Simple elegance: Maven Patterns French Dart Shift

Sometimes it takes a while to find just the right combination of pattern and fabric. This time it has taken a couple of months but I’m glad I waited. The fabric – Kirstine from the Outback Wife range by Gertrude Made – was a Christmas gift from my husband (which I chose and ordered!) and I just couldn’t decide on a pattern.

There is a Simplicity pattern by the same designer, which I contemplated using, and I wondered about the Ultimate Shift Dress by Sew Over It, but then I found this one and there was no longer any question!

The French Dart Shift by Maven Patterns is beautifully simple, with carefully though through design details. There are three sleeve options – cap, short or long – and either a bias cut roll collar or a neck binding. I chose short sleeves, because of the amount of fabric I had and also its weight, and the collar as the style appealed to me so much when I saw some samples at the Sewing for Pleasure show this week in Birmingham. It was really special to meet and buy the pattern from the designer and business owner (who has not, I promised, asked me to write this!).

How do you organise a project? For me, it depends on my mood and the time available. In this case, I cut out the pattern on Friday morning, then the fabric in the afternoon/evening, and sewed it on Saturday morning. It was surprisingly quick to sew, even with some hand finishing.

I used the (remarkably thorough and detailed) instructions for some aspects of the construction. My preferred order of construction starts with the French darts, shoulder seams, collar, sleeve insertion (the photo below is taken at this stage), side and sleeve seams, hems and hand finishing. I have found that it helps to press the hems while the pattern pieces are still flat, after overlocking the raw edges, and usually finish armhole and sleeve edges together (rather than separately and pressing the seam open) with a three thread narrow overlock stitch to minimise bulk. The neckline edge is stabilised with stay tape; rather than stitching tape in place I used Vlieseline bias tape for the first time, which seems to have worked well.

Im delighted with the result and look forward to experimenting with a few variations on this pattern. If you’re looking for a simple dress with a retro twist and lots of opportunities to learn as you sew, this could be just what you need.




11 thoughts on “Simple elegance: Maven Patterns French Dart Shift

  1. I love this! The fabric is great. I was very tempted by the green version at the Knitting and Stitching show, but it was expensive and I thought I’d better not! The pattern really showcases this fabric though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: March Makes | nelnanandnora

  3. Love it! Did you have any headaches only using 1.5m of fabric? I’m looking at some fabric online for this pattern (short sleeve) and according to the pattern I’d need 1.8 – 2.5m depending on width. If I can squeak the dress out of less fabric then I’d be very pleased indeed!


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