Put a Bird On It: McCalls 6891/6696 Shirtdress mashup

There are over 1000 tags of McCalls’ 6696 on Instagram and maybe around a hundred for Palmer and Pletsch’s 6891. I bought both these patterns when they came out yearrrrrs ago and regret waiting so long to make because I LOVE this little aviary centric throwback shirtdress.

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I purchased this Ankara fabric from a fellow maker so long ago that I can’t even find the email about it. The fabric is a little lightweight (think thin quilting) and I wouldn’t have used it for anything where the seams would be very stressed. I’ve actually reinforced my waist seams with twill tape. In retrospect, this could do with some underlining and I’ll wear it with a slip. I’m glad I didn’t have enough fabric for sleeves, because I’d be worried about stressing the seams.

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The bodice is M6891 as I think the open neckline works best for me. I switched out the pattern skirt for something without bias and went with M6696. For my clothes, I personally don’t like when a directional print arches like a rainbow or frown on the skirt. That’s just me! So, to have a skirt where the birds more or less are straight, I chose a non bias skirt. I did not do this, but if you do mix the two patterns, the front skirt needs about 2″ added in width. The back didn’t need any additional width added to match the back bodice.

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I also recommend against a directional print because of the collar lapels. Are my lapels upside down dead birds? Or are they birds on a wire marching up my neck? The fabric was just 45″ wide and the print ran along the crosswise grain — so I had to cut it that way. I could have done a contrast collar, but I didn’t want that look.

Alterations / changes

  • 1.25″ FBA
  • Rising hem adjustment on back skirt
  • Swayback adjustment on back bodice
  • Skipped pockets
  • Bias bound neck and armsyces
  • Shortened bodice to raise waistline approx 3″ ( it was hitting me at the widest vs narrow part of my waist)
  • I think I sewed a 20? I was between sizes with the upper bust and went with the larger size. It does pull away from my back neck and the shoulder seams are wide for me. But, I actually like that it’s not RIGHT on the back of my neck or too snug for a summer dress.

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I actually wore this dress to a wedding last week. I couldn’t help but think of a time I tried to wear an Ankara print dress to my uncle’s daytime wedding and reception. My aunt looked at me twice and said, “You can’t wear cotton to a wedding.” I don’t even remember what I did end up wearing, but I’ll never forget that story. It’s so cute and funny to me now. But, this wedding was labeled as casual and outside at a campsite in the Poconos. It fit in well and I was borderline overdressed.

I think the collar instructions are not great on this so I did it my own way. I used instructions from my Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing. You construct the collar, attach to the neck. Then you add the lower collar and facing (this is not meant to be at tutorial. Just a description of how I handled it).

As for the wedding….. I have a lot of thoughts. I’m not getting married now in this time of Covid so it’s not my big decision to make. But, having been…. I would just say if you’re getting married, make it intimately small and family only. You can’t trust other people to have the same covid related procedures in place as you.

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The wedding was for a college friend of Jordan’s. He wore a seersucker suit which I hemmed the pants. His mask is the Trend Patterns mask and mine is the APLAT. For his mask, I did add about 1/2″ in length to it to cover his face best. 

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For mine, I will just warn you that the APLAT instructions are atrocious and you’re better off looking at something else from this kind of 3D mask line. Unless you learn from videos. Then the Aplat might be great for you. 

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All in all, I was so happy to get ANYWHERE this past weekend. The drive, the scenery, the food I didn’t cook, the four walls I wasn’t intimately familiar with, the outdoors. All of it. Well, except for the bizarre QAnon rally that took place outside of our Airbnb. But that’s the kind of story for another blog.

36 comments

  1. Love this dress – the bright colors are fantastic and the shape goes well with the fabric. I can imagine that despite some concerns it would be great to have a change of scenery and actually attend a social function!!

    • It was AMAZING! I didn’t know anyone at the ceremony. But, just being outside and hearing other sounds and voices was wonderful. I had a nice time in town just walking the streets and window shopping. I hadn’t realized how cooped up I was feeling.

  2. Pretty dress! I made up several of the Romilda masks, and I like them. Stitching Odyssey made an IG video of how to make it, and they were dead easy. They look similar to the one you made. I just played the video, completed the step, and repeat. I too have trouble with directional prints for the reasons you mentioned. I like stripes and plaids, but that is as directional as I feel comfortable with.

    • Yes! I’m a huge fan of how easy these come together. I wish I knew of them when I was making and selling masks. I think I need like 1/2″ more in length for this one to fit me best.

  3. Your dress is adorable! Sounds like the perfect garment for a casual wedding. The matching mask shows that the outfit was handmade and you should be proud

      • Maybe it would be easier to tell them “I did MAGIC!” That’s going to be my answer now.
        Because, honestly, you did.

        (If you can’t wear cotton to a wedding, what about seersucker?)

        • LOL! I explained a few times, but folks were still befuddled OR did the “I have to hire you!”. Magic honestly would have been easier to explain!

  4. Well, from a woodsy wedding to a very proper aunt to QAnon, you’ve covered the bases! The dress just suits you, doesn’t it? I think the sleeveless is best, especially in these mask-wearing times, when sleeves would mean there would be nothing showing but your forehead and legs. Your dead birds comment made me laugh. I don’t think anyone but the maker would notice. Whatever those birds are doing, they’re doing it in formation, so all is right with the world.

