Let’s talk darts

I’d like to spend a little time talking about darts. We’ve all sewn them at one time or another. They’re not difficult to sew and there are probably many ways to do them. I’m by no means an expert and I can’t promise that I won’t have any dart disasters in the future. I just know what I like and what I don’t. So I’m going to share a few pictures that I’ve come across lately that got me thinking about this topic in the first place. And then I’ll show you a little trick that I keep in mind when I sew darts.

Exhibit 1: This interesting jacket by Noon by Noor. It’s a sneak peak of their upcoming collection that they shared on Instagram. I usually love seeing their designs, but I just can’t look past those darts. Am I missing something here? Maybe they are a design feature? All I can see is that they are oddly positioned for this girl and stretched out like nipples.

On set of our Pre-Fall 2016 shoot #noonbynoor #pf16 #bts #sneakpeek #details

Exhibit 2: Dart-gate. Prada allowed poor Anne Hathaway to wear this dress a few years ago. Those dart lines are so straight. They’re like a big sign pointing to her nipples. Although, when I started sewing, this was how I sewed all my bust darts, because that was what the pattern said to do. I think there’s a better way.

dart

Exhibit 3: This recent pattern from Seamwork. I’m including this shot because it’s a problem I often face as a smaller busted lady and I particularly dislike the look of darts on an unfitted top. I feel like the whole point of darts is to shape a curve and when there is already excess ease, that shaping is unnecessary and unattractive. This woman is clearly too small and perky for the size of blouse. She could probably do without the darts completely. I’m not going to comment on the odd shape of them. I suspect the fabric may have been quite tricky/slippery to sew with.

dat

So, here is my quick and very simple tip for sewing darts.
My pet peeve is seeing darts end in a sharp or stretched out point on either a bodice or a bottom (in a skirt/pant). And that generally happens when you sew the dart straight, as indicated by the lines on most sewing patterns. But who has straight angles on their body? I’d hardly call myself curvy, but even I don’t have sharp angles on my body. Women are all about curves; gentle curves, big curves, medium curves, all kinds of curves. So why on earth would you sew straight seams when you’re supposed to be shaping around a curve (eg. bust or bottom).
In the diagram below, I’ve illustrated a skirt dart. The straight line is in black, in the shape you’d see marked on most patterns. The red line is the way I prefer to sew darts, curved around until it blends seamlessly with the fabric (because my bottom is round, not pointy). Obviously, to improve the fit further, you could also shorten/lengthen or shape the dart to reflect your own curves. But if you are just starting out and the bare minimum you do is to curve that seam, you will still have a much better end result. And if you want more information on sewing darts, you should check out this tutorial.
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14 thoughts on “Let’s talk darts

  1. All those darts you show are ridiculous. In the bottom pic, the darts are way too low! I’ve also learned to stop the dart one stitch before the point and tie off the threads rather than back-sewing. That alone stops darts from being too pointy. I wonder how you would curve bust darts?

    1. Yes Felicia, stopping to tie off the threads in a dart is also a great tip. I always curve my bust darts. I *attempted* to illustrate this in a drawing at the end of the tutorial I linked to in the last word of the post. You’ll have to forgive my poor drawing 😉 – the curve is pretty subtle with my small bust darts but enough to blend into the line of the fabric.

  2. Brilliant, thank you. These things are so hard to “see” as a beginner, and then so hard to “unsee” as one progresses.

  3. Thankyou for the tip on darts ! I will definitely try this since well sewing darts is so common. Anything to improve them is great. I am happy to not get the nipple effect nowadays but this will improve my darts a lot.

  4. Thank-you for the tip on sewing a curved dart. I sometimes think my best darts are the ones that I thought I was sewing straight but ended up curved!! The darts in the bottom picture are way too low for this ladies bust point and the darts may well have been sewn correctly but this top is just the wrong for her body. Although I am tall, my measurement from my shoulder to my bust point is 2cm shorter than my recommended pattern size and I must always lift darts. Another reason why RTW does not work for me as it does with this lady.

  5. I noticed the Seamwork top dart mistake as soon as the pattern came out. I am so picky about darts because they can ruin an outfit – poor Ann. Thanks for the tip on sewing it curved. I have not done that. A big thing for me is to merge the dart into the fabric – no backstitching and tying off by hand.

  6. Oh my, that Seamwork blouse – that’s actually shocking, and kinda disappointing. And from a fellow small-busted woman I get what you’re talking about. I’ve seen tutorials recommending curving darts before, but I’m yet to try it. Interestingly, I have quite a curvy derriere and in my perfectly fitting pants the darts are straight and I have no issue… I don’t think :0 . I must use this method next time I have a darted top though as I can identify with those boob targets LOL!

  7. Great post! I usually don’t want to bother with darts (either figuring out/altering placement OR sewing them) and instead go for princess seams, but they’re so hard to match stripes with. I should practice making curvy darts on scrap and see how it goes. 🙂

  8. This is a great post! I often notice bust darts and if they draw my eye, it is always because they are poorly positioned or poorly sewn. I did want to mention that straight darts can work, especially if they are pressed well, not stretched at the point, and cross the bias. Darts on the bias have a bit of natural curve, in my experience.

  9. Thanks for sharing this. I just made the Named Ailakki jumpsuit, and the instructions tell you to do exactly this, but your diagram is much more helpful. I did curve my bust darts (they come from the waist), but evidently not enough, as they still look pretty pointy! I will bear this mind for next time though. And those picture!!! I’m most surprised by the Seamwork pattern!!!

  10. Great post! I learnt the curve trick from my aunt, and continue to be shocked by images such as the above…. Seamwork is the most disappointing, I think. Colette used to project such a quality sewing image. The Seamwork patterns tend to look like the three hour patterns they’re touted as.

  11. Just saw this article and it’s really handy! I started sewing not long ago and am still getting my head (and hands) around darts. This is very helpful – thank you!

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