It was about a year ago that my best friend started sailing lessons, looking for a new hobby and already fascinated with the sailing days of yore. Since I wasn’t in town, what did I do instead? I bought fabric, of course!
I purchased a few yards from Robert Kaufman’s Nautique Chambray collection and they’ve been waiting patiently for me to find some project or another for them. I have plans for a quilt at some point, but scraps will work for that. What to do with three yards of sailing vessels, though? Then it hit me… I need to make the Myrtle dress so I can teach it this fall. I can try it out by making a sailing dress!
So that’s what I did.
Colette Patterns is one of my favorite designers and the fact that they are a local-to-me company gives them bonus points. How could I resist?!
Myrtle is designed for knit fabrics, but with plenty of ease and simple design, it totally works for woven fabrics as well. If you decide to go the woven route, make sure you choose something soft. The chambray works, but I will admit that it’s just at the edge of having a little too much body. Fabrics like rayon, faille, silk charmeuse would all work beautiful and have just as much drape as the knit. The chambray has enough body that I have to work the cowl just a little to make it not stand out on my chest (not exactly the best look!), so if you choose to go that route, pick one with some fluidity.
Like all the Colette patterns, the instructions are clear and straightforward. The primer is well-written and includes all the needed details for easy construction. Well, except for the waistband. This is where it got a little weird.
I tried to follow her instructions for using a woven, but I ended up doing it differently and wouldn’t even try it her way again. Sewing down the casing after inserting the elastic is more difficult than it should be. For beginning sewists, the frustration caused by that technique could be enough to set them off sewing clothes for a long time. Instead, sew the casing first, then insert the elastic.
She uses a self facing for the front bodice piece, which works well, but I’m curious how it would look with a different fabric for the facing. I may try that at some point just to see how it changes the look. The back is finished with bias tape and I just made my own with the same fabric.
The skirt is originally placed off the fold, I’m assuming to save fabric, but I really despise back seams. They are too often unnecessary, as well as the zippers that you’ll find there. So I changed it.
I removed the seam allowance and marked where the seam line should be on the pattern piece then placed that on the fold. It worked perfectly and there is no seam to distract from the lovely sailing boats.
The seam allowance on the dress is 3/8″, smaller than usual because it was designed for knits. I increased the seam allowance to 5/8″ to work with french seams. Personally, I prefer the clean and neat look of french seams and use them all the time on apparel. I marked the additional seam allowance on each pattern piece before cutting them out. If you choose not to do french seams, you can serge the edges and leave the seam allowance as is.
My overall thought on the pattern? I love Myrtle! It was easy to make, fits easily and is flattering on this Mom body. The length is a little shorter than I’d like, so I’ll probably add an inch or two the next time. (I made the longer version, but it hits just above my knees and I’d rather it hit the middle of my knee.)
Last weekend I took it sailing with some friends down the Columbia River. It was perfect–the day, the dress, the friends.
Pattern Name: Myrtle by Colette Patterns
Time Required: 4 hours
Would I Make It Again?: Yes! I have plans for a couple more
What I Changed: The layout so I could get the back skirt piece on a fold instead of having a seam and altered the construction of the waistband. I altered the seam allowances to allow for french seams rather than serged.