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The French Dart | Creating Panels by Jen Hogg – part 1

I was delighted when this gorgeous French Dart by Jen Hogg popped up on the Maven instagram feed. So, I approached Jen and asked her if she would share all the details of her marvellous French Dart Hack and she kindly has!

The panelling idea is such a clever idea to show off a printed fabric – we all know how much I love a Nani Iro print – or to create smaller pattern pieces which are perfect for using up those scraps and odd bits of leftover cloth. Enjoy part 1, it’s full of ideas and inspiration and part 2 of this post can be found here.

PAID POST | This article was  written by Jen Hogg after I saw her French Dart Hack on Instagram. I have paid Jen for her time, skills and effort, but all opinions are her own.

 

Version 1 – the toile

I really like this pattern. In fact I’ve made it 4 times, so far. The first was a toile to check my standard pattern adjustments for my broad back and square shoulders. It was in yellow gingham sold as cotton, and it worked really well, except that I don’t suit yellow. So I had the bright idea of dying it teal, thinking that I’d end up with a lovely teal / turquoise gingham. Only of course it wasn’t cotton after all, the dye didn’t take, and the whole thing ended up in recycling. Can you tell I’m still a little bit bitter?

Version 2 – needlecord, with in-seam pockets

But it did confirm that my adjustments were good so I quickly made another in needlecord. My only hack was to add in-seam pockets. The method I used is my absolute favourite, I’ve seen it called a couture method, and it’s how you add a pocket beside an invisible zip because the whole construction is on the front of the garment. Click here for details.

 

Version 3 – Nani Iro, front panels with pockets

 

Next up, I had some lovely Nani Iro fabric from Minerva, in a black brush stroke with a wide silver border. The obvious thing to do would have been to use the border along the bottom of the dress, but it felt a wee bit formal for me, especially given that I was making it in lockdown when anything more than joggie bottoms feels formal.

I decided to divide the front of my French Dart into panels, and to use the border in different ways on each. This technique would also work really well for using up small pieces of fabric.

I wanted to keep the dart, because it’s so lush, and of course I wanted to add pockets. This time I thought I’d add them on the front of the dress, following the angle of the dart. I also decided to add quite a deep cuff to the pockets partly to add structure, but also to let me use the writing on the selvedge of the fabric.

Incidentally, this fabric is quite robust, allowing the pockets to keep their shape. If it was a softer fabric I’d have gone for in-seam pockets.

First of all, I traced my pattern piece and removed the seam allowances. By the way, the diagram is a rough sketch of the pattern piece – not to scale!

When you’re removing the seam allowance remember it varies, for example it’s narrower at the neck.

 

(first image)Next I divided the front into panels to suit my fabric. I decided to cut one piece above the bust, and to divide the lower part of the dress into three: one at each side and one in the centre. The side panels are wide enough to accommodate the whole of the dart, and also to add a decent sized pocket. The panels were only drawn in at this stage, I wanted to make sure I was happy with the look of the finished front before I started cutting the paper up.

(second image) Here’s the line of the pocket top. It’s parallel to the line of the dart once it’s sewn closed – to check that I literally closed the dart of the paper pattern.

Here are the panels separated. The neck and centre panels are going to be cut on the fold. (And yes, my cutting boards might be called well-used.)

Now I worked entirely on the two parts of the side panel.

First up, I added a pocket bag to the top part, which will form the back of the pocket. I made it long enough that I could reach the bottom of the pocket without stretching.

I then used that added-on section to draft the front pocket bag, shown here in yellow. I could have used the bottom panel itself to create the front, but I didn’t want to see the pocket bag stitching on the front of the dress so I decided to create it as a separate piece.

Here it is in real life with the seam allowances added back on.

These photos show the finished pocket, from outside the dress and inside. I used a scrap of Liberty lawn cotton for the front pocket bag.

