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 PatternReview.com 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 PatternReview.com 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
£8.75
Sizes: 8-24
Level: not rated (looking at the pattern, I would probably classify this as an intermediate pattern)
Reviews: 55 reviews on PatternReview.com; 94% give the pattern a positive rating

 

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May 22, 2016 by Amy Lloyd

Pattern Spotlight: McCall's 6886 Knit Dress

Yay - another installment of 'Pattern Spotlight'!  This week's 'Outfit of the Week' is McCall's 6886 - a knit sheath dress.  It's another really popular pattern, so I've decided to do another 'Pattern Spotlight' post!

On PatternReview.com, there are currently 70 reviews of this pattern and 94% of those who rated it gave it a positive rating.  Why is it so popular?  I've had a look at many reviews of this pattern and here's what reviewers really liked:

  • It's quick and easy to sew.  There are only a few pattern pieces to cut out and very few seams.  A lot of sewers seem to be able to finish it - and this includes cutting it out - in under two hours.  I've even seen some saying they managed to go from uncut fabric to a finished dress in under an hour!
  • Along with being easy to sew, many reviewers also find it flattering.
  • It's easy to make multiple versions of this dress (quite a number of reviewers have done so!) and for them all to look different.  You can play around with the different length, sleeve and neckline options, and use different fabrics. 

 

Here's a few more things I learned reading the reviews:

  • McCall's recommends jerseys, cotton knits, novelty knits and interlock for this pattern.  However, as you'll see in the photo captions below, many sewers have successfully made it up using heavier knits like ponte di roma!  So, it definitely works with thicker, less stretchy knits.
  • If your knit is too thin for your liking, try underlining it with a thinner knit.  This was done really successfully by Vatsla, who has some nice construction pics and tips on her blog.

Ok - now to look at some makes using this pattern! 

Stripes are really popular at the moment and this pattern definitely works well with striped fabrics:

Clockwise from top left-hand corner: MrsCharisma's version in striped ponte; Vatsla's version in a thin striped knit; Ilonka's version in a sweater knit; Margo's version in a striped ponte

 

Another type of print that really works well are repetitive prints like these:

Clockwise from top left-hand corner: Quana's version in a printed knit; Dinagideon's version in an ITY knit; Mmmberry's version in a ponte; Riva's version in a jersey

 

Animal-style prints also look great:

Adrienne's version in a sequinned knit; Egreen42's version in ponte

 

Floral prints also work well:

Jstarr4250's version in a scuba knit; Elizabeth's version in a floral knit

 

Finally, McCall's 6886 not only looks great in prints, but it also works well with solid-coloured fabrics:

Clockwise from top left-hand corner: MrsCharisma's version in a double knit; Christine K's version in a coral knit; Kelli's version in a ponte; Jstarr4250's version in a stretch terry

 

Based on these inspiration images, I've chosen some of our fabrics that will work particularly well with McCall's 6886. (Also, just to let you know, I've got some amazing striped pontes coming in in the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for these!)  You'll find all the recommendations here.  You can also access this page by going to the 'Make Something!' section of the website. 

Of course, McCall's 6886 is also our current 'Outfit of the Week'!  Based on the inspiration images, I've recommended a few of our jerseys and medium-weight knits.

Inspiration images from here and here 

Inspiration images from here and here 

Inspiration images from here and here 

Inspiration images from here and here 

 

You can find out more about this week's 'Outfit of the Week' - and see the pattern and recommended fabrics - by clicking here.

 

If you've enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to our blog on Feedly or Bloglovin', or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

October 11, 2015 by Amy Lloyd

Pattern Spotlight: Grainline Studio's Scout Tee

This week's 'Outfit of the Week' is Grainline Studio's Scout Tee paired with Liesl + Co.'s City Stroll Wrap Skirt.  The Scout Tee is a very popular pattern: there are currently 65 reviews on PatternReview.com and many more versions scattered across the web.  I was looking through some of the reviews and blog posts - enjoying seeing all the different versions people have made - and it occurred to me that it might be nice to occasionally highlight some popular patterns on the blog, as well as start a new category in the 'Make Something!' section of the website devoted to these patterns.  So, 'Pattern Spotlight' was born - and this is the first installment!

Grainline Studio's Scout Tee has not only been popular among sewers, but it's also been glowingly reviewed: 93% of the reviews on PatternReview.com give it a positive rating. Why is it so popular?  Here's what I've gathered looking at the reviews:

  • It's got a nice shape.  In particular, it's fitted at the shoulders and then falls loosely from the bust downwards in a slight a-line shape. The hem is also scooped - higher in the back than in the front. A lot of sewers find it a very flattering shape.
  • It's versatile.  It was originally released simply as a woven T-shirt.  However, since then, Jen (the designer) has put a lot of variations on her blog.  The most significant has been instructions for sewing it in knit fabrics: a lot of sewers now sew it with knits.  There have also been tutorials for adding longer sleeves, a fuller back, cuffed sleeves, a curved hem, and more.  I'll be talking more about these later.  Also, with its simple shape, a lot of sewers have also done their own modifications (as you'll also be seeing later!).
  • It goes together nicely.  As with all of Jen's patterns, it's very well-designed and has great instructions.  There's also lots of extra help available to get a beautiful finish.  There's a detailed sewalong on Kollabora by SownBrooklyn.  Jen has also posted tutorials on how to do the bias-faced neckline and how to do French seams (both on straight seams and armholes).
  • It's easy to sew.  It's a simple shape - it doesn't even have darts or buttons - so it's easy and quick to sew, and requires very little (if any) fitting.  Jen has given it her easiest difficulty rating. 
  • It's easy to wear.  Throw it on with a pair of skinny jeans and you've got a great outfit!

