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dress darts

Jules | Posted in General Discussion on

I am trying to perfect a basic dress pattern (type of sloper) that I can use as a basis for other dress designs. The trouble I am having is with the vertical waist dart.  I have carefully tapered it at each end, even tried the couture method of adding the extra piece of material behind the dart, but from the bottom end of the dart (even tho it is pressed flat), I get this 1/2″ or so vertical pleat/tuck going to the hem of the dress.  If I pin this out, the front of the dress lies correctly, but of course looks awful.  How can I eliminate this extra amount of material – does anyone know?  I have tried taking in a little extra at the side seams, but any more and I will have to diet drastically to get back into the dress!!!!


  1. stitchmd | | #1

    What is wrong with how the dress looks when the dart is right and it fits?

    1. Jules | | #4

      The dress looks find from the waist to the shoulders, but its just the area level with the bottom point of the front vertical darts that is too wide.  I am beginning to despair of ever getting it right to tell you the truth - might just stick to skirts, trousers and tops, eh?

  2. Elisabeth | | #2

    Is the waist too short?

    1. Jules | | #3

      No, the waist isn't too short, have taken my measurements very carefully.  The dart is tapered, pressed properly, but the dress is still too wide at the bottom point of the dart. I have taken in the front dress only from level with the end of the dart to the hem which has helped a bit, but its still too wide at this level.  Thanks for replying to me tho, its nice to chat about these things - don't have any friends in England that sew, they all do other energentic things like tennis or something !

  3. SewTruTerry | | #5

    It sounds as though you may have made the dart to long.  Try stitching from the center of the dart and tapering to the edge of the fabric but going off of the fabric about 1/4 inch or more before you have so far.  Does this make sense?  In other words the dart needs to end at the top edge of the last curve.  In this case the tummy area.  Oh how I wish there was a way of making diagrams on this forum.  I hope this helps you.

    1. Jules | | #8

      Hi Terry, thanks for your message.  I'm at last making headway with this dress (bane of my life at the moment).  In fact, I took the dart out completely, and tried the dress on inside out (suggestion from Threads), then pinned it in to fit. The outcome was that the dart is now 1.5" lower at the top, and 5/8" over towards the side seams, now its 3.75" above the waist, and 8" below the waist which does look a bit better. I have also cripped the centre at widest pointed, and pressed carefully, and it looks about 50% better now. I did have another idea from someone who said to pin the dart out to the hem, and re draft the pattern, which I might do if all else fails. Thanks again for your help.

      1. SewTruTerry | | #9

        One question that popped into my head this am.  Are you starting with a commercial sloper or are you copying another garment?  If you are using a commercial sloper then you are smart to take the darts out and repin. But you may want to look at a favorite garment that is similar in style and look at the darts in it.

        1. Jules | | #10

          Hi again Terry, no it was a pattern I already had, but it only had the bust dart from the armhold edge, it was me (guilty as charged) who put in the vertical dart based on another pattern I had. I was going to have another go at this afternoon, my my daughter-in-law had her 2nd baby this morning, so am visiting them in hospital later - a 9lb 12oz baby boy they are calling Alexander - guess sewing will have to stop for a while eh!

          1. SewTruTerry | | #11

            Actually you should start to do more sewing for Alexander shouldn't you? After all the wee ones don't put up a fuss about what they are wearing as long as it fits. And by the way congratulations.

          2. Jules | | #12

            Hi again, thanks for that. Have just got back from the hospital - he is really cute. This is there second child - they have a 2 1/2yr old called Lauryn and she isnt impressed at all with Alex!  I think she thinks that mum will come home, and leave him at the hospital !!!

            Back to sewing, I found an old evening sheath type dress at the back of the wardrobe earlier, and so have been having a good look at the inside, and have made a copy of it (well, I hope it will come out similar). There is no side bust dart, but the vertical dart goes from just below the waist and then curves into the armhole ege - like a princess line. Bit tricky to copy, but am having a go.  I have had quite a few tips from people, so have lots of things to try.

            By the way, you don't know where I can get one of those Tru-Grid rulers from do you ? Like the ones they show in Threads. Can't get one in England. Posted a message on here under equipment, but no replies as yet.  Bye for now


          3. mem1 | | #13

            I have been reading about your dart issue and I think that pinning it out to the hem sounds like  a good idea. I think you might need to make the dart londer and thinner with a more gradual taper . The other thing that you could do is cut through the width of the dress at the waist , do avertical slash on the dart line and overlap so that you are removing some of the width out of the skirt, probably the amount which is in that little pleat which you are trying to get rid of  . Reassemble with sticky tape and the redraw your dart so its at the lenth that you want . Then you would have to redraw the whole thing and true up the side of the dress . Do you have a large bust and relatively narrower hips? I have a child who is avery odd shape and have had to do amazing things to patterns It works though and it all fits .

            Congratulations on Alexander. Lucky he wont be worried about darts for a while!!!!

          4. Jules | | #14

            Hey there, thanks for those tips and I will try that this afternoon!

            No I don't have a large bust - if using a multi sized pattern, I have to size 12 around the hip area, tapering to size 10 at the armhole. Then a size 6 from armhole up to a size 12 shoulder for the front, and a size 8 armhole to size 12 at the shoulder for the back.  I also have to take out a narrow tuck in the back section (as u explained for the dress), as I have a narrow back.  I have now perfected all this, plus skirts and trousers, but the dress remain elusive.

            Baby Alex is coming home tomorrow!!

  4. suesew | | #6

    Have you clipped the dart, especially at the widest point. That might help it to lay flatter. If this is a sloper muslin you could actually extend the dart all the way to the hem taking in that 1/2" excess and then redraw your pattern. (The excess will come off the sides) Right now when you try to take it off the sides it sounds like you are taking it equally off the front and the back. Isn't fitting fun.

    1. Jules | | #7

      Hi there, thanks for your reply.  Yes I did clip the dart, and I think your idea of taking in the extra half inch or so down to the hem and redrafting the pattern is a good one. I did another experiment last night, and moved the dart down 1.5" from the top, and over 5/8" towards the side seam, and it is now about 3.75" from the top to the waist, and about 8" below the waist tapered off nicely.  This seems a bit better, but will have a go at your idea as well. Many thanks

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