How to Sew & Press Darts

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Hey, you!

If you’re a woman, then listen up, girlfriend, because darts are our best friend. And this is especially true the curvier you are!

Because darts live to do one thing…

Shape fabric to the delicious curves of the female form!

With that said, let’s start with the rules…

NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!

The Rules of Darts

Rule #1: Darts must end about ½ to 1 inch from the bust point (apex or nipple).

Rule #2: For a beautiful fit, accurately transfer dart markings from tissue pattern to fabric.

Rule #3: ALWAYS press darts over a tailor’s ham to avoid flattening out the depth created beyond the dart point.

Alright. So now that you know the rules, let’s talk about…

The Anatomy of a Dart

There are four parts to a dart…

dart-anatomy

  1. the dart point, which points toward the apex;
  2. the central line, which is the middle of the dart of the fold line;
  3. the dart legs, which are on either side of the central line (2) and begin at the dart point (1) and end at the base (4); and
  4. the base, which is the widest part of the dart at the seam and/or cutting lines.

2 Most Common Dart Types

Darts have a beginning and an ending. They must begin at a seam and they must end the right distance from the highest point of the curve that they are shaping.

For example, let’s talk about the horizontal bust dart: It begins in the side seam and its dart point ends about ½ to 1 inch from the bust point (apex or nipple).

The two most common dart types are the…

  • Single or V-shape (horizontal) dart
  • Contour, Diamond, or Fisheye (vertical) dart

Single/V-Shaped Dart

Horizontal darts shape the bust (see image below) while vertical darts shape the waist of bodices and skirts (see image used for dart anatomy above)…

single-bust-dart

Contour/Diamond/Fisheye Dart

And contour darts are basically two single darts abutted to each other at their bases.

This dart type helps to nip in the waistline on garments for those of us with small waistlines. It often seen in sheath dresses.

I don’t have a pattern with this dart, but this is basically how it would look…

contour-dart

Dart Legs: Straight or Curved

And here’s another thing…

Did you know that the dart legs can be straight or curved?!

I didn’t. Apparently, when you curve the dart legs outward, you get a closer fit.

Sew easy tip: Princess seams are (shaping) darts too.

So now its time to learn how to sew darts accurately for a gorgeous fit

How to Sew Single/V-Shape Darts

I need to say this again, darts are so important for achieving a good fit!

So it is of the utmost importance that you sew darts precisely.  So I recommend that you use a marking tool and mark your dart legs!

And once you’ve marked your darts, here’s what you do…

  1. Pin your dart legs together, making sure they are aligned on both sides of the dart! Like this…

single-dart-pinned-for-sewing-topside

and like this…

single-dart-pinned-for-sewing-underside

  1. Then, position your dart in your sewing machine so that you’re starting from the base of the dart.
  2. Next, Shorten your stitch length to 1.0mm and sew for about a ½ inch. This will secure the start of your stitching line without any fugly bulk.
  3. Stop with your needle DOWN and increase stitch length to 2.5mm.
  4. Now, Stitch just until you’re about a ½ inch from the dart point.

sewing-single-dart

  1. Stop with your needle DOWN and again decrease your stitch length to 1.0mm. Then, stitch towards the dart point and off the fabric.
  2. Finally, snip threads close to the fold; there is no need to tie a knot but you can if you want to.

single-dart-sewn

Sew easy tip: When sewing darts, I prefer to starting from the base (4) and sew to the dart point (1). However, you can feel free to experiment with starting at the dart point (1) and sewing to base (4).

Alright. Let’s learn…

How to Sew Contour Darts

Contour darts are really just two single darts sitting on top of each other vertically.

You will be sewing from the central point (where the blue arrows are pointing to in the image below) to each dart point individually.

central-points-on-contour-dart

Here’s how you do that…

  1. Pin your dart legs together.
  2. Start at the central point of the dart (the waistline), shorten your stitch length to 1.0mm and sew for about a ½ inch. This will secure the start of your stitching line. Click HERE to learn how to change your stitch length!
  3. Stop with your needle DOWN and increase stitch length to 2.5mm; stitch just until you about ½ inch from the dart point.
  4. Stop with your needle DOWN again and decrease your stitch length to 1.0mm and stitch towards the dart point and off the fabric.
  5. Snip threads close to the fold; there is no need to tie a knot but you can if you want to.

Now, overlapping by a few stitches at the central point, repeat the instructions above to the other dart point.

In other words, you’re essentially sewing two single darts, overlapping by a few stitches at the central points.

How to Press a Dart

Traditionally, horizontal bust darts are pressed with the bulk facing downwards toward the waistline.

But some say it is more uplifting to press with bulk upward. Personally, I like the idea of lifting my girls upward!

And as for vertical darts, you press those to the center front (CF) or center back (CB).

But whatever dart you’ve sewn, pressing darts is ridiculously easy. Here’s what you do:

FIRST, cover dart with a pressing cloth and press the fold from the wrong side (WS) like this…

pressing-fold-of-sewn-single-dart-from-wrong-side

And then, SECOND, turn your dart to its right side (RS), place the dart over the narrower end of a tailor’s ham and cover with your pressing cloth. Now, press your dart with just the tip or nose of your iron. Like this…

pressing-sewn-single-dart-from-right-side

Finally, THIRD, let it cool completely. This will help your dart hold its curved shape!

The End

Now you know (1) the anatomy of a dart;(2) the most common dart types; (3) how to sew them; and (4) how to press them.

This is the least you need to know about darts to sew garments that fit your curves perfectly!

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn the basic sewing skills you need to sew insanely fabulous garments!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to press like a pro!

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