Monday, 28 May 2012

Darling Ranges Dress

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 :)**


darling ranges

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!

darling ranges dress

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.

darling ranges dress

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!

x Leila



16 comments:

  1. Dress really does look perfect, all your extra work sure paid off!

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  2. it's lovely! I am impressed by your ability to alter things. One day I will learn how to make clothes. One day ;-)

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  3. I know it was a nightmare but it does look very lovely, especially all those buttons and buttonholes!

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  4. It looks great, even if it was rather stressful!

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  5. A+ for determination! It looks lovely xxx

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  6. Great job for sticking with it! some patterns can be really frustrating when it says to do something that doesn't work out so well for you.Great work and a dress with pockets is always cool =D

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  7. Well done, it looks great! Good fiddling and so satisfying to do it yourself!

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  8. The dress looks perfect. Well done. I think the buttonholes alone scare me!

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  9. Wow. Its looks great Leila. I am in awe of your ability to modify it too. I literally just cut out the pattern and sewed it together, and I wonder why it doesn't fit right!

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  10. i like your dress! i had many of the same issues as you. i think that since it was her first pattern there were bound to be a few hiccups. hopefully future ones will be ironed out. i really like how my dress came out in the end and i'd like to make another one someday.

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  11. This is stunning! All of your pattern adjustments made the perfect dress...I would love to own and wear a dress like that. :)

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  12. I really like your dress, well done for persevering it turned out lovely. I have yet to do the buttonholes on my darling ranges dress, I had issues with mine too! I'm a small but have an E cup bust so had to do a full bust adjustment, the darts were a real problem, way too big and fabric pooled and I had sticky out bits too, still not 100% happy but can live with it.

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  13. I had to make very similar adjustments to this pattern when I made it, but it was worth it! Yours is lovely - I want to make one in black linen now! :)

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  14. I had a lot of problems with this dress in small sizes and I'm pretty sure it is not drafted properly. I measured the pattern pieces and the XS sleeve is SMALLER than the XS armhole. I want to like the dress, but I wonder if if it was even tested in XS? The pattern is definitely flawed beyond just the style not fitting me.

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  15. Im having quit a few problems with this pattern too. It does not in fact help to have curves. The bust dart as drafted is so crazy large that it's impossible to do a full bust adjustment even thought I need more fullness. The draft simply won't sew up in a y way that looks nice. Sigh. It looks so sweet on so many petite little girls on Pinteret but I'm just not sure how it looks so nice on them. The pattern is indeed a little weird. Despite your trouble with it, I love the choice of black linen, it's quite striking and elegant. The cuffed sleeeves are perfectly sophisticated alternative. Overall, I think it looks nice on you. I do wonder if your bust darts are a tad high? They seem to come straight from the armpit. That isn't the usual place, but it's a little hard to tell from the photos where they should point. I want to love this dress too, but it definitely has some problems. I hope to work them out, but I worry about committing to special fabric.

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  16. You are right, despite my best efforts the bust darts are still not how they should be. It is mostly due to the fact that the sleeves do not have enough ease so even just raising my arm slightly the whole thing shifts and starts to pull.
    I really do love the style of this dress and I definitely think it is worth the effort. I hope you manage to get the fit right Melanie!

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