Darling Ranges sewalong: Preparation

I’m a great believer in good preparation – I honestly think if you don’t prepare properly for a project you’re pretty much setting yourself up for failure. We don’t want that do we? We want some pretty dresses!

Here’s the super quick checklist i go through before I begin sewing:

To me, this is the golden rule of sewing. Do not skip this step!!! Every fabric will undergo some amount of shrinkage when it is washed – and some fabrics shrink A LOT. So if you don’t get that out of the way before you cut your fabric, your end garment will end up too small and misshapen. It’s happened to me – and it’s pretty much the saddest thing ever. There’s nothing worse than spending hours on a dress to then wash it and end up with… something super tight and indecently short. yikes!

When prewashing, treat your fabric exactly the same as you will once your garment is made. Do you plan on washing warm and then tumble drying? Then do the same to your fabric before you start sewing. Is your fabric more delicate – will your garment need to be handwashed and lain flat to dry? Then do the same with your fabric. Easy peasy.\

I sometimes it can be confusing to figure out what size to make a pattern in. With my patterns, I try to keep the sizing pretty consistent with ready to wear garments – however, that being said, you should always determine your size based on your measurements, rather than going with a gut feel about whether you are a small, medium or large etc.

At this point you’ll also want to consult the finished garment measurements and decide whether you need to make any pattern alterations. It would be nice if patterns could fit everyone perfectly, but unfortunately our proportions can vary quite significantly (sigh). But never fear! Here are some standard alterations that we’ll be covering in the pattern alterations portion of our sew along:

  • Full bust adjustment
  • Small bust adjustment
  • Lengthening the bodice of the pattern
  • Raising the neckline
Once you’ve decided what size you need – cut out your pattern pieces. You might need to iron your pattern pieces with a dry iron before you cut them out so that they’re nice and flat. Don’t worry about cutting your fabric yet – just incase you need to adjust your pattern first.
This seems like a no-brainer – but honestly, the number of times I’ve had to run out to the store because i’m missing a little notion for a project. It’s just not even funny!
What you’ll need for your dress:
  • Fabric! Make sure to keep in mind your fabric width when buying – obviously for narrower fabric you’ll need more, and for wider fabric less. Check the pattern envelope for yardage requirements.
  • Buttons! This is a button up dress – so yep, you’re going to be making some buttonholes. Actually a lot. The suggested number is 12, (to reduce the “peekaboo” moments you sometimes get in button up clothing) – but you can easily change this number if you’d like. The pattern recommends 5/8″ wide buttons, but you can really use any size you want – just keep in mind how it will look on your finished garment, and also that you may need to change the spacings of buttonholes etc.
  • Bias tape! This pattern uses bias tape to finish the neckline of the dress. Why? Because facings are a pain in the butt! You can make your own bias tape or use store bought packets, it’s up to you! Just keep in mind you’ll need single fold tape, 1/2″ wide.
  • Elastic! To keep things simple and comfortable the sleeves are gathered with elastic. You’ll need less than a yard of 1/4″ wide elastic. Otherwise you can omit it, you’ll just have wider sleeves.
  • Thread! Duh, you know you need thread – why am i reminding you?? Because maybe you don’t have the right colour in your stash! uh oh! Check if you do, you’ll be so irritated if you’re ready to sew and don’t have the right colour.
Next up: We’ll be doing some pattern alterations for your Darling Ranges patterns over the next few days. Get your rulers ready!!
  • Still don’t have the pattern?? Don’t forget about our 15% of discount during the sewalong! Just enter the code SEWALONG at checkout
  • Want a button for your blog?? Get the code here!

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  1. Firesparx says

    I admit…I break the golden rule of sewing… I don’t always pre-wash my fabric (Ok, it’s more like never). My reason is that when you buy fabric it comes flat and with a crisp fold to put pattern pieces against. I’d hate to lose that! I know that’s not a great reason, but I think I have been super lucky with not having any weird shrinkage. I’m sure all it will take is one bad experience and I’ll become a convert…

    I’ve recently heard that cotton thread is the best type of thread. Polyester stretches and sometimes melts funny when you iron it. I’ve only ever used polyester, so this is a real game changer for me. What are your thoughts on cotton vs polyester thread?

    • MegMeg says

      Hmmm that is a really excellent question. I’ve heard that annecdotally too – and be honest I’ve never noticed any negative side effects from using poly thread personally. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true! Though to be honest, I am a stickler for using expensive thread – I won’t sew with anything other than Gutterman. And i’m really fussy about basting with silk thread.
      Now, I have had definitely issues with cheap thread, (an extreme example would be like the kind of junk you find in packs in the supermarket) – and i’m not sure whether that’s because it’s polyester or not. But it certainly might be!
      So I guess it may be a real issue that i haven’t noticed simply because my thread is really good to start with?

      i suppose that’s my round about way of saying i really don’t know, but it sounds right hehehe

  2. says

    I work in a fabrics store, and you generally chose the type of thread based on what fibre your fabric is. So cotton fabrics, cotton threads. Because cotton is a natural fibre, polyester can rip your fabric over time. But as a general rule a good quality polyester for clothing is fine. The great thing with cotton thread is that if you screw up a seam, its sooooo easy to pull out and doesn’t hurt your hand!

    • MegMeg says

      Hi Juju! Thanks so much for commenting and clarifying that!! It’s definitely good to know! xoxo

  3. says

    Oh dear, I just ordered the patterns and forgot to put in the code. Is it too late? My order is to susie stubbs. I just found your patterns via marina at Wink Designs.

    I can’t wait to start sewing along!