This is the popular McCalls 6696 shirt dress which has been regularly popping up around the blogosphere since it was released a couple of years ago. It has two skirt options; pleated or straight, with short, three-quarter length sleeves or sleeveless. I opted for the pleated skirt and short sleeves, I was originally planning to go sleeveless but as the Summer got later some arm coverage seemed like a good idea.
The fabric is a Liberty Tana Lawn called ‘Summer’, I’ve been coveting it since it was released and finally decided to treat myself at the beginning of January (a case of post-Christmas blues shopping) I think Liberty were having a joke when they named the print as it’s predominantly of leafless trees and snow-capped mountains. It’s one of those fabrics where the more you look the more details you see, there’s a little man fishing (complete with fish) and it was only when I was sewing the side seam that I spotted a little bird (I was very happy to find the bird perfectly placed on the button band and collar)
I muslined the bodice cutting a size 16 with a D-cup (it comes in a B C and D cup so I managed to get away without doing a FBA). The size turned out to be perfect apart from needing to shorten the bodice by 2 inches. I spent quite a lot of time fiddling with the back which has gathers between the yoke and waistband. I tried it as drafted but it was far too puffy. I reduced the gathers but again, too puffy. I tried adding an inverted pleat instead but it still looked wrong. I think the problem was I had shortened the bodice so the area between the waist and bottom of the yoke was a lot shorter so whatever I did it would never look right. In the end I removed the gathers altogether and just added a couple of darts.
The dress took a full 3 metres of 135cm fabric. After cutting it took a while before I had time to sew it up (aren’t Summers supposed to be lazy? Mine seems to have been hectic) I didn’t really follow the instructions apart from noting all the hand sewing involved. I attached the yoke using Grainline Jen’s burrito method and Four Square Walls Andrea’s method for attaching a stand collar (if anyone is hesitant about sewing a shirt these two tutorials make it really easy!) I French seamed throughout and hand finished all the required innards (Sleeve hem, button bands, waist facing, collar stand and a rather long hem!)
I used the same buttons as I did on my Blue Carline Edith blouse, they seem to be the perfect shade of blue/green and I’m slightly heartbroken that I haven’t got any more. It took a while to find the right length but in the end I took about four inches off and did a two inch hem so it falls just on my knee.
I was determined to get it finished before the summer was out and just managed to sew the buttons on 31st August. The fit is spot on, I’m particularly pleased with the back, all my faffing about seems to have paid off. I can see why it’s been so popular as it really is the perfect shirt dress pattern. Having to take things slowly made sewing this a lot more enjoyable, I really do need to swap my frantic impatience for a more leisurely pace in future.
I’m planning my Autumn and Winter sewing and hope to be making another. I have some grey/blue chambray that would be perfect for longer sleeves, although some contrast top stitching may be needed to break up the solid colour. I think I can safely get away with wearing this into the Autumn paired with boots and a cardigan.
I really love this dress, I’m so glad I saved the fabric for something that could do it justice, the colour, print and silhouette just feels very ‘me’. I know it will become a firm favourite and I’ll enjoy wearing it for years to come!
20 thoughts on “McCalls 6696 – The Last Day of Summer Dress”
Helen it looks fantastic!! That fabric is gorgeous and perfectly suited to you and this pattern! I think it was definitely worth the extra time and effort. Beautiful!
Thank you Heather, I think it’s the best thing I’ve made in a while, it’s just the combination of fabric and pattern that I really like and it actually fit’s properly too! 😊 x
This is beautiful. So glad you enjoyed the slower paced sew to get everything right. It looks great from all angles and I think it is a really good length on you, very flattering.
Thanks Louise, It’s strange but how much I like the finished garment is really influenced by how much I enjoyed sewing it, I’ve still not worn the silk Sutton blouse that caused me so much pain! 😊 x
Its just gorgeous! You have made an outstanding dress! Love the fabric and your neat finishing on the inside – inspirational. I am inspired to up my game on my next one which is going to be grey😃. I hear you on the slow sewing. I try to reign in my impatience too often unsuccessfully😒
Thanks Hila, I loved your checked version! I’m trying to go for quality over quantity with my sewing time and just up my game a little bit. I’m going to try tracing a Burda Style pattern next! X
So gorgeous! I adore the fabric. I’ve got a tencel denim one of these cut out to sew this weekend if I can squeeze some sewing time in, and was planning darts in the back, so am delighted to see how well it worked for you!
It’s such a classic pattern a denim one would be perfect, looking forward to seeing yours! X
Love that fabric! I didn’t even notice the details until you started mentioning them. I just loved the shades of blue. It’s a very nice pattern, I’ll have to keep that one in mind.
Thanks Linda, I really love all the little details in the fabric, I’ve got a piece of Sandy Ray which is quite similar, it’s got boats and little Castles on it! X
I love it with sleeves and the print is just gorgeous – much more than the usual small scale flower prints. The darts worked really well in the back – I reduced the gathers quite a lot as well. I also want another one for autumn – looking for a good chambray or similar but not finding the right thing yet – maybe in Birmingham!
Thanks Louise, I suspected that the gathers wouldn’t work on my short waist but I really like them as a design detail. I’ve already started saving for Birmingham, I really need to stock up on some knits as I (surprisingly) only have one useable length in the stash! X
I want some really nice chambray and something for a wrap dress, apart from this I have more or less all the fabric I need for autumn sewing but obviously there is no fun in that!
Your dress is gorgeous! I love the placket, which might sound random, but I’m a bit obsessed with plackets at the minute. I’ve used the same method to attach collars, and it is so much easier than trying to attach the complete collar in one go.
Thank you, I was pleased that the little bird runs down the placket, it was completely by accident as I didn’t spot it until I started sewing! X
It just looks so well made and gorgeous too!
Thank you Su! X
looking good, the back darts work well. But that is the worse named fabric ever!
What a beautiful dress! I love it so much, it really suits you and you look fantastic in it. Also, really jealous of the fabric!! x