Finished projects · Vintage

The 1950’s House Wife Dress, AKA McCall’s M6696

Every day at work, I fantasize what it would be like to be a housewife. I would gladly trade answering hundreds of questions, writing evaluations, and waking up early for cleaning, cooking, and sewing. I know most women out there would cringe to hear this (Girl power! Women must make their own living!!), but just let me live in my dream world, OK? It’s never going to happen, unless DD and I win the lottery… believe me, I ask him weekly if I could be a stay-at-home wife and he answers by asking me if he could be a stay-at-home husband. Sigh.

Anyhoo, I finished a dress that’s totally not my usual style – McCall’s M6696. It seems like everyone and their grandma in the sewing world has made this dress. I was first inspired by Cashmerette’s second rendition. Then more bloggers started sewing it up in the past few weeks – Sewn By Ashley, The Liveaboard Takes the Suburbs, and Saturday Night Stitch. I gave in and had to join the club:

IMG_6143Now I’m a true sewing blogger! And excuse the grainy photos – a crazy monsoon was starting right as I was ready to take the photos, so we had to do them inside with sad lighting. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

IMG_6147It’s very retro and I feel super feminine and “housewife-y” in it. The fabric helps with the femininity… it’s Gertie’s bow chambray from Joann’s!

My Kate Spade Outlet bow ring was made for this dress!

This was the first time I sewed with chambray and… oh…. my…. God… it is amazing! This is the first woven garment I’ve made in a while and I forgot just how easy they are to sew. Plus, I feel like the fabric itself was fairly high quality, so that helped a lot.

IMG_6156I bought this pattern not only because I wanted to be a copycat, but because I needed a well-fitting, comfortable work dress. The reviews of this pattern praised the fit “right out of the package” and I have to agree! I sewed a size 10 on top, grading to a 12 at the waist and below. It fits like a glove… or ummm… dress. I just trimmed an inch or two off the hem, and it’s perfect! The only complaint I hear are people saying the gathered back poofs out too much. I agree, it is poofy, but it goes with the style of the dress. Plus, it helps me not She-Hulk out of my dress due to my somewhat muscular and wide back.

I love how girly yet modest this dress is (yay for not worrying about bending over at work and being indecent!). So what’s a girly dress without some girly twirly photos?

IMG_6180Back poof to the MAX!

IMG_6178IMG_6177OK, enough fun. Now it’s time for the GUTS!

IMG_6189I love how clean this dress looks from the inside. The pattern has you do LOTS of hand stitching (my nemesis) so everything comes out nice and neat.

Kitty photobomb!
Kitty photobomb!

The fullness of the skirt is achieved with oh-so-many pleats.

IMG_6195The pleats weren’t really all that difficult to execute – it could be because the fabric pressed so easily or because I did it when I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle anything. One way I ensure perfect, even pleats is do tailor tacks on the circle markings on the pattern and then go back and connect the lines to form little boxes with tailor’s chalk. I then draw an arrow on the fabric in the direction of the pleating so I don’t get confused. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but if and when I do a second dress like this, I’ll try to remember to take photos of that step.

IMG_6192Gotta love beautifully serged seams! I swear, my sewing life has changed drastically since Freya has entered my life.

IMG_6190OK, one thing that really got to me were the stupid sleeves. I’ve always had issues easing sleeves and I thought I had done enough research in order to do it properly this time. Nope, nope, I’m much too spastic to ever have perfectly set-in sleeves!

UGH the puckers!
UGH the puckers!

I took a good 3 1/2 hours easing, ripping, easing, ripping, easing, ripping, then finally giving up. I Google image-searched this pattern and saw I’m at least not the only person with less than perfect sleeves, so I’ll throw in the towel this time. I brought my sleeve woes up with my sewing guru and she said to have the sleeve portion against the feed dogs to help ease the sleeves in better. ‘DOH! I was totally doing it upside-down, so I’ll definitely try that out next time and hopefully THAT will end my sleeve-easing curse!

