Saturday, 26 October 2013

Darling ranges: Shanghai nostalgia

 Oh hello there :-)  How do you like my light fitting?
So yes, I am perhaps the last sewing blogger to get round to making myself a Darling Ranges dress. Which is all the more ridiculous because I have been sitting on the pattern for a year, and have long known that it would suit me rather well.  I was put off by a fear of buttonholes, and by the frustrating process of trying to decide upon the right fabric. Turns out that an automatic buttonholer really is that easy, and that you know the right fabric the very instant you see it.


It's poplin from - yet again - Berger. It grabbed me first of all because of the kind of toile de jouy style, but then different and, crucially, white on a black background: I feel much more comfortable wearing darker tones. Also, I could just see the scale of the print working for this dress, and the fact that it's an easy-to-handle cotton (for all those buttonholes) meant my mind was made up in about 3 seconds.  Plus, I could straight away envisage the buttons. The Chien Vert obligingly stock the exact ones I imagined - cut glass with just something sort of chinoiserie about them, no? I love the little hint of sparkle they give when I look down :-)

In the end, this dress was astonishingly easy to make. There's very little in it that's complicated, fear of buttonholes aside. The result is so good that it's intensely satisfying and I doubt I'll be able to resist making at least one more.  Before I do that, though, I will have to sort out some fit issues - I made several bodice muslins and in the end just went with my best option so far, but the busy print is disguising a lot. I know others have had trouble fitting the dart on this and I found the various blog posts on it really helpful, so I took pictures and will add my own to that soon too. While I'm at it I'll be soliciting advice on how to fix what's not quite right!

In the meantime though, this version is fine (I wouldn't think twice about buying it from a shop, fit issues and all), and I absolutely LOVE wearing it. It's so comfy, flattering, and treads the line between casual and dressy perfectly. You can just throw it on and be ideally dressed for almost any occasion - which is why there have to be more, in different colours.

Here it is from the back - and this was also my first ever attempt at a photoshoot in public...

Apparently I was unconsciously channelling Paunnet in the woods there.

This was by way of practising for an even-more-public set of picture taking, because the other thing that sprang to mind the moment I saw this fabric was a wonderfully appropriate photoshoot at one of Brussels' most unexciting tourist attractions, the Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Tower. I happen to live about 15 minutes away, and thought this would be a great way to start adding some pictorial interest to my posts.

Turns out that if I want to do that, I need a proper tripod pretty urgently. Gorilla tripod on the ground isn't a good technique - why is there nothing to wrap it on, just where you want it? And speaking of techniques, my photography skillz in general could do with some serious improvement if I'm really planning to ramp things a bit. Needless to say, for now I'm scaling down the exotic photos ambition level a bit :-)

And why Shanghai nostalgia? Well, about 10 years ago, G and I lived there for four months, on a student exchange program. We loved it so much that we spent a good part of the subsequent five years attempting to move ourselves back to the region, this time with employment. Various dashed hopes later, we pretty much buried the idea when the kids came along, but the far east, China and Shanghai in particular hold a very special place in our hearts. It's an absolutely fantastic city and we had a truly amazing, if brief, time there. These days I don't know if I'd want to return, or whether the pace of change means it'll all be bewilderingly different: we know for a fact that our college, surrounded by fields at the time, found itself in just another suburb within about a year.

The print on this dress, of course, looks not much like Shanghai, which styles itself as a city of looming skyscrapers. But the temples, parks and pockets of the past are still there, and what I really love most about this dress is that little nod it gives to the time I spent discovering them.

:: :: ::

Well this isn't the only thing I've made while I've been not-blogging in recent weeks - I've been on such a roll sewing I couldn't stop to sit at the computer. Next up: a finished #sewredoctober make, just in time before November! And then I'll be picking your brains, please, about the fit of this bodice...


  1. moois van ' me 'October 26, 2013 3:59 pm

    mooi ! Héél mooi !
    ik dacht direct : als ik dat nu ook eens probeer...
    Tot ik de prijs van het patroon zag ;) ...

  2. disqus_JsdLeX1GSeOctober 26, 2013 6:45 pm

    That looks really lovely! The buttons work perfectly with the print too. I'm all inspired now as I have a stash of old glass buttons that I haven't known what to do with and it never occurred to me to pair them with a print. Gorgeous!

  3. It is not to see you again - great dress! Yes - it fits you perfect!
    The pattern on the fabric and the park scenary - wonderful!

  4. This looks absolutely great. The fabric is lovely and the darker tones suit you. Agree with the gorilla tripod.. I could NEVER find anything to wrap it onto Oh and those buttons are lovely.

  5. ja, het grote nadeel :-) Daarom ook het nood om meer van to maken, ik moet het prijs van dat patroon verantwoorden!

  6. It was yours that inspired me - I'd never have bought it otherwise!

  7. i can highly recommend them with a print, they hide and stand out perfectly at the same time. And I can totally see you finding a great print to pair them with

  8. Thanks Kirsty! The photos are the worst thing about blogging I think - never imagined I'd be so bothered by it! Do you use a 'big' tripod?

  9. I do now. I used to use a gorilla, but got annoyed with it and then I broke the camera lens because I was trying to balance the camera on a 'wheelie bin'. So, now, I use a big tripod (that folds up - a bit) and a remote. The photos might not be much better but it's a bit less stressful.

  10. Absolutely gorgeous fabric & Darling Ranges combination! I'm also in love with your glass buttons!
    I love that you attempted the shanghai location photo shoot! The only times I've successfully ventured out, I've used DH as a photographer, so the location shots would be epic, except apparently I don't adopt enough model expressions, so he doesn't let me use them ;( ;)

  11. Sorry for typo -- it should be - It is nice to see you again....

  12. Fabulous! That fabric is perfect, I love it. I feel your pain with the Gorilla pod. I do love mine but I am limited as to where I can take pictures. I'm thinking of getting a big tripod.

  13. SeamsOddLouise.Blogspot.comOctober 27, 2013 6:27 pm

    Fabulous dress and fabulous photos. I find the photographs very hard in blogging- I end up taking hundreds of photos as I look so miserable in most of them. Have to force myself to smile, Looking forward to your take on REDOCTOBER.

  14. Perfect combination of pattern and print! I would never have thought to use glass buttons but they are so much better than if you had used black or white ones. I love your photos - not too ambitious at all!

  15. Zeer schoon exemplaar :). Het staat je mooi. Zalige foto's. Gelukkig woon je dicht bij het Chineese paviljoen.


Please don't be anonymous or unpleasant!