Sunday, February 8, 2015

Two Darling Ranges Dresses

I love Megan Nielsen's pattern for the Darling Ranges dress - I'm really liking button front dresses and blouses, and now that I have a new sewing machine with a one-step buttonhole stitch, it's a breeze as well. I liked the slightly old fashioned look of the Darling Ranges, and figured it might suit me and be a useful day dress. But my first attempt was fairly hopeless and frustrating - I messed up the neckline somehow, perhaps partly it being my first go at self made bias binding - I don't know. Either way I got furious with it, and left it unfinished and hanging up by my desk, where it could think about what it had done.

Deciding to tackle it again marked the first time I really bothered unstitching long lines of sewing, which felt like crossing a mental barrier for me. I'm trying to slow down with my sewing, and take time to get things right or correct things that go horribly wrong. And Megan Nielsen's detailed sewalong on her website really helped to break down the bias binding steps, so that the next attempt worked far better. 

The first dress is in a shirting cotton from Goldhawk Road, which I think was about £5 a metre, so I didn't feel too scared about using it. I had to make a couple of adjustments, taking 1cm off the shoulders and putting a small dart in the back - my first alterations! 

I transferred the changes to my paper pattern, and made up a toile of the bodice to check I'd got it right before making the second dress in a more expensive shirting from The Cloth House on Berwick Street. I also added 2" to the hem, as I'm all about the knee-length skirt these days.

These buttons are handmade ceramic chaps from my button box - I think made by my grandmother. I tried to grade the colours as they went down, which I think was more or less successful! 

I'm learning, slowly, how different fabric looks once it's in finished form to what you imagine when it's on the bolt. I loved this shirting, which is quite rich in colour and textured like soft elephant skin - but made into this dress I think it just looks like denim or chambray. Which I love, but isn't the look I was going for. Learning learning! I'm starting a short trouser course at Sew Over It this week, so I'll share the results of that if all goes well!

Thank you Els for the photos!