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My May Minerva Make – Polka Dot Shirt Dress

May 26, 2015

Greetings.  I hope you all had a lovely weekend.  Today I’m showing you my latest sewing project for the Minerva Crafts blogger network: a shirt dress made with some lovely red and white polka dot fabric.

McCall's 6696

McCall’s 6696

I have made two shirt dresses before using the ‘shirtwaist’ pattern from Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing, but I wanted to try McCall’s 6696 this time because I prefer the collar and it has more options for variation.  For this particular project I decided to start with view A – the sleeveless version with a full pleated skirt.  The fabric was a pretty obvious choice for me given that I like polka dots and red is my favourite colour.  The added bonus was that this fabric is 60″ wide and it’s a really lovely quality.  It is described as ‘stretch cotton designer dress fabric’.  It has quite a heavy drape and it’s sturdier and thicker than regular cotton.  It has a very smooth finish to it and I was very impressed with it.

McCall's 6696

McCall’s 6696

This dress took me a few days to make as there are lots of pattern pieces and lots of markings to transfer to the fabric.  Cutting the fabric and transferring the markings was the most tedious part.  I’m not the most patient of people and I often find that as soon as I start a project, I just want to get on with the sewing bit!  Once I did start the sewing though I really enjoyed making the dress and everything seemed to fit together perfectly.


I did have two upsetting moments when making this though: first of all, I accidentally chopped a bit of it off.  It’s the bit right at the bottom of the front button placket/band.  Whoops!  I could have shortened the whole dress but instead I interfaced the back to hold it together and then carried on sewing it.  I’ll have to see how it holds up in the wash and maybe patch it or something if necessary.  The second stressful moment was when my sewing machine decided to stop working!  I was extremely worried but after I dismantled it, cleaned it and oiled it, luckily it decided to work again.  Thank goodness!

It was a bit windy in this photo which is why the dress is hanging not quite straight and my hair looks a bit odd!

It was a bit windy in this photo which is why the dress is hanging not quite straight and my hair looks a bit odd!

I’m not 100% sure about the fit of the dress.  It’s actually quite loose, especially under the arms, but when my arms are down (i.e. most of the time) it certainly isn’t noticeable.  I realise that shirt dresses aren’t meant to be too tight, and it is comfortable, which is good, and most importantly it isn’t pulling or straining anywhere.  So maybe it is how it’s supposed to be!

Back view. I love the pleats!

Back view. I love the pleats!

I think I would like to get a narrow white belt to wear with it.  There is no button on the waistband itself, just either side of it, which means when sitting down it has a tendency to gape open.  I think a belt would help disguise that a bit, or maybe adding a hidden hook and eye fastening on the waistband would be another option.

I'm sitting on a hay cart.  How awesome is that for a photo opportunity?!

I’m sitting on a hay cart. How awesome is that for a photo opportunity?!

One final thing I’d like to change is that I think it would look nice with turquoise buttons instead of white.  Obviously the white buttons are a good match, but I think turquoise would just give it something extra and make it more unusual.  So maybe I’ll get around to doing that at some point!

Thanks to Minerva for sending the supplies 🙂

  1. May 26, 2015 12:56 pm

    This is lovely, and you can tell from the photos that the fabric is nice quality. Interested to read your review as I’ve just bought this pattern finally after it’s been on so many blogs. I made a shirt dress from a different pattern this weekend (it wasn’t a great pattern, hence this purchase) and am also looking out for a narrow white belt too – let me know if you find one!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 26, 2015 8:16 pm

      Thanks Kerry! I hope you have more success with the McCalls pattern then! I’ve been keeping an eye out in charity shops for a belt but no luck so far. If I find one in the high street shops I’ll let you know!

  2. stitchedupsam permalink
    May 26, 2015 2:28 pm

    This is lovely! I recently made this pattern for one of my Minerva projects, but I did the straight skirt and left the collar off. It’s great that there are so many ways to vary this one!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 26, 2015 8:17 pm

      I saw it, it was lovely! 🙂

  3. Nic permalink
    May 26, 2015 3:16 pm

    Love the dress… I nervously have a polka dot shirt dress in my queue too 🙂 Is this photo shoot near the Peace Gardens in Sheffield?

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 26, 2015 8:18 pm

      Yes it is, we had a couple of nights in a hotel there over the bank holiday weekend. Well spotted!

  4. May 26, 2015 7:56 pm

    This looks so lovely on you! Great job. Please pin this to our fan gallery on Pinterest:

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 26, 2015 8:19 pm

      Thanks 🙂

  5. May 26, 2015 8:56 pm

    This is lovely – I bought this pattern recently as well but it is taking a little while getting to the front of the queue! I love the red polka dot fabric – I am really tempted to try the blue version or a chambray.


    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 26, 2015 9:10 pm

      Ooh yes, either (or both!) of those would look great!

  6. kaitlynssimplyvintage permalink
    May 27, 2015 2:35 am

    Love this dress. there is something so fresh. crisp and nice abut shirt dresses

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 27, 2015 7:15 am

      I know what you mean. I wouldn’t want loads of them but it’s good to have one or two 🙂

  7. May 27, 2015 7:39 am

    What a beautiful dress. M6696 seems like a very popular pattern and this is a great version. The polkadots are very cute and summery.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 27, 2015 8:01 am

      Thanks. There isn’t tonnes of choices between shirt dress patterns and this one is just a straight up classic with different options for customisation too. I think that’s why it’s so popular.

  8. May 27, 2015 12:42 pm

    Ooh what a lovely dress! I do love a good collar and a polka dot pattern… I think your fit looks great too! x

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 27, 2015 3:26 pm

      Thank you. Having worn it and seen the photos I think the fit is ok. Roomy, but I think it’s supposed to be!

  9. May 30, 2015 12:24 pm

    This is gorgeous! What’s not to love about red and white polka dots, and shirtdresses?! I’ve had the gaping at the waist problem with shirtdresses too – and also with skirts that button down the front now that I think about it. I’ve sewn a pop fastener on, and it does the trick to stop the gaping. Now I must resist the temptation to click on the fabric link…

  10. June 1, 2015 10:43 am

    Oh my, that is gorgeous and I want to steal it! The fit looks fine to me, but then I always have the same mental block about shirt dresses as I’m so used to wearing more fitted darted dresses with a zip! This pattern is going to end up on my list of things to sew (when I ever get time / energy to sew again that is…) Mean time I’m enjoying living vicariously!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      June 1, 2015 10:58 am

      Thanks. Yes… I think that’s the reason why I find the fit slightly perplexing: I’m used to sewing dresses with close-fitting bodices!


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