After I tried the dress on for the photo shoot, I realized the waist gaped a little between the buttons. I may or may not wear a belt with this dress, so I sewed in a snap to help keep it closed. I wish now that I would have done an inside-button because if I bend over or eat too much, the snap busts open. Sigh.

IMG_6196That’s about it for this dress. It’s definitely a different style and silhouette for me, but I think it’s worth making more. I may try a sleeveless version next time just to mix things up a bit.ย (Edit: Check out my second version here!)

I’ll leave you with a couple of fun photos:

IMG_6142Tasso decided to pose with me – a housewife and her cat!

IMG_6172I figured what is a 1950’s housewife dress without a random vacuum? I always think of ’50s housewives vacuuming in heels and a pretty dress. Did this happen in real life or only in movies? Please educate me – I’m a child of the ’80s…


49 thoughts on “The 1950’s House Wife Dress, AKA McCall’s M6696

  1. If I could omit the housework, then yep it appeals to me too: so basically just staying at home sewing all day ๐Ÿ˜‰ This looks lovely on you and great fabric choice. I’d imagine the sleeveless version would look a little more modern?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! โค I guess I should work with more vintage-type patterns…

      Yeah, omitting the housework would be way better! I'm sure I wouldn't be wearing this to clean, though, LOL. The sleeveless version does look more modern and I'm loving everyone else's sleeveless versions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Also, I totally want to be a stay at home wife/mom. Luckily Brodie wants me to too!!!! Lol I guess I better start getting better at cooking and cleaning…I got the sewing part down ๐Ÿ˜‰ lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But what about all of your cool hair stuff? Or is Brodie talking about when you have a baby? I totally see staying at home when you have a little one. I consider the chickens and cats my little ones, so I feel like they’re being deprived by not having a stay at home mom. The poor little things…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awwww poor little fur/feather babies!!! They need you I just know it! They will be traumatized without you!! Haha
        I am for sure going to still do hair but probably just from my house or one or two days a week in the salon. But mainly stay at home with the babies ๐Ÿ™‚ whenever we actually have them and Brodie makes more money lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ahh that sounds amazing! I would even consider working if I could do it just a couple of times a week. ๐Ÿ˜‰ At least you’ll be able to give your kids their “first haircut” and it won’t be so traumatizing for them, LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally have an art pic of in black and whiteof a 50s housewife and her vacuum and her tiny terrier jumping 4′ in the air over the Hoover. It’s not unlike your picture! The shirt dress turned out so delightfully crisp and perfect for the style. Isn’t chambray wonderful to sew with?! For real too, the sleeve against the feed dogs will change your life in terms of easing sleeves, but I’ll add consider cutting down the seam allowance in the armscye and sleeve to 3/8″. The physical stitching will be closer to the raw edge, which will help you be super accurate but also cut out a lot of the poofery that causes all of the grief. Either way, a fantastic dress for all of your housewifery dreaming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Oh, man, I need to re-create that picture with one of my cats jumping over the vacuum! I think it would be difficult, though, because they usually run and hide when I pull the vacuum out.

      Thank you for the sleeve-easing tip of trimming the seam allowance! I’ll have to try that next time for sure. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, more chambray! I need to go on a chambray shopping spree, LOL.


      1. If one could actually find enough of it, a chambray shopping spree would be lovely. I know Robert Kaufmann makes some good quality stuff, some linen blends, some just cotton. They’re all a little too muted and cool toned for me, but I’ve ordered swatches, and it’s got a good hand and a nice weight.


    1. Why thank you so much! ๐Ÿ™‚

      The cherry one is cute, too. Sorry that you don’t get the whole collection! I can’t wait to see what Gertie come out with next but it looks like her chambrays are the most popular. Maybe they’ll take the hint and make more!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So adorable! (Also, I, too, would totally trade my job for staying home to cook and clean and sew. Well, I would in theory… we’re at the point where I probably could and that whole need to be financially independent “just in case” keeps me from making that leap)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes, I was raised to “never depend on a man financially” and DD and I are starting to travel more, so it helps to have 2 incomes for sure! I guess I’d be happier with traveling than staying at home cleaning and cooking, LOL.


