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Sep 052015

I’m so behind in blogging dresses that I’m going to have to start doubling up!  This should not be difficult because this year is the year of repeat patterns – especially McCall’s 6696.  Unsurprisingly, I have two versions of McCall’s 6696 to show you today, both made in the seven-dress frenzy of summer ’15.  One is made out of Liberty tana lawn, and the other is made out of my beloved Art Gallery voile.

First up, my third version of McCall’s 6696, made out of Liberty lawn.  This one is a little different.  To make it seem like I’m not just sewing the same exact dress over and over again, I modified this one to only button down halfway, like Mary did here.  The skirt and waistband are solid in front.

My first set of photos for this dress were so washed out!  It was really frustrating.  I tried closing the blinds in the room where I was taking them, but it didn’t help at all.  I gave up and figured I’d just apologize when I blogged this dress.


But then I did a big photo session for some newer dresses and was having the same problem.  This time, I was taking the pictures pretty late in the day and not in direct sunlight, so I decided it might be a good time to actually use some of the manual settings on my camera so I’d have a fighting chance of getting decent pictures.  I increased the f-stop number to make the pictures look less washed out, and I was surprised how much more like myself I looked!  I always look so washed out in the photographs and like my skin glows white, but it really doesn’t.  I re-took the pictures for this dress, and it’s so much better.  Now I look more like me and you can see the print on this beautiful Liberty fabric much better!

I also got new glasses in between the first photo and the second.  They’re apparently not as fabulous at reducing glare as my old glasses


Side view!  I really don’t understand camera settings, which is why the photo below is partially blurry.  I thought increasing the f-stop number would decrease the shutter speed, which is what would let less light through the lens, but that is apparently wrong because the shutter was noticeably slower and I kept moving before it was done.  I didn’t notice all the blurry spots until I uploaded the pictures, so you’ll have to bear with me as I figure out what a camera is and how to use it!


More blurriness with a back view.

More buttons from the lovely Soutache.  These are the same buttons I used on my Liberty Alder, just in a different color.  I love them, but if there’s any strain at all on the buttons, they want to slide through the buttonhole and pop open!  I never need to unbutton these buttons to put the dress on, so I just handstitched the two plackets together.liberty-mary-jean-c-mccalls-6696-detail

Next up, my Art Gallery voile 6696.  This one buttons all the way down, but I used a gathered skirt instead of the pleated skirt, again, to give some minimal sense of variety to these dresses.  Now that I’ve sewn up and worn my two pieces of Liberty fabric quite a bit, I feel like it’s definitely much better than quilting cotton, but not as good as these Art Gallery voiles.  They are smoother and come out of the washer (if I’m hanging them to dry) or the dryer (if I don’t have hanging space or time to let them hang) wrinkle-free, while my Liberties always get all crinkly in certain spots and it’s nearly impossible to iron the crinkles out.

flowered-engrams-voile-mccalls-6696-frontThis particular print is designed by Katarina Roccella and it’s called Flowered Engrams in Ornate.  I LOVE it so much!  I think it’s my favorite out of all the Art Gallery voiles I got this summer.  I’ve wanted a larger scale floral dress for a while, but I have trouble finding prints that don’t look grandmotherly to me.  I love the colors in this one, and as you’ll see better below, the flowers have a blocky, pixelated look to them, which I think makes the print look much more modern than lots of other large-scale florals.flowered-engrams-voile-mccalls-6696-sideA back view for journalistic integrity.  I had no idea that I’d apparently cut my waistband with the flowers almost-but-not-quite matching the bodice.  I didn’t even realize it until I saw this picture!  It looks sort of strange, which makes me think a belt would be a good idea for this dress.  I’ve already worn it like a billion times without one, though, so whoops!flowered-engrams-voile-mccalls-6696-backHere you can see the print a bit better, along with my square buttons, which delight me because they echo the pixelated nature of the print.  They’re nothing fancy, just from Joann.  Every time I’m looking for a teal button, these are the closest thing they have at Joann, and they never match.  I was excited that they actually matched this dress since they’re perfect for it!flowered-engrams-voile-mccalls-6696-button-detail-closeupI finally remembered to use a tip from this Grainline tutorial for getting flat bias binding, which is understitching.  It works pretty well!  I used premade bias binding because I hate making my own, and that makes it a little more difficult to get a perfect finish because it’s so stiff, but I’ve definitely been getting the best finishes I’ve ever had now that I’m understitching.


