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Darts in knits

dotty | Posted in General Discussion on

I’m sewing up a darted T in a cheap fabric in hopes of making a nicer version later. The problem is that as I get near the tip of the dart the fabtic stretches out- resulting in a most unflattering cone(like another nipple) at the end of the dart. Is the dart too short? Is the fabric too stretchy, too cheap? It’s the kind of thing on a serger you would adjust the differential feed for but since its a dart I’m sewing it. Thanks.


  1. User avater
    Becky-book | | #1

    Dear Dotty,

    I usually avoid knits and darts in the same garment, but since you are already there.... try hand sewing the dart first and if it looks like it won't be sturdy enough, then sew over the hand stitches which hopefully will act as a stabilizer, keeping the knit from stretching out of shape.  I read somewhere about sometimes sewing from the tip to the other end (backwards), never tried it myself.

    Hope this helps,


    1. rekha | | #10

      This is a technique from Kenneth King's book and should apply to your project. He cuts the darts out, stitches in a piece of organza to the wrong side of one limb of the dart and then stitches the other limb to the organza. You could use light silk to avoid the stiffness of organza.

      1. dotty | | #11

        I'd be interested to hear if anyone has tried that on knits. I would think the organza wouldn't work with the stretch. I don't quite get the concept-- do you cut out the dart along the stitching lines? or just inside them so that you can stitch along the stitching line?

        1. rekha | | #12

          Basically you are trying to remove the bulk. So take a dart. Staystich along the stitching line.Cut just close to the inside of the staystitch. This will remove the bulk of the dart.Now place a piece of scrap fabric, it could be your knit material, on the wrong side of the cut dart. Bring the edges of the dart together over the material and pin the dart and scrap so that the dart appears joined together at the cut and staystitched edges.Stitch serpentine over the joined edges of the dart on the right side of the dress fabric.You can practice this on a scrap till you get it right


  2. Dorothy80516 | | #2

    Hello!  I sew darts in knit tops all the time.   What I've found to work is to take a piece of paper stabilizer (comes in narrow rolls and is most often used for stabilizing decorative stitches), spray fabric adhesive on it (which temporarily sticks the fabric to the paper).  Then I put the piece of paper under the point of the dart, sew the dart, and rip the paper away.   I strongly suspect that using a sticky note instead of the paper stabilizer would work just as well.

    Then, if it's still a little more pointy than I'd prefer, I will steam press it as flat as I can get it and then, if it still needs a little something, top stitch the dart.

    I recommend trying both of these techniques on a scrap piece of fabric, first.

    Good luck!!


    1. dotty | | #3

      Thanks for the suggestions. I had tried the previous suggestion of sewing the dart starting at the tip. That doesn't work. I next tried some tear away stabilizer. That was an improvment, But not pertfect, but I went with it. It did look better after ironing. It has however been demoted to a nightie top. On the next one I'm going to try your suggestion with the spray adhesive. That sounds like just the right thing.
      While I have a knowlegeable knit person here can I ask another question? After folding over the neck binding, I stiched in the ditch from the right side and trimmed the extra off. 1) should that have been a straight stitch (looks better),or a slight zig-zag(stretches better)? 2)How does one trim neatly? It looks too jaggedy.

      1. Dorothy80516 | | #4

        You are most welcome. 

        Did you use a twin needle or a single needle?  I've had success with a twin ballpoint needle combined with wooly nylon wound loosely on the bobbin (and bobbin tension loosened) for top-stitching on knits.  Twin needles come in various widths.  With a twin needle and wooly nylon, you can stitch a straight stitch but with the wooly nylon, the seam still has give in it.  I use this set up to hem knit garments, too. 

        If you don't want to use a twin needle, I would definitely use a slight zigzag!  Otherwise, the first time the neck binding stretches, the stitches will pop. 

        As for how to trim neatly I'm afraid I don't have any suggestions.  I do my best--sometimes going back and re-trimming the uneven edges a little, but I figure they're on the inside and I have better things to worry about.  If I want to be compulsive about it, I trim before I sew then make sure I have it pinned straight and that I sew straight!

        Good luck!

      2. mem | | #5

        I wonder if reducing the pressure of the foot pressing down on the fabric would also help aas it seems that you are getting stretching of the fabric while you are sewing .

      3. SewNancy | | #6

        How about backing the tip up, away from the point. I don't know what size cup you are, but the larger sizes need to be further from the bust point.

  3. user-163194 | | #7

    Since we're talking about knits... can I sew facings instead of ribbing and expect the garment to last through washing, etc?


    I wonder if you stopped the stitching before you got to the point - perhaps when the stitching line is about 3/8" from the end of the dart, it would not form the "nipple effect?


    1. designingal | | #8

      Depending on how heavy of a knit fabric it is and how well it would take a knit-fuse stabilizer, why not just put regular fusible on the dart area?  The paper and spray adhesieve  sounds messy and I don't understand what happens to the paper; does it stay in there? Wash away? I use knit-fuse almost on everything I interface, even wovens.  It always gives a soft hand and rarely bubbles like some fusibles on wovens do.  I use strips of it on knit shoulder seams to prevent them from stretching out.  Unless you are working on a sweater weight knit, I would give it a try. 

      1. dotty | | #9

        Wow! My next darted knit item is going to be super. Thanks everyone for all the excelent suggestions. I also discovered that part of my dart prpblem had to do with too much ease at the sides. When I took it in more at the sides the dart rested against my body more. I am not sure I can lighten the presserfoot presure on my machine(Bernina 1001). However, one thing that helped a little, that no one has mentioned , is sewing a few stitches, lifting the pressr foot with the needle down to relax the fabric,and continue on.

      2. Dorothy80516 | | #13

        Designingal asked what happened to the paper I put under the dart when sewing knit fabrics.  I tear it off, wad it up and throw it across the room for my cat to chase.  Since there's only one line of stitching, it's never been a problem to remove. 

        1. designingal | | #14

          Why do you need  spray adhesieve if it just is to help it feed properly?

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