You may be familiar with darts as those pointy things you throw at a dartboard on the wall of your favorite pub. Although they don't fly， darts in sewing are still vital components of the overall sewn project. For the most part， sewing darts look quite similar to their gaming counterpart. They are wide on one end and pointy on the other. Pub darts are all about a smooth trajectory and pinpoint accuracy. Sewing darts are also big on smooth lines and precise points， but their function is all about shape. No matter what kind of sewing you do， sooner or later， you will likely have to sew a dart. Throwing darts... you can do on your own time.
All fabric is flat， but you already knew that part. What you may not know is darts are how flat fabric is shaped to the contours of the body. This is why darts are most prevalent in garment sewing.pillow cases vintage
When a garment is initially designed， it starts as a two-dimensional drawing. The drawing is then translated into flat pieces of muslin. These muslin pieces are draped on a mannequin to bring the drawing to 3-D life.
The pieces of fabric are cut to the measurements of the mannequin， with seam allowance and ease (room between the body and garment) added in， to create the overall style of the garment. As the pieces are shaped to the mannequin， there are specific body contour areas where excess folds of fabric always occur： the shoulders， bust， waist and hips in particular. It's in these areas where darts are created. Once the draping process is completed， the pieces are removed from the mannequin， "trued up" (straightened and cut into their final shape)， then used to cut the actual garment fabric to continue the pattern manufacturing process.
One interesting fact is that although nearly all garment designs have darts in the draping process， those darts may not be part of the final design. For example， if a knit fabric is going to be used， when the pieces are removed from the mannequincustom gifts for dad， the darts formed during the draping process are left in place when the final fabric is cut. The stretch of the knit fabric if often enought to give the shape needed around the body contour areas.
But in the majority of situations， darts are part of the garment， and are sewn as mirror images to one another on either side of the garment. Of course， the standard caveats apply： rules can change depending on the style， the fabric being used， and/or the overall design.
In addition， when fitting a garment to a specific person， you can alter the size (width and length) of the dart or add more darts as needed for a perfect fit. Darts are very important， very handy little pointy things!
Even in the Sew4Home studio， where we don't regularly delve into garment sewing， we still have the need for darts. When you need to slightly alter the shape of something， a dart is usually the answer!
We created our Haunted Halloween Witches Hat with darts on the brim to add shape. We've also experimented with darts to shape the bodice of several of our aprons or along the corners of a more rounded purse or tote bag.
Today， we'll give you an overview of the different types of darts， along with the best ways to mark， sew and press them.
As we stated above， a basic dart is shaped like a point. It's wide at one end and narrow at the other. You will see these along a seam line where added shape is needed. They can be straight or curved.
Below is a definition list of the types of darts you are likely to see in various garment styles. We went through our pattern drawer in the Sew4Home studio to grab some examples of what these look like on a commercial pattern. Unfortunately， we didn't find an example of some of the less common ones， but most are self-explanatory from their names. Depending on the style and sewing level of the garment， some darts will be simple to understand， while others are more complex. The one thing they have in common is points. There are always two at the wide part of the "V" and one at the point of the "V". Sometimes there is also a set of points mid-way through the "V"， and sometimes there's a line down the middle.
This kind of dart speaks for itself. You most likely own a garment with this type of dart. It brings in the shape of the garment from the waist to the hip. Below is a pant pattern with waist darts.
Let's see... where might these be found？ They start under the arm at the side seam and point toward the fullest part of the bust. Sometimes， on very fitted garments， you'll see these used in conjunction with another set of bust darts that go from the waist to just underneath the bust. The example below is from a dress with two sets of bust darts.
This type of dart is used in place of bust darts. It's one long dart， beginning at the bust and curving down to the side seam. Since these are so long and/or wide， usually a portion of the fabric is cut away to reduce bulk.
Darts created at the elbow are usually seen in elaborately styled sleeves or fitted sleeves made of two pieces. Sometimes， you want the shape of the sleeve to be very fitted， but the elbow still needs room to move. Therefore， one， two or three small darts are sewn from the sleeve underarm seam to the elbow point.
Contrary to all the others in this list， these are not sewn in the shape of a point. Instead they're sewn straight for a set length. These are really only used along the waistline. In our Patio Party Groovy Hostess Apron， we used dart tucks to shape the top of our apron piece (which was otherwise a basic rectangle) where we attached the band and tie.
