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A Most Delightful Pattern Hack

The French Dart Shift | Button Back Tutorial

The French Dart Shift is possibly the most versatile pattern you will ever sew with and I have another little pattern hack to share with you today!


I originally made the Indigo Moon spot sample for The Festival of Quilts as I wanted to showcase the Corozo buttons that Mr.M had sourced. Corozo is a natural, sustainable product that works in harmony with the rainforests of Equador, and as it is an excellent alternative to plastic buttons so we felt it was an important message to share.

The sample and the buttons proved to be very popular and there were lots of requests for a tutorial on adding a button placket. The buttons and buttonholes are functional, but you don’t need to undo them to get the top on and off. I’ve added the buttons down the back of the garment, you could just as easily use these instructions and have them down the front instead. I’ve made this French Dart as a top but you could make a button through dress version, just be aware of how much ease you have in the hips and bum area – too little and your buttons and buttonholes may strain or pop open when you sit down! I made the top sleeveless – it was the height of summer here in England – you know that 3-day window where the sun shines consistently before normal British weather resumes when dressing involves sunglasses, factor 50, a cardigan and canoe, because who knows, but best be prepared?!  I made no alterations to the pattern to make it sleeveless, just left the sleeves off and bound the armholes.

| HABERDASHERY for a top|

For all sizes | 1.5m of 150cm wide fabric (you will have enough fabric to cut out short sleeves if you don’t want a sleeveless top).

Indigo sample | Indigo Moon Fabric, 7 Corozo buttons – 24 ligne (15mm) || white linen sample | the linen was found in Ikea bargain corner, 7 Agoya shell buttons in natural – 24 ligne (15mm)

TOOLS | French Dart pattern, paper, scissors, tape, buttons, lightweight interfacing, buttonhole foot, and the usual sewing stuff!

ABBREVIATIONS | CB: centre back | CF: centre front | WS: wrong side | WST: wrong side together | RST: right side together | RS: right side | SA: seam allowance


First, you’ll need to alter the pattern. As always when altering a pattern trace off a copy so your original stays intact (if you have the PDF version you can always print another). Copy the collar, back and front but don’t cut them out yet.

I left out the back darts to make it a slightly boxier shape.

Decide on your length. I made the CB finished length (the length when it’s all sewn up and not including any seam or hem allowance) 60 cm and added a hem allowance of 4cm (pattern length including hem and neck SA – 64.6cm). No need to overcomplicate this bit, I just measure up from the hem in several places and draw a new line before chopping off the length. The only things to be aware of are;

  1. make sure the new line intersects the CF and CB lines at right angles to stop weird pointy angles.
  2. make sure your side seams are the same length and run smoothly around the body, again to avoid weird pointy angles.



Working on the BACK BODY of your copy pattern, mark the CB line in a red to make it clear (the original ‘cut to the fold line’ is the CB).

Draw a line 1.5cm away and parallel to the CB line, creating a button placket. This will be the folded edge.

Draw another line 4.5cm away and parallel to the fold line, this makes the back facing.

*I used 15mm buttons. If you are using bigger/smaller buttons you can adjust the width of the placket and facing to accommodate your buttons and buttonholes.

When the facing folds back into place it should be the same shape at the neck and the hem as the main body. Fold the facing along the fold line so it sits in place, pin to hold and cut through both layers of paper. Make sure the neck and hem intersect the fold and CB at right angles. When you unfold the facing it will be exactly the same shape as the body. Make a notch in your pattern on the fold line at the neck and hem.

Fold up the hem in the same way before cutting out to make sure it is the same shape as the body when folded into place.


As we have extended the CB by adding 1.5cm for the placket, we need to add the same amount to EACH end of the collar so it still fits. (Don’t worry about the seam allowances as they are already on the pattern, just add the 1.5cm.) Remark your notches.


Cut a strip 5cm wide and the length of your CB pattern and press onto the WS of the facing. By making the interfacing slightly wider than the facing and you’ll be able to press a nice sharp fold in your fabric.


Make your French dart according to the instructions.

  • Stay tape the neck – for the back neck use half the given measurement and add 1.5cm, or finish the tape at CB if you forget as I did 😉
  • Close and neaten French darts, shoulder and side seams. Leave out the back darts for a boxier shape top.


Press 1cm SA on the long edge to WS (STEP 14 in the instruction booklet) and pin in place.

Mark the midpoint between the SA notches.

Keep the 1cm SA pinned in place and fold collar RST in half at the midpoint, align the SA notches.

Close CB collar seam with 1cm SA, keeping 1cm SA folded in place and 6mm SA hanging free below.

Trim top corner to reduce bulk.

Turn through to RS and press seam so as not to roll to either front or back but to sit right on the edge.


If you haven’t already, apply your interfacing to the facing.

Neaten (overlock or zigzag) the edge of the facing. Press facing to WS and pin to hold at the neck edge.


Place collar RST with body aligning the 6mm SA edge with neck edge. We are just attaching a single layer so keep the other side of collar free. Align notches and place the back seam of collar flush with the folded edge of the facing (you don’t want a step!). Stitch collar to the neckline with 6mm SA.

Trim corner of SA to prevent bulk.

