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!
Hello there fat quarterly retreaters!
Just a few days left before we get to meet, are you nervous? I am!!
For those of you new to my blog, I'm Leila. I am 33 years old, half Dutch half English. A single mum to a gorgeous six year old boy. I live in the Netherlands, but have a Mr. in the UK so I travel back and forth often.
Fretting and some frantic sewing aside I am not as
prepared as some of you are. I have not cut out any fabrics for my
workshops yet or decided on the all important 'what to wear'. I did however order a bunch
of things online and gave the Mr. a shopping list of essentials to be
provided upon my arrival. Only some of which relevant to the retreat
others not so much. Have you seen the Jubilee edition of marmite yet...got to have me some of that!
I will be taking the train to London on Saturday morning, I sorta kinda know where to go from there. But should you find me bewildered and lost somewhere on the tube please be so kind as to point me in the right direction.
Provided I get there in once piece, and lets just assume I do, I'll be fiddling with small pieces of freezer paper with Kerry in the morning and glueing my fingers shut making framed purses with Katy in the afternoon. Kerry and Katy are just about the coolest chicks in blogland, so I am very excited!!
I am caught up with my bee blocks for April - hurrah! This was Amber's month in Ringo Pie and she asked us to make blocks with a sewing theme.
I have always wanted a vintage fold out sewing box, I just haven't come across the 'one' yet. To me they are a bit
like a treasure chest full of pretty shiny things waiting to be found. I love the idea of pulling out a drawer, rummaging through buttons and tangled threads to find the buried treasure under it all.
I thought this block was going to be a breeze, no curves no Y seams it all seemed pretty straightforward to me when I designed it. But I had underestimated the trickiness of matching up those skinny diagonal strips. A lot of time was spent unsewing and in the end there is still one unruly strip. One can only unpick a seam so often before it becomes a complete mess so I had to accept and move on.
I am behind on my bee blocks - yuk! But best not dwell on that at least I caught up with one.
April was Charise's month and she chose houses as her theme. Much to my delight, as it may be no secret that I love paper pieced house blocks! Here's what I came up with.
There's a fair bit of spring cleaning going on inside this white picket fenced house. I wish those lovely ladies would come round my home sometime.
It's that time of year again when all the cool kids get to go to quilt market and those of us left behind have our own festival of sorts hosted by the lovely Amy.
I do not have a new quilt to share with you all today. I hope you will not mind looking at an oldy again while I talk a bit more about how this quilt came to be.
This quilt's story is pretty much a history of my indecisiveness ;) It started off as a plan to make an entire queen sized quilt by hand, English paper piecing this pattern. I still love these paper pieced circles very much. I believe originally the pattern is called an Amish friendship ring but it's most commonly referred to these days as 'Spring Carnival'.
I soon realized I did not have the determination it would take to finish an entire quilt by hand and this has been on my W.I.P pile ever since (shameful!)
I called in the help of my bee mates in Fresh Modern Bee 2. They all made some beautiful blocks with my AMH stash and I have felt very guilty that none of those blocks ended up in my quilt (again- shameful!)
It is odd really that it took me so long to come to terms with the fact that all I desired for this quilt to be was simple patchwork squares. Perhaps I fancied myself more original and creative than that, but the truth is patchwork squares are my all time favourite. They are what comes to mind when I think of the word "quilt".
To come to terms with my rather boring choice of patchworks squares I decided this quilt needed some fancy quilting. I couldn't simply get away with another favourite of mine; straight line quilting. I knew I would not find the quilting design I was after in the stencils my LQS carries, so I started experimenting with paper templates for hand quilting.
If you are interested in how I used this technique I made a little video tutorial of it (it's in the sidebar on the right).
Many, many hours of hand quilting later the quilt is now finished. I do enjoy the silky softness of the voile backing and the lightness of the silk wadding, it is pure luxury to sleep under. Now for some warmer summer nights so I can ditch the duvet entirely!
I am off to have a look at all the other Blogger's Quilt Festival entries :)
I did it!!
I am not sure if I spent more time sewing or unsewing my third Tova top trying to get the fabric to behave and the print to line up, not to mention fretting over all the little details. But it's done and I am very pleased with it.
I took your advise on the whole grain vs. print issue and cut the pattern pieces so that the print best lined up. There are places where it just wouldn't, but I don't think it is too obvious when I am wearing the top. The grain issue shows most in the collar pieces but I wear the collar open anyway and like it best when it's a bit floppy.
I made a few adjustments to the pattern, first I followed Kerry's Tova Sew Along instructions for adjusting the collar width, and lengthening the sleeves. In the end I decided against the longer sleeve length and shortened them again ;) I reduced the length of the top quite a bit and took the side seams in a little for a more fitted look.
I am so pleased I persevered, I learned lots and gained more confidence in my dress making skills. I absolutely love wearing this silky soft voile, it is just so comfortable!
Pattern: Tova top by Wiksten
Fabric: Four Square Voile by Anna Maria Horner
I sewed along with Kerry who has some excellent tips and tricks! (click on the button below)
My little monster brought me cornflakes at 6 am this morning - he can make his own breakfast now he's so proud! 'happy mothersday mummy, we're out of milk!' So I let him have the cornflakes and made some coffee for me instead ;)
Liberty tana lawns with their soft pretty floral goodness paired with linen is one of those fabric combinations I can never get tired of.
I made a set of four coasters with a small scrappy Liberty log cabin center and a little lace tab. A very satisfying small sewing project indeed! They are listed in the shop
I am not spending quite as much time with my sewing machine as I would like these days. But I am making progress on my voile Tova top. I'm fretting over some last details, sleeve length and overall length of the top but it is very nearly finished!
I sneaked away here for a little while but I'm back, rested and refreshed and ready to catch up with all that's been going on in blogland :)
I travel a fair bit so I thought it was high time for some pretty hand luggage, conveniently finished just in time for my holiday.
The pattern is by Studio Cherie, I used Melody Miller typewriters for the main body of the bag (oh how I love them!), a coordinating print from Ruby Star Shining for the pockets and So Sophie Dots by Riley Blake for the handles.
This bag is huge!! I stuffed it with a quilt and two cushions for the photo and there is still room for more! I have never made a bag this large before but it was fairly straightforward and the pattern is easy to follow. I did not particularly enjoy wrestling the bulk of quilted fabric, handles and zippers on my sewing machine but it was well worth the effort.
I felt very smug walking through the airport with my handmade duffel bag, not that anyone took notice of it but still. I fancied myself to be one of those stylish mums with her hip bag full of healthy snacks and entertaining toys for the little one, looking effortlessly glamorous and all. But it is just a bag really, so I ended up rummaging through Happy Meal toys and Maltesers to find the Fanta instead ;)