McCall’s 6696 Chambray Shirtdress

By | October 19, 2015

Well, this was supposed to be a muslin to test the fit and construction. But it was so much fun to make that I just went ahead and finished the whole dress!

M6696front

Just like with Elvis, 20 million fans can’t be wrong, and 6696 is totally a winner.

Not many comments on construction, because this pattern goes together so. dang. smoothly. Seriously, it was so satisfying to sew. Of course, this rando chambray-ish fabric I had on hand also pressed easily, and contributed to how much fun this was to construct.

I like how the waistband provides some shaping. A lot of shirtdresses are also glorified sack dresses, and that’s not really my style. This one nips right in and creates a curvy silhouette.

I also like that there’s nothing weird going on with the collar. It’s an appropriate size and shape. It’s one of the details that can make a shirt or shirtdress look so so wrong if it’s not juuuuuust right!

M6696collar

Also a plus is the length. Straight out of the envelope, it’s an appropriate length, and not too short. In my opinion, most patterns end up too short to wear in a professional environment. I’d rather have something come out too long and then hem it shorter, but pattern designers don’t always agree with me.

Next time (and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a next time), I’ll take out the gathers in the back. They’re totally excessive, and make me look like a hunchback. Or someone with an inflatable back. Which would be weird. Just not needed.

M6696gathers

I also might change the shape of the sleeve cuffs. They’re a little too pointy for my tastes, like if Maleficent designed a business casual line or something, but not a dealbreaker. I should probably tack down the edges in this version, since they end up sticking out and looking a bit silly, but I kind of hate tacked-down details. They should work, or they should be edited out, in my opinion. (I’m envisioning taped-down cardigans when I say this; I’m sure there’s a million exceptions to this rule I just completely made up.)

I bought this fabric at a Hancock or Joann’s, like, over 10 years ago. It was definitely 3 careers ago. I used to work from home as a web content editor and I remember specifically buying some cheap fabric, this piece included, to make myself some lounge clothes to work in. (Needless to say, they never got made. Another of the cuts is still in my stash.)

I did run short on chambray, thus the contrast interior of the cuffs and pockets. I kinda like the detail! And, just FYI, with those two modifications, you can eke out this pattern in a size 10 using just 1.75 yards of 60″ fabric. I used just about every inch!

M6696cuff

So, as I mentioned in my PR review, I really enjoyed this pattern as a skill builder. I hadn’t done buttonholes in a loooong time and this got me back in the groove. I spent the last 8 or so years thinking buttonholes were crazy hard and doomed for failure. Every time I had to make one (for a casing or something like that), it came out gross and not tight and not at all like RTW looks.

I thought my machine just sucked at buttonholes. Then, I made the twist front top, and had to make a buttonhole to secure the front. I was already 90% done with the project and hadn’t noticed this instruction before. I was stuck–I had to practice doing some buttonholes and get it right, because who wants to screw up a project on the last step with a crappy buttonhole?

Turns out, my machine does buttonholes just fine. I just hadn’t been playing with the settings enough to find the stitch length and width and style that I was looking for. Now that I’m sewing more often, my skills aren’t so rusty every time I pull out the machine, and I’m finding things (like buttonholes) much more doable. It’s really a bit of a revelation. I’m not a terrible sewer, like I thought for years and years, it’s just that the re-learning curve is pretty challenging when you only sew a few times a year.

M6696buttons

There’s a lot of hand-stitching involved in this pattern that you could easily sidestep with top-stitching, but I didn’t mind it at all. When a project is going right, it’s a pleasure to take care of those details.

My hope (fingers crossed and all that) is that my sewing streak continues. It is so nice to feel more comfortable making projects, instead of completely flying by the seat of my pants. I can literally watch my skill set grow from project to project, which is incredibly satisfying. I’m still making rookie errors (I had to take out some stitching on this dress because I got ahead of myself and didn’t follow directions, and also had to redo one sleeve cap a couple of times to get it eased right), but I really feel like I’m learning.

This is maybe what I appreciate most about this dress. It feels a bit like a culmination of the last 6 months or so of sewing, in which I’ve been sewing more consistently and successfully. Like, I totally made a shirtdress, reasonably quickly, without much swearing, and it came out great! (Part of that, of course, is that the dress is drafted well and fit me well out of the envelope, but I will take a small amount of credit for choosing the right size. Finally.) While I don’t love love love the dress because of the muslin-level fabric (I look kind of washed out in it to be honest), I love love loved the whole experience of sewing it.

Commuter wrinkles. It's a thing.

Commuter wrinkles. It’s a thing.

4 thoughts on “McCall’s 6696 Chambray Shirtdress

  1. Lisa G

    Everyone always makes the full skirted version of this pattern, I had forgotten it also has a slim option. Your dress came out great! Shirt details are difficult to accomplish, so well done!

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Thanks, Lisa! I’d been avoiding shirt-making out of misplaced fear, and this project gave me a big confidence boost!

      Reply
  2. Amy G

    I discovered your blog via Pattern Review last night and I’m so glad I did! I love your writing style and I know exactly what you mean about infrequent sewing. I don’t get much time for it and I feel like my learning progress is very slow. That said dogged determination does mean I’ve managed to make a trench coat! Yes, it took me five months but who on earth cares about that. I keep seeing this shirt dress pattern and it’s clearly awesome but I can’t decide between this and the Sew Over It vintage one. Yours is really lovely.

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      I’m still working up the chutzpah to make a trench! It’s on my list of sewing goals. I’m so glad to hear you made one, and yeah, it’s not about how long it took, but about stretching to make something worthwhile.

      Reply

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