Ever make something, finish and think… now why did I do that???
This is one of those makes… alas…
This is the infamous McCalls 6696 shirtdress.
I finished this early September. Life has been overwhelming and I’m struggling to keep up with the laundry – not to mention blog posts. I’ve got another two things to blog… actually three…
I absolutely loved making this. Loved it. Yes, being a shirtdress it’s quite a detailed make. Yoke, collar, button band, waist band, belt keepers, pockets and more. The cutting seemed to take forever. I imagine trying to sew it up in a few sessions would be exhausting.
I sewed this in a gorgeous fabric – a Lisette lawn, silky soft and such a pretty print. Not too colourful and flowery for me.
I sewed it up over a week or so. Cutting, pinning, basting, sewing, overlocking, ironing, hand stitching when I had an opportunity. I purchased this pattern as soon as it was released, and traced it. Then put it on the back burner and watched everyone else sew it up. I just had not felt I had enough time to make it up.
I made most of this while my husband was away for a few weeks and I was doing the typical ‘working mother’ juggle of work-school-meals-activities-appointments etc. When the girls were in bed, I would do the quiet tasks… cutting, pinning and hand sewing. I would sew some seams when I woke up and so on. It always surprises me how much I enjoy making garments in this manner. I find I make less mistakes, my sewing is more considered.
I attached the yoke using the burrito method ala Grainline Archer shirt. It’s genius.
After my silk Grainline Archer collar battle, I decided to try Four Square Walls method of attaching the collar. I personally found this SO much easier.
This was my massive blooper of the make. It’s not that I hate contrasts and quirkiness. I just hate it on me. I think if I had sewn it up plain with no contrast, I would be much happier. Oh well, you live and learn!
I cut the inner waistband, inner collar stand and inner button plackets a from small pink gingham. I made bias strips of the blue fabric to finish the armholes. I know! Attention to detail plus!
I’m not sure if it is of any interest to anyone whatsoever and it’s certainly not ‘new’, however I used some of the quick-piecing techniques I used when I used to make quilts, it’s not rock science but it does speed up your sewing – quilting or dressmaking. I’ve found that being skilled in a wide variety of crafts has been enormously helpful with my dressmaking. I won’t bore you with all the details here as it’s not relevant but I did use one of those techniques to quickly create my contrast buttonbands – if it is of no interest or you have seen this before, skip over the next section.
I don’t blog every detail of my makes, there is a lot of knowledge out there, I’m including this as it’s a variation on the pattern and thought it might be useful to someone.
You could easily add seam allowances, cut four bands and sew them together. Or you could do this…
I added seam allowance to the button band and cut one button band from the blue fabric and one from the pink. I interfaced the pink strip. I then placed the two button bands right sides together (pink and blue) and sewed down the outer two lines.
Then iron the seam allowances (trim if required) towards the pink contrast side.
Iron the bands wrong sides together and…
I’m not one of those super-organised bloggers with a fancy camera on a tripod. I make no apology for that – I use the family point-and-shoot camera. I often think half way through a make “oh that might be interesting to someone” and absent-mindedly use my iPhone to document my work.
I did contact Heather of Handmade By Heather B via twitter before I attached the button bands as the instructions said to turn the unnotched band edge over 3/8in and then sew the band to the dress (this will make sense if you make the dress). It just struck me as odd when the band is folded in half and then the band is sewn to the dress with a 5/8in seam allowance it didn’t feel logical that the 3/8in turned under edge out meet/cover the stitching line. Heather confirmed that she probably hadn’t even read the instructions as she constructed her shirtdress. I often don’t but shirts with collars make me nervous. Heather said she had probably sewn her bands on with a 5/8in seam allowance and turned the raw edge under 5/8in as well. So I did too.
I hand sewed the inner waistband, collar stand and hem. I overlocked the raw edges.
I’m not pleased with the top stitching around the collar & buttonbands, I should unpick this stitching and re-do it closer to the edge. It looks heavy-handed to me as it is.
I took a lot of care with this make… and I love every minute of it. It just goes to prove, there can be as much joy in the making as the wearing. I sew because I love the process. That’s here I find my magic.
I might not like my interpretation on me, however I loved making it and think it is a great pattern. A real classic.
I’d definitely have no contrast fabrics. I’d add some length to the bodice and taper out the skirt more over my hips. Or maybe I’m just not a shirtdress kinda gal.
PATTERN: McCalls 6696, view C.
FABRIC: Lisette lawn from Spotlight.