Darts in the Fashioner
If you want to learn more about darts in the software and the tools associated with them, visit the Fashioner Darts page.
Many images on this page were generated in Marvelous Designer, virual sewing. In MD, darts are notches. This is not how darts work in the real world. The are typically folded closed and sewn with the excess fabric left in place. See Dart Finishing below.
Shaping with Darts
Darts are very common in garment construction. They remove excess fabric, so the garment conforms to the body. You will find darts used in transition from a larger measurement to a smaller one. For example, on a woman’s bodice the bust is generally larger than the waist. A dart is placed at the waist to remove the excess fabric.
You will find darts in skirts and pants at the waist to transition to the larger hips. You’ll also see darts added at the shoulder to fit the shoulder and allow more room in the upper back.
In a fitted sleeve, a dart is placed at the elbow. This causes the sleeve to bend, which matches the angle of a relaxed arm. Our arms are not straight naturally and this subtle detail is the difference between an inexpensive garment and a properly fitted one.
The triangle of a sewn dart is often just pressed to the side. Vertical darts are pressed toward the center and horizontal darts are pressed down.
Before pressing in the final direction, press the dart fold as you stitched it to help flatten it, carefully avoiding the point(s).
On bulky fabrics, the fold of a single dart can be slashed and pressed open for a flatter finish. If the fabric is loosely woven, zigzag the edges to prevent raveling.
Darts placed on the edge of the pattern are considered single darts. They resemble a triangle and consist of two legs or arms (either term is used). The legs of a dart must be of equal length, or you will have puckering.
Dart placement, particularly on the bodice, can be varied. You don’t have to place the dart at the waist. As you can see in the image above, the dart can be moved to any position around the bust apex in a full circle. Each change does result in a subtle change in the design of the garment, but they all result in a good fit to the model.
Here is a female bodice showing a bust dart placed at the waist on one side and the dart relocated to the side on the other. This was done only for illustration and looks pretty strange, but you get the idea.
Types of Darts
A single, standard dart consists of three points. Two points are placed at the edge of the pattern where you want the dart legs to originate. The third point is placed at the dart apex point. You've seen lots of single darts in the images above.
When sewing a female bodice, the end of the dart is adjusted to be 3/4" to 1" (2cm to 2.5cm) away from the bust apex for better shaping. You may want to do the same, to reduce the sharp point. Just make sure the dart legs are the same length.
Double darts, also called body darts, look like a very skewed rectangle or two stacked triangles. These darts are not placed on the edge of the pattern, they are put inside the pattern.
These are commonly used in a jacket as a transition from the wide chest/back into the more narrow waist and then back out to the wider hips.
You will also find these on dresses, where you transition from the bust to waist to hips.
Dart tucks are another option. The middle of the dart is not cut away. The legs are sewn to each other starting at the pattern edge, just like a regular dart, but the seam stops before it reaches the dart apex point. This leaves the top open creating a small tuck.
If you have a dart that is large enough, you can choose to replace one dart with many. These are called dart clusters.
To make a cluster, slash the pattern apart and spread the original dart width over several new darts. You can also use this technique with dart tucks. The image above shows tucks on your right and darts on your left.
Tucks serve two purposes, one as a decoration and the other as a means to fit or bring fullness into a garment where it is needed. Tucks can take the place of darts and appears much softer than a dart. A tuck is constructed by sewing two lines together. You’ve seen examples of tucks replacing darts in prior illustrations.
Pin tucks are purely decorative, but they are a common feature on blouses and shirts. You’ll see pin tucks down the front of a man’s formal shirt, like the image below. Additional fabric is added to the bodice draft to allow for the tucks.