I love shirtwaist dresses. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love ’em. Despite not making very many of them, when looking at fabric I’ll often judge it by thinking “how would this look as a shirtwaist dress?”. I have several fabrics in my stash that would, in fact, look great (if I had thought to buy enough yardage) – but I have only ever made two. Finally my ass was kicked into gear when Mary issued her “Autumn/Spring of 1000 Shirtdresses” challenge.
So may I present: my first McCalls 6696.
Yes, I am wearing high heeled jellies! Hello, 90’s
This dress was, largely, really fun to make. Unfortunately the polka dots were slightly off grain (either than or I accidentally stretched the fabric during the washing and drying process) which made the cutting slightly more of a challenge, but otherwise everything went together really well.
This is a “proper” shirtwaist dress, with a separate button placket and collar stand. It also has a separate waist band with belt loops and a wide pleated skirt – and separate pattern pieces for different bust cups, which is good news for ladies who are more heavily endowed (sigh. One day I won’t be jealous)
Now, while I haven’t been blogging that frequently, I have been sewing. This dress was finished a few weeks ago and now that I want to write about it, I can’t remember any of the specific details…. I think I cut the size 14 (C cup) and had to slightly move the darts and narrow the shoulders; then I sewed the size seams with a 10mm seam allowance rather than 15mm. I took 3cm out of the center back bodice (not the yoke) to reduce some poofiness, as my fabric has a reasonable amount of body.
I also lengthened it (so the skirt is now 70cm long) – I’m very glad I noticed Mary’s post saying that the button placket attached after the skirt is hemmed, or I would have forgotten to lengthen it as well! As I’ve mentioned before, 70cm is the perfect length for me before hemming, so that skirts hit me just at or under the knee (for reference I’m 178cm tall and have, err, ugly knees).
The pattern calls for a lot of handstitching, which I like to avoid unless necessary – so everything is topstitched down. And I admit, my top-stitching is not the neatest. I also need to write down what settings I use to top-stitch so everything matches. The yoke is “bagged” using the burrito technique, and I follow Andrea’s/Four Square Walls’ tutorial for the collar. The hem is a machine blind hem (<3)
Unfortunately I must have stretched out the waistband before I attached it to the button placket, so it’s not nice and even at the center front – usually I’d cover that up with a belt but I don’t have any narrow enough for the belt loops! I’m actually in desperate need of some new belts, but given that I don’t go shopping any more I have no idea where to buy any.
The one thing I don’t like about the dress/pattern is that the armscye’s are too low – I’m wondering if the pattern was drafted to be sleeveless, then the optional sleeves added in. As I understand it, the armscye should be lower for sleeveless dresses (or you’ll feel like your arm is being strangled), and higher/closer to the body/underarm with sleeves. Correct me if I’m wrong! As it is, it gets a bit too tight across the chest when I cross my arms.
It may well just be how it fits ME but I’ve seen a few other people mention it as well.
The fabric is a mid-weight (but loosely woven) chambray, and it’s lovely to wear. The buttons are plain white ones from a local craft shop. I had forgotten how much I like separate waist bands to give more definition to the waist (even without a belt). The pleated skirt is lovely and full (I had to cut it on on the flat) and pockets are always handy. I also love almost every version I can see on google images, particularly the solid coloured ones. Is this a good enough excuse to buy MORE of the $12 linen from The Fabric Store??
Have you got any Shirtwaist Plans? I have some cotton in the washing machine that is destined to be another 6696, and I’m keen to try and make one with a faced campstyle collar rather than the collar stand too – similar to the one I drafted earlier this year.
Pattern: McCalls 6696
Fabric: Polka dot chambray from Evans of Masterton, $47
Notions: White buttons, $5. Interfacing, $5. Thread, stash
In other news, it’s only 2 weeks until we leave!! Wheee. We’re planning on doing a short road trip around the South Island before moving properly to Golden Bay so I’ll try to get some nice photos. In the meantime I’ll leave you with this photo, taken just before I cleaned my iron with some of the most foul smelling cleaning product I’ve ever used. The apron was a “wedding shower” gift from my auntie, made from a pair of my grandmother’s old curtains.