A Maternity Catarina Dress

I have a couple more maternity makes to share, and this is one of them. This is the Catarina dress from Seamwork magazine, with a simple mod to fit the belly. When the Seamwork issue with the Catarina and Kennedy dresses was released, I practically ran to Staples to get them both printed...they're both such pretty and fun party dresses for summer! For my Catarina, I opted for this buffalo plaid Japanese cotton shirting from Blackbird Fabrics. This fabric was originally slotted to be an Archer shirt, but I couldn't wait to make the Catarina so decided to use this fabric for this dress instead. 

Construction went pretty well. The best part about this design (and the only part that was completely new to me) is the adjustable straps...it's soooo handy to have this new skill and it really wasn't that hard! While I love the Sallies and Saltsprings of the world, there is something so professional-looking about an adjustable strap and I don't know if I'll ever go back! Also, because the bodice is lined, and this fabric has no stretch, I need to be able to loosen the straps to get the dress on, since there are no closures. 

The main issue I ran into with the dress overall was turning the straps and waist tie. I even had a loop turner, but the fabric kept getting stuck. Maybe turning straps is easier with a stretchier fabric, or a slightly wider strap / tie. I haven't made enough spaghetti straps to troubleshoot this yet. I got there eventually, but it was a bit of a struggle. 

I made two modifications: the first was to raise the waistline by a couple of inches to fit over the baby bump. I knew I'd want to be able to wear this again post-pregnancy, so I didn't trim the extra bodice fabric...I'm hoping next summer I can take apart and re-attach the skirt and bodice at the original waistline. The second mod was to reduce the width of the skirt pieces. With the full width, the skirt just looked huge...this may have been because I cut too big a size (it was hard to figure out my size at 6 months pregnant). Another factor was maybe the fabric choice. A drapier or slinkier fabric may have looked less billowy. Once those to modifications were made, I was really happy with the fit of this dress. I definitely want to make another one next summer in a silky fabric though...I think it will have a totally different effect. 

These pictures were taken at about 31 weeks. The fabric is lightweight yet opaque so it was a perfect summer dress for work and weekend. I have one more maternity make to share...will try and take some pictures this week. Til then!

Floral Morris Blazer

Ahh! This is one of my favourite makes everrrr! I have been dreaming of a floral blazer for ages and am so happy with how this one turned out! This is the Grainline Morris Blazer (previously made here) in a floral stretch cotton twill from Blackbird Fabrics. I bought the fabric a long time ago and when the Morris came out I paired the two in my mind and added them to my long list of projects. 

Being a twill means the cotton is woven in a diagonal pattern - like denim. I think it gives the fabric a more casual feel, maybe because of the association with denim. The fabric isn't too heavy and has a nice amount of stretch and structure, which makes it perfect for this pattern. 

Construction-wise, this was very straightforward. I didn't make a single modification and found the fabric really easy to work with. I didn't think to cut the back piece on the fold until afterwards, but the seam is barely noticeable and doesn't bother me at all. I think I've mentioned this before but I'm always surprised with how quickly this blazer comes together. Cutting was easy because I had all the pattern pieces traced onto Swedish Tracing paper in my size (between a 6 and 8). This also made it easier to be really efficient with my cutting so I have some more of this fabric left - maybe for a structured skirt or shorts next summer. I serged all the visible seams...one of these days, I'll try Hong Kong seams, but I couldn't wait to finish and wear this one so I didn't go that route this time. 

I usually pair this with a dress (aside: I actually made a Colette Wren dress in a blue bamboo jersey that I'd hoped to wear with this blazer, but it was a bit of a fail and now my belly has outgrown it...maybe I'll post about that later...it's helpful to reflect on the fails as well as the wins, right?) So for now I wear it with a RTW black dress or with light coloured jeans and a white t-shirt and it literally brightens up my day, every single time. :)

Off the Shoulder Ruffle Dress (A BHL Tutorial)

Thank you By Hand London for always knowing exactly what my wardrobe needs. When I saw Elisalex's tutorial for an off the shoulder ruffle dress, I couldn't wait to try it! This trend has been all over the place this summer but knowing that both summers and trends can be pretty short-lived, I wasn't about to buy an off-the-shoulder dress pattern. So this free tutorial to draft your own dress was the perfect solution. 

