Earlier in this year, I decided to enrol myself in a class at my local sewing and craft store Made Marion Craft. The class was to make the popular shirtdress pattern McCalls 6696. I took this class to improve my confidence with collars. I hoped the teacher Zara (who has mad skills) would pass on her hint and tricks. Needless to say, I’m loving the end result and I picked up some great hints along the way.
This pattern has different bust size options built into it. I cut the front bodice for a D cup, using a dress size 12. This pattern is designed to have lots of gathers in the centre back. To reduce this, I removed 1 inch from the centre back. At the centre back I made a large box pleat instead. It was also my first time doing the burrito method which is my new favourite shirtmaking technique.
The bodice pattern is designed to be longer in the back. We levelled the bodice to be even front and back. The image below shows the amount that we removed from the waist back.
Three out of four of us in the class had fit issues with this pattern. The skirt pieces on both the pencil skirt and the pleated skirt option seem to run really small as did the waistband. I had to recut my waistband with an extra 5 inches (!) as well as removing the centre-back box pleat of the skirt otherwise I would have had to mess up my pleats.
I tried a new technique for the front button band. I sewed the band to the wrong side of the fabric then topstitched on the front side which allows for a cleaner finish on the right side of the fabric. The fabric is a cotton chambray purchased from The Fabric Store. I used their Liberty of London Bias Binding around the armholes. It has added a beautiful detail that only I can see.
The pattern instructs you to hem the dress before adding buttons. Normally I leave my hemming last as I’ve found that it’s hard to get it straight when the garment isn’t finished. I have noticed that the length is slightly off in some places.
Overall I’m happy with the finished dress but would warn others to test the pattern to make sure the fit is correct.
I wore my Mc Calls dress with my Blackwood cardigan. Since I first tested this pattern I have made another two versions. I made a dark green wool version in view b, the shorter version of the pattern. The combination of the weight of the fabric and the deep green colour looked drab. It reminded me of my high school jumper! Not a period of my life I wanted to be reminded of! In an effort to try and save the project I cropped the hem by 15cm and overlocked the edge of the fabric. I then sewed the hem up by 1cm. This experiment led me to discover that I loved the cropped length. Changing the hem completely removed the school jumper feel.
At Christmas, Paul and I purchased gifts for ourselves which were items that we needed/wanted. For my present, I chose five fabrics for upcoming projects. Amongst them was this gorgeous red merino blend wool from The Fabric Store. It is 260 gsm – the perfect weight for a cardigan. I originally only purchased 70cm of fabric which is enough for a cropped length cardigan without the hemband. I purchased an additional 20cm for the hemband (it’s not going with the grainline but it’s a stretch knit so I’m not worried). All other pieces were cut as per the pattern.
I love cardigans! I wear one almost every day. I chose the red merino as a pop of colour in my closet which has a lot of blue/green/black tones. I have been trying to be a lot more careful about my fabric purchases lately. If I’m unsure about which fabric to buy I’ll often take a swatch home to compare with my stash and the other garments in my closet.
I love having great wardrobe building blocks from which I can experiment with other unique styles and patterns.