A tutorial: marking darts for lazy sewists

I’ll admit it, I can be a lazy seamstress. I’m often more intent on realising my vision, than I am with using couture methods. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to sew like a couturier. I do! But it doesn’t happen very often.

I’m also completely self-taught. Over time, I’ve learnt many traditional ways of doing things, but I’ve also made up my own way of doing things. I’m not always sure if the way I do things is the way that everybody else does.

This, for example, is the way I mark darts. I’m pretty sure if it is the conventional way of doing it (given that tailor’s tacks and chalk are what you hear most about in books), but I find my way of making darts to be a very quick, simple, and precise way, particularly when dealing with slippery silks that morph into all kinds of shapes as soon as you move them. So this is how I do it.

1. Take your pattern piece, still pinned with the fabric. If it is a slippery fabric like silk, don’t move it at all. You can see the dart marked on the paper. The fabric is pinned beneath it.

2. Take a silk pin and carefully insert it through the dart apex. Slide it through the paper and all layers of the fabric carefully, taking care not to move the fabric.

Here, the pin has been pushed through all layers of the fabric.

This is the underside of the fabric. But at this point, you shouldn’t be moving the fabric back to see it!

3. Next mark the base of the dart at both points. I use a fabric marker (on occasion, I’ve been know to use a permanent marker because it is within the seam allowance anyway). Did I really write that? Mark it now because you are about to move the fabric, which could morph it out of shape!


4. Now to mark the dart apex. Open up the fabric layers of fabric carefully. You will see where the pin has come through the wrong side of each fabric piece.

Place a tiny mark on each piece of fabric where the pin is coming through. If you are worried about marking your special fabric, you can also place this tiny mark a few mm below the pin, so that you sew over it when making the dart.


See all my little purple marks, transferred perfectly from the pattern paper to the fabric. If you wanted to, you could now chalk up the rest of the dart lines, before pinning them together evenly for stitching.

5. Now sew your darts.

6. Don’t backstitch at the apex, and remember to leave long thread tails that you can tie off by hand. And you’re done! Easy, perfect darts!

And just to share one last tip with you that I read a long time ago, but it has made a big difference to my sewing. In commercial patterns, darts are often, if not always, pictured as straight lines. I don’t know about you, but there aren’t any straight lines on my body. I’m not even a curvy lady! The normal human body is made up of curves and gentle wavy slopes. Don’t be afraid to re-draw those dart lines with a slight curve that better reflects the curves of the body.
Forgive my badly drawn example. The first picture is of a normal dart. The second dart has been curved slightly.

8 thoughts on “A tutorial: marking darts for lazy sewists

  1. oona balloona

    i do this too! including pens, sharpies, whathaveyou… and lately i've been going one quick step further and snipping my dart legs, just under 1/4 inch, as my marks. teehee.


  2. Pingback: Let’s talk darts

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