This is my first time drafting my own dress. I used Swedish tracing paper (which I had on hand because I often trace frequently-used patterns in my size). Elisalex's instructions were really clear and the dress is only 3 easy pieces: bodice front/back (same pattern piece), shoulder ruffle, and hem ruffle. I cut it one evening, and sewed the entire dress in an afternoon. 

For the fabric, I used a chambray linen from King Textiles, one of my local go-to's (they have a great linen selection). I love the chambray look for this dress...in retrospect, though, I would have picked something more lightweight. The weight of this fabric is a tad heavy for hot summer days, which is when I'd most want to wear a dress like this... sooo, noted for next time. Also, I don't think the tutorial says how much fabric to buy...I think I bought 3 yards. The ruffle pieces - especially the hem ruffle - are loooong. I put an extra seam in mine because I couldn't get it all in one length from my fabric.   

To create the ruffles, I used my new Bernina ruffle foot. It's supposed to save you the trouble of stitching 2-3 basting lines and then manually gathering them. I had tried it a few times on some other projects, but found it hard to get the length of the gathered fabric just right. And when I had pulled on the threads to adjust the ruffles, some of the stitches would snap. Not ideal! After some googling, I found this video which helped me out. It turns out the best way to use this foot is to do some measuring beforehand to get the ratio of the gathered piece to the non-gathered piece you're attaching it to (i.e. dress hem to ruffle hem piece - in this case it was 2:1). Then I practiced on some scraps to find the tension and stitch length that would bring my ruffle hem piece to half its size so it would fit with the bottom of the dress piece. It worked perfectly once I did all that, but I'm not so sure it was faster or more straightforward than just sewing a couple of lines of basting stitches and gathering them yourself. So, while it produced beautiful results, I am not convinced that it's worth the extra effort!

I debated putting some sort of trim on the shoulder ruffle (lace? pom poms?) but decided I wanted to keep this version simple and am glad I did. If I make this again with a floral fabric, I might add a lace trim. This dress has gotten a lot of wear on the weekends - I usually wear it with a belt but sometimes I opt for no belt, and that works too! 


Striped Mission Maxi

The Mission Maxi pattern by Jamie Christina has been on my to-buy list forever. This type of tank top-maxi dress the kind of dress I love wearing in the summer but refuse to buy RTW because it's so easy to make. I could probably have drafted it without the pattern using a racerback tank top as a guide, but I like supporting indie pattern designers, and there are a couple of other versions in this pattern that I'd like to try sometime too. 

This is View A and it's a very quick make; I think I cut a size 8. The most annoying part - of any stretch maxi dress, really - is the cutting. Cutting long lengths of jersey is annoying because the fabric just doesn't want to stay put. I did a pretty choppy job with the long binding strips so decided to trim them with my rotary cutter. I then reviewed the instructions and decided I wanted to finish one edge of the binding with my serger, which cut a little more off, and made my binding strips narrower than they should have been. This came back to bite me when attaching the binding - it wasn't wide enough to catch the stitching on certain sections. Also, because this fabric has variegated stripes, the stripes would have been placed vertically along the neckline, which would have looked weird and off-kilter. So I ended up folding the binding strip completely to the wrong side, and running a second row of stitches to hold it down. 

The only other modifications I made were to shorten the straps by about 2 inches, and I didn't bother hemming the dress (I didn't want to lose any more length, and I've really come to like the raw edge of knit fabrics). 

The fabric is a lightweight cotton, jersey, and rayon blend from Girl Charlee. It's called Isabel Stripe Fantasy Chocolate and it's on sale now for $2.85 a yard! It's really lightweight, which is great for this hot summer we've been having. It also has a subtle sheen to it...and I love the colours! Oh and the 40% stretch was key, since I didn't modify the pattern at all for my 30-week belly. 

