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July 2015
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Darts That Fit And Flatter

Whether you’re sewing for yourself or for others, one of the most exasperating problems with darts on sewing patterns is to finally get the dress or blouse to fit right, but the dart ends up above the bustline or below the bustline.  We know it looks funny, with the dart not pointing TO the bustline, but rarely does the seamstress know what to do about it.  Whether you’re sewing plus size clothing, petite size clothing, or any size in between the same “dart” problems remain.



I have learned, with every new sewing customer, to measure their dart position, then measure the dart position on the pattern before anything ever gets cut out.  This practice has saved me a lot of grief many times, as the “problem” got corrected before it could become a real problem on the finished garment.

The following diagrams and instructions will help you get the dart position RIGHT on every future garment you make!











A. To find the correct position of your dart, measure from the shoulder to the bust point and mark that distance on your pattern.  If this mark is above or below the dart on the pattern, you’ll have to move the dart.  (NOTE:  Begin the “shoulder” measurement on your pattern below the seam allowance — don’t include the seam allowance in the measurement).

B.  The easiest way to lower a dart is to measure the necessary distance and make a mark at the dart point and along the side seams.  Connect the new marks and the dart is moved – shown by dashed lines.

C.  In order to restore the shape of the side seam to its original position, tape tissue paper under the dart so it extends past the side seam as shown.  Fold and pin the dart as if it were sewn and cut the tissue paper that extends past the seam line, following the original seam line.  Remove the pins and you have your new seam line.

D.  The same method is used for raising a dart.  However, if you have to raise it quite a bit, you’ll need to angle the dart (E) so that the top line of the dart doesn’t come too close to the armhole.  When you angle the dart, you need to use the same dart width at the side seam as it previously had.  Fold and pin the dart and redraw your side seam (C).

Another challenge with commercial (store bought) patterns is that some of them have NO darts, and you feel more comfortable with darts in your blouses and dresses.  Or perhaps you’d like to change the position of the dart that’s on the pattern, and just don’t know quite how to do it, or even remove the dart from the pattern altogether.  the “Darts That Fit and Flatter” online clothing alteration and sewing class includes all the information mentioned plus much more.  The sewing instructions are easy to follow and the sewing tips that are included make this a much needed class for those whose business is sewing for others.  You can find the information at

If you need extra help to get darts to fit because you are not quite the same as what patterns have allowed for, you can redo the darts with our Shape A Dart tool.

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Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author


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