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How to Sew Darts

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Do you know how to sew darts without puckering? From pants to tops and dresses, the dart technique gives shape to the garment so that it fits you like a glove. 

Whether you are sewing garment from scratch or upcycling old clothes to make you fit better, darts always helped to adjust the fit issue. Easily adjust the fit using a dart without a special tool or completely taking apart the garment.

How do you sew darts? Darts come in various shapes and sizes  as indicated on the sewing pattern. In general, they are found along the backside and bust lines of tops and dress, pants waistbands, and waistbands on skirts to give natural shape to the clothing.

Any darts from bust to waist position can be easily sewn with a sewing machine. It only requires nice crisp straight stitch and no fancy stitch types to complete the process. 

This article will walk you through the necessary steps to correctly sew a dart. Covered below are the frequently asked questions about sewing darts, step by step instructions and sewing tips for hand sewing or by using a sewing machine.

steps on how to sew darts on sewing machine

What are darts in sewing?

Darts have 2 lines that begin apart and join to a point called the apex. The dart interior is garment exempt after it is sewn and referred to as the dart bulk. 

The V point or the joint point is called the dart point, which manipulates the fabric by sewing to its apex. The widest part to the apex point is called the legs, which are the dart’s two sides.

Generally, darts are V-shaped tucks or folds that are sewn into a fabric to offer shape and provide ease to a garment, particularly for the bust line. They are often employed in all kinds of clothing to give the wearer a shape fitting garment and to innovate shape within a garment. 

It is a folded fabric wedge, somewhat identical to a triangle that is sewn to provide space and accentuate the natural curves of the body. They come in different types, each of them for a particular garment area like waistline, shoulder, and of course bust.

Are darts necessary?

Darts are known as a necessity for good fit when it comes to dressmaking because without a dart there will be a pull in the diagonal direction from bust to side seams that is hard to get rid of. The only solutions to remove any pulls is by adding darts in the correct areas.

Darts give a suitable fitting to the garment without any stretching or damage to the fabric. They shape the 3D contours around the body such as stomach, hips, and bust but also shape around elbows of sleeves and the shoulders as well. 

Darts do not all look the same or have the same dart width. As indicated on the sewing pattern, you will notice that a larger body area will require a larger dart, and the larger the dart the farther the dart point should be from the point or apex.

Types of darts sewing

Depending on the placement and purpose of the darts, there are a wide range of darts from plain to curve styles. However, as beginner, there are 3 common types of dart that every sewer needs to know to understand basic sewing patterns. 

  • Straight darts: Have one point with two dart legs along the edge of the pattern. They are the most common kind used for sewing clothes.
  • Curved darts: Consist of dart legs along the seam allowance and has slightly curved seam line that are generally used on the bust.
  • Double-pointed darts: Also referred to as fish-eye or contour darts where it helps to shape in simple dresses. This type of darts are brought together and joined to share jacket or dress center.

Sewing darts can seem like a complicated step when first learning. Each type of darts should be smooth without having bubbles or points at the tip. 

Other than the 3 basic darts, there are additional darts that you need to know while working on sewing patterns to accomplish the garment from scratch.

Additional types of darts:

  • Plain darts: These are among the first to be learned and are very commonly used. They are employed to make seams and pleats in the hip, waist, and bust areas in a clothing pattern.
  • Bust darts: This type of darts are employed to make sure that the bodice and top parts in a garment are fitted to a female figure. The bust darts always point directly to the bust apex. It is also referred to as side straight dart or under arm that you see on the side seam of the bodice.
  • French darts: Compared to standard bust darts, french darts are longer and slimmer, and start from side seam or at the waistline, and end near the bust point.
  • Elbow darts: These darts are employed in fitted sleeves which are required in tailored jackets. The dart leg starts at the seam and points are facing toward the elbow. Mostly used in couture garments to achieve a professional and tailored look.
  • Shoulder darts: The shoulder darts flatter the feminine silhouette even more to give fit to blazers or fitted outerwear. The dart starts at the shoulder with the point face towards the bust depending on the silhouette.
  • Neck darts: The neck dart starts around the neck and the point ends toward the apex of the bust. This dart gives extra room between the neck and bust area, and is also used to add a feminine touch on the silhouette.
  • Fisheye darts: The fisheye dart is a basic dart that is mirrored and the shape looks like diamond before it is sewn. One point is faced toward the apex of the bust and the other point is toward the waist. This dart is used for any sheath dress or garment that shapes and emphasizes the waist.
  • Curved darts: This type of darts are stitched to concave or convex to provide the required shape. This curved dart can bend either towards the left or right depending on how you need the garment to fit.

How do you mark darts on fabric?

When you start sewing clothing, you will have to transfer the marking pattern to the fabric. After marking the darts appropriately, you should sew them as per the pattern to result in a well-fitted and shaped garment. 

