Checkmate, 6696

By | June 24, 2016


Hey Gingham Dress! You’re new around these parts, but I can tell we’re going to be friends.

This is my second iteration of McCall’s 6696. You know, *the* shirtdress. Of course, they’ve released a few new shirtdress patterns that I’m seeing around, so of course, I’m behind the curve as always…

My previous version was a muslin that I really enjoyed making, and which fit beautifully out of the envelope. It just took a few more months than I planned on to get the non-muslin version made!

Not much more to say here on construction than what I previously noted, other than what you may already know: there is a lot of handstitching to this dress. Because of the contrast of black-and-white gingham, I didn’t topstitch, so yup. Lots of handstitching: the yoke, the collar, both front button panels, and the cuffs. It wasn’t my fave, but hand sewing is never as bad as I expect it will be.

The real learning for me came from trying to pattern-match the gingham. I’m not a pattern-matcher. Not at all. Previously, I’ve been too lazy or felt too time-constricted to worry about it. Bah! Just cut it out, and let the chips fall where they may! Aren’t I just the most carefree stitcher? [Insert giggling hair flip here.]

It’s time for me to grow up. (At least in that regard.) There’s no reason not to stretch and grow my skill set, except fear of failing, which is a lousy reason. And if Me-Made-May taught me nothing else, it’s that I don’t need a ton of clothes. There’s no rush here, folks, even though I like to move through projects quickly and not get bogged down for more than a few weeks. I really can’t find a good excuse not to try harder.


So, I took a great deal of time trying to lay the check out evenly (and straight!), and figure out how to make things look intentional. Or at the very least, not crappy and distracting.

I don’t have great natural spatial intelligence. I can’t manipulate things in 3D in my mind all that easily. But as my husband insists, and I have to agree, it’s less a matter of you-got-it-or-you-don’t, and more about building up that skillset with practice and intention. So, I squinted, I measured, I tried to envision what pieces needed to go where to match up seamlessly. And it worked in a few places. Others, not so much.

I give myself a grade of B. It’s okay. Nothing looks terribly “off” to me, and I made a solid effort. The front skirt pieces don’t line up horizontally as I’d planned, but the rest is pretty decent. I’ll get better with more practice.

Other than that, it was a pretty smooth construction process. And now I have this dress that will work for me about 70% of the year. (Yay coastal climate!) I’m excited about the different styling opportunities in the black-and-white check. (The fabric is a Robert Kaufman cotton from Hart’s.

I could go with all red accessories, or stick to black-and-white, or try a patterned scarf, and let’s be real, I REALLY think a Carmen Miranda fruit headdress would probably complement this best.

Pattern updates–just a couple:

  • I nixed the flared end on the cuff. So much better!
  • I edited out the excessive gathering on the back yoke. Nice and flat!


And, I’m guessing I’ll make this again, at least once. As I was sewing, I realized that what would really be great was a rayon version of this dress. So soft! So light! Wouldn’t you know? I finally let myself just buy full-price fabric that suited whatever design idea I had in the moment (instead of trying to make something happen out of the stash) and it turns out, I *still* end up wanting to make something different! I don’t know if I’m totally relieved by this, or completely saddened. Emo sewing.

That’s not to say I don’t like this dress. But honestly, it feels a bit stiff and possibly a size or half-size too large in the bodice. (I think the stiffness of the cotton is exacerbating the minimal fitting issues.) Regardless, this dress meets both of my top criteria for a successful garment:

1) It’s easy to wear
2) It makes a statement

Seriously, for a classic print and style in neutral colors, the large check makes me feel pretty flashy and fabulous. (And you know I love being both of those things!) I’m imagining wearing this one a lot — which soothes my cheap, Puritan soul that is inwardly horrified that I paid over $30 in materials.

So, Secretly Fabulous Shirtdress, welcome to my closet. And don’t forget to mingle with every single pair of shoes in there…

10 thoughts on “Checkmate, 6696

  1. Lynsey

    This dress is amazing!! I love it, the gingham rocks and looks so stylish. I recently had a go at this pattern and quite chuffed with mine but like the skirt version you have done so may have to have another go.

    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Thanks, Lynsey! I think there’s at least one more version of this in my future as well!

  2. Lisa G

    Oh, this is cute!! Man there’s no way I would do all that handstitching though. But I love topstitching on shirt things, so there’s that. Anyway this looks like a great dress! Hope it softens up in the wash!

    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Hi Lisa — I would take handstitching over super-visible topstitching, so thanks for putting that in perspective! (And I think it is softening up, happily.)

    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      An A+ from Margo? That’s when you know you’re doing things right! 😉

  3. Carmen

    Awesome job and I love how you’ve styled it! You look so chic! Pop that collar, girl.

    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      LOL — you would be the one to pop the collar and get away with it. Carmen, you’re just the coolest!

  4. Carol

    Very nice outcome. I , too , am trying to sharpen my skill set. Sometime when laying out the pattern, trying to match fabric at seam lines I find I have spent HOURS leaning over the dining room table. I now have learned that sometime fabric design repeats sometimes just will not work. – From that point I just cut the fabric and complete the outfit !

    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Seriously, it can be a timesuck! I like your approach: give it a go, but just make and enjoy if you can’t match it perfectly.

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