That’s it for today!  I still have six dresses I’ve made that I have yet to blog, and they’re all pretty much summer dresses, so I have to get my act together!  I’ve just been so busy lately – probably the busiest I’ve ever been in my life.  I’ve been a TA for the past six years at UIC, where I’m doing my Ph.D.  I’m still teaching two classes there this semester , but I’m also teaching two classes at another school.  Remember my interview suit?  Well, I didn’t get that job, which was at a community college, and I heard through the grapevine of a friend who works there that it was, at least in part, because I didn’t have any community college teaching experience.  So I decided to teach part time at a community college to get some experience.  It’s difficult to get a full time job, but it’s ridiculously easy to get a part time job.  My interview for the part-time place was barely an interview, and I was told I had the job like 20 minutes into it.  So they hired me to teach two composition classes, and I discovered when I looked up my rosters that I’d have 32 students in each one.  Our course limit for composition at UIC is 24, and most of us feel like that’s too many.  32?!  I was horrified.  And I continue to be horrified every time I have to spend hours upon hours reading their homework or commenting on their papers.  Plus I have more than the normal number of students at UIC for convoluted reasons having to do with the fact that one of my classes this semester isn’t a comp class.  So in total I have somewhere between 120-130 students (some of them have a lot of absences already and might end up dropping), which is the most I’ve ever had, even though I taught four classes one semester when I was an adjunct in between my MA and Ph.D.  I only had 85 that semester.  I’m behind in everything in my life except teaching, and I feel like I’m always either prepping for class, reading homework, commenting on papers, or actually traveling to or being at one of the two schools.  This semester may actually kill me.  I’m hoping to take some time over this long Labor Day weekend to get ahead a bit on class prep, plus sew a little bit.  Plus I need to finish some last revisions on an article I’m sending to a journal.  There’s definitely no time for relaxing this weekend, which is what this holiday is all about!  Blergh.

  6 Responses to “Two More McCall’s 6696”

  1. 32!? That is ridiculous! It makes me angry that you have to deal with an enrollment cap that high. I feel very fortunate that most of our comp classes are capped at 20 (except for developmental writing, which is capped at 15). I’ve taught before at places where the cap is 24 or 25 and it’s so hard to keep up with the grading. 32 is just insane–I’m horrified with you. Labor issues in the academy are such a mess. I’m sorry you’re dealing with such a huge work load this semester.

    • I was hoping you’d chime in because I was wondering what your cap was! What’s even more horrifying than the 32 cap is that I’m allowed to override the limit, which has never been a possibility at any other school where I’ve taught – they’ve always been really protective of the limit because they don’t want some administrator deciding that the cap must be too low if people are overriding it. Apparently that’s not a concern this school! I love everything else about this place, but I’m not asking for more courses next semester.

  2. Hi Dear Sweets! Love your dresses!

  3. I thought I loved the liberty print but that’s because I hadn’t seen the Art Gallery print. WOW! It’s gorgeous. I see what you mean about the waistband, and I think that would annoy me if I had made the dress, but I also didn’t notice it until you pointed it out.

    That teacher: student ratio sounds just exhausting. It must be a total scramble to keep up! I hope you managed at least an hour or so of fun and relaxing over the weekend.

    • I do think this AG print is my favorite of all the prints I got this summer. I love the colors, the scale of the floral, and the pixelated style. It’s probably gotten the most wear out of any of my summer dresses. I tend to forget about things I can’t see or feel, so the waistband won’t bother me that much – plus fall is coming and I’ll probably start wearing a sweater that will cover that whole mess.

      It is truly exhausting! I did spend a couple of hours at a BBQ on Labor Day weekend, so that was good, but I didn’t really get any sewing done. I turn into a zombie at home when I’m this busy and sewing tends to take a backseat to everything else. I have a lot of fall sewing plans, though, so something has to give!

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