There are 3 ways to mark darts on fabric-Tailor’s tacks, tracing paper, and using pencil and pins.

The 3 ways to mark darts are:

  • Tailor’s tacks: These are thread strands that are looped in between the pieces of fabric. This can be done by threading a needle and then pulling this needle through a piece of fabric to make a loop.
    Cut these loops and snip the threads in between the fabric layers. The tailor tacks method is widely used in men’s wear or tailored blazers.
  • Tracing or transfer paper: Transfer paper and trace the pattern using a tracking wheel. This will transfer the markings to the fabric.
  • Pencil and pin: Insert a pin through the fabric pattern and then mark a dot using a pencil at the point by lifting. When cutting out the dual fabric layer, leave the pin that was poked into the fabric and flip it over.
    Now mark on the other side too. This is how you can mark dart points on a fabric.

When working on sewing patterns for blouses or dresses, you will most likely use tracing or transfer paper or pencil and pin method. It is easy to mark on the garment accurately. Make sure to use erasable tools to mark fabric for sewing, it will help you to remove the marking without damaging the fabric surface.

How long should darts be?

Every sewing pattern indicates the specific width and length of the dart depending on the style and fabrication. Not all darts look the same or have the same length, based on the location and placement the darts are generally different lengths.

  • Front bodice darts: Darts should end 1¼” to 1½” from high point of the apex.
  • Back bodice waistline darts: These darts should point towards the shoulder blade and usually never higher than the front bust line at a depth of 1¼” deep at the waistline.
  • Back shoulder darts: Most back shoulder darts are 3” long.
  • Front skirt hip darts: The front skirt hip darts are about 3” to 4” long and the front darts are always 1” shorter than the back darts.
  • Back skirt hip darts: Back skirt hip darts should always end 1” to 2” above the fullest part of the hip and generally are 4” to 5” long.

When sewing darts a straight line is not followed as it should match the body curves. Sew in a soft curve from notch to the fold about ⅜” or 1cm over the dart tip to the fold. 

Then move right at the fold for the last stitch. By doing a slight curve stitch line, the dart gives shape to a garment.

Which way should darts be pressed?

Pressing darts in the correct direction is very important. When done incorrectly, the garment will not hang correctly or even create puckering along the dart leg and point.

The general rule of thumb is that vertical darts are pressed towards the side seams while those that are horizontal to the body are pressed downwards. Unless it is indicated for the specific garment, they can also be pressed up or flat to the garment top side.

Horizontal darts in the bust area are pressed down while vertical ones are pressed to the center for waistline darts on skirts and pants, use a tailor’s ham to press curved areas. Based on the fabrication, add slight amount of steam on the iron to flatten the dart.

Why are my bust darts pointy?

One major issue when sewing darts as a beginner, is that when completed the dart tends to look too pointy. In order to fix the issue, we need to understand what causes the problem and how to prevent pointy darts from happening.

Causes of pointy bust darts:

  • length of the dart is excessive compared to the fabric. 
  • the point of the dart is too close to the apex.
  • the dart is finished with back stitching, which creates too much stress at the tip.
  • the fabric is too heavy or difficult to press.
  • the length of dart is too short for the garment.

Prevention of pointy darts:

  • Don’t back stitch or tie off the apex ends too tightly.
  • Always press the darts on a curved surface using pressing ham or balled up towel.
  • Select proper fabric to apply darts. When using heavy fabric, cut open and trim the excess fabric on the dart and treat like a seam.
  • Decrease the stitch length as you get to the point, which results in giving a nice smooth finish.
  • Double check the position of dart. Generally, bust dart on sewing pattern are about 1½” down from the underarm and 1” away from the apex.
  • If the dart is too big and too much fabric is around the close point, you will notice the pointy dart taking shape. Reduce the fullness and size of the dart.

Understand the reason why the pointy darts are happening. Cautiously avoid the issue by inputting these methods to create perfectly smooth and professional darts that fit and drape nicely.

Sewing Darts: Final Thoughts 

Whether you have Singer or Brother sewing machine, sewing darts do not require fancy techniques. Applying correct method and placement of darts resolves all fit and appearance issues, follow the sewing pattern as indicated and practice the dart type to complete DIY clothing with a perfect fit every time.

Darts consist of a point at one end, and may look complex for beginners. However, understanding how to sew darts is easy and doing it right with practice, caution, and following some basic tips is the key. 

They do come in various shapes and sizes on sewing patterns as indicated. Also, they are generally found at the backside, bust lines, pants waistbands, and waistbands on skirts to provide shape for clothing.

That wraps up all the details about sewing dart. Included in the guide have been detailed steps and helpful tips to understand what kind of dart you will need with instructions to sew each type, hope you found the information useful to your specific sewing project.

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