Tuesday 6 September 2016

Accurate Darts

Until now I have made garments with four or six darts. Bad enough.  Now that I am making a fitted and lined dress for my daughter I am hitting an all time record:-

4 tiny neck darts
2 bust darts
4 waist darts in the bodice
4 waist darts in the skirt

So, fourteen darts in the dress and the same number in the lining.  Twenty eight!  I didn't realise I was such a sucker for punishment.

Because it is important to get darts straight and exactly right size so each pair are an exact match, I am making tracings on tissue paper and using them as guides.

The first picture shows the pattern piece for the back of the skirt.  There is a central back seam, so I have cut two mirror image pieces for the garment.   To the left of the picture is the guide I have traced, with the central fold line of the dart on the left and the stitching line on the right.  Because I am making four of these darts in total, two on the dress and two on the lining, I have pinned three more strips of tissue underneath the top one so I can make all four guides at once. 

Next, with no cotton in the machine and the longest stitch setting, I stitch along the stitching line to make a perforated line.  It is important not to separate the four strips from each other at this stage, and the perforations help to bond the strips together. 

Then the guide has to have a clean straight edge cut along the dart fold line for the whole length of the paper strips.

Here is the top strip laid over the dart on the pattern to show how well it duplicates the shape.  The three guides underneath have no pencil lines, just the perforated line.  When using the guides, this perforated line is all I need, but the dots could be highlighted by a pencil line drawn over them if necessary. 

To mark the end of the dart on the actual skirt, I put a pin through the material and then iron the fold to the top.

The paper guide can then be pinned on, with cut edge flush with the ironed fold and the tapered point is lined up with the pin.

Now I can sew over the paper along the perforated line.

Here is the dart with the guide still in place...

... and now with the paper removed.  It is surprising how strong the paper is and if pulled against the stitching it can actually tug at the thread.  To prevent this I hold the paper and fabric on either side of the stitching and gently stretch the fabric.  The fabric has a certain amount of give and the paper hasn't, so it tears and comes away at the stitching.

When it comes to sewing the dart on the other side of the skirt, I can be sure that I will have two nicely matching darts.  Here they are, laid side by side.

To secure the threads at the end of the dart I tie a couple of knots...

... thread the tails inside the fold of the dart...

...pull them slightly and snip them and lose them inside.  This way I can be sure that the stitching will not come undone and I have a neat finish.

Finally, a close up of the dart that ended up in the middle of a pineapple - no nasty bubble, and no juice running either. 

Linking up with Connie's blog Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday


  1. Thank you for the idea, might come useful! Love the fabric, by the way))

  2. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing your tip to making accurate darts.



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