Lark Tee + Mesa Dress

Meet Lasa. Or Merk. Hm, we may have to work on the name, but either way, this is a mashup between the Grainline Studio Lark Tee and the Seamwork Mesa Dress. I've made the Mesa several times before and you all know how much I love it, but I was getting a little tired of the same old neckline, and I wanted some options. Enter, the Lark Tee. This pattern includes 4 neckline variations and 4 sleeve variations, so it's really versatile... add in the fact that you can lengthen any tee into a dress, and you've got even more options!

I'm now 28 weeks and this bump feels like it's growing daily, so I felt I needed to start making more with jersey and other stretchy fabrics. I bought a ton during a recent Girl Charlee Fabrics sale, and this Greek key print is one of them. It's a cotton spandex rayon jersey blend knit, and it's listed as medium weight, but I'd say it's pretty light weight. It has a really nice drape and is soft to touch too. 

Girl Charlee ships to Canada but not for free, and there's often additional duties required when they deliver so I don't shop from them often, but when I do, I buy in bulk. I actually had a bad experience with one of their floral ponte de romas last time: the fabric, which became a Moneta dress, pilled so much it's basically unwearable now (which is such a shame because I love that dress!) This is despite the fact that I am super careful when washing my me-mades (I either handwash with Soak or use the "Handwash" cycle on my washing machine). I even bought a fabric defuzzer to try and fix it (it didn't work). Anyway, has anyone else had that issue with any GC fabrics or knit fabrics in general? Any tips? Hopefully that doesn't happen with any fabrics from this batch. 

Back to the dress. The Lark Tee is so easy and fast to make, and the Grainline instructions are perfectly clear, as always. When cutting, I used the Lark Tee bodice, cap sleeves, and neckline binding pieces and overlaid the Mesa dress pieces to get the length (I'd previously added several inches in length to my Mesa dress pieces, so this is longer than a typical Mesa). I also brought in the bust and waist of the Lark Tee to follow the curves of the Mesa. The result is pretty form-fitting, but that's what I wanted. I didn't bother sewing the hems - I just cut them evenly with a rotary cutter and left them alone - I actually find this to be much cleaner with certain knit fabrics, and it's definitely faster, so win-win! ;) 

I love this dress, especially the cap sleeves and scoop neck. I'm going to make a ton of Larks tees in the future...especially as fall and maternity leave are approaching!

A Feathery Fabric Roscoe


This is my second Roscoe (pattern by True Bias) - the first was the blouse version, seen here. I knew I eventually wanted to sew the dress or tunic version, and was just waiting for the right fabric inspiration. Then I got an email about a remnants sale at Blackbird Fabrics and saw this gorgeous feathery poly crepe de chine...I jumped on it and instantly paired it with a Roscoe mini dress in my mind.


Now that I'm pregnant, I've bought a handful of maternity patterns from the Big 4 (will do a roundup post after I've sewn them all). But I've also been looking for patterns that work from my existing stash... so either loose, flowy tops and dresses (like the Roscoe), or anything made for fabrics with a good amount of stretch. 

For this Roscoe, I cut a size 6 and, like last time, played around with the side seams to better suit my proportions (mainly this means bringing in the side seams at the bust). I also reduced the sleeves by four inches, finished them with a rolled hem rather than gathered with a cuff.  This decision was mainly based on the fact that I had limited fabric, but I really like the end result, and it works well for summertime. 

For all the hems, I tried out my new Bernina rolled hem foot. I read a few blog posts and videos, and practiced on a few scraps first to get the hang of it. A lot of tutorials suggested using interfacing or a scrap of tissue paper under the fabric to help get the rolled hem started. I found it was going okay without this so didn't bother with this part. I loooove this foot and this finish. It feels so professional! It also works out because as the baby bump grows, this dress gets shorter and shorter, so I'm glad I was able to use minimal fabric for the hem. 

I am so happy with how this dress turned out. It's so chic and dreamy and (most importantly!) comfortable! I often wear it with a belt, but think it's pretty cute without the belt too. 

