Yes, I’m on a roll lately with dresses as I’m currently working on my vacation wardrobe and have my own private Project Runway going on.
This, friends, is McCall’s 6696, the ubiquitous shirt dress known to me as “The Mary Dress.” When I first saw Mary make this dress last summer, I knew it had to go on my list. A proper shirt dress with all the accouterments generally reserved men’s shirts plus a pleated skirt? I’m there! I’ve made several shirt dress patterns over the years and have always lamented the lack of a yoke and at times a neck band. Most women’s shirt dress patterns have facings which I generally loathe. This pattern, however, has all the things that are great about a men’s button-up shirt with the added femininity of a skirt.
I opted to make View A of this dress, which is the sleeveless version with a full skirt. I’ve actually been planning to make this dress for several months now and have finally succumbed to it. I think most of the reason why I put it off was that I assumed this dress would take me a while to make. It really only took about 2 days to finish it. That doesn’t include cutting it out, as I had it cut out a week before I started sewing it. I’m also not a very fast sewer nor am I quick at cutting patterns out.
Speaking of fabric… when I was cutting out this border print fabric I was under the impression that I was a fabric cutting bad ass, when it actuality, I made a big mistake…. While working around the border print, I cut the front bodice piece on the same side of the fabric. Basically, I had two of the same piece. As I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut another piece, I had to order more to replace it.
My fabric is the Cotton+Steel Mustang border print in mint that I purchased from Fabric.com last summer. When I had my little fabric snafu, I didn’t want to order more from Fabric.com as the shipping is verrrrrry slow. Instead, I ordered some from Harts Fabrics as Hart’s ships quickly and I usually get my orders in a couple of days. Unfortunately, Harts was out of the C+S fabric and called me after I placed my order. I told them the story of my foolish cutting dilemma and they pointed me towards this Michael Miller Glitz metallic border print that matched my original fabric. I scooped some up then sat at my cutting table for half an hour figuring out the best way to use the alternate fabric with my existing pieces. In the end, I decided to recut the back bodice piece as well as the front so that they matched and blended together. The Michael Miller fabric is a slightly lighter cotton although they are almost identical in color.
I didn’t do any fitting with this dress before I had it sewn up. This was mostly as I normally don’t have to do much with shirt dress patterns and I didn’t want my bodice to be close-fitting. I graded this up to a size 26 and used the D-cup pieces as per my bra size. Well…. I ended up with a bodice that had huge armscyes and there was a lot of extra fabric in the bust area, which led me to believe that this bodice could have accommodated a more well endowed lass than I. I took about 1 1/2″ from each side seam, tapering down to the waistband. I had finished my armscyes with bias tape already, and just serged the seams with a little hand-stitching. I adjusted the bust darts as well, and ended up with a fit that was far better than before. When I make this again, I think I either need to go down a size when I cut my bodice or use smaller cup pieces.
I didn’t do my usual swayback adjustment as I believed that it wouldn’t matter with the back gathers. Well, I do need one, and may just go back and alter this dress again now that I see how much is going on back there. The pattern has a lot of room back there as I imagine the design means to resemble a tucked in blouse. I like this feature, but I’ve got a bit too much excess fabric in this dress.
I loved this fabric from first sight and just love the retro flowers on the border. I tried to incorporate them more in my dress and was able to use some on the back yoke and for the carriers. Speaking of the carriers, I’m not sure if it’s my fault, but it seems like there should be two more on the front of the dress. I’ve looked at other versions of this pattern, and others have carriers on the front, so it is most likely my fault, which I will amend the next time I make this. It doesn’t bother me too much as the back and side carriers keep my belt in my place and the front of my belt doesn’t seem to move around. Also, I could probably go without a belt and I don’t think it would be as noticeable as there are no front carriers.
The gals on Instagram suggested gold buttons for this dress, and yes, they sure look great with the gold metallic dots on my fabric. I don’t think I’ve ever worn a metallic dress and hoped this wouldn’t be “too much”. I’ve been assured that it’s not. If it is, oh well. I’ll be that girl in the flashy gold polka dotted dress and I like it. 🙂
Another note, the skirt piece for this pattern is drafted in a circular fashion. As I wanted to use my border print on the bottom edge, my skirt is cut rectangular to allow for that design to show through. So, if you’re wondering how to use this pattern for a border print (or a fabric with a scalloped or finished edge), that’s how I did it. Also, as I added some length to my skirt, I forgot to also add length to the button bands (oops!). I added some fabric after the fact, sewing my newly cut pieces to the existing bands.
- Dress: McCall’s 6696 in Cotton + Steel Mustang border print and Michael Miller glitz border print, made by me
- Belt: Macy’s
- Shoes: Aerosoles