Back in June, I took part in the pattern swap organised as part of Indie Pattern Month on The Monthly Stitch. The idea was, we sent an indie pattern to someone, and got one sent to us by someone else – all a complete mystery who was sending to who! We knew which pattern labels the person we were sending to already owned, and were meant to purchase them a pattern from a brand they didn’t own, so we could be sure they wouldn’t already have the pattern we bought them. There were two swaps – one with physical paper patterns, and one with PDF patterns. And since I love patterns, I took part in both. ;-)
For the PDF pattern swap, I got sent the Darling Ranges dress pattern from Megan Neilsen. The Darling Ranges pattern is described as a “modern shirt dress” – it as a deep v neck, no collar, and two key variatons – a button-bodice, high waisted dress with a gathered skirt; or a dartless dress that buttons the whole way down the front.
Even though a dartless (aka shapeless!) dress really isn’t my usual style, I found that I couldn’t get the idea of matching that variation with the mustard coloured Mustangs print fabric from Cotton + Steel that I bought off Fabric.com (my first ever Fabric.com order – that site is very very dangerous!!). The simple lines of the dress seemed like a great way to show off the bold fabric print. So, I went ahead and gave it a go!
Pattern matching across the front button placket was surprisingly challenging. There were no centre front lines drawn on the pattern, so I had to figure out exactly where things would overlap, and line up from there. Made more difficult as the mustangs are staggered across the fabric, so it all had to be cut out in one layer at a time. I’m really happy with how it worked out though – it’s pretty much perfect! (Except for the inevitable slight pulling of things off-centre when it’s worn. Because, you know, bodies – they move and all that.)
Sadly, there was no way I could ever match the pattern down the side seam – the dartless variation of the Darling Ranges dress is somewhat unusual. It has no darts or shaping at all! The front is cut as an a-line style, and the back is straight. This means the volume to fit over bust and hips comes only from the front of the dress, and the side seams angle from the usual place under the arms to further around the back of the dress. I must admit to scratching my head a bit over that at first, but thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and just try it out. *shrug*
The construction of the dress was pretty straightforward – after all, it’s a pretty simple style! There are inseam pockets at the side seams, the button placket is cut on and simply folded over twice to the inside for a neat finish, and the v neckline has a self-bias facing. I finished the sleeve and skirt hems with Hug Snug seam binding, using a standard straight stitch on the sleeves and a machine blind hem stitch on the skirt.
With the lack of shaping, I only made one alteration before I started, and lengthened the skirt by 15cm. (Yikes!) In hindsight, I should have altered the shoulder width as well – I was too busy figuring out the pattern matching challenge, and completely forgot to check the shoulder width, and now it’s too narrow on me. Argh! I keep debating whether to take the sleeves off and make it sleeveless, or whether to leave it as it is…. Hmmm…. What do you think I should do?? (So saying, that shoulders are really narrow on this pattern – narrow to the point where I wonder if they’re almost meant to be like that?!? But surely not… The website says her patterns are drafted for someone of a height of 5’9″, which isn’t that much shorter than me, so I wouldn’t expect to have to do more than a 1cm adjustment at most.. Hmmm. Very odd. *shrug*)
I must admit to finding the final dress a bit odd. If worn without a belt, it looks like a hideous sack on me (not surprising because, hips). And I’m really annoyed with myself about the pulling in the upper bodice due to the shoulders being too narrow. It’s not my usual style, and the pockets don’t sit very well (I think due to the oddly angled side seams?). And yet…. I wear it about once a week. It’s in constant rotation in my wardrobe, and has been ever since I finished it. It’s easy to put on, and I am totally in love with the fabric. So, style-wise it’s not a win, but wearable-wise, it totally is. Go figure. Either way, it’s going to continue getting worn, all year ’round!
A huge thanks to the lovely sewing person who sent me the pattern as part of a swap – it really was perfect for this fabric, and I have plans to try the other variation of the dress (only with a significant wide shoulder adjustment!) sometime soon. :-)