Giving Up On A Project – McCalls M6696 In Denim

Last Autumn I took a cutting from the Sunday Times Style magazine of a MIH denim dress which I just fell in love with. I bought the fabric in the spring but it wasn’t until July when I got around to sewing it up.  I decided to make use of the McCalls M6696 shirt dress pattern using option D but with the short sleeves. This pattern has a definite waistband and I preferred this to the plaited belt on the MIH dress.  I made this dress with the full skirt last year.

mih denim dress

I altered the skirt pattern by adding in some flare and I lengthened the sleeve and took out some of the sleeve head fullness as I remembered from the first make that the sleeves had so much fullness they were a pig to put in.

mih denim dress model

MIH denim dress – what I was trying to aim for….


My first stumble came when I realised that I should have used the size 12 or even the 14 skirt pattern, but I had used the 10 as my bust corresponded with the 10 but I hadn’t  noticed my hips were 3″ bigger on the body than the measurements on the pattern envelope. I managed to get around this with the ease allowed in the hip measurement and using the smallest possible seam allowance. All seemed well.

I had got to the stage where all I needed to do was to stitch down the collar stand, sew on the front pockets and button hole and apply the jeans buttons. I always struggle with getting a good finish when finishing off the collar stand and with the thickness of the denim it was just about passable.

I fitted the dress and the bodice was just not right. The waist and bust fit OK but it is the area above the bust, it’s just too big and the neck opening too wide. So I calmly decided to call it a day with this dress before I wasted a load of jeans buttons.

I haven’t been doing well with my motivation to sew recently and every time I go into the sewing room I see this as a bit of a block which is in my way.

Where I went wrong here is that I think the fabric was too thick and I need to toile the bodice again, I had done it last year but there didn’t seem to be any major fitting problems on the first dress.

I need to take some positives from this…..
I learnt a new and much more successful way of topstitching.
I usually use the Gutermann extra strong thread but there is usually some tangling up in the bobbing and this time I just couldn’t get my second row of topstitching to look nice and I really wanted the twin needle look. In desperation I tried the method where you use two strands of standard thread in the needle and it worked much better than I had expected and looks just the same. So from now on I think this will be my preferred method.

I’m going to chop the bodice off this dress and turn it into a skirt. I think once I have done that I can get my enthusiasm back and start making plans for what I’d like to sew for the coming Autumn.

I would still like to make this dress but I think I’ll leave it for a while before attempting again. And once it is done I can go down the local park and style it like this fashion blogger who is wearing the real thing. 🙂

Also any good tips on getting a good finish on collar stand would be much appreciated!


12 thoughts on “Giving Up On A Project – McCalls M6696 In Denim

  1. Your comment on ‘fabric may have been too thick’ caught my eye- I have just made a 50s cocktail dress from denim which is definitely too thick in that it has 2 deep folds but as I am only wearing it for one ‘do’ before the folds are removed(and made to pants) it works fine as is but it is a genuinely heavy dress (takes 3 metres). what I did was I washed it in a hot wash before I made it up which took a lot of the stiffness out of it – so before you do anything….. I would suggest a hot wash will soften it a bit and give you a better feel for what next perhaps. Also as my hips are generally 2 sizes ahead of my bust I always grade out if I can. what you can do if the ease has not given you enough is to take off skirt and put it further up and apply a false hem….. its a lovely dress and it would be a shame you are having some speed bumps

    • Hello, thanks for your comment. I did the fabric one pre-wash on a 40 but next time will think about more than one wash. With the sizing I just didn’t read the pattern envelop properly. When I made this dress before I had used the full skirt where the hip measurement doesn’t really matter so much. I like the point about pulling the skirt up to create more width around the hips and then adding length – that’s something to remember for the future!

  2. Dear Helen

    I have enjoyed reading all of your posts. You manage to describe the sewing process so clearly.
    I feel the same way when I see something that I have not finished for one reason or another. I have two skirts that make me feel guilty whenever I see them. They have been left for a year. It is good if you can use part of the dress but Sewing can be so frustrating.
    Keep the posts coming.

    • Hello Teresa, thanks for your comment. I don’t often end up with unfinished projects. I had a skirt I made last year which I put straight in the bin, I didn’t want to have it hanging around! Then there is a Sewaholic Trench coat which I had visions of being fantastic but was just not working out and that was an expensive project too.
      I’m hoping the amendment into a skirt will work out…..

    • I know – that topstitching took ages! But now I think I have found a way of topstitching that suits me and my machine it should eliminate a lot of sewing stress.

  3. I hope you can find the motivation to try this again becaûse it’s great and I think it would look great on you. Sorry for the frustration.

  4. Three ideas -just leave off the top stitching on the collar stand, or line with a lighter weight fabric in a similar or contrasting colour. Also do the collar and stand first and then attach. Your top stitching looks really nice by the way. I have never tried double thread as Gutermann strong thread works well for me.

    • I think you are right with using a lighter weight fabric for the inner collar stand, there was just too much thickness with all the layers of denim.
      I was really pleased with the topstitching. My machine always struggles. I always do a test swatch then move to the garment and I can guarantee that after a perfect test swatch the first stitch on the actual garment will tangle up!

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