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MAVEN1832 – meet the French Dart testers!

The French Dart 1832 in extended size range of UK sizes 18-32. Plus sized sewing patterns

Hello Sewing Friends!

Today is all about the wonderful pattern testers that took the time to make and share their thoughts on the new extended size range for our French Dart sewing pattern.

It’s been a little while in the creating but The French Dart is now available in our new extended size range of (UK) 18-32. Hurrah! The Rochester and The Somerset patterns will be released in this new size range in the next few weeks.

As always I’ve given a lot of care and thought to these patterns. We’ve had them re-drafted and graded by a professional pattern house who have a lot of experience in plus size patterns having originally created the patterns for Dawn French’s range, and worked with a professional fit model to for several fittings to ensure the new blocks were up to Maven standards.

And then it was time to ask for help with a wider testing group. I must admit I was quite taken back with all the responses to the original tester call out – I really hadn’t expected so many. The generosity and patience of the sewing community really is something to behold and be part of!

With some difficulty I narrowed down to a few testers who were all wonderful! Understandably, not everyone wanted to be public or share photos outside of the test (that wasn’t a requirement of testing) but I do have permission to share these beauties, some of which are toiles / wearable toiles / early versions but already much loved.

Meet the testers!

Shelley / @shelburyuk

Shelley chose a gorgeous printed satin for her French Dart and made version C with a Bishop Sleeve. I’m totally in love with this version and this print!

Helga / @pyperscout

Helga made 2 wonderful French Darts. The first was a toile in an Ikea print and the second was the cap sleeve version.

“I am thrilled to be able to sew the lovely French Dart dress from Maven Patterns. It has been on my list for a while. When extended sizes where introduced, I knew I was finally going to get to sew one. The pattern is incredibly well drafted. For someone like me, who loves to follow instructions, it was flawless. The fit is lovely. That collar is my dream! Who knew a French dart could give such lovely shaping! I hope to make a cap sleeve tunic for over trousers, and a bishop sleeve dress for our harsh Canadian winters.” Helga

Corrie / @corriesfancygoods

I’m sure many of you will know Corrie from Instagram as her ceramic jewellery is now quite legendary in the sewing community! Corrie used a slightly stretchy cotton and left out the back darts for this French Dart.

“A timeless garment that works across seasons and personal aesthetics. Layering with heavy boots for winter and bare legs for summer. The French Dart Shift will fit into anyones wardrobe effortlessly.” Corrie

Heike / @crea_dele

Heike made version B with the cap sleeve in a glorious yellow viscose-linen

“The French Dart Shift Dress is a very versatile garment. Comfortable, smart casual. Many types of fabric can be chosen, the pattern/dress is suitable for a summer as well as winter dress. I love the adjustment tips given on the website. With these tips the French Dart Shift Dress will be perfect for ervery body shape. I will definitely sew many more dresses with this excellent pattern and I am looking very much forward to receiving totally different looks with it.” Heike

Gilly / @theappletonstitch_edit

Gilly made 2 wonderful French Darts and the first one is lined using our Lining tutorial.

“This is my first time testing a pattern for a designer & I was thrilled to be selected to sew the French Dart (FD). I’ve wanted to sew this for ages but to be honest, standard sizing & the need for a full bust adjustment had put me off. I decided to sew a couple of toiles first using a duvet cover because I had some gorgeous material lined up for my final lined version, I decided to try out both short & long bell sleeved versions. I kept closely to Maven sizing against my fluctuating measurements, the main adjustment was grading out the pattern at the hip. I am so pleased with my final fully lined FD, & will be going back to adjust my first toile which I made too large – based on original measurements. I will also re-sew a short sleeve for my second toile which is already cut out. I will also shorten the length on one of them to wear with trousers/leggings in autumn. They were a dream to sew as I used Maven’s tutorials throughout. I had never sewn a Maven pattern before & the tutorial were so helpful, I will use Mrs M’s techniques on other makes. I especially want to shout out the updated inseam pocket and lining tutorials. I can see that this pattern will become a favourite for me, I’d like to try a bound neck version next.” Gilly

Lone & Lykke / The Sister Act!

I was so happy when sisters Lykke (@Lykkenernu) & Lone (@lonekyllesbech) took part in the test together – such a fun idea!

Lou /@loudelve

The French Dart MAVEN1832 - meet the testers! LOU

Lou made this gorgeous wearable toile in Ankara fabric.

“I was so happy to be chosen to test this pattern. I would always look longingly at the pattern but it was out of my size range, until now! I loved making this up. It was quicker than I imagined and i will definitely be making more. It has clear instructions and pattern pieces. Thank you for Extending the size range!! The fit is really good and corresponded to my measurements. I thought i would have to make some adjustments, but not at all.” Lou


Ysabel made the cap sleeve version in a linen, which is always my favourite fabric for a French Dart! And who doesn’t love a close up pic of such beautiful stitching!

“I made a super simple version of this dress: ochre linen, cap sleeves and a bias neck. I’ve worn this dress 3 times so far, and every time someone has paused our conversation just to remark how much they love the dress. This is one of my new wardrobe staples and I can’t wait to make a funkier version in the future.” Ysabel

The French Dart MAVEN1832 - meet the testers! YSABEL

And a final thank you to my other testers that have chosen not to be included in the round-up but their contributions are equally valued!

join the gang! NEWSLETTER SIGN UP!

More Maven1832 …

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The French Dart for Spring

Hi, it’s been a little while since I’ve popped up over here!

We’re back in the studio after having just had the most marvellous time at The stitch festival Show in islington and Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC in Birmingham. We met lots of lovely makers, thank you all for stopping by! Everyone was delighted to have a little rummage through our sample rails and to see our patterns made up in different fabrics and examples of all of our pattern hacks. And lots of you were surprised at just how versatile The French Dart pattern is!

So, as Spring is trying it’s very hardest to make an appearance here today, I thought I’d share a few of our French Dart ideas so you can refresh your wardrobe with a tried and tested favourite pattern.Top Row

  1. Grey linen (from Ikea) – straight out the packet, version A with the short sleeve.
  2. White linen – version B with the cap sleeve and bound armhole, cut to hip length to make a top.
  3. Navy linen – version C, the bishop sleeve with no amendments.

Middle Row – the French Dart really does make to most excellent top. Nothing fancy , I just measure up from the bottom of the pattern and chop off!

  1. The button back hack – our button back hack would work as a dress too.
  2. Make your French Dart sleeveless – I made no adjustment to the armhole, just finished with a binding and left out the back darts for a slightly boxier shape.
  3. The Frill sleeve hack – and we left the collar off and finished with a binding.

Bottom Row – for those chilly spring days!

  1. Boiled Wool jumper.
  2. The Sweatshirt with The Somerset sleeve hack.
  3. The comfy jersey version.

And, of course, we couldn’t forget about this beautiful version by Jen Hogg! See the tutorial here.

You can see all of our French Dart tutorials here, including a tutorial to add a lining, an FBA tutorial, a pocket tutorial,  and how to make a 3/4 length sleeve (a linen top version with 3/4 sleeve is my go-to outfit!). For more inspiration, pop over to our Instagram where we share all of our lovely Makers and their makes!

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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

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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