Sewing darts into a woven fabric is a great way to add shaping and fit to a garment. They can flatter and shape and are easy to sew well if you know how.
Dart lines need to be marked on the fabric in order to be sewn correctly. There are a variety of ways to mark the darts including tracing wheels/tracing paper or disappearing ink pens. I love my Clover chalk markers so that is what I use.
Dart lines should be marked on the wrong side (back side) of the fabric so they do not show on the front of the finished garment.
Lay the fabric out on a smooth flat surface. The edges of the pattern piece should align with the edges of the fabric. To mark the dart with chalk, pin through the dart point and where the dart legs touch the sewing line. I have pinned into cork panels but I’ve had success with this in the past pinning into some folded fabric (behind the piece you are marking).
Carefully lift the pattern off the fabric leaving the pins in place. You may need to hold the pin between the fabric and pattern paper while pulling the pattern off to ensure the pins stay in place.
Lay a ruler up to two pins and add a chalk line between the pins to mark each dart leg.
Sewing Single Point Darts
The dart legs need to be pinbasted together and aligned for sewing. A pin at the very point of the dart helps ensure the dart ends in the correct place. Fold the fabric with right sides together. Pin into the dart leg on one side and out of the dart leg on the other side of the fabric.
Here is a view of the other side of the dart showing how the pins go through the dart legs on the other side of the fold.
Begin sewing at the widest point of the dart. End your threads as you normally would.
Sew the dart in place by running a line of stitching directly over the marked dart legs.
When you are about 1″/2.5cm from the tip of the dart. Change your stitch length so you are making shorter, closer together stitches. This will reinforce the dart point in an area that will be under more stress.
Sew to the point of the dart which will have you basically sew off the edge of the fabric. Remove the fabric from your sewing machine and leave thread tails of 3-4″/ 7-10cm.
Untangle the threads at the end of the dart. It works quite well to use a straight pin to separate the strands.
Tie a square knot at the point of the dart with the thread ends. Once the ends are tied securely the threads can be trimmed short. Optional: add a dot of fray check to the knot.
Sewing a Double Point Dart
Sewing a double point dart is very similar to sewing a single point dart. Begin by marking the dart legs.
Fold the fabric and pinbaste the dart matching the dart legs on both sides of the fabric.
Begin sewing at the widest area of the dart and sew to the point as you would if this were a single point dart. Leave thread tails of about 3-4″/7-10cm for tying the threads at the point of the dart.
After one end of the dart is sewn, pinbaste the other end. Sew the other end of the dart starting again from the widest part of the dart and finishing at the point. Tie off the thread ends at the point of the dart.
After your darts are sewn and the ends tied off and trimmed, it is time to press the darts.
The rule for pressing darts is to press the fullness Down or Toward the Center.
Begin by pressing a crease into the dart itself. Do not press a fold into the fabric outside the point of the dart.
Press the double pointed dart inside the sewn area and not past the dart points.
If you have a pressing ham, place it under the fabric to help shape the dart. If you do not have a pressing ham, carefully press the dart while watching all the fabric around the dart so you don’t press wrinkles into the fabric.
Again, press the fullness of the dart down and toward the center. This is the wrong side of a shirt front with the darts pressed.
Press the front side of the fabric as well to make sure the right side looks smooth and finished also.
This is a great way to add beautiful shaping to your garments.
-Carly | Antibromide