Pattern Spotlight: McCall's 6696 Shirt Dress

Today's blog post is another 'Pattern Spotlight' post: this time on McCall's 6696, which was our last 'Outfit of the Week'.  It's been a while since I've done a 'Pattern Spotlight' post.  Over the last few months, I've slowly come to the realization that (a) I really only have time to write one blog post per week, and (b) if I do an outfit each week, it means that I can't write other types of blog posts (such as my 'pattern spotlight' posts or my 'sewing pattern comparison' posts).  Judging from your feedback, I know that you like all these types of posts, and so I've decided to try mixing things up from now on.  Most of the posts will continue to be 'Outfit of the Week' posts.  However, I will intersperse these from time to time with other types of posts.  I hope that sounds okay to everyone!

(Also, just to add to my previous blog post, I'm happy to report that I'm feeling so much better now - I haven't had a bad day in well over a week! - and so I'm going to be getting back into more regular weekly blog posts from this point forward.)  :-)

Ok - onto McCall's 6696.  As I discussed in our last 'Outfit of the Week', it's a versatile shirt dress that features two options for the skirt (pencil and pleated a-line) and three options for the sleeves (sleeveless, short, and cuffed three-quarter).

This is a really popular pattern, with 55 reviews on and many more in the wider sewing blogosphere.  It should come as no surprise that it's very favourably reviewed, with 94% of the reviews on giving the pattern a positive rating!  In my research, a surprising percentage of sewers have made multiple versions of 6696 - a fact that definitely underscores how well-liked this pattern is (you'll even see some repeat versions in the photos below!). 

Why is it so well liked?  Here's what I've gathered from reading many reviews:

  • Reviewers like the shape of the dress, finding it very flattering: it nips in at the waist and the pleated skirt lies flat against the hips (and so it doesn't add too much bulk).
  • Reviewers also find it very comfortable (it is not too closely-fitted).
  • The pattern has some nice details (such as the yoke, gathering on the back bodice, and a proper collar with a collar band).
  • The pattern goes together well and the instructions are very good.
  • There are separate pattern pieces for different cup sizes (A/B, C, and D).

As for sewing it up, here are some tips that I came across in the reviews I read:

  • Beware of the amount of ease in the pattern.  Like many Big 4 patterns, reviewers found that the pattern runs a little big.  Make sure to measure the pattern pieces to determine which size to make.  Sew Dixie Lou describes how to do this in her blog post on 6696.
  • Quite a number of reviewers used (and recommend) Andrea's famous tutorial on sewing shirt collars to sew up the collar. 
  • The back bodice features gathers and some of the reviewers felt that the back - as a result - was too puffy.   If you think this might be a concern, you might want to consider narrowing the back bodice piece, so that there is less gathering. It should be noted that not all of the reviewers felt that the back was too puffy.
  • Some of the reviewers felt that the waistband piece wasn't long enough.  It might be worth measuring your waistband piece to make sure that it is the right length for the size you are making. 
  • There is no button at the centre front on the waistband (as the dress is designed to be worn with a belt).  If you're planning to wear it without a belt, you may want to reconsider the button placement and make sure that there is a button on the waistband.

As for what fabrics work best with 6696, I've trawled through the reviews and have picked out some of my favourites. Sadly, I can only feature a fraction of the versions I liked!

Turning first to the version with the full pleated skirt, a lot of fantastic versions have been made in chambray, lightweight denim, and linen.  Here are some that I particularly liked:

Clockwise from the top left-hand corner: Sewmanju's version in dark navy linen; Miniextravaganz' version in a lightweight denim; Fabricate's version in a slubby tencel chambray; Mag's Creative Meanderings' version in chambray


Doesn't it also look great accessorized with a leather belt?

6696 also looks lovely made up in soft, delicate floral fabrics.  Here are some versions I particularly liked - made in lightweight cottons and lightweight polyester:

Clockwise from the top left-hand corner: Neoknits' version in cotton lawn; Sew Dixie Lou's version in lightweight polyester; Bows and Bunnies' version in cotton lawn; Cotton Creek Sewing's version in cotton


While it looks great in delicate florals, 6696 can also take bolder, darker prints.  I really loved these two versions by Cashmerette (left) and The Girl Who Makes Things (right) - both in cotton:


Darker fabrics with polkadots - big and small - also work well.  I love these versions by Dolly Clackett in a cotton-linen blend (left) and Mags' Creative Meanderings in a polka-dot chambray (right):


Finally, doesn't the full-skirted version look great in white eyelet?  I love these versions by Not Sew Simple (left) and Sandjjdesigns (right):


The straight-skirted version isn't as popular as the full-skirted version.  With regard to fabrics, I particularly liked those made in chambray and linen: clearly a match made in heaven with 6696!

Clockwise from the top left-hand corner: Sew Dixie Lou's version in chambray; AT Couture's version in a linen-viscose blend; Sew Impatient's version in dotted chambray; Sara in Stitches' version in chambray


Further Details

McCall's 6696
Sizes: 8-24
Level: not rated (looking at the pattern, I would probably classify this as an intermediate pattern)
Reviews: 55 reviews on; 94% give the pattern a positive rating


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May 22, 2016 by Amy Lloyd
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