The way I added the cuff was the same way I usually add bias binding:

  •  Interface the cuff
  • press the cuff in half and then press up the seam allowance on the front of the cuff
  • Pin the front pocket bag and the bottom panel with the right sides facing out (ie wrong sides together)
  • Lay the pocket bag / bottom panel so that the pocket bag is facing up. Line up the cuff with the pocket bag, right sides together. So now you have a sandwich: cuff – pocket bag – bottom panel.
  • Stitch through all three layers along the length of the pocket opening
  • Fold the cuff over to the front of the garment. This is where you’re glad you already pressed up that seam allowance – all you need to do is topstitch the cuff to the bottom panel.

Incidentally I didn’t bother cutting the cuff piece into the shape in the diagram. Instead I cut a piece of fabric longer than I needed, on the straight grain, and trimmed it after I’d sewing it in place. This let me make last minute adjustments to fully use the piece with the writing on.

Re-assembling the front of the dress

So, that’s the front pocket bag and cuff attached to the bottom panel. Next I sewed the bottom of the two pocket bag pieces together (I used a French seam for neatness and security). Then I added a line of stitching within the seam allowances at either side of the panel to keep everything in place.

And that’s the side panel reconstructed. All that’s left to do is to stitch the side panels to the centre panel, and then all three to the neck panel. The front is then fully put back together, complete with pockets, and the dress can be finished off per the pattern instructions.

Version 4 – cashmere top

I’ve also made the French Dart as a top, simply by chopping the pattern at hip height. Literally no other changes were required. This one is also made from cashmere surplus. I know, lucky!

I’ve not finished with this pattern. I have some lovely stretch wool, in a delicious shade of red, so I’m thinking a winter dress. I might alter the sleeves on that so they’re straight rather than gathered at the cuff, because I think the fabric will be too chunky to take the gather. I also think the pattern will look great in linen with short sleeves for the summer. Watch this space on Instagram!

Thanks so much Jen for such a great post! Part 2 can be read HERE!

We would love to see your French Darts! Old or new, share (or re-share!) them with us on Instagram Remember to tag us @MavenPatterns #FrenchDartMaven

All photos by Jen Hogg 

Jen Hogg lives in Glasgow with her husband and dog, and has two children at university. She now runs a small business selling the Jenerates sewing ruler and writes for a variety of magazines and blogs. A former solicitor, Jen reached the semi-final of The Great British Sewing Bee Series 5 (2019). In addition to sewing, she enjoys knitting, crochet and many other textile crafts, as well as silversmithing, photography and generally making things. You can follow Jen on Instagram and Facebook @jenerates, and at www.jenhogg.co.uk

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The French Dart | Making more with your pattern

As we come to the end of our French Dart week I wanted to share a few more ideas to help you make the most of your pattern.

One of the most pleasing things to discover about The French Dart pattern was just how versatile it actually is as a pattern. I spoke early in the week about how perfectly The French dart pattern has worked as a jumper in cosier fabrics. But it also works beautifully in a lighter weight cloth for those warmer days.

Ah…warmer days…how I day dream of thee…

THE BUTTON BACK HACK |

I deliberately included the 3 sleeve options to give lots of choice for styling your FDS, but did you know it works so well as a sleeveless pattern too. These pictures are of our button back hack, but I did nothing to the armhole except bind it to finish. I was, of course, careful not to stretch it and I would suggest you do a quick toile to make sure you are happy with the armhole shape – is it high enough, or too high, is it gaping, are you happy with the shoulder width?

It does make a very elegant summer top in this lightweight linen.

THE FRILL SLEEVE HACK | 

FRILL HEM PATTERN HACK_MAVEN PATTERNSAnother way to use your pattern differently, would be to leave the collar off and bind to finish. There are bonus instructions in the pattern to show you how. This is a great option if you are short of fabric!

The Frill Sleeve hack gives you yet another sleeve option.

THE LINING TUTORIAL |

The French Dart has been made in so many different fabrics now, but for those special fabrics you may want add a lining. I certainly did for this gorgeous barkcloth*. Use our free lining tutorial to make yourself a lining pattern.

*The barckcloth is called ‘wavelength’ part of the In Theory collection by Cloud 9 fabrics, but sadly has been out of print for some time.

LINING TUTORIAL_MAVENPATTERNS_06

 

Another very useful tutorial is The 3/4 sleeve tutorial, that is certainly my most worn sleeve length! You can find all the French Dart Shift tutorials HERE. I’m sure to add a few more in the future so check back every so often!

