Sewing darts can initially appear to be a daunting task for beginners due to their complexity and precision. However, with practice and a good understanding of the method, you can master this sewing technique.
The truth is, I wasn’t always good at sewing darts… I found myself wondering do I have the right stitch length? Is it better to use horizontal darts or vertical darts here? How do I prevent puckering?
I thought I was over my head at times, but with consistent practice (and watching tons of YouTube) I as able to figure it out and am really proud of how easily I can now tackle this with my projects.
I hope this “how to” helps you learn “how to sew darts”.
Let’s dig in!
What Are Sewing Darts?
Why should I know how to sew a dart? Why are darts important?
If you’re like me, you always have questions… So let’s answer them!
In sewing, a dart is a triangular or wedge-shaped fold sewn into the fabric of a garment to help it fit the contours of the body. It plays an essential role in giving a two-dimensional fabric a three-dimensional shape. Without them, fabric will remain flat and not adhere to the curved shape of your body.
Understanding Darts and Their Anatomy
A typical dart has two main components: dart legs, which form the sides of the dart, and a dart point, which where the dart legs come together (to form a “point”).
Industrial sewing patterns also include a punch hole, located from 1/8″ to 1/2″ below the dart point. This is helpful when marking darts because it indicates where the dart should end.
Sewing Straight Darts
Straight darts are perhaps the most common type of darts in home sewing, typically found on your waist or bust area. When sewing a straight dart, you want to:
Marking Darts: Start by marking the point of the dart and the ends of the dart legs on your fabric piece. Ensure you trace off the notches for the dart legs and the marking for the dart point.
Aligning Darts: Fold the dart, matching up the lines as best as you can, and lightly pin in place. This step is essential as it allows you to align the dart correctly.
Sewing Darts: With your sewing machine, start sewing at the notches and sew towards the dart point, ensuring the center of your foot is right on the drawn line for a perfectly straight line. Sew slowly and avoid backstitching at the end, as it can cause puckering.
Sewing Curved Darts
Curved darts, often used around the bust area, add a flattering shape to a garment.
Here’s how to sew them:
Start by drawing the seam allowance along the curved dart on your fabric piece.
Carefully pin the dart in place.
Slowly sew along the marked line, making sure to knot the thread tails at the end.
Sewing Double Point Darts
Double point darts are typically found on dresses with simple lines.
Here’s how to sew them:
Start by placing tracing paper beneath your pattern and trace the dart with a tracing wheel, or mark the sides and points of the dart. Your dart should look similar to a “V” shape.
Fold the dart in half, carefully matching up the dart lines, and pin as you go.
Start sewing in the middle of the dart, or the widest point, and sew to the end of the dart, knotting off the tail threads. Repeat for the second leg of the dart.
Pressing Darts for a Lovely Finish
Once you’ve sewn your darts, press the area that you’ve just sewed and make the intake especially flat to avoid extra bulk.
Whichever way your dart seam allowance falls is the direction you’ll want to press your garment. Remember to always use light pressure. You want to ensure that you are flattening the dart seam and not the entire piece.
Avoid accidentally pressing a crease into the point of the dart.
Advanced Dart Sewing Techniques
When you’re comfortable with sewing darts, you can start using more advanced techniques to avoid common problems like puckering or dimpling at the dart point.
An example is sewing from the dart legs to a punch hole, doing a slight curve on the stitches right on the fabric fold. This method ensures a smoother finish to your darts and gives your garment a professional look.
In certain cases, you might find a dart intersecting with a seam. Always sew the dart first, then the seam. This allows the dart to lie flat and in the correct direction.
For sheer or lightweight fabrics, use a new, sharp needle, decrease the stitch length for a neater finish, and consider a tear-away or wash-away stabilizer on the fabric’s wrong side.
For heavy or bulky fabrics, trim the excess fabric in the dart area to reduce bulk and use a clapper tool to get the dart to lie flat.
Remember, precision is crucial in sewing darts. Always ensure the dart legs are of the same length and meet perfectly at the point.
While it’s tempting to sew without pins, they’re your allies in ensuring the dart is aligned correctly.
And remember, no backstitching at dart tips!
And there you have it! Sewing darts might feel intimidating at first, but remember that every expert was once a beginner. The road to mastery is all about practice and patience.
Keep in mind, every mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow. The fact that you’re here, eager to learn, is a massive step in the right direction. So, take a deep breath, fire up that sewing machine, and get to work. I can’t wait to see what you create!
What is a cut dart?
