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‘Darling Ranges’ by Megan Nielson |A Pattern Review

I first came across this pattern at the very beginning of my sewing journey and I remember thinking to myself how much I’d love to be able to make a dress like this.  I love a shirt dress and I loved the look of the denim chambray version on the front of the pattern so I made it my mission to improve my skills enough that I could make my own version. 

Here’s a look at the pattern.  The cover has actually had a bit of an update since I bought mine – the most recent copy is the one on the left but I’ve included a photo of the dress from the older pattern so you can see where my inspiration came from.

I love the fact that there are a few different versions to this pattern and that it can easily be hacked into different styles including blouses and tops.

The pattern instructions are very clear and well laid out and for what looks like quite an involved dress there aren’t too many pattern pieces to it.  There are two darts in the front bodice and none in the back.  The pattern includes a button band and the neckline is finished with bias binding for which a pattern piece is included along with clear instructions on how to make the binding piece.

The sleeves are finished with an elasticated cuff which I really like as it gives the sleeve a kind of ‘puffy’ effect which looks really pretty.

The skirt back and side panels are gathered onto the bodice in one piece.  You may, like me, wish to run separate gathering rows for your back and side pieces rather than gather in one full piece because that for me gave a more evenly gathered finish.

The measurements for the dress come out a little large for me even in the smallest size, I’m a 32″ bust and the pattern starts at a 34″ in size XS, but given that there’s a waist tie included in the pattern I wasn’t too worried about this.  I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern and just went for a straight size XS.

My first try…

For my first dress version of this pattern I decided to make it up in a blue floral viscose – I’m not sure why I went for this version first since I’d coveted the denim look so much but there we go! 

I really love how this first version turned out.  As it was made in a viscose it did turn out very loose and floaty, I really liked the look of this and as babydoll/nightie style dresses were quite ‘in’ last summer I decided to keep it that way and not add the waist ties to bring it in.  I shortened the length quite a bit to take it above the knee which I think suits the floaty baby doll style better.

At last – the chambray version…

Since I loved this dress so much it didn’t take me long to make up my second version and for this one I did decide to go for a denim look in this very cute elephant print chambray from John Lewis.  Using a fabric with more structure gave the dress a whole different look.  I went for the short sleeve this time and added waist ties which as you can see has given the dress a much more fitted look. It’s also worth noting that it was much easier to make up in this fabric too. I absolutely love this version and it has been worn many times.  It’s so comfy! 

The sleeveless version…

I also decided that I’d love to try a sleeveless version of the gathered dress and I had this very cute Scottie dog fabric in my stash which I thought would work perfectly.  To alter the shoulder part of the pattern to suit a sleeveless version I simply took 1.5cm off of the shoulder seam on the pattern and graded back out to the armhole – on both back and front obviously.  Where I would have been setting in a sleeve I finished the armholes with an extra strip of bias binding which I cut from my fabric using the pattern piece provided.  I’m so happy with how this dress turned out.  As it’s made from a quilting weight cotton it was so lovely to work with and I love the feel of the cotton on a hot summers day – lovely and cool.  I added the waist tie in this dress too to give that fitted look again.

I definitely wouldn’t want to make the longer sleeved version in a fabric of this weight because I think that would be a bit uncomfortable but for a sleeveless or short sleeved version I think this works perfectly.

The fancy version…  

I mean, it’s not that fancy really but this one feels pretty fancy because I’ve used a lovely rust viscose for this version from Atelier Brunette linked here.  This one is super drapey and floaty and feels like a completely different dress to my others.  I went for the three quarter elasticated sleeves for this version and used the waist ties.  I find it so interesting how using a different type fabric for the same pattern can produce such a different style of dress

The blouse version…

I absolutely love the blouse version of this pattern too.  I’ve made one of the standard blouse (version 2) in a floral crepe from John Lewis.  Love this as a blouse and the best thing about it – no darts or fitting!  This was so quick to make up and I love how it looks with jeans and shorts.

The hack…

I really wanted to try a cropped version of the blouse and was debating between a blouse with a peplum bottom or one with a drawstring bottom which could be pulled in to tie at the waist.  As you can see I went for the peplum bottom in the end and for this I used the dress bodice part of the pattern with the short sleeves and, as I was working with only a metre of this lovely Atelier Brunette fabric, I used whatever was left to create a very, very short skirt which I attached to the bottom of the bodice in the same way you would attach the skirt if you were making a dress.  I am very happy with how this turned out but I do think if I make it again I will shorted the bodice slightly and add a longer peplum just to give more of a cropped look. 

So there we are, all of the versions of ‘Darling Ranges’ that I’ve made so far.  I think you can tell how much I love this pattern!  I have plans for many more versions I’d like to try and I haven’t yet made a version of option 3 which I think would look lovely in a linen perhaps. This gorgeous Atelier Brunette double gauze fabric is linked here.

I hope having a look at my different versions might inspire you to make your own if you haven’t already.  If you fancy seeing these makes ‘in person’ I have filmed a YouTube video showing them and chatting about them and I’ll link that here if you’d like a watch.   

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Have you made the pattern?  What did you think of it?  Do let me know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading!  Lots of love as always and happy sewing!!

Sally xx

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