I have been a huge admirer of Megan Nielsen’s patterns for quite a while, especially her Darling Ranges dress. I’d see all the amazing versions posted on Instagram and fall even more in love. Now, I am happy to say that I have finished my very own Darling Ranges dress!
Last summer, when I first started buying fabrics for Style Maker, I found two incredible, vintage, rayon challis prints that I just couldn’t pass up! Bold, graphic, single border prints that are just so unique, Who could say no? Plus, the gathered skirt and length of the Darling Ranges dress makes it the perfect pattern to show of these amazing, wide borders.
I had originally planned to sew up my Safari version of Megan’s pattern for fall last year. But with everything else going on (ie: launching a new business), it just didn’t happen. I put it on the back burner for the coming Spring/Summer.
This spring, my Darling Ranges dress became a priority project and it was definitely worth the wait! Along the way I made a few changes to the pattern to make it my own and show off my fabric choice even more. The biggest change I made was making the front skirt ONE piece, rather than two pieces, and NOT continuing the buttons to the hemline. I was worried about either 1) not having the border print match at the center front and it looking strange or 2) wasting a lot more fabric and time to get it to match just right.
Rather than give myself a headache- I used the front skirt pattern piece, folded back the excess needed for making the button placket and cut it on the fold. An easy change and I love how it turned out- uninterrupted safari animals.
Just a couple of other slight changes I made are: lengthening the sleeves to make them 3/4 length instead of elbow and lengthening the skirt to just above the knee. The length actually ended up being a happy accident- I knew I wanted to lengthen it but I didn’t know how much. I guessed as I was initially cutting out the skirt- with the border any changes would need to be done from the opposite side. You wouldn’t want to loose any of your beautiful border!
Just one more tip that I wanted to share, my secrets to perfect gathers. First, there is this handy product called Fuse ‘N Gather. It is pre-stitched, iron-on tape that gives you perfect gathers with out the hassle of having to do all those basting stitches. Just iron it to the edge of your fabric, pull the two durable strings and away you go! I always have this stuff on hand and hardly ever do any gathering without it.
My other tip to even gathers is PIN, PIN, PIN. I find that if I pin both the fabric being gathered and the fabric I am stitching it to at each quarter point (ie: the middle and half way between the middle on either side) I know that my gathers will be nicely spaced. Just match up the corresponding pins and spread the gathers out evenly between them. No more areas with extra gathering and other areas with hardly any.
I love how this dress turned out- it is just how I had envisioned it! Originally, I planned to wear it belted and skip the ties in the back, but after trying a few different styles of belts I just couldn’t get the look I wanted. I added the ties in the back and it fits and looks perfect. The ties really finish it off and give it a nice relaxed but fitted look.
The vintage rayon challis drapes so nicely and feels just as amazing on. This dress is definitely a keeper and the pattern is one that I will revisit again in the future- so many possibilities. Thank you Megan!