Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sewing 101: Darts

Let's talk some darts. Sewing darts that is. If you have ever attempted a women's skirt, blouse, or dress pattern then you have likely encountered a dart before. If they seem scary or difficult then we overcome that together. Why? because as a women a dart should be your very best friend. It is a dart that creates shape to a lifeless flat piece of fabric and tailors it to fit your body. Shape is good, fit is even better. Oh and even if you are sewing for little ones in your life darts still come in handy and add shape to garments. So let's dig in.

 Let's all enjoy (and try not to laugh) at my little dart drawings here. They are meant to demonstrate the two basic types of darts. The basic dart on a pattern will be vertical darts. The other type of dart is a horizontal dart, darts like this shape the side of the bust. Darts on a pattern are typically triangular shape and they have a dotted line through the middle which is where the fold will be. the solid lines are the lines where you will sew. Confused? let's walk through one shall we?
 So here we have a pattern with a dart in it. This is a self drafted bodice piece with a dart. Then next to is is the fabric piece cut out.
 To sew the dart first you have to mark it. You can do this a lot of ways drawing it right on to the fabric, or marking it with pins. Here is the way I handle darts which I find the easiest way. Start by lining the pattern up with the fabric piece. then with two pins mark both sides of the solid line.
 Then with the right sides of the fabric facing each other fold the fabric so the pins meet each other. Then you can remove one pin and simply pin both sides together with one pin marking the spot.
 Then with the fabric folded and the pin marking the sewing line of the dart...
 Fold the pattern along the fold line and match it up with the fold in the fabric. Then use a pin to mark the top of the dart. You can see right now how the sew line angles from the bottom up to the top marking.
 So now you should have the bottom and top of the dart marked. This will have the wrong side of the fabric facing up.
 Now you will sew from the bottom point and angle up towards the top point. The stitch should smoothly run off the side of the fold. The important thing here is to keep the angle narrow and smooth. That will help it to lay the best.
 So next if you are ironing the dart there are two ways of doing it. Using a tailors ham. (which is basically a small ironing ball that looks like a ham) or you can use the edge of the ironing board. You just need a curved edge to iron the new shape the dart.
That's all there is to it. A new bodice with some shape. Simple right?

So are you a self drafter? Do you want to add a dart to a pattern you are making yourself? Here is how I do it. (which may or may not be the "right" way but it works well for me)

 Start with you basic bodice piece.
 Then decide where you want the dart to be, and how high you want the dart to be. Then measure over and up to create a square.
 Cut the square out. Then you will retrace the bodice piece. Angle the square piece away from the bodice so there is a triangle being formed in the blank spot. Then trace the rest of the outline of the bodice.
Mark the lines of the dart and you have a new bodice pattern piece with a dart.
You can apply the same idea to a skirt piece as well. (I will show you a dress with darts on Friday)

I hope this helped darts seem more friendly!


  1. Oooh, lovely! Do you plan on covering darts that go in a skirt. I would wager they would be similar to the the ones you showed. I have a cut of linen that is begging to be my skirt.

  2. Thank you for the tutorial! It was very helpful to me. Now I know how to make my own darts on garments!!!! :)

  3. Fantastic info thank you! Going to give it a go on a dress and will blog how I get on!

  4. Thank you!! This is one thing that I have really tried to just "figure out" on my own and can never seem to master it. wonderful tutorial

  5. I am just learning how to sew and your 101 lessons are so helpful! thank you!!!!


  6. wow. this is amazingly helpful!!!! thanks so much for the time and thoughtfulness you put into it!! :)

  7. this was exactly what i was looking for !!!! thank you!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  8. I have a question: How do you know how large to make the dart? That is my biggest stumbling block with darts!

  9. Your way seems to be very easy, thank you! :)

  10. Your way seems to be very easy, thank you! :)

  11. Thanks so much! I'm a total novice making my own dress for the first time. (Yeah, probably a bad idea :P But I don't like being burdened by instructions). This tutorial and especially the second part was just perfect for what I need :) Thank you so much! And your drawing skills are just fine ;)

  12. This tutorial is so simple and halpfull!!! thank you!


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