Saturday, May 05, 2012

FO: Oh my Darling Ranges Dress

I have a dress.

It is not perfect, but it is everything I wanted it to be. I will be making more of these... starting this weekend!

Things went wrong,  things that may have been due to my inaccurate tracing or (dare I suggest?) a mistake in the original pattern... because I am not alone in having problems with the basic piecing-together of this dress in this size (XS).

But the funny thing is, instead of wanting to throw my teddy out of the pram and rant on about how I could have saved £13 by drafting my own pattern in the first place, I cannot find it in my heart to do that.

Because it is to all intents and purposes the Perfect Simple Dress Pattern.  And the instruction booklet is so well-written, and the designer's sewalong blog posts are so supportive about how to change the fit, that I am determined to suck it up and sort out the problems so that my next version will be Just Right.  And I will learn such a lot in the process and end up with a blueprint for a "go to" dress pattern - bargain!

I don't usually make or wear dresses.  This pattern could change that.  It could be... I hesitate to say this... my new uniform dress.

So... what went wrong?
There were two places where the pieces just did not fit together properly:
  • The side seams, where my front bodice pieces were longer than my back piece.
  • The armholes, where the sleeve circumference was not big enough to fit the armhole aperture, in contradiction to the instruction that I would need to gather the sleeve cap to make it fit.
What did I do to fix these problems?
  • Sliced off the 1.5cm excess fabric at the lower front edge of the bodice
  • Increased the size of the shoulder seam to 3cm from 1.5cm
And the result?
Well, obviously, the net effect was to raise the waistline by 3cm in total.
And it is fine.
Bust darts require adjustment
There is a slight diagonal pull around the bust dart which may or may not be due to my raising of the shoulders.  But it's not a show-stopper.  I have to say the bust dart looked unusually short and fat - I might change it next time.

What do I like about this pattern?
Potentially, it doesn't use much fabric.  Mine was narrow and had a flaw I had to cut around so I ended up using more yardage than planned.  But if you had 60" wide fabric and didn't want pockets, you could probably cut the skirt section in one piece, selvedge to selvedge.  (Don't quote me - I haven't checked).  But it feels like an economical cut.

After raising the shoulders, the sleeves fitted into the armhole perfectly - no faffing about, no lumpy bits.

The neckline is rather low and rather wide.  This makes me feel like a ballet dancer.  Yes, I am delusional and proud of it!  It makes me want to collect interesting necklaces.  It also works well with scarves for colder days.  You could wear a t shirt  / camisole underneath and cardigans on top.

The skirt has just enough gathers to add shape without pouff - so as long as you check that the waistline hits you at a flattering point, you have plenty of room to move, without looking 9 months gone.  But I think it would be a train-wreck in stiff quilting cotton.  You need fabric wth drape.

The sleeves are quite narrow, with elastic at the hem, and are an unusual length - which of course is entirely adaptable to suit your own taste.  I might add narrow cuffs next time for a less casual finish.  Or you could go sleeveless if you live in a warmer climate.

It is an invitation to play in the button box.  I love buttons!  Imagine the same material with wooden buttons, or mother-of-pearl, or jet black sparklers?  Such a different effect!

If you want evidence of this, have a look at some of my favourite examples of this dress (and apologies if I have raved about yours on your blog and failed to list you below!):

Liliash's - in suiting, people!
Idle Fancy's - I think the first I saw and thought "Oooooh - yeeeeah!!"
Four Square walls's - because I love everything she makes!
True Bias's - smart versions, with links to advice on using slippery fabric

and the whole Flickr search:

But I haven't forgotten my original inspiration.  This is my Alabama Shakes dress!

"Come on Britt'ny!  You gotta come on, girl!"

Pattern:  Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen, bought from Raystitch online
Fabric:  Organic cotton / bamboo mix, 2.5 metres @ £8.95 / metre, from this shop.  It had a flaw and they gave me an extra metre free of charge :)  Gorgeous drapey silky ethical fabric!
Buttons:  Vintage 1940's plastic from Clover Crafts and Curios on Ebay, £1.60 for 6 (I used 12)
Others: Small length of bias binding for the neck facing;  two small pieces of narrow elastic for the sleeves.


Christine Laennec said...

That is an amazing dress! It looks perfect to me, and I adore the yellow buttons.

Plus you are giving Scruffybadger a run for her money with that Alabama Shakes photo!

didyoumakethat said...

Roobeedoo, I think this is an absolutely classic example of a Sewist pointing out all the things that went wrong, when an onlooker only sees a fabulous dress. You are BORN to wear this dress!!!! It is so, so you and I absolutely love it - especially teamed with those sneakers. How I love to see you playing the electric guitar! I think this is one of the loveliest things you've made and I can't wait to see more.

