Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

How I Mark & Sew Darts

Over on Instagram, lots of us who sew have tons of fun sharing what we’re currently working on and cheering each other on. Sometimes, I get comments asking for more details and photo examples.

Recently, I was asked how I mark and sew darts.

Since I had a mockup with a lot of darts in line for my next project, I posted the step-by-step as I built the mockup. It seemed popular, so I thought some of you who may have missed it on IG would like to see it as a blog post tutorial. =)

1-Marking-Darts

First, cut-notch each leg at edge of fabric. (Obviously, you can’t do this with darts that aren’t at the edge of a seam.)

2-Marking-Dart-Points

Put a pin through each dart point before unpinning the pattern piece. Unpin pattern, open to fabric wrong side & mark dot with pencil, chalk or whatever works on the fabric you are using.

3-Marking-Dart-Legs

For straight darts, line a ruler up with marked dot & notch at edge and use Clover Chaco Liner or a pencil to draw legs.

4-Marking-Curved-Dart

For curved darts, you can put pins thru at intervals down each leg and dot mark same as points.

5-Connect-Dots-with-French-Curve

Use a french curve to connect the dots. (You can line up french curve on paper pattern & then place on fabric to make sure curve matches.)

6-Pinning-Darts

Start pinning at dart point (about a mm from dot). Weave pins through 4x, and make sure to go through the lines on both sides. Second, pin at notched edge to help fold dart evenly. Then continue weaving pins through from point to notched edge (right to left).

7-Darts-Pinned-and-Ready-to-Sew

I like assembly-line dart sewing. Do you think this vintage pattern from 1959 has enough darts??

8-Starting-Dart

Hand crank needle into end of dart right through marked line and remove first pin.

9-Removing-Pins-while-Sewing-Darts

Stitch directly on marked line. Guide fabric with left hand and hold next pin head with right hand, allowing the machine to pull each pin out as you go.

10-Nearing-End-of-Dart-Point

Reduce stitch length when close to end point of dart.

11-Finishing-Dart-at-Point

I like to stitch off the edge of fabric at point and usually backstitch inside of previous stitchline. Sometimes I just stitch off and hand knot thread ends – it depends on project & fabric.

12-Darts-Ready-to-Press

Pull out a tailor’s ham and start pressing all those stitched darts. Yay done! Time to start actual construction…

And in case you’re curious, this is the pattern (pencil skirt version) I was using for my mockup:

1959_Dress_McCalls-4993

If you ever have a sewing dilemma, feel free to leave a comment, ask me by email or find me on Twitter or Instagram – I’d love to help out if I can!

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15 responses to “How I Mark & Sew Darts

  1. thevintagetraveler May 30, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    I’m just going to say it: I HATE making darts. From now on I’m mailing all my dart sewing to you because you have mastered them!

    • Brooke May 30, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      I used to hate them too! But somehow they don’t seem quite as bad to me if I just do them all at once and get that part over with. (It’s the fitting of the darts that I still really dislike.)

  2. witness2fashion May 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I’m curious: what is the advantage of sewing from the cut edge of the fabric to the point of the dart? I was taught to start with the needle in the point of the dart. It’s easy to pull the pin just 1/4 inch and get the needle right in the point — handy when the fabrics are thick and likely to travel. Your work always looks terrific, so I’m guessing I could learn something….

    • Brooke May 30, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      I’m not exactly sure, but it probably has to do with keeping the fabric from getting sucked into the throat plate of the machine – sheer and drapey fabrics like to get pulled in if you start too close to the edge. And it might partly be because some machines don’t make the prettiest beginning stitch and you want the point to be as clean as possible.

      I just know that every book I remember reading about dart sewing has you start at the wide end, and often even recommends doing fisheye darts in two steps – starting at the center and sewing toward a point each time.

      When it comes to thicker fabrics that like to shift, I usually hand baste instead of pinning. So many things just depend on the project. There are no “rules” in sewing – just some ways that are easier. And, as with all things, sewing darts only gets easier with practice. =)

      • witness2fashion May 31, 2014 at 4:15 pm

        Thank you! — I had never thought of the “both directions” approach on those darts. And I think I probably learned to start at the point to avoid the ‘loose threads in the feed’ problem, a jillion years ago, and then forgot why….

  3. claudia May 30, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Quite interesting..quick sewing lesson and I love the comments..bravo

  4. Fifty Dresses May 31, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Excellent instruction, as always. Must get on your Instagram….

    • Brooke June 2, 2014 at 10:12 am

      Thank you! So happy you like the short behind-the-scenes! I have a bunch of single pic IG tips I need to collect in a post, just so they aren’t lost in my long list of photos.

  5. s j kurtz May 31, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    One of my family just came in and asked me what I was hunched over the screen staring at.

    I remember someone in the last year online ranting about dart sewing techniques, about THIS is the correct way and THAT is just an abomination. I can’t recall if you are correct or abominable, but I do like your pin placement. It’s something I am trying to teach myself to do all the time.

    And yes, staring at dart construction on a sunny Saturday afternoon IS just the right way to pass the time!

    • Brooke June 2, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Glad you enjoyed seeing my dart sewing method. =)

      As I’m always telling people, there are no “rules” in sewing! Just some techniques that are easier than others. Everyone ends up having a favorite way for everything, and if it works & looks good in the end, how can it be wrong? Happy sewing!

  6. A Sunny Day in LA June 2, 2014 at 11:06 am

    You could carry the seam allowance into the curved dart legs, and cut away the excess fabric, it’ll make it so much easier to sew the curved dart.

    • Brooke June 2, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      I’m not sure I completely understand exactly what you’re talking about, but there are lots of little tricks to help when sewing darts. The above examples are my usual method that I’ve come to find easiest & fastest for most of my projects involving a premade pattern. But as with all sewing, all things depend on the project and the fabric being used, so I find myself doing things all kinds of ways. =)

  7. Chuleenan - C Sews June 2, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    I like your tip about holding the pin and let the machine pull it out. Nice way to keep the pin in place until the last possible moment. I’ll have to try the Chaco liner one of these days. I have had the worst luck with Clover chalk pencils – the lead almost always is broken in several places so I have to keep sharpening and wasting so much of it. Thanks for sharing you dart tips!

    • Brooke June 2, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks! I’m glad you like the pin holding tip! Chalk pencils can be rather frustrating – never sharp enough or breaking too easily. The Chaco liner comes in a pen-style too but I have yet to try it. I think it works the same as the larger one I have, which uses a little metal spiked wheel to deposit dots of chalk powder on the fabric. I love that I can get right up next to the ruler with it because it makes the mark so precise!

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