I made the Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen This was by far the trickiest piece of clothing I have sewed in a long time! And I am rather proud that I managed to produce a dress that, although still flawed, I am happy to wear.
Now before you think there's something terribly difficult about this pattern let me assure you there isn't. The darling ranges pattern is really comprehensively written it includes drawings and cutting diagrams and if that wasn't enough Megan has done a sewalong on her blog that is extremely helpful with step by step instructions on any alterations you may want to make.
In retrospect I should have payed more attention to the style of the dress compared to my body shape I am not exactly curvy and rather straight and boyish. This type of dress probably works best for those that have the pretty hourglass shaped curves. I needed to make a fair few alterations in order to make the dress work for me, which is something I don't feel overly confident doing.
** This is a rather lengthy post as I decided to go into some detail about the alterations I made just in case you would like to have a go at this pattern yourself, it may come in handy! Feel free to skip and just look at the pictures :)**
First I checked my measurements against those on the back of the pattern, Megan has conveniently given body measurements as well as finished garment sizes so you can check to see how much ease you will end up with. Of course I fell right between size XS and S so I decided a muslin was definitely in order. I came closest to size XS as far as my measurements go but I needed the ease in the waist from size S. Seeing as this dress is fitted around the waist this was not something I could ignore!
I made up muslin's of just the top bit as that is where the dress is fitted in both sizes and both were not flattering on me. The bust darts on the Darling Ranges Dress are rather wide and short, they hit me at the wrong angle and were causing all sorts of issues in the bodice. From excess fabric above the bust to pointy bits in the wrong places, it wasn't good!
I decided to cut another muslin of the top in a size S and do a small bust adjustment. This made the bust dart a little more narrow which was a bonus, I further lengthened the dart and raised it up by about 1\2".
I added the inch I took out of the bust back to the waist and tried it on. This was looking much better!
So off I went sewing. I used a lightweight linen or linen blend I am not sure, I bought at our local fabric market. First off the front bodice and back bodice don't quite match up, I have read this is a problem only in the smaller sizes. Not a big one for me as I am not that tall I just took about 3\8" off the back to make them even.
I didn't run into any real trouble until I hit the sleeves, instead of gathering them slightly and gently ease the sleeves in, for me there was no ease at all!
In all honesty I was beginning to get rather fed up with the dress at this point. But I am stubborn and determined to get better at dressmaking so I tried the dress on again to see what could be done. I had a fair bit of ease in the side seam under the arm and I could raise the shoulder seam slightly.
Much pinning and fretting later I raised the shoulder seam by 1\2" total and the side seam under the arm by 1" total. This gave me just enough wriggle room to sew the sleeves in with some ease. I can sort of raise my arms but it's far from ideal I must say.
I lengthened the sleeves by a few inches and finished them with a cuff rather than the elastic the pattern calls for.
The rest of the dress came together easily without any problems. After my final fitting I decided to add some elastic to the back of the dress and omit the ties. This way I can wear my dress with or without a belt, the elastic provides me with a fitted waist and plenty of room for big meals ;)
Soooo, that was a long post congrats if you made it till here!
Now that it's finished I am pleased with my new dress, I really like the style of it and it has pockets -oh how I love a dress with pockets! With all the work I put into adjusting the pattern I am surely going to try the darling ranges again but not any time soon ;) I learned so much in the process I now feel a lot more confident in my dressmaking skills!