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sewing bust darts

JenniferArmentrout | Posted in Fitting on

Does anyone have tips for sewing bust darts.  I have such a hard time with them.


  1. HeartFire | | #1

    what exactly are you having a problem with? a pucker at the point? location of where it sits on the chest? Do you have the same problem with other darts you sew? how do you mark them/pin them and sew them/ and iron them? what type of fabrics are you having this problem with? heavy/ light weight?

    1. JenniferArmentrout | | #2

      Right now my biggest problem is being able to create a bust dart without a point.  I keep getting the rocket bra affect.  I have been sewing now for about 2 years but I feel like I still have a lot to learn so any information will help.  Also, and this has to do with the fit, I can't seem to get  it fitted enough in the style I desire.  I am currently drafting a bodice for a fitted halter top.  There is a seam that is basically an empire style running directly under the bust with the torso darts meeting the bust darts so that it looks as if the torso darts have been extended into the bodice.  My problem is getting it contoured enough so that the bust is smooth and the shape I want it with the neckline and armhole lying flat. Right now they are gaping.  Should I hide a dart inside the empire seamline?

      1. stitchmd | | #3

        Some tips are to end the dart about an inch short of the bust apex. Towards the end of the dart you want to be sewing almost parallel and very close to the fabric fold.Iron your dart open over a contoured surface, such as a tailor's ham or a rolled towel, to shape the fabric into a rounded form. You don't have to follow the stitching line provided in the pattern. You can curve it a bit so the dart is more concave, leaving the fabric around it more convex, like the body part it is covering.

        1. JenniferArmentrout | | #7

          I did try the tip on using the tailors ham and shaping the area but I think my problem lies in the pattern.  I drafted it myself and I'm having a hard time getting the shape I want.  I read through a few vogue books and tried the same sewing information for darts and got a pretty good response from the fabric.  I think it now lies in the pattern.

          1. stitchmd | | #9

            If you are getting too pointy a dart it might be too deep. Try making it thinner at the widest point.

          2. JenniferArmentrout | | #10

            I was thinking that might be the case also so I took a lot of excess fabric out  but on fortunately now my bust lies at little too flat.   Do you, or anyone reading this, know of any good contouring patternmaking techniques?

          3. HeartFire | | #11

            are you drafting this pattern yourself? or using a commercial one? is there a center front seam? you could take out some of the excess there. what sort of neckline does it have? V neck, cowl? is it cut on the bias or on straight grain? what sort of fabric are you using, this will also affect that dart

          4. JenniferArmentrout | | #13

            Yes it's my own drafting job and let me tell you I'm losing confidence.  It's a V-neck that is developed on the straight grain.  I would prefer it didn't have a center front seam but at this point I'm willing to try anything.  There are a couple fabric possibilities.  The first is a silk with 7% elastic in it and the second is a silk or possibly something else with the same feel, but absolutely no stretch to it.

          5. HeartFire | | #15

            Since you are drafting this yourself, how are you angling the neck ties? do they go straight up or do they angle in to the neck? they need to angle in, you can take out some of the excess in the armhole area by slashing the pattern from the armhole area - I would try taking it to the lower edge of the center front - you are sort of making a dart here but you take it all the way to the other edge of the paper so it lies flat. and it will pull the neck ties more up at a straight angle (depending on how much you take out) but you do this in the flat pattern so there is no dart in the fabric. when worn, this will put less fabric in the arm hole area and pull it in to the neck. hope this makes sence, e-mail me privatley if you still need help - [email protected] (unless other ppl on the forum are really interested in the rest of this) Do you have a dress form that you can try this on, sometimes its a lot easier to play around with the Paper pattern on the dress form then to have to keep trying it on.
            do you have any pattern drafting books? software? its much easier to do this sort of stuff by hand than by computer

          6. JenniferArmentrout | | #16

            Thanks for the help.  My straps do not angle so I plan on reworking with the bodice this weekend and seeing if I can get that to work at all.  I do have a dress form so I'll try this on her.  If I'm still having a problem I'll either contact you or maybe post it through threads also so that other ppl can see the progress.  Thanks so much.

          7. stitchmd | | #12

            Maybe you took too much out. You really just need to keep adjusting in smaller increments and see if you begin to approach the right fit. A small amount can make a big difference. If one was too sharp and one was too flat the answer must lie somewhere in between.

          8. JenniferArmentrout | | #14

            I think that may be the case also, I just am unsure how to shape the bust in such a way that I can take out what is needed, and still only have the bust darts underneath.  I have a lot of gaping at the armhole.  So much so that if this were any other piece, I would just do a armhole bust dart, however the design I plan on creating from this piece would look best without armhole bust darts.  Thanks for trying to help me.

      2. HeartFire | | #4

        Is the dart comming from directly under the bust? and, if you have a large bust you may want to curve the dart like Pasdenom described. Also, for a larger bust you may want to bring the dart point back to 1 1/2 to 2 inches away from the bust point. This may solve the problem. If you are having trouble sewing the end of the point nicely, put a piece of tearaway stabilizer or tissue paper under the dart. when you sew it, keep sewing off the dart point and onto the paper, - then tear away the paper carefully. This can help get that fine point done nicely, you just don't seem to angle the tip of the dart when you do this.
        Hope this helps, let me know if not.
        JudyEdited 6/22/2005 2:30 pm ET by Judy

        Edited 6/22/2005 2:30 pm ET by Judy

        1. JenniferArmentrout | | #8

          Thanks for the information.  I'll let you know how it goes.

