McCalls 6696 Shirtdress: Ding Ding Round 2 – it’s a knockout!

Sew Sarah Smith

Ah McCalls 6696, what a bout we’ve had! You may recall that I documented Round One with this dress? It ended with me, well, losing … resulting, as it did, with a garment that was more tent than dress. However, I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet – I really wanted to go the distance with this pattern; to put into practice all I felt I’d learned and so … here we are, Ding Ding: Round 2!

Firstly, to give myself a bit of distance from the pattern I sewed up a couple of other things, so that when I came back to it I didn’t feel jaded. It wasn’t just the fit of the dress that had me on the ropes, I decided, but the styling of it too. I felt a bit wishywashy in my original, I wanted something that packed a bit more of a punch. And that’s where the fabric comes in. I love this poplin! I feel it’s bold yet understated; I love that it’s polka dots but it’s also flowers and that it’s stable but also soft. Perfect! (It comes in three colourways, you can find it HERE).

Sew Together For Summer

Once I’d found the perfect fabric, it was easier to think about the style changes I wanted to make; I decided to replace the full collar with a mandarin one (by simply using only the collar stand pieces) and to add short sleeves. I feel this ‘toughens up’ the dress, preventing it from being overly girly, especially since I decided I wanted to keep the full skirt. I made View B, with belt loops.

McCall m6696 review

I decided to muslin the bodice again, going down a size and using the C cup pattern piece this time to get rid of the excess ease. (For comparison purposes, bear in mind I’m 5.3″, fairly petite but with a longer waistline). This told me that I still needed to:

  • do a small narrow shoulder adjustment (taking 0.25″ from each shoulder piece)
  • raise the armhole (and the underarm of the sleeve) by 0.5″ because the forward rotation of my arms felt a bit restricted
  • lower the side bust dart by 0.5″
  • take 2″ out of centre back. This took out all the gathers at the top of the bodice and left just a smidge of ease at the lower
  • do a 0.5″ sway back adjustment – meaning I took out 0.5″ out horizontally at bodice CB, tapering to nothing at the side seams. This also helped remove any residual pouffiness from the back bodice. I don’t think the gathers are solely to blame for the excessive pouff; I’m sure the length of the back bodice contributes.
  • as before, I did not shorten the skirt.
Fit adjustments
For illustration purposes only! Taken from ‘Fit for Real People’ by Palmer / Alto

And because I was pulling no punches, I decided to put all that into yet another toile. Together they added up to more fit/pattern alterations than I’d ever before attempted in one garment and I was a bit unsure of myself. But the next toile came out perfect and I proceeded to dance a circuit of my imaginary boxing ring, fist pumping! In reality I was dancing around the dining table like a loon but…well, let’s not dwell on that image!

So I cut into my fabric and got sewing! It was a joy. As you can imagine, I was so familiar with it by this stage, that I could just plough through the instructions. Though the only thing I did differently to them, I think, was to sew the sleeves in the flat and hem them that way – it’s just easier isn’t it. I also added an extra couple of belt loops, as before. As for the collar, I incorporated everything relevant from the Sewing Collars : 10 Tips ‘n’ Tricks! post, namely trimming the inner stand a smidge, interfacing the outer stand only within the seam lines and to sew the two pieces onto the neckline of the dress one at a time; rather than construct the collar and then attach it. I cannot tell you how happy I was with the way it turned out!

McCalls 6696 Shirtdress

I like how I can wear it buttoned up to the neck, all ‘prim and proper like’ or have it open and more relaxed. The same with the skirt, button it the whole way down or to mid thigh for a flash of leg, hehe!

Fabric buttons

I again self-covered my buttons so that I have more freedom in terms of what colour accessories I can wear with the dress, i.e a tan belt like here, or a white one or a navy one. Gotta have options, right?!

