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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…


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.


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 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.



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!


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.


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!



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!


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.



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.


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

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The French Dart Week | inspiration

We are celebrating 5 glorious years of The French Dart this week!

Today, I’m going to share a bit of the inspiration behind the original French Dart, which was actually made about 4 or 5 years before I released her. Before she was even a twinkle in the eye of a pattern company!


 | One of the first French Darts! |

The beginning | I usually make with a purpose, so as with most things I make, it solved a problem. I needed a dress. More specifically I need a very tidy dress/outfit as I was working in a bridal shop, which involved spending a large part of my day on the floor fluffing hems, trains and veils. The upside is I can now tie a very nice chocolate box bow. 

Now, I am not know as a very tidy, formal, dressy person that you would expect to see in a bridal shop. And luckily for me they were a very relaxed shop, but there was a no denim policy. So that would be 90% of my wardrobe then. Hence, the dress dilemma.

So that was the actual inspiration…

  • a dress that could be worn to work that I wouldn’t really need to think about again
  • worn with leggings and boots (that shop was cold!)
  • I could move in it easily. 
  • And bend over in…without giving everyone in the shop an eyeful. 
  • And had pockets. 
  • Would be comfortable all day. 
  • Secret pyjamas for work before it was an Instagram hashtag. 

To design it I just worked backwards from what I needed it to do. 

And once you start combining that much need practicality of design with my influences – The French dart pretty much designed itself!

The first one was made in navy linen, and was worn until it could be worn no more (I love linen, but several years of wear frustratingly sent it into holes). This was replaced by a new navy linen a few years ago. Which will be replaced with another at some point I’m sure.

Influences | my design inspiration has always come from practicality. I like a design to function in everyday use. Something that you touch or use everyday shouldn’t be irritating; it should almost be unnoticed, wether that is your car, your fork or your dress.

Everything you experience becomes an influence. But a major one of mine is a lifetime of watching old films…I’d come home from school and my mum was watching the afternoon film – usually black and white, from the 60s, she favoured the British crime dramas and Ealing comedies. I was less fussy and pretty much watched anything – American or British 1940s – 1970s, no film is safe! The interiors were as inspiring as the clothes for me.  And just one more thing…should you find yourself at a loose end on a Sunday afternoon…I can confirm that Columbo is wardrobe gold.

So I naturally took a little inspiration from what I knew…Doris and Audrey…

Doris Day | Looking fabulous – images from Pillow Talk / Lover Come Back / Do Not Disturb

AUDREY HEPBURN | I admit to having a slight obsession with this jumper from Breakfast a Tiffany’s (1961). Givenchy is credited as principle wardrobe (not sure if that includes the jumper) with Edith Head as costume supervisor

And then we have this dress from How to Steal a Million (1966) again by Givenchy.

Ok, so there’s no actual reason for that hat and sunglasses to be here, just seemed rude not to include!

And now we have a little random assortment of inspiration from my Pinterest board (imaginatively entitled ‘Vintage’) that I have collected over the years. You can certainly see a theme had developed!


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