Sewing Darts: A few guidelines

This is very basic, but I decided to post because it might be useful for beginners. I think it is very important to pin and baste before sewing darts. It is the only way to ensure that the correct amount of intake is stitched in place. It also ensures that the sewing will be straight from beginning to end because it will not be necessary to stop and remove pins as the sewing progresses.

I think the photos also make a good case for why I prefer Dressmakers Tracing Paper the best. After steam pressing it vanishes away and does not appear on the right side at all.

These darts are part of the new front bodice I had to cut for The Donna Blouse because of the new lapels and roll collar.

1. Slip a sheet of folded Dressmakers Tracing Paper into the wrong side of the fabric.* Use a ruler along the dart legs and center as a guideline. Run the serrated tracing wheel (or smooth tracing wheel) along the edge of the ruler.

*I cut all pieces with fabric folded right side up and pattern placed right side up in most cases.

2. Place a pin at the apex of the dart. This serves as a guideline.

3. Fold dart along center line and crease lightly.

4. Pin dart in place at end making sure the stitching lines match up. Pin at apex into place.

5a. How to ensure the stitching lines match: First put the pin in at a right angle and make sure it stands straight.

5b. Turn the fabric over and make sure the pin comes out, straight, to the other stitching line. This applies to darts and all kinds of seams.

5c. Bring pin back up the side you are working from and keep it at a right angle to the stitching line. This means the grain is in correct place. If at any point the pin angles off in other directions, take it out and do it again. Learning this takes a little time but once you get the right touch it will come automatically.

6. Here is the row of pins for the dart. I had to go back and re-pin the ones at the start of the dart leg because they angled off a little.

7. Remove pins and baste the dart (or seam). Stitch the dart from the widest point to the apex. I backstitch to secure all darts at the base of the dart leg.

8. Leave a tail of about 2-3 inches of thread when removing the fabric from the sewing machine. Then cut.

9. Knot the threads at the apex together. Then trim leaving a little thread above the knot. To remove basting threads on darts and seams, first use the seam ripper to cut basting threads every few inches. Then gently remove the basting threads using a micro tweezer.

10. Darts are ready to be pressed. Notice that the lines traced in Dreassmakers Tracing Paper are still visible.

11. Lay the dart flat against a pressing surface. If the dart is curved you can use a Tailor’s Ham. I used the June Tailor Board since these darts are straight and need a crisp, clean pressing. My ironing board cover does not ensure such results.

12. Place a thick strip of brown paper under the dart and press in the correct direction–
For vertical darts on a bodice, skirt or dress-Press towards Center Front on the front piece and Center Back on the back piece.

For shoulder or neckline darts on back, press towards Center back.

For horizontal darts on Front Bodice, press downwards towards waistline.

13. Finished vertical darts on front bodice. The fullness is released near the high point of the bust and the dart does not cup or turn in at that point.

14. On the wrong side of the fabric the Dressmakers Tracing markings are almost gone. Further steam pressings will eventually remove all trace of them.

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