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

45 thoughts on “The Shirtdress Returns!

  1. Rachel says:

    That looks absolutely fabulous, I found your blog through madalynne and i must say i hope you post lots more soon.

  2. LaLa Sews says:

    I love that the dots look like clouds. Such a pretty dress – you look lovely in it and shouldn’t worry about the sleeveless aspect at all.

    1. Aren’t they just the best? I like it when polka dots go a bit rogue…

  3. Charlotte says:

    Love both your versions of 6696 & I think the sleeveless version looks just as cute

  4. Natasha says:

    I love this dress! I need to be brave and try one. You look fabulous in it.

    1. Thanks Natasha – you should totally give it a try! The only mildly tricky bits are the collar and the front band, but if you take it slowly I think most folks could tackle it.

  5. Absolutely stunning!

  6. What a lovely make. I oscillate between being team fit and flare and team shirt dress. My wardrobe reflects that. Most of my shirt dresses are sleeveless because I am still working on getting a sleeve to fit my muscular/farm girl biceps that come with throwing bales and shearing sheep.

    1. The best of both worlds, I think! Also your farm girl biceps sound AWESOME

  7. How cool that you got to go to McCall’s! Another lovely dress–I like how the buttons just offer the tiniest amount of contrast against the black.

    Ack. I need to make a shirtdress–they’ve been haunting my dreams for months now. I prefer a more straight skirted affair with 3/4 length sleeves with a turn up cuff. Perhaps when I finish my couch recovering project which is currently sprawled all over my workroom.

    1. The 6696 totally has a straight skirt / 3/4 length / cuff option, so you should give it a go!

  8. Nancy K says:

    It’s a great dress on you and the print is wonderful. As much as you don’t want to make large darts, you will eliminate the excess at the front armhole, with a larger dart. Just trim them after sewing an finish the edges so it’s not so bulky. A better fit in this area will be more flattering. I don’t see any reason why you can’t wear a sleeveless dress.

    1. I think I probably need to reshape the armhole a bit, but that’s just a challenge for next time!

  9. Tanya Maile says:

    Ah, that fabric is perfect for a shirt dress! It looks great on you and I think you rock the sleeveless version wonderfully. I made the new mccalls shirt dress with the princess seams and gored skirt (forget the number) and it has a collar like that and I can very much see why you like it! For myself I prefer sleeveless shirt dresses. Short sleeves sometimes look like waitress uniforms on me, but I think it depends a lot on the fabric. I do like my 3/4 sleeve Colette Hawthorn, so perhaps I’m not a fan of the “in between”?

    1. Thanks Tanya! I’ve been eyeing up that princess seam/V-neck new release, so can’t wait to see what that looks like on you.

  10. Debbie Cook says:

    I think your dress looks great! We all see things differently, don’t we … I think the sleevelessness makes you look LESS top-heavy because there’s less fabric horizontally without sleeves and more skin to break up the “field” (so to speak). Same thing with the contrast cardi in the last pic … for the same reasons except sub contrast for skin. 🙂

    1. Hmmm I think this might also be a photos vs. reality thing – even my fellow Crafty Foxes agreed I looked a little boxy in it. However, I love love love it with my cardi, and I reckon I’ll get over it anyway 🙂

  11. Eleanor says:

    I think this sleeveless version is terrific on you and you don’t look top heavy at all. I really like the neckline too. I have this dress on my list to try soon. I am looking forward to doing so.

    1. You should totally give the neckline a go – it isn’t that hard, and I think it’s a really great option if you usually don’t wear shirtdresses done up to the collar.

  12. Lori says:

    I think you look great in the sleeveless version and the shirtdress always look amazing on you. I bet your trip to McCall’s was so fun.

    1. Thanks Lori! Yes, it was really fascinating to see behind the scenes at McCall’s – in some ways it’s smaller than you would imagine but in other ways it’s bigger! I think my favorite bit was looking through the racks of garments..