Mesa + Morris: Two Tried-and-Trues


Here's a two-in-one post, of tried and true patterns: The Seamwork Mesa Dress, and the Grainline Morris Blazer. I've made the Mesa twice before (here and here), and I sewed this striped version several months ago - in September or October of last year. The Mesa is probably my most used and loved pattern because it's super fast to sew, and can produce very different looks depending on fabric selection. It works great as a casual weekend summer dress, a go-to staple for the work week, or even a fun party dress, like my sequin bridesmaid version. I just finished a fourth one last week in a bamboo rayon knit - it's a bit looser and I added some ruching to the sides for the growing bump...but I'll write about that one another day!

Thiis striped one is my workweek Mesa. It's a medium- to heavy-weight knit with some texture from Designer Fabrics. I wore it through winter with tights and a cardigan and into spring with a blazer and sandals - it's always super easy to throw together and really comfortable too. It was a good dress to wear to work after I'd started sharing that I was pregnant (I think I'm about 4 months along in these photos).

Now onto the Morris.  I bought the Morris Blazer immediately when it was released but it took me a while to get started on it. My plan was to make a wearable muslin out of this plain black woven with a bit of stretch I had in my stash, but whenever I have a project lined up in a plain fabric, it sits there for weeks, as I get easily distracted by florals and feathers and stripes and ikat, etc. etc. In any case I finally decided I desperately needed a plain black blazer so I got started. 

My fears of boredom from plain fabric were soon overcome. Making this blazer is SUPER fun. After the first 4-5 steps, the main body of the blazer is basically constructed and it's really motivating that you just want to keep going and sew it all in one sitting (almost possible!) And it was so straightforward to make, with no modifications needed!

The Morris is a perfect first-time blazer patter - especially if you've never made a blazer before (me) and you feel slightly intimidated by making a seemingly complex article of clothing like a blazer (also me). The lack of a lining omits a lot of complexity, and the collar + lapel design a really smart and simple way to achieve a nice look. 

As I was making it, I was dreaming up several more versions I was going to make: a floral one (obviously - already in progress and almost done), an olive green one, and I really like the contrast sleeves version that's on the Grainline site. I haven't tried a knit version yet so will add that to the list too (the pattern is drafted for both knits and wovens - such a bonus!) And I'll eventually want to try some modifications too, like lengthening the sleeves or making a looser, "boyfriend blazer" version like this one from Katie. Lots more Morrises and Mesas in my future!  

How about you, what are your tried and true patterns?

Hello, Darling!

This is the Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen Patterns. It hardly needs an introduction as it's been around for a long time and there are tons of great inspiration pics out there. I had had it on my "to buy" list for a long time and finally took the plunge because it fit a new category in my handmade wardrobe: growing baby-bump-friendly! ;)

I have a handful of shirtdresses in my pattern stash, but this one's a nice addition because it features a v-neck instead of a collar. Don't get me wrong, I love a good collar, but they take time to get just right, and it was a bit of a relief not to have one this time around. 

The fabric is Cotton and Steel rayon (called Paper Bandana and purchased at the workroom). It's a nice light weight, and is soft and flowy. It's only 44" wide though, and I think I got the last two yards so I didn't have the recommended three yards for this version of the dress. But, by cutting in one layer and adding a seam to the back bodice rather than cutting on the fold, I managed to eke this out of the two yards I had...and even sort of pattern matched and fit a couple of tiny sleeves to boot! :)

Here's the obligatory side shot - lots of room for a growing belly! For a dress like this I usually take in the bodice side seams but for obvious reasons I left lots of room to grow with this one. 

Overall, I'm very happy with this dress. It has pockets, lots of variations, and Megan's instructions are fantastic as always. I haven't seen many of Version 3 out there, so might have to try that next...

Inari Tee Dress in Stripey Linen

I finally jumped on the Named Inari Tee Dress bandwagon after seeing too many gorgeous versions online. I made this back in November...I was up to my eyeballs in quilting and needed a quick make for my upcoming vacation to Australia. 

Inari Tee 1

I bought the PDF version of the pattern (something I usually avoid, but don't mind doing if there are only a few pattern pieces). It was very quick and easy to tape together. 

