In many garment sewing projects, darts are going to be the first stitching you’ll do in the construction process.
Darts are wedge-shaped tucks that create shape within a garment. They are effective anywhere you want to fit body curves, such as at the bust, waist, and hips. Darts are not difficult, but there are a few tips to follow to achieve better results.
First, let’s look at the parts of a dart, and I’ll share some terminology, so you‘ll know what I am referring to.
At the base, a dart is wide and takes up more fabric. That is where it fits a narrower part of the body, such as the waist. As a dart narrows to the tip, fabric is released to contour over fuller areas of the body, in this case, the bust.
The Simplicity SewStylish 8328 View C top has bust and waist darts to create a flattering, body-skimming fit. You’re going to sew the darts in the underlay fabric as well as the lining, so that the layers mirror each other and have the same fit.
There are also bust darts in the View C top lace overlay, but we’re going to save those for next week. I’ll tell you why at the end of this post.
I have some great tips for sewing and pressing darts from past Threads magazine articles. I’ll show you the process on one bust dart in the top underlay fabric. The steps and advice will work for all the darts in the top’s underlay and lining.
Dimples are cute on babies, not on darts
Your goal is to sew darts that come to a smooth, tapered point. On the right side of the fabric, the dart point doesn’t end in a bump, dimple, or bubble. Proper stitching, plus pressing, will accomplish this.
- Make sure the dart legs are accurately marked on the fabric’s wrong side. I suggest, if you are new to sewing, that you trace the dart legs completely with an air- or water-soluble pen. it’s nice to have the marked leg to stitch along for accuracy. When you get confident, you can just mark points along the dart legs with pins.
- Fold the dart, right sides together, aligning the dart legs. Poke a pin straight through and check both sides to make sure the legs are right on top of each other.
- The fold will pass right through the dart point. Place a few pins through both layers, perpendicular to the fold to secure it.
- Move to the sewing machine. Select a straight stitch, 2.5 mm to 3 mm long. Position the needle right over the dart leg marking at the fabric edge. There’s no need to use a backstitch or locking stitch, because this seam allowance will be crossed by another seam.
- Stitch along the dart leg marking until you are about ½ inch from the dart point. Pause, with the needle in the fabric, and adjust the stitch length down to 1 mm.
- Sew right off the fabric at the dart point. Lift the presser foot, and pull about 5 inches of thread out.
- Tie the thread ends in a knot, then trim them about ½ inch from the knot.
- Now, it’s time to press the dart for shape. First, press the dart as sewn, like this:
- Next, press the dart over a ham to mold it. On the bust darts, fold the dart value down, toward the hem. Press the dart from the wrong side, then the right side, adjusting the dart position on the ham to form it smoothly.
- Repeat this process with each dart necessary to shape the View C top’s fabric sections.
I have a parting tip for you.
- I fold and pin each dart separately. I don’t think it saves any time to try and pin them all at once, then sew them. I’ve found as I sew dart one, a pin goes missing from dart 3. I think it’s fine to sew them one by one, carefully and accurately, then press them all.
Next week, we will sew darts in the lace overlay for the Simplicity SewStylish 8328 View C top. I’ll show you a way to lap and appliqué the lace darts, so that they just about disappear. No-one wants an obvious dart marring the pretty lace pattern on her top, am I right?