On the WS of garment bring the free edge of the collar to the neckline to cover the stitching by 3mm and enclosing all the SA. Tack and then stitch in the ditch from the RS to finish. This is the same as our usual method of attaching the collar – we are just enclosing an end.

| HEM |

I allowed a 4cm hem allowance. I pressed it to WS by 4cm and then pressed the top raw edge under by 1cm and topstitching it at just under 3cm making it a clean-finished hem.

TOP TIP – Make sure your backs are EXACTLY the same length now before you start buttonholing.


I’ll only briefly explain how I mark my buttons and buttonholes because that could be a whole post by itself!

I always mark my button positions first (on the side of the garment to be buttonholed) and then mark my buttonholes around them to get the correct spacing. My first button was 1cm below the neck seam (my buttonhole foot wouldn’t sit any closer to the seam) and I had an 8cm spacing between each button.

I did my top buttonhole horizontally and started it 3mm to the right of the CB seam to allow the button enough space to sit on the CB.

The other buttons were all vertical and positioned centrally to the button positions on the CB line.

Once the buttonholes are made and cut, I pin the back bodies WST and push a pin through each buttonhole…

… and mark a dot on the other side to show where to sew each button.

And there you have it…yet another garment from the French Dart Pattern!


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Corozo | a sustainable button

| Corozo |

I’d like to introduce you to our new range of Corozo Buttons. It’s taken us a long while to source the right buttons. As with everything we do, we felt we didn’t want to add more stuff for the sake of it. There needed to be a reason, a value to them, a problem solved. And I say us but it has really been Mr.M’s job. This is what he did in the real world before he became a teacher, and so has a wealth of relevant knowledge and experience regarding all things trimmings and haberdashery.

So these buttons are beautiful. Smooth and tactile, with a lovely natural grain. An interesting bevelled shape but classic and timeless. They take dye really well so are available in some lovely colours, while being very durable and scratch resistant. They are sustainable and eco-friendly, from a renewable source, non-toxic and natural so will eventually biodegrade. Our Corozo buttons are manufactured here in the UK.

What is corozo? It’s an excellent alternative to plastic buttons because it’s a 100% natural product! In fact, Corozo was a really popular material to make buttons from many years ago – until that is, some bright spark decided it would be a good idea to produce everything cheaper and quicker without long term thought for the consequences and so it fell out of favour. And most of the UK button factories closed. Corozo buttons are made from the nuts of the Tagua palm tree which grows wild in the rainforests of Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and Panama. Ecuador is the only country in the world producing and exporting the Tagua blanks used to make Corozo buttons.

But aren’t we trying to save the rainforest? YES, WE ARE! The fruits of the Tagua tree each contain about 30 seeds or nuts and drop naturally when they are ripe and ready to use. It’s just a case of collecting them before being dried in the sun. There is no point picking them earlier as they are no good to use, they have to fall naturally and so no trees are harmed. The trees continue to produce fruits for about 100 years, making it a renewable and sustainable source, so there is no need for deforestation. Collecting the seeds is done without causing any environmental impact, in fact, it helps. If the local communities can make an income from the rainforest, the rainforest will survive. The seeds fall naturally, the forest animals eat the shells and local people collect and sell the seeds to make an income, allowing them to live off what the forest produces and in return they care for and protect the forest. It helps the local economy and has helped create thousands of fairly paid jobs.

Tagua seed uses | The seeds are not just used for buttons. Due to its appearance, it is also known as vegetable ivory and is used as a replacement for ivory in jewellery making and many handicrafts. That’s got to be better than taking ivory from elephants – BBC NEWS REPORT

Tagua powder is being used as a replacement for microbeads in exfoliants by the beauty industry.

Further reading & resourcesTrafino   | 4everLung


Plastic fantastic…Now I’m not saying chop off your plastic buttons, throw them in the bin and replace them with Corozo buttons – throwing things away isn’t helping. Buying thoughtfully and thinking long term can help. So when you are in need of some buttons consider what would be best for the planet…a natural, biodegradable, non-toxic, sustainable option or umm, plastic?

We don’t plan on selling or stocking any newly produced plastic or polyester buttons, there’s enough knocking around the world already. It’s not like they are going to disappear and decompose any time soon. Apart from the Corozo buttons, the other buttons currently on our website and sold at shows are vintage (produced over 20 years ago), many from my personal stash. Keeping them in use seems a better idea than throwing them or hiding them in shame. We just don’t need to produce more of them. It’s too damaging. When it comes to restocking our buttons, we intend to source natural products.

I JUST HAD A THOUGHT…If you do find yourself with spare plastic or polyester buttons and you don’t want to use them or know how to dispose of them, send them to us and we’ll collect them. Don’t worry I have no intention of selling them but we will do our best to pass them onto charities, schools, artists, makers or crafters who will use them. They may possibly sit in my kitchen for a while until I work that out. The aim is to keep them useful and out of landfill. If you are someone that can make use of such buttons, let us know. I’m hoping we can provide some kind of a button recycling/reuse system. The only rules are; only take what you need and they don’t go in the bin. It’s not a perfect plan, but it could be a start.



We have 4 sizes and 4 colours of Corozo buttons to choose from a small 18 ligne (11mm) shirt button in natural, and the bevelled buttons (above) are available in 24 ligne (15mm), 32 ligne (20mm) and 40 ligne (25mm) in brown, navy, grey and natural.