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Darts that wont lie flat at the point

sewingpenny | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi All

Just discovered this gathering and found many of the discussions interesting and relevant.

My current dilemma…. I am making a bias cut top (New Look 6438).  I have chosen a remnant piece of crepe backed satin (suggested fabric) to try this out before using the intended fabric.

I have a broad back, high round back and forward facing narrow shoulders.  I have made the necessary adjustments and need quite a wide dart in the back shoulders to take up the gap in the back armhole and provide enough width over the shoulder blades whilst keeping the shoulder length short.

The tissue dart sits nicely but the fabric dart finishes with a pucker at the pointed end.

Can anyone suggest the reason and a solution?

Is it the type of fabric?

Is it because the fabric is on the bias?

Would it be better with princess seams?



  1. User avater
    Becky-book | | #1

    Hey there! Darts sometimes seem to take on a life of their own, refusing to lay there quietly and 'take it'.  Sometimes the trouble is in the stitching, sometimes in the pressing.  There is a lot of advice in the old posts.

    Use the Advanced Search button and look for "darts" should yield a wealth of tips to try.

    Hope this helps,


    1. sewingpenny | | #5

      Many thanks for your reply.

      I have read many of the discussions and like most people have tried nearly all the suggestions.

      I feel the ratio suggestion, dart width to length, is part of the answer here as well as the more rounded shape of the shoulder blade area.  The bust dart isn't suffering the same way, possibly because of the more pointed shape of the bust.  Darts make cones, as one of the posters has said, and round backs are not cones.

      So back to the drawing board, or should I say tissue scraps and paper glue!


  2. Josefly | | #2

    You mentioned that your darts in the back shoulders are "quite wide." There's a discussion under Fitting, in the thread "? on style & protruding tummy" which gets into darts in the back of pants. One of the postings, # 6672.66, mentions that dart width/length ratio is important, and that a dart too wide for its length can cause a pointy pucker. Have you tried using more than one dart, dividing the total width among two or three? Also, some extra width can just be eased into the shoulder seam, without using darts. I like blouses with a high back yoke, where the bodice below the yoke has a pleat on each side to give a little fullness through the shoulder blades.Good luck with your fitting efforts.

    1. ineedaserger329 | | #3

      I was just reading your note on this thread and wanted to say a thank you from me, too.....That helped me, too and I just wanted to say thank you for being descriptive and taking time and effort to respond.
      Thanks again!

    2. sewingpenny | | #4

      Thanks for your reply.  The referral to message 6672.66 is very useful.  In the bookshelf full of books I own I have not come across this kind of info.

      It's clear to me that the dart width would mean a much longer dart than I am using so my instinct about converting to a princess seam would seem to be valid. However, I feel I would loose some of the design elements and I wonder if this would look odd if the front didn't have the same princess seams?

      I have tried using several smaller darts and just ended up with several puckered points!

      I have decided to see if I can introduce a centre back seam and feed the excess,or most of it, into that and ease the rest into the shoulder.

      Will let you know!

      1. Josefly | | #6

        Your center-back seam sounds like a good idea. Like you, I wouldn't want to be confined to princess seams. Have you, by the way, tried to curve your darts at all? I wonder if that would help with the pucker, curving the dart seam toward the fold, narrowing the point more than usual?I'd like to hear what fitting strategy you end up with.

      2. dotty | | #7

        I have tried CB seams. They're actually a little tricky. If the fabric is too stiff and the curve isn't just right, an even more unsightly lump than you already have appears. I have had the best results with yokes. 2nd best princess. 3rd is taking a small amount out at CB seam and distributing the rest as best you can elsewhere. I don't have a sewing pal. This is where one would be a huge help!

        1. sewingpenny | | #9

          Yep! you're right, there is now something resembling a roller coaster track running down my upper centre back.

          I am now revisiting the first alterations I made in the tissue before cutting out and I feel I have 'over altered' the fitting for what is, after all, a simple top.

          Because I need this top in the near future for an outfit to wear at my daughter's wedding I am going to shelve this particular garment for now and go with something I feel I can achieve in the time frame.  I will return to this later, however, and take into account all the good advice from my new virtual sewing buddies.

          Talking of sewing buddies, I have only the husband to rely on (and bless him he does his best!).  I recently made a clone of myself from gummed paper tape (with the help of the said husband) and I have studied it and done some draping with gingham fabric.  I think that, as many of you seem to say, we're doomed to wear 'potato sacks' after 50. So best learn how to make potato sacks look classy!

          Back to the drawing board with a new understanding of dressing barrels with potato sacks!!!!!


  3. Teaf5 | | #8

    Would it be possible to add a short yoke to the back? That way, you could gather the lower bodice into it, giving you a smooth shoulder but ease across the shoulder blades. The gathering can be distributed evenly across the back (especially if you needed the wide dart) or can be just a little on either side above the shoulder blades. Yoked backs aren't especially noticeable, but they seem to offer shaping that darted backs don't.

    1. sewingpenny | | #10

      Thanks for the suggestion about yokes, also made by Josefly.

      Whilst draping gingham around my paper clone I felt this could be a valid solution. I also felt I was trying to make the top fit me like a glove as I could in my younger days, hence the large dart.

      I think I need to reassess my shape and remind myself I am no longer a shapely hour glass, instead a mature, but fine, barrel of whiskey.

