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Tips & Techniques > Darts - A Reverse Approach

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Posted by: Linda74Sews

About Linda74Sews
Member since: 6/9/12
Reviews: 3 (tips: 1)
Skill level:Expert/Couture
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Posted on: 1/15/13 4:14 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 4 people   Very Helpful by 28 people   
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The subject is darts - one of the mostly commonly performed and easily done techniques for any experienced garment sewer. As we all know, darts play an important role in creating curves and shaping a garments silhouette. And, when executed well help create a professional look in clothing. In contrast, poorly executed darts can make a garment look "homemade."

So, what's the big deal? Yes, for most sewers we don't give them much thought. Within a matter of minutes they're done. But, as I have learned teaching many new sewists, this simple technique can be a daunting one. Sewing darts for the first time can consume an inordinate amount of time to accomplish when conventional methods are employed. But, it doesn't have to be that way.

I have painfully watched new sewers struggle sewing darts for the first time. Where they (and let's face it a lot of us, too) go wrong is sewing beyond the dart's end point or short ending the points that produce the dreaded pucker. Or, simply not being able to follow the dart leg properly. A task most sewists can perform with relative ease and precision can take 3-4 times as long for the beginner. This simple sewing basic should be, for all practical purposes, a cinch to master.

The objective of sewing the perfect dart is pretty straightforward. Follow a properly marked, and pinned, dart leg to a precise end point without overshooting, backstitching or short ending it.

I have a nice library of reference books, from basic sewing how-tos, to textbooks and those advocating couture techniques which I frequently consult to ensure I teach my students proper techniques. All of them instruct sewers to sew darts starting from the wide end. Whether there is a technical reason for starting there I have yet to find one. For a new sewer (or even some of us more experienced ones) when starting from the wide end the task of finishing the dart at the precise end point can be a challenge. All the more important when they sit right and left of one another. The last thing you want is to have one dart taller or shorter than the other. OOPS!

To remedy this I now instruct my new students to sew darts starting at the end point. Gosh, I wish I had thought of this sooner! By doing so darts all finish at the precise end point - hooray! And, if properly marked the dart leg is much easier to follow - another hooray! Most of my students can now complete a dart well on the first try.

The trickiest part is positioning the needle to go into the dart point just a thread away from the fold line so as not to create a pucker. Furthermore, to ensure a secure dart stitch the first quarter inch or so with the stitch length reduced to a small 1.5 cm setting and then turn up the stitch length to a normal setting for the balance of the dart.

I am amazed at how much faster my students can master this most basic of sewing tasks. More importantly of course, the darts are far better done than those performed using the traditional, prescribed methods. No more puckered end points. Left and right darts are balanced. And, fewer darts have to be ripped out and redone. Mission accomplished! I now have happy students who have easily mastered one of the most basic of techniques that they will perform many many times in their sewing journeys.

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rosanna22 said... (2/25/15 10:56 AM) Reply
I always start at wide end to small end then tie darts off after i finish.Is this wrong?
lamstu said... (1/27/13 1:25 AM) Reply
I have sewn darts for decades and I always start at the wide end. My issue with starting at the narrow end is that the fabric can easily get pushed down into the feed dogs, and thereby ruined. However, I've seen this advice in other places, so I will try it on my next sturdy fabric project.
regine said... (1/19/13 4:53 PM) Reply
Brilliant idea, will try it next time.
5tummies said... (1/18/13 12:47 PM) Reply
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I'm just learning how to sew, I don't have the money for classes so I rely on this website, books,blogs, and YouTube. I have put in countless hours attempting to understand and execute darts. And your article was my light-bulb moment. Thank you Thank you!
SavageCoco said... (1/17/13 12:06 PM) Reply
JOshiro said... (1/17/13 9:57 AM) Reply
I wonder if the instructions to go from wide to narrow is to avoid the fabric puckering. See here -
landstromd said... (1/16/13 11:25 AM) Reply
I never thought much about darts prior to joining Pattern Review and being introduced to Peggy Sagers at Silhouette Patterns, but I must say I now REALLY look and work at my darts. I am not always successful in sewing them without a pucker so I am excited and curious to see if I can manage this new way of doing darts. Thanks for this tip, hopefully it will work for me as well!
SandiMacD said... (1/16/13 6:00 AM) Reply
When I first saw this done i was astounded- such a sensible way to learn! Of course i am old school and you are right- they don't cause any problem for me. But I am teaching others this new way because it is easier to master.
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