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Karen’s Darling Ranges Dress!

Hi everyone, I’m back today with my latest make for the Felicity Fabrics blog. It’s a little later than planned, so might not seem seasonally appropriate with this lovely cotton floral fabric, but luckily, we have had a fairly warm autumn so far!  

I have made the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges Dress and I have had this on my ‘to make’ list for well over a year.  I’m so glad I finally put it to the top of my list as it has been such a lovely dress to sew and wear and it was a fairly quick make too.

When I saw this lightweight floral cotton, I knew it would be perfect for this dress. It has just the right amount of structure to hold the shape of the gathered skirt without being too stiff. I love the design of the fabric as I think it gives off some Laura Ashley vibes!

The Darling Ranges dress comes with three different style variations; a dartless blouse, a dartless dress or a dress with a gathered skirt. I chose to go with the latter as I knew that would be the most flattering style for my body shape. I have curvy hips so I like to have a bit more room around there, but I also like to keep my top half fairly streamlined to show off my smaller area.

The pattern comes in sizes 0-20.  My body measurements (B35”, W30”, H42”) fell over 3 different sizes so I chose my size by looking at the finished garment measurements.  I chose a size 6 for the bust and waist and a size 8 for the hips. With the bodice and skirt being separate pattern pieces, I didn’t need to grade between the sizes as I was just able to gather the skirt to fit the bottom of the bodice. 

During construction I always baste my seams first and then try on as I go along to ensure I am happy with the fit before using my overlocker. I found that the bodice came up a little tight across my bust, so instead of sewing at the recommended seam allowance (5/8”), I just overlocked my side seams together and that gave me the perfect fit. Next time, I will just cut a straight size 8 for both the bodice and the skirt and that should fit fine.

The neckline is finished with some bias binding which you make yourself – there is a pattern piece provided for this. It gives a really nice finish on both the inside and outside of the garment. However, once I had added my buttons, I realised that the neckline was too long and I had a lot of gaping and excess fabric. I called upon some friends in the sewing community for fitting advice and I ended up taking a larger seam allowance off the shoulder seams.  This unfortunately meant unpicking my neat bias bound neckline! The adjustment worked perfectly though and now the neckline sits nice and flat, so I will make that adjustment to the pattern piece for next time.

I chose to use some wooden buttons that I already had to finish my dress off and I really like how they look. They also say ‘handmade with love’ on them, so anyone who notices will see that the dress was handmade!

This is my first time of using a Megan Nielsen pattern and I was very impressed with the instruction booklet provided. The step-by-step instructions were very clear and easy to understand. There were also a lot of hints and tips included along the way, which I thought was very helpful, especially for a beginner sewist.

I’ve been wearing my dress with my denim jacket and a pair of grey boots for the Autumn, but this dress will be perfect for the Spring and Summer months also with a pair of sandals on.

I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last version. I hope I have inspired you to have a go at making your own.

Happy Sewing!