Changing Dart Locations

Before learning to manipulate darts, it’s important to understand that darts can adjust fullness along 10 different points. TEN! I knew it logically from having read other books, but realistically, after a lifetime of working with the Big Four pattern makers, I’ve seen darts in two locations. Left/Right of the waist, and from the side to the bust point. The Big Four lack dart imagination.

All of these darts originate from the bust point, as this is the convex shape we are adjusting fullness around. The main dart is, of course, the one that ends to the left/right of your center front. The French Dart (1) ends at the lower side seams. The Straight side (2) is the second most common dart I’ve seen from the Big Four.

Moving up, you can adjust fullness from a dart that ends in the mid-armhole (3), or the shoulder tip (4), or mid-shoulder (5). Bringing the circle down the front, fullness can be adjusted at the mid-neck (6), center front neck (7), center front bust (8), and the center front waist (9).

Some rules of thumb when finishing darts: If the darts are ending at a vertical location (armholes, side seams, center front), press the darts down. If the darts are ending at a horizontal location (shoulders, waistline, neckline), press the darts to the center front/back. Alternatively, you can trim the excess fabric to within 1/2” of the dart point and press the dart open. One argument against trimming is with the fabric still there, you can always let the darts out in case of weight gain, rather than having to make an all new garment.

So there it is. The Ten possible dart locations on a bodice top. Next, we learn how to actually move the dart location, so we can create something more visually interesting than the Big Four produces. Eventually.