McCalls 6696: My Literary Sewing Circle project!

11:22 PM




From early on in this round of the Literary Sewing Circle, I had the idea to finally use some multicolour cotton that's been in my stash for nearly exactly two years. I remember the date I got it because a friend of mine who does not sew won a gift certificate to Fabricland, & invited me to go shopping with her -- we picked this out together!

The print in this fabric reminds me of brush strokes, and so I took the theme of Frieda's painting as my overall inspiration for this dress. When Frieda takes up her brushes again at the end of Dance, Gladys, Dance, in response to and in spite of terrible things happening, there is a sense of hope and forward movement in her life. I found this an encouraging way to end the story, and inspirational in an unsentimental way. This dress celebrates that sense of creation despite life's foibles.


I had always thought that this fabric (a light,crisp cotton) would make a good shirtdress. So now was the time to finally make myself a McCalls 6696, the darling of the shirtdress sewing world. I enjoyed it, though it took longer than I had anticipated. Partly due to the more detailed nature of this project  and partly because midway through I came down with the terrible flu that has been making the rounds of my workplace. Ugh. However, all is well, and I finished my dress this week!




I had some hesitation over buttons; originally I'd considered having multicolour buttons, all different, but when the dress was done it didn't seem to go well. So I narrowed it down to two buttons in my stash. And then completely changed my mind and finally went with a set of clear plastic buttons I'd picked up at the thrift store. They are small and unobtrusive, and really let the fabric shine.

First tries

Final "invisible" buttons!

I had to make quite a few adjustments to the pattern. Like many others, I tried to remove the back poof. My measurements were slightly off so I did have to make a mini gather at yoke and waist, but it's almost entirely removed. And I also had to shorten the bodice fairly significantly, so watch that if you are also short torsoed! I think I ended up taking over an inch up at the front and more in the back, including a sway back adjustment. But I am pleased with the results - I got the waistband sitting at the narrowest part of my body, and the skirt falls to the length I was going for.



But oh those pleats! They took quite a while, and picking out the basting threads took a while also. In fact my husband was still picking bits of thread off me while taking photos, haha.



I used the burrito technique for the yoke, and did not do any of the hand stitching that this pattern calls for. I "stitched in the ditch" after pinning carefully, to catch the inner band, collar and sleeve cuffs. No slipstitching for me. I used the long sleeve view, including the winged cuffs, but found I had to loosely tack the points of the cuffs to the sleeve, or they kept flopping out, making my arms look like origami cranes.



I absolutely love this dress! It makes me feel creative and lively, just like Frieda did as she began painting again after her crisis of faith. I styled this with some thrifted shoes (brand new Naturalizers) and coral necklace. I'm really feeling this dress, and it is also just perfect for Easter weekend. How fortuitous :)



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8 comments

  1. I love your dress! A fitted shirt dress is one of the most difficult patterns to nail - and you have done it beautifully. So many areas to fit and all dependant on each other. I don't think we see that many people sewing them because of the need to 'fit'. A skirt and separate top is so forgiving in that regard. Your descriptions of pattern alterations are great.
    And your fabric is fun. I can certainly see the connection with Frieda's painting.

    I am still crocheting......takes longer than I thought! But one day there will be a photo. It will be a summer/spring top so season wise I have a little time up my sleeve.

    I have recommended this book to many people. A very enjoyable read and fascinating to think about. I do often wonder if authors ever see their books as readers do, or are further inspired (or interested) at the reflections of the readers. Do we read into the plot more than intended? I guess different readers see connections in a book with their own unique life experiences, beliefs and understandings; this results in the many different reviews any one book receives. This is why I so enjoy the literary sewing circle. Next time I will stick to sewing my inspiration garment!

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    1. I look forward to seeing your project once you've got it all crocheted up :) It's very ambitious of you! I'm so glad to hear that you really enjoyed this book and that you find it worth recommending. I think it is one of those books that can be read and understood in many different ways. I also really enjoy hearing people's take on a book and what they liked about it, or what stood out for them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts throughout this round of the Literary Sewing Circle!

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  2. It came out beautifully! I think you definitely made the right choice on the buttons.

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    1. Thank you! I was so glad to discover them in my stash.

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  3. Love the colourful print. You look great in a shirt dress.

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    1. Thank you! They do take a little longer with all the details to finesse, but so worth it. I'm going to enjoy wearing this one :)

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  4. The fit is wonderful and that print is beautiful!

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    1. Thanks! I'm so glad I got the torso to the right length, whew!! And I do love this fabric, it has been marinating in the stash for far too long -- finally I get to share it :)

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