  5. This is really lovely! I made a version of this and definitely had the pouffy sleeves… though i thought they were supposed to be like that, rather than set in completely smoothly! Haha! I love it anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, I thought that it just might be the style and it doesn’t look bad at all, I’m just a semi-perfectionist. Plus I saw ONE picture on Google images where the sleeves were super smooth and I wanted to emulate that. But my guess is they didn’t ease and probably can’t move their arms, LOL.


  6. This dress is just too cute!! Love the fabric and the pattern is perfect – I’m going to have to buy this one myself now! Great photos especially the last one! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes! Yes! And yes please! I love this dress – i need that fabric ๐Ÿ˜ป. Totally nodded my head to what you were saying about she hulk shoulders – i have that condition too and the gathered back works a treat! I may have rummage through my stash and see if I have some grey fabric to copy yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this fabric + dress combo!! The guts look so clean, too–well done! And seriously, WTF is up with excess sleeve ease?!? I hate that. It’s usually unnecessary too, which makes it all the more frustrating. Grrrr. What has worked for me is a combination of hand-basting (I know, I know, but it does help with distributing that extra material!) the sleeve in first, and then pinning as needed to ensure there are no puckers. And also sewing with the sleeve piece against the feed dogs. Good luck!

    And seriously, if we won the lottery, Tom and I would both be stay-at-home spouses, LOL. But even then I would have to do *something* after a while because I just…can’t not do something, you know? (But seriously, as someone who wears vintage fairly regularly, I cannot get over how frequently people just assume that I am not fiercely independent or that I would prefer to live like it’s The Past. “Oh, you were just born in the wrong era!” Like, no. I like having personhood, and I’ll totally take those clothes and wear them while being a fierce autonomous person in the modern world with no children and no permission slip from my husband, kthanx.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mads! I, too am against excess sleeve ease – reasons why I usually stick with knits. But I need to get through my woven stash so I can buy more pretty fabric!

      I agree with having to do something even if you win the lottery. I would definitely continue to sew and maybe have an Etsy shop. I also might because a travel blogger as well because DD and I love exploring new countries!

      Liking vintage style and liking vintage living are 2 very different things, I agree! I’m down with having my own personhood, too… just this whole real job thing sucks, LOL! But yeah not having kids is awesome for not disturbing the sew-jo. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OMG I would so read that travel blog! (I love the idea of traveling, but not the actual traveling part…) And is *that* how our stashes are supposed to work? Cuz I seem to just keep accumulating allllllll the pretties and sewing like 5 things a year. ๐Ÿ˜‰


      2. I hear you about the traveling part… I used to enjoy taking flights but now it’s such a hassle and so uncomfortable that it’s the worst part!

        I tell myself I need to get through my stash all the time, but somehow I end up buying loads of fabric every now and then. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s like it calls to us to buyyyyyy…. buyyyy… BUYYYY!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Well the vacuum, the heels and the dress are a perfect combination! I read an old advert for a sewing machine. It said all sorts of things, like make sure your house is clean for your husband before you sew, always sew wearing a fine dress so you don’t look sloppy for you husband, etc. Nowadays, I say do whatever makes you happy – sew wearing a dress and heels or in your underwear! I love chambray. It’s so dressy and yet so comfortable too. Your’s is very cute! Nice job on your dress, inside and out! Never mind the sleeves. I remember once having puckering on the sleeves and I just thought, after struggling with it, at least BOTH sleeves are puckered so it looks like it is supposed to be like that! Who will know! I am sure it will all be to your satisfaction next time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I read that, too! I’m actually kind of glad I wasn’t a housewife back then – I know it looks nice and glamorous, but things like always looking “nice” for your husband and probably being treated like dirt don’t sound great. I can’t imagine sewing in heels, but I do sew in my pajamas a LOT!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I definitely need to look into getting more chambray – this dress is a favorite among my family and friends (and it seems the sewing world, too!) so it’s either the awesome fabric or the awesome pattern – or both!

      I like that thought about not being worried since BOTH sleeves are puckered – and honestly, non-sewers will never know the difference!

      Liked by 1 person

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