Pocket problems: Merchant and Mills Strides

Update: a kind reader informs me that the problems I describe in this post were down to an error in the first edition of the book I was using that has been corrected in subsequent editions.

Well I’m baffled. I’m making the Strides trousers from the Merchant and Mills Workbook. These are high waisted straight legged trousers. I’ve got Burda patterns in similar shapes but the appeal of the Strides is that they have a very traditional menswear fly and front pocket construction which sounded like it would be an interesting thing to sew.

There are not all that many reviews of the pattern out there, but a few people have made them up and blogged about it, so I was aware of a couple of things to watch out for before I started (thank you Ruth for mentioning the left/right confusion in the fly instructions). But no one else seems to have had trouble with the pockets. They are your basic slanted hip pockets for trousers which I’ve made lots of times before; the interesting bit is that instead of the back pocket bag being cut as part of the hip yoke and therefore made in the shell fabric, the bag is made entirely from lining and has deep facings of shell fabric attached.

You start off by attaching a facing to the back pocket bag like this; this piece is the bit that would normally be made entirely from shell fabric.

Faced pocket piece

Then the front pocket bag gets lapped under a very deep self facing on the front trouser edge and stitched down. Then the facing is folded under and the pocket opening edge is topstitched. Odd to have that overlocked edge visible at the edge of the facing, but pretty sure it’s what is intended, going by the diagrams. And admittedly I could have gone for a closer match with my overlocking thread colour which would have looked better.

Back pocket bag and self facing

Next you lay the back pocket over the front one and stitch the edges together, like normal. But mine do not line up.

Back pocket bag laid on front, not lining up

Now obviously I could just trim off all that extra on the front pocket bag, but that would make for some very shallow pockets.

I tried a few things. If I line up the bottoms of the bags things don’t match up at the waistline, which would be disastrous. If I line the pocket up at both ends there is way too much extra length in the middle to be eased in, and it would lead to lots of gapping at the pocket opening anyway.

I double checked that I’d sewn the facings to the pocket bags at the correct points, but what I’ve done clearly matches the diagrams on the pattern instructions. I checked I’d traced the pattern pieces correctly – yes. Normally I’m pretty good at checking patterns line up when I trace them, but I obviously skipped it with this one, because here they are.

Paper pattern pieces for pockets not lining up

I even checked the errata for the book on the Merchant and Mills website but there was nothing about the Strides, although kudos for posting errata at all. I think it’s entirely possible I’ve lined something up wrong, but I can’t for the life of me see what or how.

So I swore and cut new, deeper, pocket bags. And another set of facings because no way am I ripping the old ones off the original bags. Here’s an old pocket bag next to a new one. The difference is subtle but it’s there.

Old and new pocket pieces

Much better with the new ones; it lines up now.

New pocket bad overlaid, lining up

So I sewed the pocket bags together and moved on, and then discovered I’d completely run out of thread in any shade suitable for the fly front. I’m not a massive stickler for matching but I think the fly topstitching would look a bit odd in either black or white. The new reel of grey I ordered last week seems to be stuck in the postal system somewhere in the depths of East Anglia. Gah. I’ve a feeling these won’t be finished for a while.

If anyone else out there has made these, did you have the same thing with the pockets? Have I missed something?

32 thoughts on “Pocket problems: Merchant and Mills Strides

  1. I bought one M&M pattern yonks ago when I ‘returned’ to sewing big time, discovered all these non-Big-4 companies, and went a bit crazy. I can’t even find pictures of it online any more [the ‘Dea’ dress], and can’t for the life of me think what was on my mind when I bought it as it’s most categorically not suitable for my figure. It was pricey,and languishes in a wardrobe corner- do you fancy trying it? It’s a sort of shift style, but with an interesting shoulder knot detail, looks a bit Grecian. I can see it working on you, you have all that height!

    1. Actually I was going through my fabric stash the other day and finally accepting I’m never ever going to sew anything out of chiffon. I’ve got two cuts – one is a black, white and green print that looks a bit DNA like, and one is bright blue, white and brown in wavy stripes. Don’t suppose you’d be interested?

