Member Request: How to Remove (move) a Bust Dart in a Tunic Pattern

by Ramona on September 11, 2014

This blog comes at the request of one of our members, Cynde. She emailed me asking a question about removing a dart from a pattern and I thought it would make for a good blog post this week.

Cynde has an older (out of print) pattern, McCall’s 2091She wants to use a heavily beaded fabric and doesn’t want (and she said doesn’t really need) the bust dart in the pattern. 

Before going into how to adjust the pattern for what she wants, we first need to know why darts exist in patterns. Darts in patterns allow shaping of a flat object (fabric) into a 3-D structure (the garment). Think of a cone shape. When taking a flat piece of paper, wrapping it into a cone shape, you’ve take a flat object (paper) and shaped it into a 3-D structure (cone). Darts basically do the same thing to shape a flat fabric over the bust line, in this case.

Darts have “parts”. There is the “point”, the “legs”, and the “take up”.




Darts must point to the fullest part of the bust and end within the “bust circle”. Have you ever seen a dart on a garment that ends further into the bust circle than it should? Check out Gertie’s blog where she discusses her little problem; she discusses the fitting in a light-hearted manner.


Also, remember darts can be something other than a dart. They can be made into easing, tucks, gathers, split into double darts, repositioned, redesigned within seams, and more! Darts really are magical in pattern making and garment design!

Ok, so all that said, our member wants to know how to get rid of the dart in her pattern. Without seeing her figure and the fabric I’d first give a word of caution: are you sure you want to remove the entire dart? Even with small bust lines, a dart serves the purpose of shaping the fabric over the bust area. Perhaps the dart “intake” needs to be less than how it is drafted in the pattern. Remember, most patterns are drafted with a “B” cup sizing. Anything other than the standard B cup for regular Misses sizing on patterns, requires some sort of alteration.

If we were together, I’d ask Cynde, “Are you sure you don’t want to alter the pattern for a smaller bust then turn the dart into side seam easing to allow the fabric to still have the shaping it needs while not having to sew a dart in heavily beaded fabric?” After altering the pattern, the intake of the remaining dart could be just eased at the front side seams, not sewing the actual dart.

If you draft your own sloper and then draft your patterns from that, use a book like Connie Crawford’s “Patternmaking Made Easy“. I use this as my “go-to” book on pattern drafting. There is a section in this book on doing exactly what our member wants (page 111, “Dartless  Blouse Block/Sloper Draft”). In pattern drafting, though, all drafting is done without seam allowances and from the fitted, balanced and trued sloper pattern. If you had a fitted sloper pattern, then there will be additional steps for extending the shoulder, dropping the underarm, adjusting the armhole, and so on. The instructions in Connie’s book are step-by-step and easy enough even for a beginning pattern drafter to follow (ASG Members: Go to the website under “Special Offers”; Connie offers a discount with on-line orders)!

Patternmaking Made Easy, Third Edition

With commercial patterns the additional steps have already been done as part of the process to finalize the pattern before production.

So, now on to what Cynde wanted. I’m going to show some different things with a quarter scale pattern draft and then cut the altered pattern out of a slightly stiff muslin to mimic Cynde’s heavily beaded fabric. You will see why Cynde may or may not want to move the dart; doing so makes the fabric hang differently. In the end, I’ll show you how I would do it if I were sewing this tunic for Cynde. Let’s get started.

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No matter which way Cynde chooses to move her darts, there is still some finalizing of the pattern to be done. For one thing, the shape of the side seams must match. Lay the back and front pattern pieces together as if they were to be sewn and be sure the shape of the seams is the same or the fabric will not sew together correctly and the seam will twist. The length on the back will probably also need to be adjust depending on which method Cynde chooses.

Cynde, please let us know which method you choose and if you would, please send me a photo of you wearing your tunic so I can update this post.

Sew ’til next time….enjoy the journey of sewing!


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