And let me tell you, I’m so happy that I didn’t concede defeat with this pattern. I’m a bit pleased with it! And by ‘a bit’, I really mean a lot! It is the thing I’m most proud of sewing ever. Try as I might to find fault with it, I find myself only loving it. I don’t think I’ve been this happy in a ‘proper’ dress since I wore my wedding dress (which I most certainly did not make!) My confidence with tackling fit, whilst still not sky high, is definitely on the up. That was my #MMMay17 pledge to myself and ultimately the basis of the #sewtogetherforsummer Challenge. I know it seems like a lot of effort for one dress. But it’s not all for one dress; the things I’ve learned and put into practice here, and the confidence I’ve gained, are all transferable. That said, I do want another 6696 at some point! It’s a win-win!

Next up, fitting skinny pants!!! Wish me luck!

Until next time, thanks for reading



48 thoughts on “McCalls 6696 Shirtdress: Ding Ding Round 2 – it’s a knockout!

  1. Oh thank you Sue; what a great comment!!!!! That’s exactly how I feel about this fabric too, funny isn’t it how the right fabric can inspire so much passion!! Thanks lovely! Xxx


  2. Thank you so much Anna-Jo! I totally agree; I use bedsheets from charity shops to make all my toiles; saves potentially wasting precious expensive fabric! I feel much more confident cutting into my actual fabric knowing it’s more likely to end well don’t you!! Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kids are just so honest. Every time 😱 Thanks, I think sometimes I’m just lucky with fit; if it doesn’t work I don’t know usually what to do so I tend to move on x


  4. WOW! Just WOW! You know I love this print somethin’ fierce and seeing it made up into M6696 is pure perfection! The muslins were totally worth it! Seriously…I too would be doing the imaginary boxing win!! LOVE IT!

    Okay…you can do those skinny pants! Yes you can!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks Lynsey! I was like a dog with a bone with it, haha! But yes, you’re right; I will definitely make it again…just waiting for the right fabric to come along!! Xx


  6. Cheers Rebecca!! My litmus test for a make is to wear it in front of my son because he will always say exactly what he thinks and his verdict was “yeah it’s alright that Mum” – I was chuffed!!! You seem to be doing brilliantly as you are! I love your Makes! But yeah I feel good thinking I’ve learned something. Just hope the old brain cells retain the info hehe! Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you Naomi! It’s hard to take the time to muslin isn’t it when you’re just dying to get stuck in… but it does pay off! And saves precious fabric which, lets face it, can be a costly investment! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you Amanda love! Yeah the buttonhole gauge thingy is awesome! It takes most of the guesswork out of the equation. I got mine from Jaycotts online. Nah, you could so do it, I’ve watched the amazing way you work! Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks! A sleeveless dress is fab and originally that’s what I was going for. However, the armhole would still need to be raised on this bodice for me as I was flashing my bra, which is a look admittedly! Be brave, you’ll thank yourself for it! 👊🏻😘


  10. It’s such an awesome dress and the fit is spot on!! I think you need some more, so much time and effort made it perfect so you definitely need to use it again. So glad you kept going, it’s an awesome win 💗


  11. AMAZING! Thanks for detailing out all your adjustments. I’m currently working on a shirtdress and debating whether to have the sleeves or not… they are a little tight, and like yours the arm movement is a little restricted. I’m thinking I might just leave the sleeves off and solve all the problems in one go! Good for you for tackling all the adjustments head on though instead of wimping out like me 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It looks AMAZING!!!! I take my hat off to you for all your patience. I probably would have fudged the first go and resigned never to make it again. It was definitely worth all the effort!!! I so need one of those buttonhole guides too what a nifty bit of kit. Congrats on being totally amazing xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I declare you the winner! It’s a gorgeous dress…I want to make one just like it…but I had better not. I’m tempted by the fabric though! All those changes and toiles were worth it, but as you wisely say, that’s all knowledge you take to the next project. Plus you know your body a little better, which makes fitting easier too. Well done! A huge success. xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This dress really is a beauty. The alterations were clearly worth it, and now you have a dress you love. I need to be a little less lazy with muslins and alterations I think!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is a beautiful dress, Sarah! Love the style, and the fabric; it’s well worth all your perserverance because it looks fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

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