Again， slightly contrary to the rest of the crowd， these darts are shaped as a diamond. You'll see contour darts used on longer garment styles， like a tunic， jacket or dress. They can be sewn on the front and/or the back. Since they are diamond-shaped， they add shape at the bust， waist and hips all at once. The pattern piece below is the back of a jacket， where contour darts are used to add shape at the waist back.
We wanted to show you an example of a complex pattern that is considered more advanced. Here we see shoulder darts， which are curved， a really long bust dart and a contour dart. Not to mention this pattern has like 12 sizes in one! This is either a very complex pattern or a topographic map of Arizona.
Darts are made in a mirror image to one another： matching darts on the left and right side of a garment or identical darts on the front and the back. If the mirrored darts are not sewn precisely， you'll notice it on the finished project.
The best way to end up with successfully sewn darts is to start with careful marking. Mark your pattern pieces on the wrong side of the fabric after you've cut them out.
The marking tool you select is a matter of personal choice. We always recommended testing any fabric pen， pencil or chalk on scraps. If your fabric is a light color， you may see marks bleed through in the seam of the dart.
Below is a collection of some of the marking tools we have in the Sew4Home studio. The one you select will determine how you actually mark the points of the dart.？ For example， if you use a tracing wheel and transfer paper， your process for marking the dart will be slightly different than the tailor's chalk we selected.
You may be wondering why there's a spool of thread in the picture. It's for the marking option known as "tailor's tacks." This is a couture technique used by the finest seamstresses and tailors. It's very effective， but does take time to do. We don't have the space here to go into great detail on this specialized technique. To learn more about tailor's tacks， check out a general sewing book， or look for information on the Internet.
The majority of the time， you cut pattern pieces with the fabric right sides together. This means you need to mark darts on both pieces (right and left). But， one of the pieces you need to mark is under your pattern piece， and you can't move it because you need it to know where to mark the dart. And， the other piece is underneath the first piece， and you don't want to move the fabric too much to mark that one because it could easily skew the dart position.？ HEYYYYYYY!!! Don't worry； here's what to do.
This is the most common， but not the only way to mark a dart. Alternative techniques use the other marking tools pictured above. Some people (S4H included) prefer to only use pins. Using small head pins， you pull the pins through the paper pattern to expose the marked points. You can then use these pulled-through pins to secure the dart in place for sewing， without ever removing the pins from the fabric. Like tailor's tacks， this is a more advanced approach. Often， the method you end up choosing will depend on the type of fabric(s) you're using. Hey.... that rhymes!
Below， we show you how to sew a basic dart and a contour dart； these are the types you'll see most often. We used light colored fabric and dark thread so you could clearly understand the technique. When you actually sew darts， you should use a thread that best matches your fabric color. In addition， we used only two pins to hold the dart in place， you will most likely want to use a couple more on your first try. But always remember， never sew over pins.
NOTE： Depending on the fabric， sometimes it's helpful to press the dart before sewing to help maintain its shape. However， if the dart is curved， it's best to simply mark the curve and sew on the line.
The direction in which you press darts is important. You do not want them interfering with the look of your finished project， so you need to press them to the shape of the body. Therefore， always press darts in the opposite direction to the shape. For a vertical dart， like a waist or contour dart， you press it toward the side seam. For a somewhat horizontal dart， like a bust dart， you press it down toward the waist.
In order to properly press a dart， it's really best to use a pressing ham. Now that your flat fabric piece has a shape， you don't want to flatten it out again!
We want to at least touch on the topic of sewing darts on thick fabrics. You mark and sew them using the same techniques as we've described above. But when sewing， you will likely need a slightly longer stitch. The only real issue with darts in a thick fabric， is just that， it's really thick! Once the darts are sewn， before pressing， use scissors to cut the dart open.
You'll know when to stop clipping because your scissors will only fit so far into the point. Now you can press the dart open， and more importantly， flat. Without this extra step， you're likely to have big lumps in your garment wherever the darts may be.
NOTE： In our example above， we simply cut open our sample dart to show you how it would look. We did not use an actual thick fabric.
Sewing darts evenly and accurately each time simply takes practice， practice， practice. Before you know it， darts will be second nature， and you'll be shapin' and curvin' like a pro!
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