Inari Tee 2

Construction-wise, I cut a size 6 (38). When I first tried it on, I wasn't sure if the cocoon shape was right for me (it felt a bit like a potato sack, to be honest). So I brought in the side seams a lot...about 1.5-2 inches, and made the cocoon factor a bit more subtle...and I felt the fit was more me. That said, the cocoon shape is kind of the whole point of this pattern, so I will try to stay closer to the original shape next time. I also had to re-attach the sleeves a couple of times - the fabric kept puckering and I couldn't get the smooth set-in-sleeve I wanted (I was probably rushing through that part!) 

Inari Tee 3

The fabric is a vertical striped linen from Blackbird fabrics. It's, errr, not as opaque as I thought so this might end up being a beach cover-up or I might have to wear it with a slip. :o

Inari Tee 4

We travelled light for this 3-week trip: one carry-on suitcase and one shoulder bag / backpack each. Linen isn't the most travel-friendly fabric because it wrinkles so easily, but it's so lightweight and breathable so I figured that was a good trade-off to make. It was super comfortable for the hot Australian weather! 

Inari Tee 5

For a simple pattern, the Inari Tee Dress has some cute details like the side slit, uneven hem, and the sleeve cuffs. I think next time I'll try it in a structured woven with a bit of stretch...and will try to stick to the full cocoon shape it's intended to be. 

Floral Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse

This is my Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse in a gorgeous floral poly crepe from Blackbird Fabrics. Caroline from Blackbird has such a great eye for fabric, and this one's no exception. It is such a cute print and has beautiful drape, feel and weight - I love it. I initially thought this fabric would be a dress (I was thinking the BHL Flora), but eventually decided the small-scale print would be better for a smaller garment, like a blouse. In the end I'm really happy with this fabric-pattern combo. 

Oakridge 1

So, I made this blouse back in October and have been wearing it steadily since then - I just haven't had time to blog it 'til now. I usually wear it either tucked into a pencil skirt or untucked with jeans, to showcase the curved hem detail. Do I look cold in these photos? I was cold. It's February in Toronto and it was about 2 degrees Celsius, but that was unseasonably mild compared to the typical -20, so I quickly snapped some pics at my local brick wall with my Instagram husband

Oakridge 2

Construction-wise, this was really fun to make because it has a couple of techniques that were new to me: the continuous bound sleeve plackets and the bias bow collar. Tasia's instructions were great, and she posted a tutorial on the plackets here, which I referred to a lot. I don't think I completely nailed the collar - it doesn't always lay flat on the neck, so that's something I'll have to pay more attention to next time. 

Oakridge 5

I love the silhouette of this top, how it goes in at the waist and out at the hips. I cut a size 6 and the only modification I made was to shorten the sleeves (by 1.5") as I'd read they run long. That said, I forgot that I don't mind a long sleeve (it's way better than a too-short sleeve) and I don't think I needed to shorten this one quite so much. Next time I'll only take 1" off. Also, this top feels a bit snug on my upper back and shoulders...like, if I bend over to tie up my boots or something, I feel like I might rip it! I'm not sure how I'd go about adjusting the pattern for that so if anyone knows, please let me know!

Oakridge 3

I have a vintage button stash but never seem to have enough of the same button for a full blouse (and I never think of this before I get to the actual button-sewing stage). But, I did have an old J Crew chambray shirt that was ripped beyond repair (incidentally, it was a shoulder/back rip from bending over to tie my boots! Gah, I totally hulked out of that thing! What can I say, I've been working out a lot!) Anyway, I'd kept it in my closet as a reminder to go buy that exact same shirt again because I love it, and luckily I still had it because hello, 7 perfectly matching buttons! I actually flipped the buttons over and sewed them in with the wrong side up - they have a cute little pink and green detail on the back and I liked how it worked with the print on the blouse. 

Oakridge 4

I'd like to make this again...I think I'll stick with a similar fabric, but might do a contrasting bow and collar next time. 

Well, 'til next time...!

Japanese Floral Roscoe Blouse

This is the Roscoe Blouse by True Bias, a '70s-inspired boho blouse with billowy sleeves and a gathered neckline. I usually try to resist immediately buying every new pattern that catches my eye, but this time, I was in serious need of some flowy blouses so I bought it pretty much as soon as it was released. 


