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Have you ever found a pattern you loved and wanted to make, and then noticed there was a dart in it, so you decided not to try? I’ll be honest, I’ve had my fair share of dart fiascos, and it ruined the look of my whole garment. Why are those tricky little things so hard to get just right? Well, the good news is that I had a phenomenal professor in a college sewing class who spent a whole 3 hour class period teaching us how to get the darts right. And I’m going to share what I know with you!
Darts are one of the things that you need to transfer to your fabric from the pattern during the cutting stage. It takes a little extra time, but you’ll thank yourself for taking the time to do it when you’re ready to sew later on.
After you have your darts traced, I like to use pins to mark the top and the bottom of my dart. It helps to align the dart correctly, making sure that it lines up with the other side.
Now for sewing the dart! This is the stage where it typically goes awry. The biggest tip I’m going to share it this: DON’T BACKSTITCH at the tip of the dart. You’ll want to sew from the widest part of the dart to the point.
Start stitching the dart at the wide end, and about 1/2″ before the point, stop stitching and decrease the stitch length. Then continue stitching to the end of the dart. Use one of the following techniques to finish the pointed end of the dart:
1. Tye a knot in the threads after sewing. To do this, leave a tail of thread about 2″ long as you start stitching. This will leave you enough to tie a knot after you have stitched the dart.
2. Starting to stitch off of the fabric so that it creates a chain before the point.
3. Trace stitching over the first 5-6 stitches at the point of the dart. Trace stitching is exactly what it sounds like. Stitch the dart without backstitching, and then go back and stitch over your stitches at the last 1/2″ of the point of the dart.
NOTE: As I’m finishing the dart, I typically just sew off the fabric to create a chain, because it will get caught when stitching either a seam or a hem.
When you’re finished sewing the dart, you’ll want to press it really well. Press underarm darts down, and vertical darts to the center. A tailors ham can help you get a really nice press in the dart as well.
This is the one I have and I have used it for years since school. It is the Dritz brand and it works so well for pressing cuffs, darts, collars and so on:
And that’s it! These tips are sure to get you the perfect dart, but please remember as with all things, it takes some practice.
In my opinion, darts add so much to the design of a piece, and I love the sophistication they bring.
**These tips will work for both woven and knit fabrics, and with different shapes of darts.
As always, let me know if you run into any questions when sewing your own darts!
Happy Sewing, Friends!