    • I am sure you’re right, lol! When I realized I was going to have to cut them that way, I was so annoyed! But, in truth, I only notice in these photos and not when I’m wearing them. I’m glad the comment made you laugh :D. Whenever I have something like this, I just try and be consistent. That’s the best I can hope for!

    • Thank you! Overall, I do think I like them best. Mine don’t stand too far away from my face, but I have a larger head. But, they are my favorite to make and sew. I don’t fidget with it at all.

  5. This dress is fantastic – it’s one of those “you can truly wear it anywhere” pieces. And I still maintain that you’ve gone to more weddings than any other human I’m aware of 🙂 I don’t know how I’d feel about going to a wedding right now but I’m a person that drove 9 hrs (I can go a month without getting into a car and 5 years without driving) to get to a (no longer) well-loved resort only to determine that the environment was disorganized and dangerous. So I left after 12 hours. I’m fine as long as I feel safe (whether I actually am or not is likely indeterminable) but I totally agree with you – what works for me won’t work for someone else. For something like a wedding, maybe peeps are going to start creating “safety plans” and pre-distributing them so that everyone knows what to expect and how to interact. Someone else I know posted about a virtual wedding, which seems like the worst of everything. (Note – I eloped; weddings are not my thing.) These are strange times.

    • You got this right. I wish they’d sent out a safety plan. That would have told me how seriously they were taking it instead of just assuming they were. And it would have reinforced to everyone else what the rules were. It felt like the wild west and we left after we ate dinner (away from everyone else outside of the tent). I don’t want to criticize others for their decisions, because I didn’t have to decide. But, you should give people the full layout and vibe so they can make best decisions for themselves.

      I know I have been to so so many weddings, lol! I do think it’s because Jordan is younger so I’m just reliving my late 20s and early 30s with him. And his friend’s weddings have just timed well to my friend’s second weddings in their 40s.

      • My museum has just recently started doing weddings again and I can’t imagine the stress they must be under. Our staff (minus security and grounds) have been working from our homes since 3/15/2020. Individual employees are only allowed in office spaces one at a time, assigned to one day a week, and even then, for limited hours. So I can just imagine how many rules our event planners have put into place! I am so glad my professional event planner days are over.

  6. I’ve loved this dress since watching it come together on IG. I’m happy it worked for you during the wedding and totally understand your hesitations about it. It seems as if all gatherings have to be thought and rethought for possible health threats these days.

    I hope you make more of these!

  7. Your dress turned out so well, I love that fabric. I am so happy to be a sewist because we get to make all the matching masks now. I am going to look at the mask patterns you mentioned because I need a bigger one and yours looks more comfortable. Yes, I can only imagine weddings in the time of Covid with whack-a-doo Q-anon people nearby is quite surreal. What a time to be alive. Thanks for sharing your dress!

    • What a time to be alive is right! At first I wondered why we took photos with masks on. Then I realized this is like a little time capsule! I am a big fan of this style mask. I have a larger face and I find this really flexible for fit. It also goes together REALLY fast. I hope you like it!

  8. Dress looks amazing. wonderful job on getting he birds to line up. I kinda like the upside down birds so you can look down and see them right side up.(hee-hee)

  9. Renee, you look beautiful in those colors. The dress turned out great. I really agree, it takes the joy out of an event when you can’t feel safe. I’ve been to doctors offices where I was disappointed to find in adequate measures to handle the virus while patients were there. It makes you wonder.

    • Oh, man! That’s terrible. You’re phrasing is right. We were so tense during the service and reception that it wasn’t fun. We brought camp chairs by chance and ended up eating away from everyone else and being fairly distant during the reception. It just felt uncomfortable.

  10. Great dress with wonderful colors on you and the matching mask is great. What’s it like to actually get out and go somewhere?! I’ve worked at home for years, but this is different. No real get togethers with friends, no lunch at our favorite restaurant. The last time we had a dinner party was our middle of winter party in January. I miss having friends over.

    • Well, I did greatly enjoy being out in the world and it wasn’t an errand I was running. I might have enjoyed it more if I knew anyone but Jordan, lol! I miss my friends so much!! I miss getting a little drink after work. I miss eating dinner out with Jordan. I miss making plans without thinking through a dozen contingencies. Sigh.

  11. Y’all look great! I love this dress, especially the collar shape. Thanks for all of the details on how you made it. Out of all the designs I have made the APLAT is my favorite mask by far. I have a narrowish face and I like the extra space so I can breathe and talk a bit easier. It does come up pretty high on my face, but I can wear my glasses over it and they don’t fog.

    • Yeah! I have a larger head. I’ve never liked the contoured/ seam down the center. I made pleated masks for sale because they fit everyone. But, this has been my favorite for a little extra length and comfort. It is by far the most comfortable pattern I’ve worked with for me. I have also had minimal fogging.

  12. The world spins madly on, and it gives me such hope to see you & our sewing community transcend the crazy by making stunning dresses and matching masks. I adore that fabric, and think your dress is perfect! Even the birds have to adapt. 🙂

  13. You look marvelous! And I totally agree about having that giant frown-y thing that happens with some skirt patterns. It made me smile to see that I’m not alone in avoiding that look at all costs!

    • Yep! This is the edition I love. I understand that the more recent versions eschew the home decor and might have updated photos. What I really like about this edition is it assumes you don’t have a serger or any fancy finishing machines that we have. So the finishes to me are finer and more detailed. The collar construction in this one is A MILLION TIMES BETTER. My first version was… not good. I pulled out the book and it was smooth as silk.

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