M6696: The Indian Amazon “Hamaca” Dress

m6696hamaca

  • Pattern: McCall’s 6696, view C
  • Size: 10 at bust transitioned to 12 at waist/hips
  • Fabric: 3 yards of Kaffe Fassett Ikat Streak (succulent colorway)
  • Notions: 8 c. 1900 vegetable ivory buttons from Archangel Antiques
  • Alterations: Raised armscye 1″; removed front darts at skirt; removed 4″ of width from back bodice to reduce poofiness caused by gathers; machine-stitched button placket and waistband facing instead of hand-stitching; used self-fabric instead of purchased bias tape (other changes for next time below)

This is the dress I wore to MPB Day 2013! I made it with fabric I bought at Z Fabrics in Portland, Maine during a New England road trip last summer. Paired with the sleeveless bodice, it’s a perfect weight for summer. Some folks on MPB Day asked me about the fabric, and it wasn’t until I looked at the receipt later that I discovered it’s Ikat hand-dyed and hand-woven in India. Neat!

m6696hamaca

These first two photos are a bit washed out, but they give you a good idea of the pattern’s silhouette so bear with me! So many variation possibilities with M6696, and a steal at $2 during one of McCall’s online sales.

I ended up removing the front darts on the skirt because the fabric was bubbling no matter how I adjusted them. I noticed that with light-weight fabrics it’s just better for me to remove the front darts (they sit just fine on the slightly thicker double gauze Cambie skirt I made).

I will say this caused a bit of an issue when I mistakenly cut off 1 1/4″ of the width of each front skirt piece from waist to hem when I should have just done that in the area where the dart would have been. Panic! I ended up narrowing the side seams to 1/4″ in the skirt pieces. Still a little tight, but at least I can sit down now without buttons popping!!

m6696hamaca

The pattern’s back bodice calls for gathers at the top and bottom, but in the muslin stage I found that this created a poofy look I just wasn’t crazy about. Because the piece is cut on the fold, I just slid the pattern piece 2″ off the fold in order to remove 4″ of width total.

This completely removed the gathers from just below the yoke and only left a little above the waist. I like the look much better. I’ve seen someone else alter the waist gathers to two darts, so that’s another idea!

m6696hamaca

As you can see, a wee bit tight in the skirt when sitting.

One of the great things about this pattern is that it offers A/B, C, and D cup sizes! When I’ve worn button-up shirts in the past the buttons have pulled at the bust, so I decided to try the C cup (I also fit into Colette Patterns which are drafted for C cups). Finally, no fabric pulling or need for a safety pin!

Alterations for Next Time
In my next version, I’d like to remove some of the fabric pooling below the front bust by shortening the bodice 1″ (so that the waistband hits at my natural waist rather than just below it, a short torso adjustment I should’ve made beforehand), going down to a size 10 at the waist, and possibly bringing in the lower bust darts a bit more. I don’t want it to be super tight and uncomfortable, but with this ikat version I can pinch about 1″ of fabric out of the waistband and still have breathing room (and that’s with the band not even being at my narrowest part).

Doing this will also give me a bit more shape. As a rectangle, it helps to have some waist definition, especially if I want to opt for the fuller skirt version!

m6696hamaca

I bought the buttons from Archangel Antiques on East 9th Street in the East Village (when I linked to their site I noticed they will be retiring in June 2014 so check them out soon!). As Gail in the shop says, she has 2 million buttons, and she must be right! The store is small but mighty. These buttons were listed as vegetable ivory, c. 1900. She said that vegetable ivory buttons are actually made from a nut found in the Amazon (or something to that effect) between about 1865 to 1910 when they were replaced by plastic. She likes giving the history behind each button, which I love!

Isn’t the texture neat? And I like the Amazon connection because this fabric reminds me so much of hammocks made in Colombia. I swear my family has or had one with these very colors! This is why I’ve called this the “hamaca” dress in the blog post title.

m6696hamaca

Yay for slash pockets!

The tightness of the skirt affected how the button plackets sit over each other. They line up nicely at the bodice, but not so on the skirt. Oh, and the instructions say to hand-stitch the button placket facing and the waistband facing, but I top-stitched instead. Saves some time! I did hand-stitch the yoke facing down, which is what I’m doing here.

m6696hamaca

This project also saw my first attempt at a collar. Well, I made one on my M5717 tailored coat, but this is my first everyday one…or something. 🙂

I definitely need to work on attaching the collar band to the bodice. It went together okay, but the part where the button placket goes into the stand gave me a bit of trouble. I’ve been studying men’s collars and I’m still a wee bit stumped. Practice, practice!

As with the other McCall’s pattern I worked with, I needed to raise the armscye 1″ (I used this method) This helped remove gaping at the armhole that I noticed in the muslin. I also made my own self-fabric bias tape with a 1/2″ Clover bias tape maker instead of purchasing one as the instructions say. This little tool creates nice and even folds, and it makes quick work of it.

m6696hamaca

I’m saying, “What gives? Are you a quail just chillin’ on the sidewalk all pretty and colorful?”

I’m really excited about this pattern! I want to work on adjusting the bodice so that it fits just right. I can see this pattern being used for a button-down shirt or with the fuller pleated skirt of version A or B. And in addition to the sleeveless option, you can choose from short and 3/4″ length sleeves (a slip pattern is also included to pair with sheer dresses). Summer versions, winter versions – oh the possibilities!

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