Vintage Sewing

Sun Studios McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress

August 30, 2013

In recent weeks I have become quite a fan of McCall’s sewing patterns, so I immediately jumped at the chance to make the pretty shirt dress (6696) to wear during my epic trip to America’s deep south.

Outside the legendary Sun Studios, Memphis

The pattern features four dress variations and one pattern for a slip, should you choose to use sheer or eyelet fabric.

Inspired by the many dresses Betty Draper wears to smoke and drink wine in her kitchen, I opted for version A: the sleeveless shirt dress with pleated skirt.

Is that Johnny Cash coming down the road?

I loved making this dress. At first I thought the fabric would pose some problems as it’s a ‘slinkier’ polyester (from Minerva Crafts), yet it was a dream to sew with. It did everything I wanted it to and didn’t shift one bit during sewing. This included the more complicated parts such as the collar and belt bands. It also traveled really well – I hardly needed to iron it and when washed, it dried in an instant. Oh, and some red wine was spilled on it, but with a rinse under the tap it washed right out. Could you get a better best friend in fabric form?

Before starting this dress, I really recommend measuring the flat pattern. This is an exercise that I don’t usually do, but I applied it to this project and was surprised that I needed to cut a size 10 as opposed to my usual size 14 measurements. Of course it depends on your preferred style/fit, but this is definitely something I will continue to do with future patterns. It’s really simple to do: just measure the key areas and be sure to multiply twice (e.g. for front you need to multiply twice to get the full measurement) and subtract the relevant seam allowances. You’ll then get an approximate measurement and from that you can ascertain how much ease has been given to your size.

After measuring, I made a muslin of only the bodice (to be on the safe side), and it fit like a glove. Bazinga! The construction of this dress was really straight forward: I love yokes and find them fun in a geeky way. There is also some gathering on the back of the dress which adds a really nice detail, oh and be prepared for a big pleating session. The skirt is pleated all the way round the waist, however, this is really easy to do as long as you follow all the markings on the pattern.

The dress features a faced waistband with belt loops. This is easier than it sounds and gives the dress a neat and tidy finish inside. The belt loops are simple to make and are basted before the waist band is added to the bodice and skirt.

I completed the arm holes with white bias binding, which I finished with hand stitching (slip stitch). I serged the seams inside to save time but I handstitched the finish of the button placket, yoke, collar and the dress hem to avoid any machine stitching showing on the outside. I used simple white buttons and didn’t need to shorten or lengthen the dress at all.

I love this dress and it will definitely be one of my go-to sewing patterns in the future. I can’t wait to try some of the other versions as well as the slip. You can see more pictures over at my blog here

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