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:
ONE // PREWASH YOUR FABRIC
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. Want some tips for washing delicate fabrics? Check out this post.
TWO // CHECK YOUR SIZE
Sometimes it can be confusing to figure out what size to make a pattern in. Never go with a gut feel about whether you are a small, medium or large etc. Always always measure yourself to figure out what size will fit best.
- Bust – measure under your arms, around the fullest part of your chest
- Waist – measure around your natural waistline, keeping the measuring tape a bit loose
- Hip – Measure around the fullest part of your body at the top of your leg
- Skirt Length – the skirt length is the distance from the waistline to the bottom of the skirt
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
THREE // GATHER SUPPLIES
- 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 9 for V1 & V3, and 5 for V2, (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.
- Elastic! The sleeves for V1 are gathered with elastic. You’ll need less than a yard of 1/4″ wide elastic. Otherwise you can omit it, like shown for V2 & V3, you’ll just have wider sleeves.
- Interfacing! Optional, but I highly recommend you apply some lightweight fusible interfacing to each side of the placket for stability.
- Needles! If you are sewing with a delicate fabric don’t forget to switch out to a ball point needle!
- 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.
FOUR // CUT
// LOOKING FOR TUTORIALS? //
Here’s the full list of Darling Ranges tutorials:
- Project preparation
- Pattern alterations: full bust adjustment
- Pattern alterations: small bust adjustment
- Pattern alterations: lengthen the bodice
- Pattern alterations: raise the neckline
- Pattern alterations: rounded neckline
- Pattern alterations: fishtail hem
- Pattern alterations: add darts to the back bodice pattern piece
- Sewing & construction: Bodice & darts
- Sewing & construction: Skirt & pockets
- Sewing & construction: Attaching the skirt & bodice
- Sewing & construction: Placket & Neckline
- Sewing & construction: Sleeveless version
- Sewing & construction: Attaching the sleeves
- Sewing & construction: Hemming
- Sewing & construction: Ties & beltloops
- Sewing & construction: Closures
- Sewing and Construction: Sleeveless variation
- Sewing and Construction: Dartless Versions (V2 &V3)