achievement unlocked: strawberry print shirtdress

I am pretty stoked about this dress, so let’s get into it!

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This is essentially a (very!) wearable muslin of McCall’s 6696. I wrote about the changes I planned to make to it in my last post, but to recap: I eliminated the button placket on the skirt to turn it into a half-shirtdress. I cut the skirt pieces for the straight skirt version & rotated the waist darts into the hem to add some fullness there. I eliminated 1.5″ of gathering in the back. Those are all the flat pattern modifications I made right out of the envelope.

This is a multi-cup pattern (yay!), so I cut the D cup bodice. I cut an 18 in the shoulders & graded out to a 24 in the waist, & just stuck with a 24 through the skirt for simplicity’s sake. Grading between sizes meant that I had to drop the side bust dart about an inch on the fly, which worked out perfectly. The sleeves are an 18 at the armscye, graded out to a 20 at the hem. The pattern called for a 1.25″ hem. I made mine 3″ because I wanted it a little shorter, & that wound up being the perfect length. It hits right at the top of my kneecap.

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Side view. I love love love those pockets!

IMG_9935The back. I think this is a pretty acceptable quantity of blousing/gathering. I might spread it out a little more along the waistline in the next version. & there will definitely be a next version.

I cut everything out & started sewing on Saturday morning. I got everything out of 3 yards of 44″ wide fabric (quilting cotton–this pattern is pretty quilting cotton-friendly). The only contrast is in the pocket bags, because I always like to use a contrasting fabric there.

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I used this red check from my stash that coordinated with the strawberries & was the exact same scale as the blue background check. I understitched so there wouldn’t be any topstitching on the outside of the pocket. & because I am obsessed with understitching.

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I used pink buttons that matched the pink strawberries in the print. Red would have been good too, but I have many more pink buttons than red ones. This photo is also an example of the topstitching I did everywhere. To be honest, I didn’t consult the directions much while I sewed this up. There was a lot of stuff in there about handstitching the facings in place, & although I enjoy handstitching, I just topstitched everything. I read a blog recently that touched on this: how some people prefer handstitching because it looks more “couture” & reflects the work they put into sewing their own clothes, & other people prefer more RTW-type finishes. I just thought topstitching would look a little more crisp & modern, but I could see myself handstitching instead if I made this pattern out of a more delicate fabric.

I did kind of go nuts with the finishings, considering that this was a wearable muslin sewn from quilting cotton.

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I flat-felled the sleeves. Worth noting: I’m pretty sure that the sleeves are supposed to be flat. They are supposed to be eased into the armscyes with no puckers. I decides to just roll with the gathering & call it a design choice, to tie in the gathering in the back. I am really not great at easing in sleeves. But I guess my obsession with this pattern will give me many more opportunities to practice…&/or wear gathered sleeves.

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I used French seams on practically everything else, including the pocket bags. I wouldn’t bother in the future making this pattern from this kind of fabric. I will reserve French seams for more delicate or raveling fabrics. But it’s still a nice touch, & I didn’t have to get out the serger.

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The right side of the fabric is exposed inside the dress at the waistband, placket, yoke facing, & collar facing. Every single seam is enclosed, which is a really nice element.

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Yoke facing & inside collar.

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The collar! I am really proud of this collar. I used the tutorial from Four Square Walls & it came together effortlessly. It’s not quite perfect, but this is so leaps & bounds beyond what I could do when I started sewing, or even what I could do a few months ago! I’m obsessed with how nicely the undercollar rolls & how everything lines up perfectly with the placket.

There are some changes I am planning to make for my next version. I want a little more flare in the skirt, so I’m going to add that in at the side seams, from the hipline down. This shape is actually very practical for me, because it’s kind of A-line. So it doesn’t catch the wind & blow up when I’m buckling Ramona into her car seat or whatever. I would also like just a tiny bit more ease in the bodice, so I think I’m going to sew my next version with a slightly smaller seam allowance. Using 3/8″ instead of 5/8″ will give me an extra inch all around, & I think that will do the trick. I am also going to lengthen the bodice just a little. The length looks right when I’m standing, but it rides up when I sit & is a little bit annoying. I also went rogue when I sewed on the waistband. The bodice looked so short that I used a 1/4″ seam allowance to give myself a little wiggle room, & thank God I did. & since the seams are pressed down & topstitched, I’m not too worried that the strength of the seam being adversely impacted. I’m going to add an inch to the bodice in the middle front, grading out 1/2″ at the side seams & tapering to nothing in the middle back. I’m also going to add a little more width to the sleeves & hem them to be a little longer.

So. Get ready for me to turn every three-yard length of fabric I have into a shirtdress. I am obsessed! I even bought some pink gingham seersucker today to make a sleeveless summer version. (Ramona insisted on going to the sewing store after her gymnastics class, & who am I to argue with such a practical request? Even though she regretted it as soon as we got there & was all, “I want Mommy to pay! I want to leave the sewing store! I don’t want Mommy to look at this anymore!”)

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Notes for the next version. I see why this pattern has been so popular. It’s the best! & kind of a perfect illustration of why I started sewing in the first place. I have always avoided button-downs & shirtdresses, even though I like them aesthetically, because I’ve struggled to find RTW version that fit my chest. I am beyond thrilled to finally have the skills to make my own!

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12 responses to “achievement unlocked: strawberry print shirtdress

  1. Yay! I felt exactly the same way about my shirtdress – I always thought I couldn’t wear anything button-down because of the button gape, but sewing has brought the wonder of the shirtdress into my life. I think I have six of 6696 and I have four Grainline Alders, which I really like in the view with the gathering. And 6696 is always the first thing I think about making when I get new fabric. I have some rayons on the way from Craftsy’s clearance sale, and I think I’d really like a rayon 6696.

    I love your changes. I usually think I need some kind of pleating or gathering below the waist for belly room and sitting room, but I really like your dart rotation method and I might give it a try.

    • I originally thought the same thing about the belly room issue, but I have a few dresses I’ve made with gathered waists & a few pleated skirts & they rarely get worn because I feel like they just accentuate that area. I really prefer to keep the fabric flat there. I don’t think I’d be comfortable with the flat straight skirt version, but rotating the darts added volume that balanced the proportions, I think. On my next version, I’m making the waistline just a little bit bigger & adding a little more flare to the skirt. We’ll see how that goes. (It’s already cut out & ready to be sewn!)

      But mostly I am pretty thrilled with how this came out! I’ve worn it a few times already & every time I put it on, I’m like, “Wow, this looks even better than I remembered.” I forgot to mention in the post, but I can actually get it on & off without unbuttoning it, & I didn’t end up putting in a zipper or anything. Even though it’s pretty fitted, obviously.

  2. This came out fantastic! I think it’s my favorite of your projects so far. The photos came out great as well.

    (side note: I recently discovered Hawthorne Threads through another blog and I think I’m well on my way to putting their kids through college.)

    • Yeah, I started ordering from Hawthorne Threads right after I started sewing. I really like the fact that everything you order is counted toward your discount points. Super-fast shipping too!

      I finally figured out how to take okay-ish photos by myself in the house, so hopefully my project photos will be slightly less shitty going forward.

      I am already working on a second shirtdress, & I’m hoping that it will turn out even better! We’ll see. I’m contemplating adding a little tulle ruffle to the skirt but I don’t know if that would be too cutesy. I mean, tulle ruffles are kind of my jam…& the point of sewing for yourself is to sew what you like…

  3. Wow, this is the cutest one yet! I love the print. Looks great on you.

  4. Pingback: achievement unlocked: floral shirtdress | if you don't have anything nice to say, come sit here by me

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