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MN2001 Darling Ranges / Sewalongs

Darling Ranges sewalong: Preparation

preparation for sewing the Darling Ranges dress and blouse // Megan Nielsen Design DiaryI’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
If you need to make any adjustments to the pattern I recommend tracing the pattern first to preserve the original pattern.

THREE // GATHER SUPPLIES

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 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

Once you’ve decided what size you need, gathered all your supplies and prewashed your fabric  – 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. Also make sure that you iron your fabric before cutting it out if you want to stay friends with me. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it makes to the end size and fit of your garment. Cutting out wrinkled fabric will truly misshape your garment. I talk about a few more cutting tips in this post!

// LOOKING FOR TUTORIALS? //

Here’s the full list of Darling Ranges tutorials:

Order Darling Ranges
Don’t have the Darling Ranges sewing pattern yet? Get it in store here! We absolutely love seeing what you make, so don’t forget to tag your creations with #MNdarlingranges and @megannielsenpatterns if sharing on social media.
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About Author

Holly writes part time for the Megan Nielsen blog– sewing like crazy, creating tutorials and sewalongs. She has been sewing since she was a little girl, and has her degree in apparel design. Now she’s a stay at home mama, and spends all her free nap times at her sewing machine.

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Firesparx
Firesparx
10 years ago

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?

Meg
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Meg
10 years ago
Reply to  Firesparx

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

Juju
10 years ago

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!

Meg
Admin
Meg
10 years ago
Reply to  Juju

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

flowerpress
10 years ago

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!

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