achievement unlocked: vintage kitties shirtdress

I can’t believe it took me so long to write up this dress! I made it like three weeks ago.

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It is yet another McCall’s 6696. Here are the details:

  • The fabric is the cream “vintage kitties” print by Michael Miller. It’s a quilting cotton, which I find works really well for this pattern.
  • The blue accent is organza.
  • The skirt is the straight skirt version, with original pockets. The waist darts were rotated into the hem to make the waistline flat & the skirt more flared. An extra 3″ of flare was added to each side seam.
  • I cut the button placket off at the waistband.
  • This is a size 18 at the shoulders graded out to a 22 at the waist, cut from the D cup bodice. I lengthened the front bodice 1″, grading back to nothing in the back. I also lowered the bodice darts 1″.
  • With this particular dress, I hemmed it 2″ above the original (standard for me, I’m 5’5″ & prefer skirts & dresses to hit just above the knee), & then an extra 3″ (including hem) to make sure the ruffle showed.
  • The ruffle is connected to a skirt lining that was constructed separately & sewn in at the waistline.

I think those are the main changes I made. I love this pattern because it’s fun to sew (this is my fourth version) & it fits me so well with very minimal alterations.

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From the side. Sorry about those wrinkles at the back waist. I’d been wearing the dress for several hours by the time I took the photos.

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The back. I added an organza overlay to the bake yoke & took out all the gathering along that seam. I also took a lot of the gathering out of the back waist. I think this amount is pretty close to perfect for my preferences. I topstitched everything & sewed all the hems with blue thread that matched the organza, which also matches the buttons.

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Waistband detail. Sorry it’s sideways! Also, sorry about that top line of topstitching. Avert your eyes. No clue what happened there, but I am most likely going to rip it out & re-sew it at some point.

Organza is very fiddly. I did not want to deal with cutting pieces the same size as my cotton pieces & basting them together before constructing the dress. I knew the likelihood of cutting & stitching precise organza pieces was low. So I spray-basted my cotton pieces to organza yardage, cut them out, & treated them as one layer from there. It worked perfectly! & after washing the dress, the adhesive washed away & the overlay floated over the fabric, just like I wanted. A++, would try this technique again.

The only bummer part is that the organza is completely rigid. No stretch whatsoever. Obviously quilting cotton doesn’t have a lot of give either, but it’s like silk jersey compared to organza. That means that the dress is a little tight in the back yoke (if you look closely, you can see it pulling a little at the sleeve seams) & in the waist. The waistband wants to ride up around my ribcage, even though this dress is exactly the same size as my Social Climber dress. So if I used organza overlays again in the future, & might add a little width to the pieces I am covering to try to compensate for that.

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Yoke close-up. On Ramona’s craft table. She’s quite the artist, as those green scribbles will attest.

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Collar. The one thing that drives me bonkers about this pattern is that I cannot for the life of me get that topstitching on the undercollar as tidy as I want it to be. The actual pattern calls for hand-stitching the facing into place rather than topstitching & I might just to do that next time. It’s a more time-consuming method, but it will save me the headaches with trying to keep my topstitching neat while catching the entire facing edge & also somehow avoiding thread nests at the front, where there are those tight corners with multiple layers of fabric.

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Pocket. I used some random stash fabric that complemented the organza color. The print is whatever, but I wanted something low-key with all the insanity happening with the kitties print.

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I French-seamed the sleeves, rather than flat-felling them. Flat-felling is just too much of a nightmare with the easing/gathering happening at the sleeve head. I LOVE the way the French seams came out & will definitely be doing this on all future versions of M6696. I ran two rows of gathering stitches within the seamlines & gathered them up really tidily. Then I sewed the initial seam at 3/8″ with a very, very narrow zigzag. It worked with the gathers so beautifully. I then trimmed the seam right up to the very edge of the zigzag, pressed it, & sewed my next pass with a 1/4″ straight stitch.

For what it’s worth, I set the sleeves in flat & then sew the side seams for the sleeves & bodice at the same time.

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Interior yoke.

Now let’s talk about my favorite part of this dress: the ruffled skirt!

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Again, sorry it’s sideways. Anyway, I shortened the skirt by 1.5″ & did the standard 1.25″ hem. The skirt lining is made with white Rayon bemberg cut about 1″ shorter than the skirt & attached at the waistline only. I made the ruffle by cutting a long strip of organza (about 1.75 times wider than the finished hem) 4″ long. I doubled it over so the ruffle would be finished on the bottom, & I ran my gathering stitches. Then I attached it to the unfinished hem of the skirt lining.

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This is what the skirt looks like inside out.

But I needed to do something to finish the seam where the organza is attached to the lining. Let’s be frank: that seam was not very attractive, & I knew it would peek out from time to time while I moved. It’s above the skirt hemline, but not by much.

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So I made bias tape out of my leftover kitties fabric & topstitched it over the seam. It’s positioned so that I can see it when I’m wearing the dress (so, on top of the lining), & I LOVE it. I feel like it’s the last little detail that really pulls the whole dress together, even if no one ever sees it but me!

So that’s that! As for these glasses-free photos…Last week, I accidentally stepped on my glasses while I was getting out of the shower. They broke into like fifteen pieces. Pretty awesome. So I pulled out my back-up glasses & got on with my life. & then yesterday, while I was putting this dress on to take photos, the collar snagged on the corner of the frame & the arm snapped in half. I tried to fix it with Gorilla Glue & electrical tape, but neither one worked. Luckily, I had some unopened contacts left over from literally about ten years ago, when I used to wear contacts most of the time. Obviously the prescription isn’t right anymore, but it was good enough. Better than nothing, given that the entire world is just a vague smear of shape & color without vision correction. My eyesight is terrible. I managed to get the arm taped back together with duct tape (which I had to go out & buy–not sure how we didn’t have any duct tape in the house?), but I don’t expect that to hold long-term. So I also express-ordered a replacement pair of glasses from Zenni Optical, & made an appointment to see an eye doctor next week & see if my prescription needs to be updated.

Worth noting: I have never full-on broken a pair of glasses in my life, & I’ve been wearing glasses for almost thirty years. I’ve had frames stretch on me, I’ve bent arms out of shape, I’ve scratched lenses, but I’ve never actually BROKEN a pair of glasses. & now I broke two pairs in less than a week? 100% by myself, with no help from, say, a grabby three-year-old? Pretty weird.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. hoperoth says:

    That dress is so fun!

    I snapped the nose part of my glasses in HS, but they were metal and an optician was able to solder them back together. I hope your new pair shows up soon!

    1. ciara says:

      They arrived on Monday! Faster than I expected. I guess paying extra for express shipping was worth it. I chose pink frames after many, many years of black, & I am startled every time I look in the mirror.

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