This brings The French Dart Week to a close but we wanted to say a big thank you for taking part,

sharing your makes and for your support of our tiny pattern company.
Happy Sewing to you, my friends!

| #MAVENMAKERS |

Have you made a cosy French Dart, either a top or a dress?

We would love to see it! Old or new, share (or re-share!) them with us on Instagram Remember to tag us @MavenPatterns #FrenchDartMaven

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The French Dart Week | Jumpers

We have more ideas to share today to encourage you to get the most from your French Dart Shift pattern! It’s been so chilly here in the UK for the few weeks (it’s supposed to snow here ANY SECOND according to the weather app) that I’m quite delighted to share with you my love for the FDS as a jumper pattern.

I really like the idea of a pattern being an all rounder, so it could be a key piece in your wardrobe. What I hadn’t expected was just how creative everyone would get with the pattern and suggestions from a couple of Maven Makers led to 2 tutorials – one for a boiled wool French Dart and one for a knit French Dart. The boiled wool version really was just an experiment to see if it would work. And yes it did! It’s been one of my most worn items of clothing and actually does makes the perfect jumper!

When shortening to make a top or jumper I just chop the extra length from the bottom of the pattern. Nothing fancy – just remember to trace off your pattern first to keep your original in tact (or you can reprint a PDF), add a hem allowance and check that the hem line will run together in a nice smooth line when you join the side seams. I like my length to finish at about my hip but I sometimes cut them a bit shorter after making them, I find different fabrics need different proportions and I’ll just try them on before finally hemming them.

THE SWEATSHIRT  |

A recent make of mine was this sweatshirt in a Khaki green Mind the Maker brushed sweat shirting fabric  which became a French Dart & The Somerset pattern hybrid. Which, I must say, has been lovely and cosy for lockdown wear!

As the fabric was quite thick I decided to make the collar half the depth, so it doesn’t roll over but stands up rather nicely. And I decided at the last moment to topstitch the shoulder seams to hold them flat, again as the fabric was bulky but it makes a nice little detail. Other than that the construction was quite straight forward. I did not tape or stay stitch the armhole as the fabric was quite stable, but I did tape the neckline as usual. I often leave the darts out of the back when I’m making tops with The French Dart pattern, you still get a nice shape but slightly boxier. If you are not sure wether to dart or not, mark them on the back (use something non-permanent to mark them!), make up the body and see how you like the shape without them. That’ll still give you the option of sewing them in if you change your mind.

The sleeve is basically a mash-up of the FDS bishop sleeve (version 3) and The Somerset bishop sleeve. I followed the Somerset Maker instructions to attach the cuff, but found this fabric didn’t really like the shirring elastic method, so I went old school and pulled up gathering stitches. So far, at the time of writing, so good with no cracked stitches during wear.

WARNING | This is how I did the sleeve but it comes with a warning! It was never intended as a tutorial. I was just making a top for me because it’s a bit cold…so this method is best described as ‘quick and dirty’ or as my Dad would say ‘a proper bodge job’. So you follow at your own discretion and perhaps don’t try it on a really expensive fabric the first time.

  • Trace off your French Dart sleeve pattern before you begin to keep original in tact.
  • On both sleeve patterns draw a line straight across at the underarm.
  • Fold the Somerset sleeve along this line, and fold the sleeve head out of the way.
  • Place the Somerset sleeve on top of the French Dart sleeve.
  • Line up both patterns along the underarm line that you drew and centralise at the grain line.
  • Check you are going to be happy with the sleeve length as is, if you want it longer slide Somerset down a bit further. Don’t forget to consider the depth of the cuff.
  • Mark in the hem line of The somerset pattern and a little bit of the side seam. It should be the same (mirrored) either side of the grain line.
  • Move the Somerset pattern out of the way and join the hem to the underarm point for your size with a straight line.
  • You’ll need to use the cuff pattern from the Somerset.
  • Good luck!

