Darts are “Control Freaks”!

by Ramona on June 26, 2015

As I finish up the next series for ASG, it comes to mind all that I have learned over the years regarding sewing. I’ll never, ever, forget the day the light bulb went off in my brain. In that instant it seemed everything came together all at once. It was in a college class on pattern drafting and darts.

When working with patterns, do you think about the darts? Sometimes we think a pattern is “missing” darts when in reality they are there but just in a different form. Where could they be hiding? Well, that is an open ended question.



Of course all who sew know what darts look like: two legs of equal length that come together and get sewn from the wide part to a point.


Bodice front 2

What is the purpose of those darts? Why they are “control freaks”! They control fabric in one area of a garment to transition the fabric into another, larger area of a garment. For instance, the bust is larger than the waist, and the waist smaller than the hip (well, in theory until age and gravity take over!) Darts are used to control the fabric in the smaller waist area while transitioning the fabric to the larger area; hence, the dart “intake” is taking up the larger portion of fabric at the waist and transitioning it by sewing from the wide part of the dart to the point where it will point to the area where the larger amount of fabric needs to be released over the bust or over the tummy or toward the widest part of the hip back.





Darts control fabric. It’s that simple! So how do they aid us in designing? Darts, to me, are the greatest asset to the designer. Darts can be rotated to any area as long as they point to the fullest part of the figure; darts point to the fullest part of the bust no matter what position they are in.




Misses' Vintage 1950's Blouses


A bust dart can be rotated to the shoulder, to the armscye, to the center front of the bodice, really anywhere 360° around the bodice. That said, just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should; it depends on the overall image the designer has in their head and the fabric being used for the design.





Misses' Top with Neckline Variations



Darts can control fabric in many ways. In addition to being a common or standard dart, it can be moved into a seam such as a princess seam or a yoke. It can be moved to the shoulder for gathers or various forms of tucks.








Darts can also be “released” so the fabric just falls like in an over-sized shirt.





The next time you press the new pattern you’ve purchased, really take a look at the design lines of the pattern and notice where the darts are. Are they traditional darts or have they been moved to another area for design purposes? Remember, darts are used for fitting, so they should “control” the fabric in the place needed and point to the fullest part of the bust in the bodice. If you feel they’d be better elsewhere in the design, just move them!

Sew ‘til next time…enjoy the journey of sewing!


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