Sewing The Mercer Top with Sleeves
You can take the girl outta New York, but you can’t take the black clothes out of her wardrobe.
Isn’t that what they say?? 😉
It’s getting a bit chilly here, and the cool air had me thinking about planning for the colder months ahead. I’ve had the vision in my mind for awhile of a Mercer in the version with sleeves, sewn up in black, so it was time to make it! While colors and prints are definitely the most fun to pass through the machine, I’ve found myself wearing a lot of black lately. Could be the weather change, could also be my expression of the mood of things I see on the news. Whatever the case, black was the vision and as far as timeless goes, black is it!
I found this 100% cotton with a sateen finish at my local fabric shop. There was something about the finish that caught my imagination…I think it gives it a touch of “leather” look, a little bit of edginess that a normal cotton wouldn’t give. It was also 4.99 euros/meter so this entire top cost me about 10 euros to make. So that decision was an easy one!
For the buttons, I bought one of the only two choices they had for black shank buttons. One of the downfalls of living on this small island is the limited selections of little details like the buttons. But, they’re classic and I can always change them out later. Besides, hunting for buttons sounds like a fun thing to do someday when we travel to new cities again, don’t you think? I can’t wait for that.
Once I had the shoulder sleeves sewn and the neck facing finished, I got to sewing up the shoulder flange pieces. I slipped on the body and held up the flange to take a sneak peek. Well, instead of “edgy black”, I saw “nun’s habit” in the shape of the flange. I was discouraged and had flashbacks to junior high kids teasing me about my odd wears. I didn’t want to look like a nun and even worse that Halloween is coming. Would it look like a costume?
So, that’s how the channel stitched flange pieces came to be! I decided I needed to edge this thing up a bit…and the stitching would emphasize the shoulder more.
I will say, I’m glad I didn’t let this throw me off the project. I think sometimes when I’m sewing, I’m wanting an expected result (ie…I want control) and other times, like this, I flow with the creative journey and let the unexpected take shape.
It was a risk…it could have turned out horribly but like with any risk, there’s an upside too and that’s what I was going for 😉
First, I decided to add a layer of interfacing on the flange. I used the lightest weight fusible I had – also in black. I’m glad I did this because it gave the flange more heft.
About halfway through stitching the channels, I realized this was going to take some time AND a lot of thread! I stitched them at 1/4 inch apart and also with the black thread on black fabric and trying my best to keep the rows of stitching even made my eyes glaze over. I could have stopped at 3 rows, but I decided to go all the way! I think 3 rows is nice, what would you have done?
Beyond the nuns detour, it was pretty smooth sailing. Although I will say, sewing the Mercer is a bit like going on a journey. It starts out so easy and fresh with the facings and shoulder seams, then the flange is where I second guessed my use of color and made the design change to add the channel stitching, then when sewing on the flange, I didn’t quite get my shoulder seam lined up and I had to wrestle my perfectionism to the side. I’m learning to love the imperfections and this was a good test.
Overall, making this Mercer was a fun creative journey. It’s a simple project when taken step by step by step with reasonable room for error. Even if things don’t line up the way we planned or how they’re “supposed” to, the process is so much more than the end game. Kind of like life right now.
Have you made a Mercer yet? You can see more details of the pattern here.
Fabric: 100% cotton sateen from El Kilo
Buttons: El Kilo
Photos: Almudena Cadalsco