  13. gingermakes says:

    This is so cute! I really, really like it. I love fuller-skirted shirt dresses on other people, but feel weird in them myself. And I’m Team Sleeveless!

    1. Thank you my dear! I’ve never thought of myself as being on team #FullSkirt, but I must confess that I find myself jamming my hands in the pockets of the Vlisco one and puffing them out… so maybe I do!

  14. Cynthia says:

    that look so nice on you – wow – great job

  15. michelleinsea says:

    I think this is really cute–love the fabric! I tend to avoid sleeveless not because I feel it makes me look top-heavy, but for another reason you alluded to–the armhole gape. It’s just such a pain to deal with the Big Honkin Dart, especially if there are already other darts in the bodice, giving no clear place to rotate the FBA’ed dart to.

    1. Hiya -ah yes, the dreaded armhole gape. I’m determined to make myself a woven block that doesn’t do that, and then ALL THE SLEEVELESS THINGS WILL BE MINE!

  16. Marike Smit says:

    Very stylish!

  17. I cheated on the full vs not skirt for my second version. I prefer the slash pockets of this version, but I feel more comfortable in the hips with the added room from the full skirt and its pleats. So I used the front I liked and the back I like! It’s a nice way to get an inbetween. For my current version, I’m changing the back gathers to pleats, which gives me room to hulk out, but looks sleeker (at least that’s the concept).
    I think you look great in this version, the sleeveless looks good!

  18. It looks lovely – I don’t think you look top heavy, but you gotta be comfortable. Maybe next time you could do just a slight kimono cap sleeve and see if you like it more…. I really must make this up. I love the straight skirt version, it’s so chic.

  19. Totally on Team Shirtdress. I prefer the flare silhouette. I’ve only sewn one with sleeves, but have a sleeveless version on my must sew list! I think you look lovely in this sleeveless dress! I’m kinda gaga over those random polka dots!

  20. Caroline says:

    That looks great. I have made sleeveless and short sleeves but both fitted. I like the look of the flared ones but every time I make myself something like that I never wear if. Love those dots.

  21. alexalhayes says:

    I think you totally rock this dress! I’m on team shirtdress for everyone else but for myself, I don’t like them. I don’t like buttoning things and I despise sewing buttons, so they’re not for me, but for you and others who can pull it off — right on! Keep on keepin’ on!

  22. I love it Jen! I can’t wait to make my own! ! 🙂 looks great on you!

  23. stitchedupsam says:

    Love this! I’ve just made my first shirtdress using this pattern. I left the collar off as I hate collars flopping everywhere, but next time I’m going to try the hack you’ve linked too. Wow, I never thought I’d say “next time” about a shirt dress!

  24. Kathy says:

    HI Jenny, Wonderful work. I am with Nancy K on the bust issue. I think you might need an FBA anyway even with the D cup pattern. Pick a smaller size to fit your shoulders and high bust then FBA. I have found the armholes gap because the shoulders are bit too wide and an FBA is needed. Then as Nancy indicated, trim the dart legs and finish. I am a DDD myself.

    Keep up your wonderful work!!!

  25. Nadiya says:

    That fabric though…. And of course it is sold out. You look fantastic and pleased as punch (which you totally should). I just got this pattern myself and I’m itching to make it. I’m a 32H (UK bra size, like a 32DDDD or 32DDDDD US maybe) and I know I’ll have to do a FBA to make it work and I’m a little nervous because it will be my first. I have to learn sometime. Wish me luck.

  26. jess says:

    Hi! I’m new to sewing and have only made the Colette sorbetto so far. I’ve always wanted a shirt dress, would you recommend this pattern or Collette’s hawthorn for a beginner? Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Jess! I haven’t made the Hawthorn but I understand that it can be hard to fit, so I think 6696 would be better. It’s not difficult to make but it is quite complex in terms of the number of steps, so just go slow and you should be OK! Also, they tell you to handstitch a lot of things on this dress – you can skip that and just topstitch instead, if you prefer (that’s what I do).

Let me know what you think!