How to sew Myrtle in a woven fabric
If there’s one thing I like best about Myrtle, it’s that it is one of those rare patterns that can be sewn in either knit or a woven fabric.
The reason for this is the ease and drapey fit. Myrtle is designed so that shaping comes from the comfortable and stretchy elastic waistband, rather than the tight fit of the fabric.
While the pattern instructions that come with Myrtle are for knit fabric, switching to a woven is super easy. In this post, I’ll summarize the few changes you’ll need to make if you’re using a woven fabric.
And to make things super clear, you can download a free complete extra set of instructions for woven fabrics. This walks you through every step in the process, but assumes you’re using a woven fabric rather than knit.
(If you buy the digital version of Myrtle, you’ll get this automatically with your download as a bonus.)
Woven fabrics you can use
Myrtle works well in fabrics that have a bit of drape to them. You want the neckline in particular to hang well, rather than stand away from your body too much.
You have a wide array of fabrics to choose from. Here are a few that I think would be particularly lovely:
- rayon challis
- silk or rayon crepe
- lightweight linen
- light chambray
- wool crepe
- cotton lawn (choose one that’s not too stiff)
For this sample, I used a vintage silk crepe. For the blue and white sample we showed yesterday, we used a light silk twill.
If you have a dressform, try draping some fabric on the form to see how it hangs. It’s very easy to replicate the look of the cowl with some quick draping, and you’ll instantly have a good idea of what the dress will look like.
Extra supplies you’ll need
There are just a few extra things we’d recommend for making Myrtle in a woven fabric:
- 1 yard of 1/4 inch double fold bias tape. This is for finishing the back armholes and back neckline. While these curves can just be turned and hemmed in a knit fabric, wovens are not as flexible and should be finished with bias tape as a facing instead.
- Universal needles. You don’t need a ballpoint needle if you aren’t sewing knits, so grab a universal needle. Be sure to match the needle size to your fabric.
- Fusible interfacing. This is just for interfacing the shoulder tabs if you are making them, so a small scrap will do.
Stitching and finishing
The most obvious way this pattern is different in a woven is that you don’t need to use a stretch stitch. You can do all the seaming and topstitching with a straight stitch.
Since you won’t be sewing this with a serger in a woven, you will need to finish all of the raw edges after sewing each seam. And of course, you’ll need to press them as well. Stitch, finish, press, just like you do with most woven garments.
Here, I stitched with a straight stitch, then finished the edge with a serger.
Finishing the back openings
For knit fabrics, the back armhole and back neck are finished by simply turning and hemming. Unlike wovens, you can hem curves this way with knits if the curve isn’t too severe.
For wovens, you’re better off using bias tape. You can either make your own bias tape from the self fabric, or use pre-made. Since it will be on the inside of your garment, a pre-made bias tape will often be just fine.
When the pattern instructs you to finish these areas, begin by pinning the bias tape along the edge, right sides together with edges aligned.
Stitch along the first fold line.
Fold the bias tape to the inside of the garment, folding the bias tape in half to enclose the raw edges.
Edgestitch the bias tape in place. Notice that the folded bias tape is acting as a facing, not a binding. It’s turned all the way to the inside rather than wrapping around the edge.
Use this same technique on both the back neckline and back armholes.
Another cool thing about this pattern is the way the front bodice is self lined, so you don’t have to bind anything in a complete circle. This makes binding much, much faster and less fiddly.
If you’re making the shoulder tabs for this dress, we recommend using a bit of fusible interfacing to give them more stability.
After you sew the tabs with right sides together, clip the corners. Turn right side out, press, and edgestitch around all the edges to help the tabs stay flat.
There’s no need to use the twin needle technique or a coverstitch to hem a woven fabric.
Instead, you can sew a simple turned hem by turning 1/4 inch and pressing, then turning again 3/8″, pressing, and edgestitching in place.
Better yet, sew a blind hem. A blind hem will give you a very neat finish. It’s my personal fave.