seller on eBay, but I did buy the khaki corozo buttons from them.
I've made a Merchant and Mills pattern from their book before, but this was the first time I'd ordered a sewing pattern from them. The instructions were very clear, I did get a bit confused with the pocket instructions, but I think that was a case of me assuming they'd come together 'my way' once I'd realised what was being instructed to do I really enjoyed learning a new technique. I think it took about a day to sew, I was really pleased with the result and proudly showed my new coat to my husband who immediately asked if I could make him one exactly the same.
Changing a woman's pattern to a mans isn't going to work a lot of the time, but this coat doesn't have any darts and is a fairly unisex design so I thought I'd give it a go. David's brief was not to make it too Demis Roussos so I didn't add as much ease as the pattern allows, but I did have to make it bigger than a woman's size 18 which is the largest size. As I'd kept the offcuts when I'd cut the pattern for myself I used them as a guide for how much to grade up, it wasn't too tricky to do and as the fabric wasn't too expensive it was a risk I was prepared to take. The other thing I had to change was which side of the front had the buttons, but really it was only a matter of swapping them over.
Typically Abakhan had sold out of the fabric in green but fortunately had it in brown, and had some dark brown ribbing for the collar. Again it came together really well and I think it works. What was really annoying however was how hard it was to find dark brown buttons, you'd think it would be really easy but I really struggled to find any either online or in our local fabric shops and I'm not really all that happy with the ones we settled for in the end (at the top) as they're a tiny bit small. My other difficulty was finding drawstring cord to match the collar on my green version, I got there in the end but it took a while to find a good match. I recommend that you think about this before making the coat and probably get the cord, ribbing and buttons all from Merchant and Mills to make it easy.
All in all I think it worked brilliantly, the only 'problem' I have now is that we can't really go out together wearing the same coat - what a shame, I'll just have to make myself another one.