A Spooky Merchant and Mills Rugby Dress

A spooky, yet sustainable, Halloween

Wednesday Addams wearing her signature M&M Rugby Dress, made from our Black Brussels Linen and Dog Walk Poplin!
Wednesday Addams wearing her signature M&M Rugby Dress, made from our Black Brussels Linen and Dog Walk Poplin!

Halloween is fast approaching, and with it comes the “costume conundrum” at The Confident Stitch. Halloween costumes are the antithesis of what we stand for. We love quality that lasts a lifetime. Costumes are usually poorly constructed single-use items. What is the solution to the conundrum? Create something that is neither poorly constructed nor single-use. I recently made Maisie a Merchant and Mills Rugby Dress and not only does it make the a perfect Wednesday Addams costume, it’s  something she can love & wear forever!

Placket Hacks

Placket and Collar
An up-close of the Rugby placket & collar!

I made this Rugby out of our Brussels Washer Linen in Black with our Dog Walk Poplin in Cream* as the collar and cuffs. The trickiest part of the dress was the front placket, which is the main topic of this blog post. If you want to be Wednesday Addams for Halloween – or if you just want a a chic Merchant and Mills Rugby Dress for yourself – your biggest challenge you’ll face in this intermediate pattern is the placket. I have made a few improvements to the Merchant and Mills instructions, and here they are!

*Unfortunately, we’re out of the Dog Walk Poplin in Cream. However, we think that the Michael Miller Bolt QC in White, the Brandon Mably Brollies QC in White, the RK Tessellation QC in Black on White, or the RK Cambridge Lawn in White would all make great alternatives!

Step 1

First, I drew the 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance around the placket opening on the wrong side. I stay-stitched on the 3/8″ line, instead of just inside it. And I snipped to, but not through, the stay stitching on the fashion fabric.

M&M directs you to stay-stich just inside the 3/8″ line, however, I discovered that doing so makes the bottom of your placket slightly wider than the opening it eventually has to be tucked through which, in turn, causes unintentional puckering. By stitching at 3/8″, you make the opening the same width as your placket, and thus puckering is avoided.

Step 2

Second, I stitched the plackets in place from the wrong side, so I could see the 3/8″ lines I drew. I stopped exactly at the bottom of the box, and back-stitched.

Conversely, Merchant & Mills tells you to stitch from the right side, but since you have to stop precisely at the bottom of the box, I found that sewing from the wrong side where you can see this line is much easier.

Rugby Dress Placket
The two plackets stitched in place. Shown from the right side, although I stitched them from the wrong side.


Step 3

Third, instead of basting the plackets in place before edgestitching them, I glued them in place with quarter-inch double-sided stay tape.

Step 4

Finally, instead of getting the top placket and the under placket situated from the wrong side and hoping for the best, I got them situated from the right side, and then carefully folded the dress out of the way and stitched along the stay-stitching on the tab.

I found that situating the placket from the wrong side (as M&M directs) led to an odd pulling which kept the placket from laying flat. Situating/pinning from the right side before carefully folding it over will help the placket to lay more nicely in the end.


And there you have it! A nice and neat placket. I practiced this step many times and while there’s nothing wrong with M&M’s approach perse, I feel that my method allows you to more easily see what you’re doing throughout the process, and correct as you go.

The Collar

The second trickiest component of this pattern is the collar, made trickier by the fact that we selected a fabric with a directional print. We wanted our doggies to be upright when the collar was folded over, so it took some extra mental strain (and a little trial and error) to figure out how to correctly position the collar pattern pieces before cutting them out.

Merchant and Mills has named the collar pieces in this pattern the ‘Top collar’ and the ‘Under collar’. Unusually, the Top collar refers to the outside collar piece, while the Under collar refers to the inside piece. (Inside = the piece closest to the wearer.) These names make more sense if your thinking about the collar before it is folded (i.e. when it is ‘popped’.)

If you choose a fabric that is solid – or that has a non-directional print – you probably won’t have any trouble with this step. But if you want to use something fun and directional – like these irresistible doggies! – you’ll want to pay close attention when cutting out.

Pattern Attributes

Aside from the placket and collar in this pattern, other fun components are the matching cuffs and roomy pockets!! Though the picture on the front of the pattern shows the sleeves and cuffs as being extra long, they fit Maisie just right. If and when I decide to make this dress for myself, I will – as usual – have to lengthen the sleeves (sigh).

Frighteningly Fabulous Fabrics

The trusty Brussels Washer Linen we chose for this project was perfect. A rayon/linen blend that washes well and has some nice drape it’s a great fabric to sew with and to wear. Other fabrics that would work well for the Rugby Dress are the Essex Linen in Black, one of our Diamond Textile Wovens, or our Italian Stretch Wool Twill Suiting in Black!

Spine-Chilling Wardrobe Staples

This spooky season, make your costume in the most sustainable way possible! Watch me on Facebook Live or YouTube and learn how to conquer this placket for yourself.

merchant and mills rugby dress
Happy Halloween!


4 thoughts on “A Spooky Merchant and Mills Rugby Dress

  1. Marty says:

    I love this! I’m presuming you have the pattern available? Is the linen used or the 2nd one available, and in any other colors?

    • kate says:

      Hi Marty,
      Links to every fabric and the Rugby pattern are in this post. All you have to do is click on them and you’ll be taken to the item on our website. Which fabric were you hoping came in more colors? You can always call us with questions at 406-540-4068 or email us directly at info@theconfidentstitch.com
      Thank you!

    • Arlo Smytheman says:

      It has a 1-piece collar and stand 🙂 This pattern has been discontinued but we still have 2 print copies in stock!


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