The fabric is a polyester crepe de chine from Blackbird fabrics. It has a lovely drape and the texture of the crepe makes it easy to work with.  Caroline from Blackbird recently commented on the quality and usability of modern polyester, urging sewists to give it another go. I couldn't agree more...I think people often think of polyester as being cheap or of poor quality, but not all polys are created equal! The Dahlia dress I made a while back is a polyester blend (also from Blackbird) and it is one of the softest fabrics ever! So that's my little public service announcement for polyester - if you've stopped using it, give it another chance!


Constructing this blouse was really straightforward thanks to both the pattern instructions and the sewalong (I had one open on my iPad, the other on my phone, and went back and forth between the two). As suggested, I used French seams throughout - I like to do this for lightweight fabrics. The only step that was really new to me was attaching the neckties to the neckline but the sewalong post was really helpful and this came together without any issues. 


I made a couple of minor modifications: The first was to add an inch to the length of the bodice front and back (the pattern is drafted for someone who's 5'5" and I'm 5'7"). I forgot to add length to the sleeves but think they turned out fine at this 3/4 length. The second was to take in the side seams by 2.25" on each side. When I tried on the top initially, it was far too wide and I looked like a kid playing dress-up. After taking in the side seams, it's still a loose top but I think the reduced width works better on my body type. I wasn't about to re-French seam this part though, so I finished the new side seams with a serger. 


I think this silhouette looks great untucked with jeans, or tucked in with a pencil skirt. I wear it both to work and on weekends - it's super versatile and I love it! The pattern also comes in a tunic and dress length...those versions really up the boho vibe. I have a really fun fabric that would look amazing as View B, so I might just have to try it out! 


Project Details:
Pattern: Roscoe Blouse by True Bias Patterns
Size: 4
Fabric: Japanese floral polyester crepe from Blackbird Fabrics

A Sequin Bridesmaid Dress

This was my bridesmaid dress for my good friend's wedding in September. She was an easygoing bride and suggested her bridesmaids get any dress in a traditional metallic shade (so, gold, silver, or rose gold). I, of course, decided to make my dress and had initially planned on the BHL Kim Dress as it seemed to be the most bridesmaid-y dress out there (in a good way). (Coincidentally, yesterday Charlie posted a gorgeous Kim bridesmaid dress of her own, so clearly I wasn't alone in this thought!) But it wasn't meant to be for me - I don't own the Kim dress and the PDF pattern wasn't available yet, so I had to find another option. 

It wasn't until I stumbled upon this stretchy gold sequin fabric that I thought of the Seamwork Mesa pattern as an option. Mesa is a straightforward pattern with simple lines, allowing the fabric to really shine...and what fabric shines better than GOLD SEQUINS!

Despite my newfound desire for a gold sequin dress, the thought of sewing the thing made me really nervous. With the wedding just 3 weeks away, I had a deadline, and should anything go glaringly wrong, I knew that giving up (i.e. having a meltdown and throwing a half-finished dress into the corner of shame) wasn't an option. I read some inspiring sequin-related posts by Closet Case Files and By Hand London, but still thought I might be getting in over my head. I was finally convinced by the woman at the fabric store, who told me I'd be able to sew right through the sequins. You mean I don't have to remove individual sequins from the seam allowances? SOLD.

The construction of the front, back, and sleeves took a couple of hours, including cutting. I lined the dress with a nude jersey, and, to avoid having to sew through the sequin fabric multiple times, I sewed both the fabric and lining layers at once. This was a great idea until I tried it on...itchy seam allowances! So I cut some additional strips of the jersey lining and encased the sequiny seam allowances in them. Looks a tad messy on the inside, but it took care of that problem.

The finishing of the side seams, hem and neckline took another full afternoon because it's such a finicky fabric. Naively, I tried to hem this like I would any other dress, by just folding up and sewing around the hem. It looked horrible and bulgy. Some seam ripping and googling later, I found this guide on how to properly hem a sequin dress (hint: it's with a bias facing...I used the jersey lining as the facing and it worked fine). I did the same thing for the neckline, but didn't bother with the sleeves; instead, I just turned them in and stitched them down (the sequins didn't bother me on the sleeves for some reason). I also didn't bother adding the side slits 'cause the dress was short enough and I didn't think it needed them.

