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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


Interior yoke.

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


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.


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.


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.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

6 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: vintage kitties shirtdress

  1. 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. 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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