Colette Patterns released a new pattern last week:  a dress called Myrtle that can be made up in a knit OR a woven.  Neato!

I am a sucker for cowl necks and covetously eyed the comfortable looking elastic waisted dresses I spied in droves while we were on our honeymoon, so I decided to go for it.
Colette Myrtle

I know this dress’s name makes sense due to the M naming convention of Colette’s knit pattern collection (Moneta dress, Mabel skirt), but it still makes me think of children’s books that feature female turtles more than anything.

Alas, I digress.

Overall, I’m happy with how this dress turned out and would recommend this pattern!  I made the longer version without the tabs, and it went to together quite easily.  I really loved the self lined cowl front; it wears way better than using a deep self facing like most Big 4 cowls, which always seem to flop aboot.

Colette Myrtle

I made this dress in a rayon/lycra jersey that I picked up from FabricMart last year.  I’ve seen this print here and there around the blogosphere, so I’m sure it will look familiar to some of you.  I cut a size small, which worked well for me.  I think if I were to make this from a woven small might still be OK, but I would probably cut extra large seam allowances and baste fit to be sure.

Colette Myrtle

Colette Myrtle

Colette Myrtle

One thing that made me double take while putting this together was the copious detail in the instructions.  I know Colette Patterns markets its designs as “patterns that teach,” but I think the instruction booklet had as many pages as their much more complicated Ceylon dress that I made years ago.

For instance, there were four illustrations to show each pocket being sewn into the side seam of both the front and back of the skirt, and a few cases where one step said “pin this together” and then the next step with the same basic illustration was “sew this seam.”  I found that it actually slowed me down because I had to keep re-reading through the instructions to decipher which step I was on and make sure I hadn’t missed anything…and every time I hadn’t.

But, this is me being nit-picky.  The plus side:  this is the perfect pattern for a very beginner!  Seriously, ya’ll.  And yes, I know this is meant to be a beginner pattern overall…

As for construction, I made four changes:

1.  I cut the skirt back on the fold because the center back is a straight seam.  Make sure to eliminate the seam allowance if you follow suit.

Colette Myrtle

2.  I used a self binding to finish the back neck and back armholes.  I cut strips 1 5/8″ wide, pressed them in half the long way, sewed on with a 3/8″ seam while slightly stretching (the binding, NOT the back of the bodice), turned and pressed and sewed again.

The Colette instructions have you serge/finish the edge and the turn and stitch, but I have had bad wearing luck with this finishing technique on other projects I’ve decided to finish in this fashion.  Remember my Awesomesauce dress?  LOOK AT IT NOW.


That’s what happens when you just turn and stitch, folks.  It doesn’t look that bad in a photograph, but it doesn’t fit like it used to.

3.  The third change was to sew the elastic casing facing UP instead of DOWN.  I felt that with my shortish torso there would just be too much play in the bodice, and look too sloppy, if I sewed it facing down.  There will be changes in my next version, which I’ll go into with this next fitting section.

Colette Myrtle

4.  Lastly, instead of sewing the elastic together and then folding the casing over it to sew, I opted to sew the casing down first, leaving a 3″ or so hole.  This way I was able to thread my elastic through and adjust the fit until it felt right, which is not possible with the Colette method.  I also used a wide, very short length zig zag (4.0 width, .2 lenght) and abutted the elastic edges instead of overlapping, to create a more smooth join.

When it comes to fitting, I did very little for this first rendition:  I hacked a 7/8″ swayback adjustment, due to this first fitting:

Colette Myrtle bodice

Colette Myrtle hacked swaybackThe super scientific sway-hacking

Here’s what I plan to change in subsequent versions:

1.  3/4″ swayback adjustment (because 7/8″ doesn’t seem like a “round” enough number for me)
2.  Remove 1/2″ or so from upper back bodice, because the neckline is just a bit too wide for my liking as-is.
3.  Shorten entire bodice by 1″ and then sew the casing facing down as instructed.  This will leave me with a little more bodice play than my first rendition, but not TOO much more.
4.  Raise armholes by 1/2″- 3/4″.  They are too low now and you can see my bra peeking out on both sides, no matter which bra I try.  :(  Dangit!

Colette Myrtle
Colette Myrtle

All easy fixes.

Despite my verbosity in this post, I still feel that this is a great, solid pattern and a wonderful resource for folks new to sewing, as well as a quick, easy project for those who have been at it for a while.  There will be more of Myrtle in my future.

Colette Myrtle

You’ll notice that I have 6 days left to complete my Mini Wardrobe, and I’ve gone rogue with my sewing plans.  After I began this dress, it didn’t escape me that the coloring goes quite well with my skirts already in the collection (Gossamer and Crisp).  This bad boy may be sneaking in as my Mini Wardrobe Marion dress replacement, but we’ll see.


10 thoughts on “Myrtle-rific”

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