I'm in love with the final result and will totally get some good wear out of this again. Oh, and the wedding was the most beautiful, amazing, sparkly, fun time ever!

Project Details
Pattern: Mesa Dress from Seamwork (by Colette Patterns)
Size: XS, graded to S at the hips
Fabric: Stretch gold sequins and jersey lining from Chu Shing Textiles (Toronto)

McCall's 6696 Shirtdress in Slubby Tencel

Indie patterns will always have my heart, but it was time to try a pattern from the one of the Big Four (that is, the four big sewing pattern design companies: Butterick, McCall's, Vogue, and Simplicity). I felt my skills were advancing and I was ready for a bit of a challenge (Big Four instructions are less detailed, with less hand holding, so a little extra confidence is necessary!)

What was really driving this decision, though, was all the gorgeous versions I was seeing on the interwebs of the McCall's 6696 shirtdress. McCall's really nailed it with this pattern. There are two skirt variations (pencil or pleated full skirt) and three sleeve variations (sleeveless, short sleeve, or three-quarter length). There's also a pattern to make a slip, in case you want to make the dress out of a see-through fabric, like eyelet (I'm coming for you next summer, eyelet McCall's shirtdress!)

As an added bonus, basically every sewing blogger I follow has made this dress, so there was lots of advice to be found online. The most helpful tip came from Sew Dixie Lou: measure the pattern pieces first, to figure out how much ease is built into the pattern. Good call! The sizing chart indicated I'd be a size 12, but when I measured the actual pattern pieces, I was actually must closer to a size 8. So I made a muslin of the bodice in a size 8 and it was pretty bang on! 

It was time to cut into my fabric. I'd been dreaming of a chambray shirtdress for ages, and this slubby tencel denim from Blackbird fabrics looked pretty perfect. Slubby refers to the raised texture of some of the threads - it's really subtle in this fabric. Tencel is a soft, breathable fabric with nice drape - this one's a medium weight, so it's really great for a shirt dress. 

Making this dress was really fun. I put it together over a couple of weekends, taking the occasional break to enjoy the beergaritas the hubby was making (the perfect respite from my sweltering hot sewing room!) The instructions (to my surprise) were pretty clear for the most part. I love how the yoke and waistband pieces make for nice finishes on the inside of the garment too (no pics of this, sorry - you'll just have to trust me!) ;) I'd never sewn a collar before, so I referred to this post in the Grainline Archer sewalong...super helpful - it wouldn't have turned out so well with the pattern instructions alone. 

The only hiccup in the making process was that somehow, the waistband seemed too short. This is weird to me because I'm usually taking things in at the waist, not letting them out (that's what my hips are for! ;) This was a minor freak-out moment, because I used every last inch of this fabric to make this dress (I'd originally planned for the short-sleeved version but didn't have enough fabric, so there were really just scraps left). I considered adding some length to the waistband by attaching another little square of fabric, but decided that would look crappy and figured I could make this work ("I just won't eat in this dress" - yeah right - "maybe a belt will cover it?")

I did wear this dress a couple of times with a belt, but it still bothered me that the waistband pulled apart every time I sat down. I ended up sewing in a hook and eye on the inside of either end of the waistband and this holds it together nicely. The only other thing I'd change if (when!) I make this again would be to reduce the width of the back, as it puffs out a bit too much. Maybe I'll try one with a simple pleat on the back, or no gathers at all, like this pretty one from Diary of a Chainstitcher. Finishing this dress was a big moment for me... there were so many pieces and new skills involved, and the fact that it turned out exactly the way I'd envisioned is just the best! Also, swishy skirt!

There are a few other shirtdresses on my list (Sew Over It's Vintage Shirtdress, the Grainline Alder, and the Nicola dress by Sewaholic). But McCall's 6696 is a real winner and I will definitely be getting a lot of use out of this pattern over the years. 

Project Details: 
Pattern:b McCall's 6696
Size: 8
Fabric: Slubby Tencel Denim (Light wash) from Blackbird fabrics (100% Tencel, medium weight, soft with good drape)