      I am postponing this particular top for a while until I have more time ( and remnants) to experiment since I am working to a deadline.


      1. Josefly | | #11

        Sewingpenny, I realize you may not read this for a while since you're hurrying to finish another garment, so no need to answer. But when you come back to it...One of my favorite blouses is a short-sleeved white cotton blouse, RTW. It fits marvelously. It has a back yoke, and the bodice back below the yoke is made with a center back seam as well as princess-style seams! So there are 4 pieces to the bodice back, with three seams that curve inward slightly at the waist and out again for width across the shoulder blades. The vertical, but shaped, lines make me look less straight than I am. The front of the blouse is also shaped in an interesting way, with three darts on each side of the bodice below the yoke. It has the standard horizontal bust dart that starts at the side seam and ends about 1 1/2 inches from the bust, but this dart is quite narrow, or shallow. Then there's a dart that starts at the yoke seam above the bust and tapers to a point about 4 inches below the bust point - I don't think I've ever seen a dart like this. The third dart is a vertical dart, not directly under the bust, but to the outside of the bust, about 3 inches from the side seam. All of the darts are relatively narrow. Has anybody else seen this combination of darts?

        1. sewingpenny | | #12


          Although temporarily shelved I will continue to ponder in the background as we women do and I will definitely keep up to date with the latest discussions having found this gathering. 

          The pattern you describe sounds like a marvel of modern engineering! However you say this is a short sleeved cotton blouse, RTW.  I don't understand 'RTW' is this an abbreviated dressmaking term or something else ( I'm a Brit in the UK )?

          I do have a standard shirt blouse pattern with a short yoke, I may try this multitude of darts when the immediate panic is over in early - August. ( I have 5 bridesmaid dresses to make by then as well as my own outfit and I work full time - why do mums do this to themselves?).

          Returning to the top dilemma, I have gone back to a simple shell top to work out the alterations again and find a yoke even on this simple top may be the answer.

          Many thanks for contributions so far, I will keep reading, happy sewing!



          1. User avater
            Becky-book | | #13

            Hang in there, keep focused and all will be well... I did all the dresses for my third daughter's wedding (4 flower girls, 4 attendants, Bride [re-made my gown] and my MOB dress) and I am still sane, at least most of the time!! LOL (Laughing Out Loud)

            RTW = Ready To Wear = store-bought clothes


          2. Josefly | | #14

            Yes, Becky's right. RTW = ready-to-wear. Sorry about that. I don't usually use abbreviations like that myself; I have all too often been utterly confused by them.I still become rattled when seeing sewing abbreviations like sa (seam allowance), etc.Good luck with the enormous task you have ahead of you. Several others on this forum have taken on equally daunting responsibilities for their daughters' or daughters'-in-law
            weddings, and I'm in awe.

        2. Sunshine | | #19

          This sounds like a really interesting RTW blouse! Could you possibly post pictures of it for all to see??  I'm having a hard time visualizing how all those darts do their shaping.....


          1. Josefly | | #20

            I, along with only 129 other people in the U.S., still don't own a digital camera. I have an iSight camera with my computer, and will try to get a photo that way, but haven't had much success with garment photos that way before. I'll experiment though, and let you know if I succeed in getting a photo.

  4. stitchintime | | #15

    It may just be the fabric after all. I posted a similar query way back when and tried all the suggestions. I'd never had trouble with darts before. My fabric was soft with a nice drape but had metallic fibres running through the weft; I kept getting pointy darts no matter what I did. 

    There are alot of great suggestions here on alternatives to the darts. My suggestion is to change the fabric or change the pattern.  

    1. sewingpenny | | #16

      Yes I you could be right.  Although I feel a combination of factors are applicable.

      For now I have gone back to a simple shell top, refitted it to take account of excess baggage since last made and I will try to enhance the basic to something more suitable for a wedding. In a lighter less fluid fabric.

      The bias top will be returned to in the future - I already have some ideas.

      1. Josefly | | #17

        You know, I forgot that you were talking about a top cut on the bias. I wonder if there's something about the angle of your darts compared to the grain of the fabric that affects the way the darts lie? Sometimes fabric just doesn't want to fold on an off-grain line.

        1. sewingpenny | | #18

          Yes I think in my first message I wondered if it was a combination of bias and type of fabric.  The angle from the mid shoulder to the high point of my shoulder blade area is odd.  So as in many things in life - it's a combination of factors leading to my problem.  However, all is not lost, I have learned a thing or two - many people are in my boat and that's nice to know -  sometimes all the knowledge and skill doesn't make darts lie flat when they don't want to!

          I have decided to use a straight grain top with a ruffle instead and save the bias top for another day.  I have a plan when I come back to this project in the future.  In the meantime back to the never ending long seams of full length bridesmaids dresses!

  5. ctirish | | #21

    Christine, I know you have received many suggestions on your dart problem. I don't know where you could get the definitive information but Susan Khajle has a show on TV - they are reruns on DIY and whenever she does a dart. She sews it almost to the end and then she does the last four or five stitches parallel to the point and then she just sews off the end so she has long threads so she can simply tie a knot at the end. She also say to not iron a dart flat, you should press it over a ham. This is because a dart is supposed to have a curve in it? I don't know if this helps, if I come across the info in a show I have tivo'd I will send you the show number so maybe you can find it and see what I mean.

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