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The French Dart Shift – BOILED WOOL

The French Dart Shift | BOILED WOOL

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Lovely Nicky (@nickynackynoo_) sent me an Instagram message back in the middle of November asking would the French Dart Shift work in Boiled wool? Now, I always get quite excited when someone asks or suggests a pattern variation/hack I hadn’t thought of – oh, the delights and benefits of sharing ideas on the internet! That particular day was freezing here in the UK, and as I had bemoaned frequently that I never find any jumpers that I like, I ordered some fabric that very day and did a test.  And it worked beautifully if a tad itchy, but absolutely fine with a skinny t-shirt underneath. And was just perfection on a recent trip to Paris (in a chilly January!). It was très Chic, in fact!

THE FABRIC |

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Boiled wool is a knitted fabric that has been washed and agitated, so the fibres have a tighter felt like finish. There are lots of options regarding fibre content and weight.

I used a grey boiled wool from Backstitch in smoke. (Weight: 368gm², 60% viscose, 40% wool – 142cms wide.)

The care instructions on the Backstitch website are to dry clean (but it is meant for a lined jacket or skirt, so fair enough). And the general advice for pre-washing boiled wool is not to wash and just give it a really good steam to shrink it, and then allow to cool. Which is fine if you’re making a coat or something similar. (You generally should allow stuff to cool after pressing to help stop it stretching and creasing while still warm.) The Colette blog recommends a damp towel and a tumble dryer method, but I don’t own a tumble dryer so not a method I could test, but sounds a good plan.

I eventually decided to ignore the general advice and wash it in the machine. My theory being I was making an everyday jumper style top, I knew this fabric would shrink (probably a lot) and I knew I would NEVER be bothered to handwash it, and I really wouldn’t be bothered to dry clean it – I would, in fact, chuck it in the machine when I had to. And my friend Maria told me to do it.MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

So I did as I was told and chucked it in the machine on a short wash at 30°. It felted up a little more, so felt slightly thicker, but was still quite delightful! I did get a few of these bobbly bits, but they pulled off easily enough. What I didn’t do at the time was check how much it had shrunk. A post-cutting garment calculation puts it at about 20cm on 1.5m length (roughly 14% length shrinkage, never thought to check the width shrinkage!) I didn’t allow for that much shrinkage when I bought my fabric, but I managed to squeeze my top out. I had to do ¾ length sleeves rather than the full length ones I intended but hey-ho, such is life!

*I feel like I should put a disclaimer on bunging your boiled wool in the machine…it worked out fine for me, but I wouldn’t want you to ruin some hideously expensive cloth. Consider carefully how you will treat the finished garment, is it something you’ll chuck on the floor (me: “yes”) or is it one of those garments that you’ll hang up carefully and cherish. Be warned there are no guarantees when going against the stated care advice!

SEWING WITH BOILED WOOL | tips

Boiled wool is quite an easy fabric to sew with but there a couple of things to be aware of.

The thickness of the fabric: it’s bulky, so best not to have too many seams and details. Also, it’s easy to overpress it, which can lead to shiny marks or a stretched garment.

*Stabilise seams to prevent stretching

*Use a ballpoint needle

*Longer stitch length (I usually stitch on 3 and went up to a 4, test on a scrap of fabric for your machine)

*Walking foot: I tested on a scrap first without a walking foot and my sample was fine. Then as soon as started to stitch the garment – it wasn’t a happy bunny, it just didn’t want to feed through so I had to do a quick machine foot switch-a-roo! (My machine is pretty knackered now though, I’ve had it since 2001 and the stitch length is, shall we say, is inconsistent at best.)

* Boiled wool doesn’t fray, so doesn’t need neatening! Wahoo!

*Boiled wool doesn’t fray, so it doesn’t need hemming either!

*PRESS on a low heat, press gently and sparingly. Use a pressing cloth to help protect the fabric as you press. 

*Do not drag the iron (you may stretch the fabric) – that’s why it’s called pressing your garment and not ironing your garment.

*Press all the seams OPEN and trim/grade the bulky bits.

KEY: FDS | French Dart Shift   S/A | seam allowance   RST | right sides together   CB | centre back

FOR REFERENCE | what I did

 I cut a Size 10 (my usual size) with a finished CB length of 60cm with no hem allowance as I was leaving it raw and unfinished. 

¾ sleeves with a finished length of 46cm and 3cm hem allowance. I’m short – you’re going to want to check those measurements for you, measure something that you like to wear. (tutorial for lengthen a sleeve here!)

I left out the back darts: I marked the darts with tailor tacks, but didn’t stitch them so I could try on the top first. The shape was nice without, so left them out to reduce bulk.

Changed the collar pattern (see below).

