FO: Bantam Top from the Merchant and Mills Workbook

I couldn’t resist copying the Merchant and Mills style of photography!

Today I made a “wearable muslin” of the Bantam Top from the Merchant and Mills Workbook.

To be honest, this is more The Girl’s style than mine.
My motivation was thoroughly altruistic – she is coming to stay for a week and we plan to do some sewing together.  I wanted to have a tried-and-trusted pattern ready for her to use, rather than risk wasting time on a dud.
I love the idea of a sleeveless top with a cutaway back, but it is rarely warm enough here for me to take my cardigan off… and of course there is the bra strap issue.

Why yes, I do have neon pink straps – don’t you?!  (TopShop if you are interested.)

Clearly I won’t be wearing this to work!

Not only does it reveal my underpinnings at the shoulders, but it is also semi-transparent.

It will make a brilliant pyjama top though :)


The Bantam Top from the Merchant and Mills Workbook, in size 8 (the smallest size).  For your information, the back piece is 3 inches wider and 2.5 inches longer than the front.  I would say it is a generous cut.  Size 8 would fit a 34 inch bust comfortably.
About 1.3 metres of “optic white” cotton shirting from Croft Mill – I think it was about £8 a metre.  It feels amazing – very smooth and soft and a truly dazzling white. 
However, it is so fine that I could read the sewing instructions through it when I laid it on top of the book.  Ah.


I traced the pattern on Friday night.

On Saturday afternoon, I cut the fabric and sewed the top.  It was done in about 4 hours.

Lovely clear instructions on how to do a French Seam and wise advice to start with the curved hem.

My only issue was with the bias binding.
The instructions say to stay-stitch “inside the seam allowance” at the neck and armholes… but there is no indication of how deep that seam allowance should be.
I assumed it would be 1.5 cm, as for the side seams.
However, when it came to sewing on the binding, I realised that if I lined it up with the edge of the garment, the stay-stitching would not be enclosed.

The diagrams seem to show a much narrower line of stay stitching – perhaps at  0.5 cm?

So I performed some minor acts of fudgery…

I attached the binding so that the 0.5cm fold lined up with the stay-stitching, and trimmed away the excess fabric from the main piece round the neck.

I then ignored the direction to turn the bias binding along my seamline, so that the full width of it would fall on the outside of the garment.  By that point, it was looking as if my straps were getting too narrow and that the bias binding round the neck and armholes would overlap at the shoulders.

So I added another dollop of fudge to the armhole binding… just to be on the safe side.  This entailed some fiddling around with the length of the bias strip and folding it to the outside at its half-width point.   So it is no longer the same width as the neckband binding.. and the stay-stitching is visible on the inside of the garment.

Let’s do the sums:
The shoulder strap is 4 cm wide before sewing.  The binding is 2.5 cm wide when opened out flat and should have a finished width of 1.5 cm, with two 0.5 cm turns to enclose the raw edges… so I am pretty sure that means I only had room for a 0.5 cm seam on each side of the strap, so should have lined up the raw edge of the main pieces with the raw edge of the bias binding – yes?
So the stay-stitching should have been 0.5 cm from the raw edge at the neck and the armhole.

This means my version is not quite right.
There ought to be 1.5 cm of binding showing on each edge of the shoulder strap on the right side, with only a tiny piece of the main strap showing in between.

But at least I sorted this out before using the pattern as a learn-to-sew project with The Girl!

To be fair, this is not meant to be a book for beginners.
However, the instructions take the time to explain the purpose of stay-stitching in some detail  – it would have been so much more helpful if they had also said “0.5 cm from the neck edge”.

I am looking forward to trying the other patterns in the book, but I will definitely be making a test garment before cracking out expensive linen or wool.