Sewing for Me: Frances Newcombe (Part 2) Meets Darling Ranges


The thousand yard stare….perhaps it looks like I’m contemplating the plight of the impending world financial crisis or maybe it merely looks like I’m making a mental grocery list. In fact, I’m thinking, “What IS that brownish spot on my curtain?”


A picture is worth a thousand words they say, but this one sums it up in six: “Stay down, poufy stomach, stay down!”


The theme is ‘thousand’, it seems, and I have thousands upon thousands of these “what’s going on here?” shots of myself from these past couple of years. I was pretty satisfied with the one above, and then I realized that I forgot the middle button. I have roughly 500 shots of me with that middle button unbuttoned. Nice. I could have Photoshopped it in, but we keep it real here, folks.


There, that’s better. All buttoned up.

So this is the world famous Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen that’s been around for some time. The sophisticated dark grey abstract print on a cream background was gifted to me by the textile designer herself, Frances Newcombe. It’s called En Route Sable, and I couldn’t settle on this colorway that you see, or the darker En Route Gravel. In retrospect, I feel like the Gravel would have been a better choice, but it’s still a great dress and the fabric was a dream to work with. I’m really digging the Art Gallery cottons.


Since I only had two yards, I had to do away with the sleeves and there are a few other modifications I’ll need to incorporate if I make this again (and I’d like to. Very much):

1. Lower the dart apex. Currently, they’re floating somewhere high above where they should be, and none of my push-up, underwire bras were up to the task.

2. Cut out the bodice one size up. I tried the medium based on the measurements, but quickly saw that the 5/8-inch seam allowance was going to make it way too small. I used a 3/8-inch seam allowance instead, and the fit isn’t bad, but you can see the gaping happening between the buttons below. Then again, maybe adjusting the darts will fix the problem.


3. Add a couple of inches to the bodice. Forgot — as I so often do — about my loooong torso.

But these are really pretty minor changes and I think the dress is awesome. It’s casual enough for daily wear, yet pulled together enough that it could be dressed up for fancier occasions or worn to work. And I love dresses with pockets!

I leave you with another slightly awkwardly-posed photo (I think I was in the process of putting my hands back into the pockets), but at least I look happy, which is how this fabric and dress make me feel. And bonus: when K and I swung by the library to get her some more choose-your-own-adventure books, the librarian was oh so complimentary about my dress. Librarian-approved!



33 thoughts on “Sewing for Me: Frances Newcombe (Part 2) Meets Darling Ranges

    1. Thank you, Karin! It’s actually cotton but the print makes it look like it has texture from a distance 🙂 It’s drapey, lovely stuff!

  1. You look great and the dress is stunning!
    I’ve made a couple of Darling Ranges dresses for myself after I had the pattern somewhere for long time. I agree darts are really high! In my case I shortened the bodice. I wear my Darling Ranges dresses a lot 🙂
    I need to sew a couple of them for fall/winter.

    1. Thank you, Diana! I want to make another with modifications for sure and I can already tell that I’ll wear this a lot even with its quirks 🙂

  2. You look gorgeous in that dress Sanae!. I think the style suits you and that librarian has very good eye for fashion :). Looove that fabric too!

    1. I was surprised that the librarian said anything. Her compliment was rather loud in the quiet library, so I was blushing quite a bit, but it’s always nice to get positive feedback on my handmades. Thank you, Maria!

  3. oh it’s really pretty! i started making this dress once (even moved the darts by using the washi bodice) but never actually sewed one up. it’s such a great fall staple, though. love it on you.

    1. Oh, that’s such a good idea to move the darts. I like the vertical darts in theory, but I’m not sure if it’s working with my body type. Thanks, Kristin!

  4. What gorgeous fabric! You look beautiful in that dress and I love that it is librarian approved. Might have to try that, go to the library for fashion advice – people who love to read can’t be wrong!

    1. Ha, I love that it’s librarian approved too 🙂 I really like the hand of the Art Gallery fabrics — great for apparel!

  5. Gorgeous, Sanae – both the dress and the lovely woman wearing it! You look stunning! I also love your honesty and real-ness: not worrying about the unbuttoned placket (quick confession: I just had a college reunion this past weekend and had my shirt on backwards THE ENTIRE TIME! Who does that?!), pointing out the brown spot on your curtains, and my favorite: your push-up bra not being up to the task!! Oh, how I hear you on that one!:)
    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the Art Gallery fabrics. I’m intrigued that they aren’t as stiff as the typical quilting cotton. I’ll need to check some out, as both K’s dress and yours are spectacular!

    1. I would totally wear my shirt backwards and never notice, Lucinda! That is a classic moment – I love it! The drape is really nice with the Art Gallery fabrics. I have quite a few amassed from other designers too, and they’re all great!

    1. The abstract print is mega cool – I find that I’m very attracted to this type of quasi-urban, hashtag-ish design a lot. Those buttonholes nearly sent me over the edge, Liza Jane — endless!

  6. so pretty! I love that print! This makes me feel sad though because my machine has stopped making buttonholes, and all of your thousands of buttons has just reminded me of that. Ha

    1. Oh man, a sewing machine without buttonhole capabilities is not so fun…time for zippers, eh? I remember looking through a couture sewing book at a store once and saw instructions on hand-bound buttonholes and my mind reeled.

      I love the print too, Tara, thanks!

  7. Really like this dress in this colourway. Looks almost textured or linen-y. It’s funny, but I see this fabric as quilting fabric and I would never have the vision that you do to see outside the quilting use and to think to make a dress. Pure awesome!

  8. goodness how I love your blog and your refreshing take on everythng. Keep it up. Seriously. I love it and I need it. Loved the entry about your mother.

    1. Aw, you’re the sweetest, Annelieke! I’m trying to adjust to this new schedule, and I have to say it’s got a lot of benefits, but I miss posting every day – it gave me a nice anchor to each week day, you know?

    1. Oh hooray! Glad that the card reached you – I’m always a little suspicious of the postal system 😉 Thank you, Emmanuelle (I love your name, by the way)!

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