Darts: Friends Or Foes

Vogue 1165 - BlouseThe purpose of darts is to take out fullness where you don’t need it and give fullness where you do.

When making a skirt or pants, a woman with a large waist can decrease the width of a dart to get additional girth at the waist or eliminate some or all of the darts. Conversely a woman with a small waist can increase the dart width or add additional darts.

Let me show you how:

For the small waist, if a pant or a skirt has only 4 darts, 2 in front and 2 in back, instead of taking in the extra fullness at the side seam, which often makes the hips look larger, why not double the size of the darts and give a slimmer appearance. Here’s how to do it. Outline the existing darts with a felt tip marker so that you can see them when you superimpose a piece of paper over the dart. Overlay a strip of paper onto the dart and trace the dart shape with a felt tip marker. Now slide the traced dart under the pattern tissue so that you are able to trace 2 new darts, one on either side of the pattern original.

Don’t space the darts too far away from the old dart. The goal here is that the sewn darts will be about 2 inches apart. Onto the pattern tissue, trace a new dart on either side of the old one. Also on the pattern tissue, cross out the original dart so that you now have 2 new darts on either side of the old one. Another option with the small waist is to retain the original darts, but increase the width at the waist. This only works if you are not trying to take out too much in one dart. To do this simply redraw the legs of the dart, making the dart wider at the waistline, tapering back to the original dart size two-thirds down the length of the dart.

For the larger waist, dart width can be reduced or eliminated altogether. When making darts smaller or eliminating them altogether, the waistband must be increased to accommodate the extra girth gained by the work on the darts. If you have a large waist and a tummy and smaller hips, try eliminating the front darts altogether to gain extra girth at the waist while eliminating the cave in at the bottom of the dart. Don’t forget to lengthen the waistband or add to the facings.
If you have a full high hip in back, a curved dart is a good solution here. The dart still works to take out fullness at the waist but by sewing a curve rather than a straight line, fabric is released for a smooth fit over the high hip. To do this, simply mark the original dart on the fabric. Pin the dart with RST, but instead of sewing on the marked sewing lines, start and end the dart at the same place but curve in with by sewing toward the fabric fold in-between.

Vogue 1139 - SkirtIf you have a flat butt and your pants or skirts always feel too full in the back, instead of sewing the back dart, fold out the width or half the width of the dart from the waist to the hem, the goal is to take out one-half inch from the waist to the bottom of the pant or skirt. With this procedure, the back dart is not sewn since the fabric has been eliminated from the waist to the hem. Since you will not be sewing in the dart, no change is needed on the waistband. I have been very successful with this technique and all others suggested, on my students, using my new pant pattern, Vogue 2913. I suggest a test garment for this last technique since you may want to take out less, maybe only half the dart width taking out one-quarter inch or more which will require an alteration in the waistband. For the individual with full calves, you may need to add fabric to the back leg starting at just above the knee to the hem. Start with a half inch on each side.

For the woman who always experiences  “gaposis” at the waist on jackets and skirts, princess styles will always be your best friend since additional fabric can be taken out of the seams at the waist. But if you are working on a garment without seams, adding back fish-shaped darts can be a great friend. Halfway between the CB and the side seam at the waist, add a vertical dart on each side of the CB.

For the large busted woman, adding a vertical dart under the bust will make you appear shapelier. Try on the jacket or blouse, and just under the bustline, pin out the extra fabric from the hemline on the blouse to just under the bust at the rib cage. Taper the dart from the width at the bottom to the nothing just under the bust.

With your new found DART POWER you will be able to solve a lot of your fitting problems.