McCall's M6696 shirtdress pattern.

I wanted to post a blow-by-blow pattern review and tips for sewing McCall’s M6696 shirtdress (affiliate link), sewing friends. Alas, my fitting skills came up short. But hey, at least I posted today, right?

I fought this pattern all weekend, spending most of it in my underwear, sewing and trying on the muslin, sewing and trying on the muslin, repeat ad infinitum.

(Through THAT process I concluded that I need a sewing robe, something luxe to slip on and off while I’m working. But let’s return to the fitting story.)

I scoured blogs, watched YouTube vids, and pored over the fitting chapters of my sewing books. And this is the best I could do:

The front view of McCall's M6696 shirtdress. The back view of McCall's M6696 shirtdress. The side view of McCall's M6696 shirtdress.

Let’s talk about what’s happening, in no particular order:

  • I removed the comically poufy gathers from the back bodice. They were HUGE, a common complaint from bloggers who’ve made M6696. The slim-fitting straight-skirt view looks best with a tidy back.
  • The back bodice looks slightly wonky because it’s pinned for a swayback adjustment. I made the adjustment on the paper pattern piece and didn’t re-cut and sew it for the muslin.
  • The back of the dress — the flatness you can see in the side view photo — haunts me. I don’t have a prominent bum, but I look like a pancake in this dress. No bueno.
  • I thought the bodice fit well, but looking at these photos, I’m not so sure. It looks too big.

RELATED: My Favorite Sewing Books


The agony and the ecstasy

When I thought I’d crushed the bodice, I was ecstatic. Getting a bodice right is happy times for a sewist.

When I spent Saturday and Sunday trying to get the skirt to recognize that I do indeed have SOME booty in the pants, I was in agony. I tried swayback adjustments, lengthening the darts, adding length between the skirt waist and hip point (because I am long hipped). The fit didn’t improve and I burned through bobbin thread like mad.

I tidied my sewing room Monday and worked on something else. I needed a reset from M6696.

Tuesday I was back on the M6696 train. (For the record, it’s not an express train.)

Cass T-shirt call to action

Revelations about my fitting skills

Turns out, I’m decent at fitting WHEN IT’S EASY. For example, I’m a fitting genius when it comes to adding length to a bodice.

I have miles to go to fit with competence. And it’s going to be rough, because I don’t have a fitting buddy.

As I worked on M6696, I realized that I need some in-person training on how to fit. I need to observe and practice HOW to correctly manipulate a muslin for fitting and transfer those adjustments to paper pattern pieces. I need help recognizing what is a good fit and what falling short looks like. (Case in point, why oh why did I think my bodice fit?)


TOPIC SPOTLIGHT: FITTING

Flat Pattern Measuring for Fit Adjustments

How to Make a Full Bust Adjustment on T-Shirts (No Darts)

Sewing Pants, Part 1: The Measurements You Need for Success

Sewing Pants, Part 2: Altering Pants Pattern Pieces

Sewing Pants, Part 3: A Completed Pair of Hampshire Trousers

My body type analysis (aka, me in my underwear)

M6696 update: Worshipping at the altar of Nancy Zieman


Books are only going to take me so far now. And while I looked at various Craftsy courses on fitting (and I’ll probably do a few of those, too), I’m at the point where I need live instruction for this hands-on craft.

I know I’ll ask better questions about fitting if I can spend time with a teacher, and written guides and videos will make more sense afterward. Do you get that, too — where you take a class and then go back to reading about the topic and everything is an “aha” moment?

OK, now I want to hear from you — what adjustments do YOU think I need to make on this muslin? I’m leaning toward cutting a smaller size. Do you think that’s necessary? Seriously, guys — this is a cry for help! H-E-L-P!

P.S. ICYMI, my last blog post was a vlog about progress on my 2017 sewing goals. There’s a VERY interesting link in the comments about sewing vlogs as a whole. Check it out!

P.P.S. Let’s throwback to a garment that DIDN’T give me fitting fits: How I sew a muslin + Sew Caroline Larchmont T.