Q: How far from the bust point should bust darts end?
—Jackie Perreault, via email
A: Fitting expert and teacher Sarah Veblen explains:
Think of a bust dart as a teepee, which creates three-dimensionality for the mound of the bust. You never want the dart to extend beyond the fullest part of the mound (the bust apex), because then the peak of the teepee (the dart point) will be empty. We can generalize that the dart point should be just shy of the fullest part of the bust.
The general rule is that the larger the bust, the farther the dart point should be from the apex. A common suggestion is 1 inch for a smaller bust, up to 2-1/2 inches or more for a larger cup size. Essential variables to be considered are the bust size and shape.
Some women have conical breasts, and others have rounded breasts. Some women have curvature along the side of the bust, while others have a flatter side bust.
First assess the fullness or flatness along the side of the bust. Try visualizing the bust from above, as though you were looking down at your body. The dart point should be placed near where the flatness changes into a curved shape. For a round-sided bust, you have more leeway with the dart-point placement.
You’ll have the most success by making a muslin and assessing the fit on your body. You’ll be able to tell if the dart point is too close to the apex (empty space at the tip of the dart) or too far away (straining over the apex). Adjust the dart length in the muslin and reassess.
One of the most difficult shapes to fit, in my experience, is a larger, round-sided bust that becomes more conical at the apex. When the dart point is placed logically—where the roundness breaks away toward the bust apex—there often is excess fabric between the dart point and the apex. It may help to move the dart point slightly closer to the apex.
Sewing carefully shaped darts also can improve the fit. In general, a concave dart helps to fit a round-sided bust, and a convex dart helps to fit a flat-sided bust.
Pressing can work like magic. Press your dart with the point on a curved part of a ham that is similar to the shape of the breast. Move the iron in a circular motion over the dart point, and you can mold the shape of the garment to fit the bust smoothly.
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