BOILED WOOL | 

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Like I said before, this one has been a really good make. All the details of The Boiled Wool French Dart can be found HERE. It was written in 2018 and it’s stood the test of time as I’m actually wearing it right now!

KNITTED FRENCH DART |

The French dart pattern has been made quite a few times in knit fabrics too. Ponte de Roma has been especially popular as it makes up easily and is quite stable for a knitted fabric while being very easy and cosy to wear. #Secret Pyjamas. Bear in mind the pattern won’t give you a body-con style fit in jersey it’s more about comfort.

This is one I made in a knit that I bought from Anna at Eternal Maker. It is a 100% cotton jersey knit. For this one I cut the collar as the pattern.But first,  I did fold the fabric to ‘mock’ the collar, creating 4 layers, before I cut out to see if I thought it would be too bulky.

The The Knitted French Dart tutorial can be found HERE & The 3/4 length sleeve tutorial can be found HERE.

 

| #MAVENMAKERS |

Have you made a cosy French Dart, either a top or a dress?

We would love to see it! Old or new, share (or re-share!) them with us on Instagram Remember to tag us @MavenPatterns #FrenchDartMaven

and keep your eyes open for our PDF giveaway this week on Instagram!

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Creating Panels in the French Dart | by Jen Hogg – part 2

PAID POST | This article was  written by Jen Hogg after I saw her French Dart Hack on Instagram. I have paid Jen for her time, skills and effort, but all opinions are her own.

This part 2 of Jen Hogg’s panelled French Dart Hack!

I think we are all being about more thoughtful about our makes with a view towards sustainability and being more purposeful with our sewing. And the great thing about the panelling hack is it’s an excellent way to use up those smaller, left-over pieces of cloth. Think creatively and you can create something truly unique. If you are looking for a little inspiration take a look at the SewOver50 Instagram page for their March challenge and the hashtag #so50PatternMixing.

Over to Jen!

Version 5 | cashmere surplus, in panels and patchwork

The method I used to hack the Nani Iro version also works really well with surplus. I use a lot of cashmere surplus, and the pieces I get are usually small or an odd shape. I’m working on another French Dart dress using different patterns in the panels.

Here it is as a work in progress. I’ve added red bias between the panels, to add a bit of cohesion overall but handily it also shows where the panels of my hack are. It’s the same hack as the Nani Iro version, only I missed out the pockets on the front because the cashmere is too soft to cope with them.

In this version, though, my centre panel is also made up of two different fabrics. This time I joined the fabric pieces together before I cut out the pattern shape. Basically you make a patchwork of fabric first, then cut out the dress pattern as usual. There’s less control over how the fabrics are joined together this way, but that suited me for this panel.

In these photos you can see the red bias which delineates the separate “Nani Iro” panels.

But look at the fabric to the right of the red tape, that’s made up of two pieces of scarf surplus, a paler fabric right beside the tape overlaid with the blue / red fringed fabric. I stitched them together with 2 lines of stitching (yellow lines). Then the fringe on the blue / red fabric was sewn down to add some texture (green lines). It felt like a shame to cut it off and I’m toying with the idea of keeping some fringing at the sleeve cuffs, though I might change my mind!

When it’s finished I’ll share this dress on Instagram, under my own name @jenerates but also to join in with the @sewover50 challenge #so50patternmixing.

UPDATE: Jen has kindly shared her finished pictures with us!

Thanks Jen! What a wonderful & inspiring way to use up surplus fabric! The first part of this tutorial with the details for the pattern hack can be found HERE.

| #MAVENMAKERS |

We would love to see your French Darts! Old or new, share (or re-share!) them with us on Instagram Remember to tag us @MavenPatterns #FrenchDartMaven

All photos by Jen Hogg 

Jen Hogg lives in Glasgow with her husband and dog, and has two children at university. She now runs a small business selling the Jenerates sewing ruler and writes for a variety of magazines and blogs. A former solicitor, Jen reached the semi-final of The Great British Sewing Bee Series 5 (2019). In addition to sewing, she enjoys knitting, crochet and many other textile crafts, as well as silversmithing, photography and generally making things. You can follow Jen on Instagram and Facebook @jenerates, and at www.jenhogg.co.uk