Ok - let's first look at the Scout-related modifications that are available on Grainline Studio's blog.  Jen released the pattern - as a woven T-shirt pattern - in 2011.  Here's the Scout that Jen made in Liberty tana lawn to introduce the pattern:

 

Her first variation was to alter the pattern to create a fuller back.  She provided a tutorial on her blog for doing this.  Here's one she made in red wool crepe:

 

Next, Jen provided a tutorial on how to sew up Scout in knit fabrics.  She did three posts for this: one showing three knit tees she made, one showing close-up shots, and one giving instructions on how to sew Scout using knit fabrics.  The Scout shown in the photograph below is sewn in cotton jersey.

 

Jen later provided a tutorial on how to add three-quarter-length sleeves to Scout.  You can see that she's also lengthened Scout to tunic length.  This version is made in viscose challis.

 

Last, but not least (yes, there's more!), inspired by a top she tried on at Madewell, Jen provided a variation with these alterations: a longer short sleeve with a cuff, a raised neckline with a slit, and a curved hem.  There's three posts with this variation: one introducing it, one with the pattern alterations, and one with the sewing instructions. Here's the one she made with these alterations - sewn in 6.5 oz denim:

 

So, as you can see, you can get a lot of mileage with Scout!  

Now for some more inspiration! I've had a look through reviews of Scout on PatternReview.com and more widely across the web, and I've put together some collages with some of my favourite versions.  Sadly, I could only choose a few to feature.  I wish I could have shown more: there's lots of fantastic versions out there! 

First, as you've probably already noticed with Jen's cotton jersey version above, Scout looks great made up in striped fabrics -  both knit and woven! 

Clockwise from top left-hand corner: Kelley's version in a striped ponte; Heather B's version in a striped silk crepe de chine; Jen's version in a cotton jersey; Katy's Scout in a mystery synthetic fabric

 

Scout also looks great in bold, graphic prints:

Clockwise from top left-hand corner: Scout by Ehashley in polyester charmeuse; Scout by Mmmberry in silk charmeuse; Scout by ShanniLoves in a mystery fabric!; Scout by Swirlgurl in cotton lawn

 

Floral prints also work well.  Here's two I love:

 Scout made by Sarah in a cotton print; Scout made by Dixie in a cotton voile

 

It also looks great in small novelty prints like these:

Gillian's Scout in a koala double gauze; Jen's Scout in an elephant cotton print

 

Scout also looks fantastic in solid colours.  I love Jen's solid-coloured Scouts.  Here's some more of my favourite solid-coloured Scouts made by other sewers:

Clockwise from top left-hand corner: Sara's Scout in a lightweight chambray; Lisa's Scout in grey cotton jersey; Katie's Scout in chambray; Shedabble's Scout in a blue cotton

 

Looking at the photos, it seems that Scout looks particularly good paired with skinny jeans or a short skirt.

Most reviewers wear their Scouts untucked.  However, Scout also looks good tucked into skirts!  Here are some examples:

Lsaspacey's Scout; Jen's Scout

 

Finally, Scout can also quite easily be transformed into a tunic or dress!  Here are two I love:

Sara's version in a cotton jersey; Kelley's version in ponte


Wow - lots of inspiration! 

Based on these inspiration images, I've chosen some of our fabrics that will work particularly well with Scout.  You'll find all the recommendations here.  You can also access this page by going to the 'Make Something!' section of the website: I've added a new category called 'Pattern Spotlight'.  You'll see that I've added an abbreviated version of this blog post at the top of the page, followed by all of fabric recommendations.

Now, getting back to where we started - this week's 'Outfit of the Week' - I've paired Scout with Liesl + Co.'s City Stroll Wrap Skirt:

 

I've recommended a few of our crepes and jerseys for Scout, and some of our suitings, sateens and lightweight denims for the City Stroll Wrap Skirt:

Inspiration images from here, here, here and here 

 

You can find out more about this week's 'Outfit of the Week' - and see the patterns and recommended fabrics - by clicking here.

Ok - so that's it.  Phew!  I hope you've enjoyed this guide to Grainline Studio's Scout Tee. Please do let me know if I've missed anything!  Also, do you have a favorite version of Scout that I haven't featured?  Please do let us know!

 

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September 26, 2015 by Amy Lloyd