      3. SewNancy | | #5

        Sounds like you are larger than a B cup, which is what a pattern is drafted for. If so you need to do a full bust adjustment.

        1. JenniferArmentrout | | #6

          Actually I'm drafting my own pattern so I am working with a B-cup, I'm just working from scratch as well.

  2. DONNAKAYE | | #17

    Please forgive me if my suggestion is too simplistic, but have you tried inside curve or outside curve darts?

    1. JenniferArmentrout | | #18

      No idea is too simplistic!  I'll take any advice! ha.  I'm actually working on a bodice with curved darts so I'll see how that reacts.  Thanks.

      1. DONNAKAYE | | #19

        The inside curve and outside curve darts are actually just a straight dart line stitched in a curve to complement either a convex or convcave area of the figure. If you need more info on this, let me know; otherwise, just ignore this message!.....

        1. JenniferArmentrout | | #20

          Please give me more info.  A straight dart line stitched into a curve?

          1. DONNAKAYE | | #21

            Exactly, yes.  Convex- or concave-curve the dart as you stitch it to accommodate melons or some other fruit!  Try it on two scraps of fabric; but the trick for the curved dart (or, for that matter, the straight dart) is to stitch the last half-inch or so right next to the fold of fabric and machine knot at the end so you don't get the dimple....Let me know if you need further explanation....Good luck!  Hope this solves your problem!

            Donna Childress Brandt

            Edited 6/28/2005 7:12 am ET by DONNAKAYE

          2. JenniferArmentrout | | #22

            I'll try this out today and let you know the results.  Thanks for the explanation. 

          3. user-70765 | | #23

            This is my first time posting to this group but I wanted to say that I wouldn't be without my dress form. Most of my creations come straight from the form. I also create using old bed sheets sometimes buying them at second hand shops when I run out. They make great patterns. Placing and shaping darts becomes much more simple this way. Hope this helps and good luck.

          4. JenniferArmentrout | | #24

            Thanks for the advice and welcome to the group!  I've only been with this forum for a few months but everyone is sooo helpful. 

      2. SewTruTerry | | #25

        Jewel is there any way that you can post a picture of the problem that you are having? It would be better and quicker for those of us that are visual to be able to tell you what you need to do.  I think I could help you but the verbal descriptions are getting me a bit confused. 

        1. JenniferArmentrout | | #26

          I'll try and  do that, but I won't get a chance until tomorrow.

      3. Teaf | | #27

        I agree with the others that ending the dart 1.5 inches or so away from the bust apex is essential, but even that doesn't work if the dart is too wide.  A recent commercial pattern had dart legs that were about 3 inches apart, and that dart was impossible to make smooth.  A different thread on Gatherings has been discussing darts recently--worth a search!

        For your second problem, to stop the gaping at the armhole, pin an armhole dart in the pattern (not the fabric), then re-draw the lower armhole line.  I often need to take out a full inch in that area just above the bust.  This works very well for me on sleeveless tops and vests, even though it looks very strange on the pattern.

        If you have gaping at both the neckline and the arms, consider making the back & the shoulders narrower; once the back rests on your body properly, it becomes the structure for the front to drape from.  On my daughter's sleeveless tops and dresses, I have to make the back four inches narrower than commercial patterns in order for the front neckline and armholes to fit well!  She has a 33" bust measurement, but her back is only 8-9 inches of that!

        Good luck, and keep us posted on your discoveries!

        1. SewNancy | | #28

          What do you do with the armhole dart when you cut ot fabric?

          1. Teaf | | #31

            The armhole dart isn't in the fabric at all; taking it out of the pattern simple means that the armscye is slightly smaller--not enough to cause problems with the sleeve fit-- and there is less surplus fabric in the upper chest area.  Combined with shorter shoulder seam (also darted out of the pattern but not the fabric), this alteration makes the top one-third of my bodice fit much, much better.

            Most patterns have way too much fullness across the upper chest and shoulders for my "mature but athletic" hourglass figure.  When that part is too large, the collar and sleeves look terribly home-made, drooping and sloppy.  

            On RTW blouses that fit well--and those were hard to find-- I found far less fabric in the upper chest area but more in the bust/hip area.  Now that my tops fit my shoulders, neck and upper chest area, everything hangs better and looks more flattering, even though I'm much fuller through the middle than I used to be.

        2. SewTruTerry | | #29

          You must also remember that the armscye or the armhole and the neckline is almost always on the bias so you must stay stitch the area well before handling the rest of the project and work with it very carefully to avoid gapsosis.  I have used the clear elastic used for swimwear successfully not only in RTW but other sewn projects to help with this problem.  Just cut a piece aprox the same length of the pattern do not use the actual garment that you are working on as the area may have already stretched out of shape.  Then stitch on the backside gently stretching the elastic to ease in the fabric that has stretched out of shape.  Press from the front side and your problems should be solved.  This will also help prevent the fabric from stretching out again.

  3. sobusy | | #30

    When sewing bust darts pin and press then sew from seam edge to dart point. When you get about 1cm from dart point decrease the size of your sewing machine stitch and then stitch straight of the edge  of your dart. You can use a small stitch at the begining of dart to avoid doing a back stitch if you want. Hope this is helpful


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