I’m so excited to share with you our next Mini pattern: the Mini Darling Ranges dress!
Mini Darling Ranges is an easily adaptable modern shirtdress with a gathered skirt, button-down front, and relaxed fit. It’s almost identical to the women’s Darling Ranges dress, but with kid-friendly details including a higher neckline, multiple sleeve options and the all important pockets!
If you need some extra help sewing, all of the Darling Ranges pattern tutorials (excluding bust darts) will apply to this pattern as well.
This pattern is so close to my heart and has been a long time coming! It all started three years ago when Bunny, my eldest, wanted to dress as Matilda for Book week. She had been asking for her own version of the chambray Darling Ranges sample that hung in my workroom for so long, and I decided to use Book Week as an excuse to finally do it. She loved that dress so much and wore it till it was skin tight and so short it had to be worn with leggings haha.
Let’s run through what’s included in the pattern!
As with all of my Mini patterns I wanted to keep the design features of this pattern consistent with the Women’s pattern, but with some thoughtful child appropriate changes. For Mini Darling Ranges you’ll notice that the neckline is higher and the skirt includes a greater proportion of gathers. We’ve included pockets and kept their sizing appropriate to little hands. The hemlines have stayed wide – this is a detail i love as it gives you the option to lengthen the skirt if your child grows.
As this is a casual and relaxed fit garment the sleeve has been drafted symmetrically with a low wide sleeve head. This will allow easy insertion in the small armscye (no need to worry about if your sleeve is inserted backwards) and also give the child greater mobility and range of motion.
We’ve also included two lengths for the back ties. A short version which will result in the simple tie you see in our samples and which is also included in the Women’s pattern, and a longer version which can be tied into a bow.
Fit & Sizing
This pattern is designed with a close yet loose fit. It should not feel constricting, and includes some room for growing as all my children’s patterns do. It’s really important to me that children’s clothing can be worn for quite some time. The drafting of the sleeve has been intentionally designed for ease of wear and motion.
When choosing your child’s size we recommend choosing their size based on the larger of their chest or waist measurement. If you find that your child is between sizes we recommend cutting the larger size and allowing them room to grow. If your child’s height falls in a larger size than the rest of their body we recommend cutting the skirt to the length that corresponds with their height.
View A is a shirtdress with long sleeves, pockets, and a gathered skirt.
My girls love to wear dresses in winter, so I knew it was very necessary that this dress include long sleeves! We love the elasticated cuff of the Darling Ranges pattern and decided to add this detail to the long sleeve view of the pattern. Not only do I love the aesthetics of this design detail, but it’s incredibly practical for little ones as it keeps their sleeves away from their hands and less likely to get messes on. You can also leave the elastic out if your child prefers a loose sleeve hem.
View B is a shirtdress with short sleeves, pockets and a gathered skirt.
This view includes classic short sleeves and is a lovely option for the warmer months. I think it would be really fun to play with this view and create your own sleeve hack. I’m imagining cuffs, ruffles, trims, petal sleeves, tie sleeves – the options are endless! I love how Nastasia added elastic to one of her short sleeve Mini Darling Ranges dresses, it’s such a lovely simple detail.
View C is a sleeveless shirtdress with pockets and a gathered skirt.
The sleeveless option in this pattern is a personal favourite of mine. I have found that my girls where their sleeveless Mini Darling Ranges all year round as they can put a turtleneck or long tee under in winter. They seem to last the longest too, and Bunny at age 12 still has an age 9 size that she regularly wears though now it is quite tight haha.
If you need some extra help sewing, all of the Darling Ranges pattern tutorials (excluding bust darts) will apply to this pattern as well!
- Pattern alterations: lengthen the bodice
- Pattern alterations: raise the neckline
- Pattern alterations: rounded neckline
- Pattern alterations: fishtail hem
- Sewing & construction: Bodice
- 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
We also have some wonderful hack tutorials planned for you and an alternative sleeve insertion method if you find inserting little sleeves in the round tricky ;)
I hope you enjoy the Mini Darling Ranges dress pattern as much as we loved working it for you! I can’t wait to share the pattern tester roundup in a few days, it’s a literal cuteness explosion!
We’d love to see what you’re creating from the new Mini Darling Ranges dress pattern! Don’t forget to tag your creations #MNminidarlingranges and @megannielsenpatterns to share what you’ve been working on, and check out what everyone else is up to!
Don’t have the pattern yet? Order Mini Darling Ranges today!