McCalls 6696 – The Last Day of Summer Dress

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.

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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)

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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