COLLAR | cuttingMAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOLThe collar for the French Dart is normally cut on the bias grain and then folded over – giving you 4 layers of fabric. I think we can all agree, in boiled wool, that was going to be a smidge thicker than comfortable so I cut it half the depth to eliminate the roll-over part of the collar. (Keep the length of the collar the same but you can make it any depth you fancy: pattern = finished depth of collar x2 + 6mm S/A to attach & 1cm S/A on the other edge). With boiled wool being a knit fabric that has been felted, I cut it on the straight grain. And I only cut the notches on one side of the collar (the one with the 6mm S/A to attach at neck).

STABILISE THE SEAMS |MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

 

The neckline of the French Dart is taped to prevent it stretching, but when making in boiled wool you will also need to tape the shoulders and the armhole to prevent them stretching. To find the measurement – mark your seam allowances on the pattern and measure the stitch line/finished seam lengths. We don’t want to tape into the S/A as we don’t want to add any extra bulk at the seams.

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

For the neck and armholes I used a lightweight stay tape (I always trim the width in half for the neckline), follow the instructions how to tape the neck. Tape the back shoulder seam and position the tape so when you close the shoulder seam you will be stitching through the tape. MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOLFor the front and back armhole, I cut some ½” wide (1.2cm) strips of knitted fusible interfacing on the bias and ironed them into place. Because it’s cut on the bias it follows the curves nicely. I purposely made them a few millimetres wider than the seam allowance of 1cm so when stitching the sleeve into the armhole you will be stitching through the interfacing to control the seam. (Actually would have been OK to cut them a smidge wider at 1.5cm.)

BUST DART | sewing

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOLStitch the French dart, and cut open the S/A a bit further towards the apex and gently press OPEN. (The pin marks the end of the dart.)

BODY | sewing

Close shoulder seams, side seams, underarm seams of sleeves.MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

 Trim the bulky bits away! This is where the dart intersects at the side seam. Press open.

Set in the sleeves.

HEMMING | sleeves and the hemMAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOLMAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

If you are going to hem the sleeves and/or the hem, trim away the bulk and blind hem by hand. (Follow the instructions in your pattern for hemming, but leave out the neatening stage.)

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Or Just leave your hems raw and unfinished.

COLLAR | sewing

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

 

Close CB seam of the collar and gently press open.

With RST attach the collar to the neckline (as described in instructions). Press neckline seam OPEN.

NOTE: I edgestitched the seam allowance on the body side of the seam, to flatten it a bit. Personally, I prefered the look of the garment without the edgestitching, but if you have bouncy seam allowances that won’t behave, edgestitching them flat is going to be the answer. You could actually twin needle the seam, with a row of stitching either side of the neck seam.

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Fold the free edge of the collar to inside side to cover seam and allowances. Stitch in the Ditch of the seam from the right side to hold the collar in place.

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Tah da!…..Or……
MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

just leave the collar to flop over!

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

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Sewing The French Dart Shift in jersey!

|SEWING THE FRENCH DART SHIFT IN JERSEY |

I may have mentioned I like to get some mileage out of my patterns and when I was asked about sewing The French Dart Shift in jersey, a Ponte Roma knit to be specific,  I thought let’s see! (And Elfi did make a rather splendid jersey one.)

A few things to remember…

Firstly, this pattern is not designed for a jersey. So the darts are staying and the knit fabric is more for cosiness and comfort, rather then body con type fit!

Second point…I bought this Ponte online and I’m not a huge fan of it. It feels very acrylic-y but for a toile type garment, it does the job. This particular Ponte reminds me of my girls’ school uniform sweatshirt fabric, although it actually sewed up quite nicely.

I chopped my dress pattern shorter (by 12″) so it would be a hip-length top without pockets and made with a 3/4 length sleeve (tutorial here). I had ideas of looking Audrey Hepburn-esque. I stitched the hem in red so it would show up, but school uniform Ponte combined with red stitching actually makes this top look less Audrey in Paris and a little more like British Airways crew outfit. Enough of the styling tips and on with the tutorial…

Sewing The French Dart shift in Jersey

| SEWING JERSEY TIPS |

jersey machine needles

correct-needle-fds-jersey-tutorial

  • Always use a ballpoint needle so you don’t get skipped stitches.
  • I used a walking foot, which helped but I don’t think it was essential.
  • Use a stretch or ballpoint twin needle to create a faux coverstitch for the hem.
  • Use a stretch stitch.
  • Test your stitching on a scrap bit of fabric first. Stitch in both directions, along the selvedge and across the width of the knit, to make sure your stitches don’t crack when you pull them. Tension and stitch settings will vary dependant on your machine and your fabric. Sorry, but you need to get friendly with your manual!
  • Don’t pull and stretch your fabric as you sew.
  • If your seam goes a bit wavy after stitching, very gently steam and press flat.
  • My machine tried to swallow the garment into the footplate at the beginning of a seam, so I placed a piece of paper under the garment before stitching. I had some heavy tissue paper handy but the off-cuts from printed Indie sewing patterns would be perfect!

| STITCHES |

jersey-stitches-fds-tutorial

There are a couple of options for stitching your seams.

