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April 20, 2015

The Shirtdress Returns!

If Mary’s taught me one thing, it’s that you can never make just one McCall’s M6996 shirtdress. No, that would offend the shirtdress gods and then who knows what might happen?!

So here is my latest offering: a straight skirted, sleeveless, splendiferously polka dotted shirtdress:

McCall's M6696 shirtdress by Cashmerette

I was still on the fence about my flared skirt Vlisco 6696 when I decided to cut this one out, to test out the different silhouette. The gorgeous fabric is from Mood (sold out, alas) and is a lovely garment-weight cotton that is most excellent to sew with. I used a black contrast for the waistband which you can just see peeking out under the belt (originally, I wasn’t intending to wear a belt but it’s a little boxy on me without it).

McCall's M6696 shirtdress by Cashmerette

Beyond the different view, I also went rogue and hacked the placket and collar. I never, ever, wear shirts or shirtdresses done up to the collar. It is just Not A Good Look for me. I always end up with floppy bits hanging around my neck, and no girl wants that. So instead, I decided to make this one more into a V, following Andrea’s Archer shirt tutorial.  The result doesn’t look dramatically different, but eliminates the floppiness and is more open. Much better!

McCall's M6696 shirtdress by Cashmerette

The good old back puffiness is still evident: good if I ever develop a stoop.

McCall's M6696 shirtdress by Cashmerette

For this version, I went up to a 22D without an FBA, and rotated the dart down by about 2 inches. The main issue fit wise this time is the armscye which is gaping quite considerably. If I make this sleeveless again, I’ll need to pinch out about 3/4 inch there.

Whether I will make another sleeveless one is a bit of an open question – I have a feeling that sleeveless shirtdresses accentuate my top-heaviness, so I feel a little uncomfortable in them.

McCall's M6696 shirtdress by Cashmerette

Are you on team shirtdress? Fit or flare? Sleeves or sleeveless? The world must know! For we must appease the shirtdress gods. I believe they live in the Garment District in a penthouse with Tim Gunn.

I will leave you with a shot of my dress in its mothership: the McCall’s Pattern Company!

McCall's M6696 shirtdress by Cashmerette


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April 13, 2015

Crazy lady: Vlisco McCall’s 6696 shirtdress

I’m a magpie for big and colourful prints, so naturally I’ve been stalking the Vlisco website for quite some time. Vlisco are a historic producer of Dutch wax print fabric, which is particularly popular in Africa (it’s sometimes known as “African wax print” as a result). When I lived in Malawi, well before my sewing days, I loved it and was duly amused by novelty prints like Princess Diana faces and household implements – sadly past Jenny didn’t have the presence of mind to buy it all. What a mistake.

I was a little hesitant to buy some Vlisco because of the 6 yard minimum (which I heard has just been reduced), but then I saw Sonja’s Vlisco Grainline Alder Shirtdress and Dixie’s gorgeous sheath dress and IT HAD TO BE MINE. In fact, exactly the same pattern, just a different colourway. Those ladies, they have good taste.

Having jumped on one bandwagon, I immediately jumped on another (it’s tricky dual bandwaggoning, ladies): McCall’s M6696. A.K.A. “Mary’s shirtdress“.

Let me present: my Vlisco shirtdress

McCall's M6696 in Vlisco fabric | Cashmerette

It’s a pretty classic pattern, with a separate button placket, waistband with belt loops and a traditionally constructed collar. It comes in bust sizes, which, while only going up to a D (the American average is a DD…), is still a sight better than the traditional B cup I have to contend with. For this version, I used the full skirt which is pleated at the top. Weirdly, though the fabric is a bit stiff it doesn’t like holding pleats, so the whole thing just expands out like a psychedelic mushroom.

In an effort to get a decent fit, I used the 20D size and FBAed by an inch, then used the size 24 waistband, and for the skirt graded from the 24 down to a 22. To make the 20 bodice fit the 24 waistband, I didn’t sew up the waist darts, and I did a little less gathering at the back.  The resulting fit is…. alright. There’s a bit of tightness across my high bust, as I was potentially a little optimistic with the 20. The skirt is ginormous so no problem there, and the waistband is nicely skimming, meaning I can actually breathe and sit down in it. Yay for sitting and breathing! Feminism in action.

McCall's M6696 in Vlisco fabric | Cashmerette

The puffy back is a slightly peculiar design feature of the pattern, and I’m not entirely sure what I think of it. The plus side is that it makes my waist appear to nip in a lot more than it does!

McCall's M6696 in Vlisco fabric | Cashmerette

I wasn’t sure if I was sold on the fit-and-flare silhouette, but it’s growing on me! Plus I love digging my hands into the pockets and puffing it up like a puffer fish. Clearly I made no attempt at pattern matching, but the pattern itself is so insane I figure I’ll probably hypnotise any passers-by before they notice.

Have you tried using wax print fabric? It’s a lot stiffer than I’m used to, though it does soften a little with washing. What else do you recommend making with it? I want more ideas so I that I can justify buying more crazy patterns!

And I shall leave you on a spin:

McCall's M6696 in Vlisco fabric | Cashmerette

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