  2. I often piece back pocket shell to lining (regardless of instructions) because I’m tetra cutting out of insufficient fabric 🤪 Its also good if fabric is thick (like denim) as pocket edge less likely to create ridge on right side. The exposed shell facing on top pocket is weird though.

  3. I had the same problem with the pockets, but as I am not used to sew patterns with included seam allowance I thought it was my fail, made it a second time and cut out the pockets on my own, Anja

  4. I’ve had that happen somewhere dimly in my past, not with this pattern. I’m old enough to remember when every town had at least a small piece goods and notions supply, even if it was just a section in a department store. I hope the trousers are worth the trouble!

  5. I have seen the pocket serging thing before- the Pattern Runway shorts I am wearing do that. The pockets seem like bad pattern drafting.

  6. I’ve just used one of their patterns and was very pleased with how well it was drafted. It looks like this one is a ‘Monday morning’ pattern. As Suzanne said, thankfully it was a small piece that you can recut.

    1. The rest of the pattern is pretty good – I tried them on the other night after doing the fly and was really pleased with the shape. And I do like the Merchant and Mills aesthetic. Which one did you make? Don’t think you’ve blogged it yet?

  7. Hi I made these shortly after the book was released and had the same problem which has to be a pattern drafting issue. I made the shorts too which I really love. Plan to make another pair soon so the pattern is a keeper. I like their asthetic a lot and have made the Camber, the Factory Dress and am planning a Haremere Jacket and am about to start on the Ottoline. so a fan really

      1. I’ve made the Factory dress twice! You’ll definitely have to add some length, but it’s easy–the bottom is a rectangle, and the bodice is also pretty square. I am 175cm and added maybe 10cm and now think I should have added more. As for the Camber, for me, the draft wasn’t quite right. The back is kind of narrow, and the sleeves are also on the narrow side. It is a problem I have seen others mention. Their patterns are not always consistent for things like that. I’ve also made a few of the patterns from the Workbook, and the only true fail for me was the Curlew. It would require a complete redrafting to fit me properly, and I’m not unusually shaped, apart from being taller than average.

      2. That’s very useful to know, thanks. That’s a lot of length to add! I find it a bit frustrating that the workbook doesn’t have a size chart, although the finished garment measurements are helpful.

  8. I had the same non-lining up with my Strides pockets, and everything you put in them falls out every time you sit down. They just didn’t suit me in the end, so I chopped them up and made something else.

    1. Oh dear, I did think the pockets looked worryingly shallow. Pity because the shape of the rest is good on me now I’ve tried it on. I can always make deeper pockets I suppose, or patch pockets on the back.

  9. I’ve made these three times and had no problems with things lining up. So I suspect the problem is specific to some sizes but not others. Mine was a 16, if memory serves. (I’ve seen the pockets-not-lining-up problem with Burda, too, and I think I figured out with the help of the rest of the internet that the problem was specific to certain sizes…)

    M&M patterns are lovely, but there are almost ALWAYS some mistakes in the pattern printing or labeling. I suspect that’s why they post errata to their site. In my experience sewing their patterns, I’ve encountered switched pattern piece labels, missing notches, and messed up instructions. I haven’t had any trouble with pieces lining up but given their history of errors, I would not rule it out, either. Still, I do love the company, and I like those pants, too!

    BTW this is my first time commenting but I have been reading your blog for some time, after discovering that we have a ton of patterns in common. If you’ve made it, I either (a) have it, or (b) made it, or (c) want it. I love your blog.

    1. Aww thanks!

      Interesting about the pockets working out on yours, I didn’t compare the other sizes. If you’ve made the trousers three times they must be good. I was able to try mine on the other day and they are looking really promising, but I still have to finish the waistband before they’re done.

  10. How annoying about the pocket! But glad you were able to regroup and move forward. Hopefully they work out!!

  11. What a pain! I made 2 versions 3 years ago, size 14 and 12, and could not get either one to fit well in the back. What size are you sewing? I was some 40 lbs heavier back then… All the patterns in the workbook seem a bit wonky to me. But I like the book. 🙂

    1. I’m making an 8 based on the finished garment measurements which seems ludicrous to me as it’s supposed to be UK sizing and I have never bought an 8 in the shops here in my life. But I like the fit so far. They’re still baggy but not excessively so. I guess most people would really need to size down in these.

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