Donna said...

It's a gorgeous dress - I love the yellow buttons with that fabric!

shivani said...

this is GORGEOUS! so worth all the tweaking! Polka dots AND yellow buttons - all kinds of wonderful :) And it looks so good teamed with the leggings and trainers.

I must admit, I am put off this pattern by the issues some people have had. I have tried the Banksia blouse, and had lots of issues with that too. I suppose that's half the fun/challenge, but sometimes it's nice to have something easy :)

toboldlysew said...

This dress is great - it suits you perfectly and is the loveliest one I've seen so far!

Marie said...

What a great post and dress to boot! It's so cool that this dress may become your 'uniform' dress, isn't it great when pattern like that come along? Thanks also so much for sharing how you overcame your problems, they'll certainly come in handy when I tackle this pattern soon ;o)

Gail said...

I think it's really pretty and it suits you - it should be your new uniform!

Andrea B said...

Love your version! It's just so-- dare I say-- darling. Glad you stuck with it and worked out the major issues. Totally worth it. And thanks for the mention; I must say I love everything you make, too!

littlebetty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
littlebetty said...

Dearling dress my dear. Glad to see it worked out.

Evie said...

You rock this dress! (Sorry...couldn't help myself!)

Anonymous said...

I love your version of this dress and thanks for sharing the making up problems and solutions. I would like to make this one too but must admit when I get to a problem in construction I tend to want to toss the project - not good. But forewarned is forearmed and that should make it a lot better. Can you just confirm though please whether the adjustment to the shoulder seam that you made was to in effect make a seam with a 3cm seam allowance, an adjustment that I assume would not only have the effect of making the armhole smaller but also of raising the neckline? Thanks.
Debbie B

Roobeedoo said...

Debbie B: Yes, I made a 3cm seam allowance at the shoulders. This was the best way I could see to get the sleeves to fit in the armhole, which was scarily huge compared to the sleeve circumference.

plankface said...

LOVE this dress. I would like 10 in all different patterns/colors, please. Now if only I could sew ...

Lynne said...

It's fabulous!! And I love the last photo :) What a shame about the problems with it though. But it looks perfect to me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks,that's great,I'm definitely getting that pattern and giving it a go!

Scruffybadger said...

You have totally woken my "dress radar" up with your version of this dress.... It looks like a wonderful weekend/ holiday dress, esp with leggings & pumps! I hadn't really seen it in my wardrobe ...until now that is! Very very pretty & you look like the inde rock star you really could be. Please make another version, I want to see what other fabrics & buttons you choose :-)

Kelli Ward said...

i think your version looks just great. and thanks for the shoutout!

knottygnome said...

i had many of the same issues as you. your dress turned out wonderfully though! i love your contrasty buttons.

LinB said...

Oh, how lovely is the finished article! The shape is good on your slender figure, and the neck looks not very low at all to me -- perhaps it is just lower than you are used to wearing. The soft purple color with the sunny yellow buttons are reason enough to keep this dress around, even if only to hang on a peg on the wall to cheer you up. Enjoy wearing it!

Lucy said...

What a fab dress! I definitely see many more versions in your future.

Stitchandwitter said...

Ah this is a lovely lovely version of the darling ranges dress. I am even more excited about doing my own version (yet to choose fabric though). Thanks for the tips on the sleeves and bodice - will watch out for it.

jessica said...

I think this looks really lovely on you! Excellent fabric choice, the gathers seem just about right as you say (so difficult to achieve!) It certainly doesn't look like a garment that had any drafting/construction woes ...

feresaknit said...

Ohhh, a dress with buttons up the front would solve the problem I was going to have wearing dresses and doing the peritoneal dialysis - a quick change into pants or an undignified rummage up the skirt for my tube! Looks great - you rock it! ;D

Ali said...

I love this! You know I wasn't initially too wowed by the pattern, but there are such lovely versions with so much personality and yours is one of them! (I also love purple and yellow). What will you do next?

Danka said...

I love your dress! And thank you for sharing the problems you encountered. I'm making this at the moment and the bust dart is driving me crazy. I think I have tried about 500 modifications, until finally the most intuitive (making the darts thinner and longer) worked. Don't think I can face more problems with it today, but your dress is inspiring me to not give up on the pattern. xx

Caroline C. said...

I just made a muslin of this pattern in the XS size and found the exact same problems. It's not you, it's definitely the pattern. And I agree, I love supporting indie designers so I'll just work through it.

I'm lengthening the back bodice piece, and modified the bust dart to be less pointy, and have just hit the point where the sleeve doesn't fit into the enormous armhole. I guess I'll just have to make the armholes smaller cause I don't want to mess around with the shoulder which would affect my bust dart changes. Yeeesh!