A cut dart (also known as a “slashed dart”, “open dart”, and “release dart”) is a dart that is sewn, cut open, and pressed to create shaping and contouring in a garment. It’s a technique widely used in dressmaking to achieve a better fit and a more polished finish in the final garment.
Do you sew darts up or down?
When sewing darts, you typically sew from the wide end of the dart towards the point. In other words, you sew from the wider part of the fabric towards the apex of the dart, which is the point where the dart tapers off. This allows for a smoother and more controlled stitching process.
The reason for sewing darts in this direction is to ensure that any fullness or extra fabric is evenly distributed and properly shaped around the dart’s point. Sewing from the wide end helps to prevent puckering or bunching of fabric, creating a neater and more professional-looking result.
After sewing the dart, you may press it in the direction indicated by the pattern instructions. This could be pressing the dart down, up, or to the side, depending on the garment’s design and the specific sewing technique used. Pressing the dart helps to set the stitches and create a smooth, flat finish.
What stitch length for sewing darts?
When sewing darts, it is recommended to use a slightly longer stitch length than what you would use for regular seams. A stitch length of around 2.5 mm to 3.0 mm (approximately 10 to 12 stitches per inch) is commonly used for sewing darts.
However, the exact stitch length you choose may vary depending on the fabric type and weight, as well as your personal preference and the sewing machine you’re using. It’s a good idea to test the stitch length on a fabric scrap before sewing the actual dart to ensure it produces the desired results for your specific project.
How do you sew back darts?
Sewing back darts is a similar process to sewing front darts, but they are typically used to shape the back of a garment for a better fit. Back darts are commonly found in skirts, dresses, and trousers to provide contouring around the waist and hip areas.
Back darts help shape the garment to follow the natural curves of the body, providing a more flattering and comfortable fit. Just like with front darts, it’s essential to sew back darts accurately and press them neatly to achieve a professional-looking finish in your sewing project.
What are darts when sewing?
They are one of the fundamental techniques in dressmaking and are commonly found in various types of garments, including dresses, tops, skirts, and trousers.
The primary purpose of darts is to add contour and curvature to the fabric so that it conforms to the curves of the body, such as the bust, waist, hips, and sometimes even the back. By tapering fabric to a point, darts allow the garment to take on a three-dimensional shape, accommodating the body’s curves and providing a more tailored look.
Darts play a crucial role in achieving a well-fitted garment, as they help to eliminate excess fabric and create a sleek silhouette. Properly executed darts enhance the overall appearance of the garment, providing a polished and professional finish.
How do you hand stitch darts?
Hand-stitching darts requires precision and attention to detail to ensure the proper fit and shape of the garment. It’s essential to keep your stitches consistent and evenly spaced. While hand-stitching can be more time-consuming than using a sewing machine, it can be a rewarding technique that allows you to work on smaller projects or handle delicate fabrics with care.
How do you make bust darts?
Prepare the fabric: Start by transferring the bust dart markings from your pattern onto the fabric. The bust dart markings are usually diamond-shaped wedges on the pattern, with one point at the bust point (typically indicated on the pattern) and the other point pointing towards the side seam.
Fold the fabric: Fold the fabric in half vertically, aligning the side edges and matching the bust dart markings accurately. The right sides of the fabric should be facing each other.
Pin the dart: Pin along the bust dart’s side edges to secure the fabric layers in place. The pins should be placed perpendicular to the dart’s centerline.
Sew the dart: Using a sewing machine, stitch along the marked dart line, starting from the wide end and tapering down to the point. Use a regular straight stitch and backstitch at the beginning and end of the dart to secure the stitches.
Press the dart: After sewing the dart, carefully press it to set the stitches and create a smooth, flat finish. Press the dart downwards toward the waistline.
Optional: Trim and finish the edges: If your fabric frays easily, consider trimming the dart’s seam allowance and finishing the raw edges with a serger or a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying.
Repeat for the other side: If your pattern includes darts on both sides of the front fabric piece, repeat the above steps for the second dart.
Bust darts are essential for achieving a well-fitted and flattering garment. They provide room and shaping for the bust, allowing the fabric to drape smoothly over the chest without adding excess volume. Properly sewn and pressed bust darts can significantly enhance the overall fit and appearance of a garment. Remember to test the dart on a fabric scrap before sewing the actual garment to ensure you are satisfied with the fit and shaping.
What is the difference between a dart and a tuck?
The primary difference between darts and tucks lies in their purpose and appearance. Darts are used for shaping and are hidden on the wrong side of the fabric, while tucks serve decorative and functional purposes and are visible on the right side of the fabric. Both techniques are essential tools in the world of sewing and allow designers to achieve different effects in their creations.