  • stretch stitch (sometimes called lightning stitch)
  • zig zag on a narrow width and 2.5-3mm length (I used this as was quicker than the lightening stitch, and set my stitch width to 0.5 and stitch length to 2).
  • I also tested just using a straight stitch, and it was OK on this fabric, but probably not very reliable on a stretchier jersey.
  • Overlocker – you can cut, sew and neaten your seams all in one go.  3 threads are usually just used for neatening seams, 4 (or 5) threads for all in one seam stitching as it makes for a stronger seam. The pattern has 1cm allowances for the body and 6mm at the neckline so be sure not to cut off more than you should!
  • To neaten your seams either use a zig-zag or overlock together. You could in theory just stitch and leave them raw as the fabric doesn’t really fray, but it seemed a bit lazy.

| Sewing The French Dart shift In Jersey |

| METHOD |

RST: right sides together  CB: centre back  S/A: seam allowance  

FDS: French Dart Shift  WS: wrong side

(Refer to your Maker Instructions for detailed descriptions of general methods.)

 

FDS JERSEY TUTORIAL

Pre-wash and press your fabric, lay up and cut out carefully.

The collar would normally be cut on the bias for a woven cloth. For a knit fabric cut instead on the straight of grain with the shortest edge of the pattern parallel to the selvedge.

Tape the neck as described in your FDS Maker Instructions. (This style has a wide neck and we don’t need (or want) it to stretch. If you are ever making a t-shirt style that stretches to pull over the head DO NOT TAPE the neck!)

Make all the darts.

| TAPE THE SHOULDERS |

fds-jersey-tape-shoulder

Measure a piece of stay tape against your pattern by laying on the shoulder line, including the seam allowances. Pin the shoulders with RST and place the tape in place on the stitch line and stitch the shoulders together through the stay tape. Press the shoulder seam open.

Close the side seams and underarm sleeve seams. Neaten together.

Set in the sleeves.

| ATTACH THE COLLAR |

THE FRENCH DART SHIFT JERSEY TUTORIAL

Stitch CB collar seam, do not neaten. Press seam open.

Fold collar in half with WS together, so raw neck edges are aligned and the seam allowance is enclosed inside the collar.

THE FRENCH DART SHIFT JERSEY TUTORIAL

With RST pin collar onto the body, align collar and body notches and CB collar seam with CB neck.

THE FRENCH DART SHIFT JERSEY TUTORIAL

Stitch together with a 6mm S/A, neaten and press S/A towards the body.

| OPTIONAL |

fds-jersey

Ready to wear t-shirts and sweatshirts often have a row of stitching at the neckline to hold the seam allowance flat. You can twin needle or edgestitch the neckline to mimic this if you wish. Confession: Proceed with caution, I broke my only twin needle when I hit the CB seam, so I continued with an edgestitch. Both look good!

| HEM |

The pattern has a 3cm hem allowance, press to the WS.

Twin needle the hem (I overlocked the raw edge first), again follow your machine guideline and test. My machine and a twin needle meant not using the walking foot and sewing at a slower speed.

| POCKET |

fds-jersey-pocket-1As I made a top it was too short for pockets. Side pockets in jersey generally ring alarm bells for me. It’s perfectly possible to do the pockets but also possible the weight of the jersey bag will be lumpy or droopy under the dress or the pocket mouth will stretch and not sit flat. The final result is really going to depend on your fabric and your sewing skills.

If you made a dress version and want to add pockets, I did a test sample. I’ve followed the basic instructions for the FDS pocket but overlocked the side seam together rather than open. I also didn’t fuse the pocket mouth, unlike the woven version, just to see what would happen really. It was OK but this Ponte is very stable, although next time I would put a small spot of interfacing at each pivot point for extra reinforcement. Again test your fabric to see what works for your jersey, and remember to use the knitted kind of interfacing.

FDS JERSEY POCKET

  • Attach the pocket bags to the body, but don’t overlock.
  • Understitch the front pocket bag
  • Pin front and back with RST and stitch side seam and around the pocket bag. Reinforce at pivot points.
  • Neaten the side seam and around the pocket bag together.

Overall I’m rather pleased with sewing The French Dart Shift in jersey. The collar is lovely in knitted fabric and it makes a very cosy and comfortable little top now that Autumn is upon us!

Sewing The French Dart shift in Jersey