Darts may be a game you played in college at the local dive bar, but they’re also an extremely valuable skill to have in your sewing arsenal. These tiny folds of fabric make a garment more form-fitting, whether they’re added to the bodice of a fit and flare dress, or the neck of a retro top. From shirting to suiting, with the proper instruction, you can put darts into any fabric. Let’s take a look at the different types of darts, and when to use them.
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What’s the Purpose of Darts in Sewing
Darts in sewing serve a crucial purpose in creating shape and contour to achieve a better fit in garments. They allow the fabric to curve around the body, providing a tailored look by removing excess fabric and adding volume where needed. Understanding the function of darts is essential for mastering the art of garment construction.
The most basic dart takes the shape of a slice of pizza, a wedge. There are two parts to a dart, the point and the legs. In simplest terms, you take the pizza and fold it, sewing just past the point. When you sew your darts, make sure you start at the opening, or widest part, and work towards the point. These darts can be sewn in a variety of garments, from button up shirts to slacks.
Knits typically feature stretch, so darts are more often used in woven garments. But, you can totally use darts when creating knit garments for an even more fitted silhouette.
Most of the time darts are used for functionality and in women’s clothing, to fit the curves of the body in a way that enhances and flatters the silhouette. But they can also be used to add style lines and accents to a garment.
Different Types of Darts
The darts most often found on a garment is the plain dart. Used most commonly around the bust, hips, and waist, it can also be used to make pleats, princess seams, or style lines.
Bust darts are aptly named, as they tend to help a garment fit to the bust. The legs of the dart will start at the side seam, while the point of the dart will end up near the apex of the bust. Typically, the dart will end a 1/2 inch to 4 inches from the apex depending on cup size, an A cup would end a 1/2 inch from the apex whereas an H cup would end 4″ from the apex. The dart point will be half an inch in from that measurement and the sewist will sew the dart closed a 1/2 inch beyond the point marked on a patterns.
A less aptly named dart would be the French Dart, which I would switch to the Under Bust Dart. As the name implies, the French Dart starts around the waistline and works its way up to the apex of the bust. These look very similar to plain darts, but tend to be a little longer and slimmer, so French!
The unimaginative naming continues with the Shoulder Dart which, you guessed it, starts at the shoulder. This type of dart is commonly used in women’s clothing, as it flatters the feminine silhouette more. If you’re fashioning a masculine, boxy blazer, which happens to be the current style in women’s fashion, you would leave the shoulder darts out.
The Neck Dart’s legs start around the neck, and the point ends towards the apex of the bust. As a well-endowed woman, I appreciate a well-placed Neck Dart, since it brings in the neck while giving my bust the room it needs to breathe, but it can also be used to add a feminine silhouette to any shape or size.
We’ll switch it up with some Dart Tucks, which are almost identical to a Plain Dart, but the point of the dart leading towards the apex is left open. If we go back to the pizza analogy, a plain dart is a pizza light on the cheese, therefore when it folds, it folds all the way down. With a Dart Tuck, it’s more like a really cheese-heavy pizza, so that when it folds it kind of flops at the end, leaving the point open. It’s similar to a pleat that’s been partially stitched down.
Elbow Darts have legs that start at the seam, and a point that leads towards the elbow. This allows for a sleeve that is more fitted to the elbow, since there’s usually some kind of bend in the arm, whether they’re crossed or hung naturally at your side. Although this is more commonly seen in couture garments, adding this simple touch to your own creations will give a tailored, professional look to your sleeves. Try adding elbow darts to the Ercilla Suit!
A Fisheye Dart is a basic dart, but mirrored so that it forms a diamond before it’s sewn. One point leads to the apex of the bust, and the other towards the waist. This is the perfect dart for sheath dresses, really any garment that needs help giving some shape to the silhouette of the waist.
A Curved Dart is definitely not a slice of pizza. This fancy looking dart is used when a Plain Dart just can’t get the job, meaning your garment requires a little more curve and contour than a Plain Dart. A Curved Dart can curve towards the left or the right, depending on how you need the garment to fit.
What darts do you have trouble with? And what toppings are you getting on that pizza you’re about to order? Let me know in the comments, and enjoy this full shareable infographic below!
How to Sew Different Types of Darts
Darts are essential in creating well-fitted garments, and each type serves a unique purpose in achieving the desired silhouette. Mastering the techniques to sew various dart styles is crucial for professional sewing results. Let’s explore the process of sewing three common dart types: Straight Darts, Curved Darts, and Double Point Darts, followed by how to press darts for a polished finish.
How to Sew Straight Darts
- Marking: Begin by transferring the dart markings from the pattern onto the fabric’s wrong side using tailor’s chalk or marking tools.
- Folding: Fold the fabric right sides together, aligning the dart legs precisely.
- Pinning: Secure the dart in place with pins, ensuring the dart lines are smooth and without puckering.
- Stitching: Sew along the marked dart lines, starting from the wider end and tapering to a point at the tip.
- Finishing: Knot the thread at the dart’s tip and backstitch for secure reinforcement. Press the dart flat in the direction indicated on the pattern.
How to Sew Curved Darts
- Marking: Transfer the dart markings to the fabric, making sure to follow the curved lines accurately.
- Pinning: Pin along the marked dart lines, distributing any excess fabric evenly to avoid bunching.
- Stitching: Carefully sew along the curved dart lines, maintaining an even seam allowance.
- Finishing: Knot and backstitch at the dart’s end for a secure finish. Press the dart following the pattern’s directions to retain the curved shape.
How to Sew Double Point Darts
- Marking: Accurately mark the dart’s start and end points on the fabric, typically indicated on the pattern.
- Pinning: Pinch and fold the fabric at both dart points, aligning them with the marked lines.
- Stitching: Sew from the widest end, tapering towards both dart points simultaneously, ensuring consistent seam allowances on both sides.
- Finishing: Knot and backstitch at both dart points to secure the stitching. Press the dart carefully to shape it into a smooth double point.
How to Press Darts
- Positioning: Turn the garment inside out, exposing the wrong side of the darts.
- Pressing Cloth: Place a pressing cloth or a thin piece of fabric over the dart to prevent direct contact with the iron.
- Pressing: Gently press the dart with a steam iron, following the pattern’s recommended direction. Press from the wider end towards the dart’s tip, shaping it neatly.
- Setting: Allow the garment to cool and set the pressed shape before turning it right side out.
By mastering these sewing techniques and paying attention to pressing, you can achieve perfectly shaped darts, enhancing the fit and finish of your handmade garments.