Darts for perfectionists

Long time, no post!  Funny how life gets in the way of things.  Between now and my last post (eeek, March!), I passed my Qualifying Exam in school (hooray!), did a bunch of traveling (for work and otherwise), and… I bought a sewing machine!!!  And not just any sewing machine, oh no.  I got a Bernina.  Ohhhhhh Bernina, how do I love thee?  It’s an Activa 210, the basic model but quite the robust piece of machinery.  I am in love with it.  You know how I fall in love with my crafts, ahem.  : )

Anyway, I started working on a red polka dot dress right after my exam.  At this point it’s all put together, and I’m currently working on fitting and finishing.  Today’s post: DARTS!  My first-ever darts on my first-ever dress.  How exciting!  Disclaimer: I have no idea how to sew darts.  Really.  So, in lieu of actually looking up how to do it properly, I figured out a way that works for me and my perfectionist tendencies.  Enjoy!

Step 1: Choose your dart.  In the photo below, I’ve already sewn the dart on the top, and I’m getting ready to tackle the lower one.  This is the upper back of the dress, by the left armhole.  I pinned the dart with safety pins by simply pinching the fabric while wearing the dress (easier said than done with only 2 hands).  Note to self: I really need a dress form.

Here’s a close-up of the dart, all pinned and ready to go:

Step 2: Start replacing the safety pins with regular sewing pins.  I stuck the pins into the fabric as close to the “fold” of the dart as possible, and I made sure to crease the fabric really well before the pins went in.  The crease will turn into my sewing line later, and the pins will hold the dart in place as I remove the safety pins.

Step 3: Turn the dart inside-out.  I removed the safety pins and turned down the top piece of fabric from the photo above, exposing the ends of the pins.  You can see the crease (sewing line) along the length of the dart.

Step 4: Change the direction of the pins.  Ahh, pinning twice!  I told you I don’t know how to do this properly, but this method was working pretty well for me.  : )  I very carefully pulled out the pins one by one and changed their direction, eliminating some of them along the way.  Now the top row of pins (seen below) lies exactly along the sewing line.  I used the bottom row of pins to create a flat surface around the dart, reducing any pulling and bulkiness at the sewing machine.

Step 5: Sew the dart!  I sewed right along my sewing line, pulling out the pins as I went.  Without fail, my pins were facing the wrong direction (heads toward the needle instead of away) in every single dart I sewed tonight.  Hahaha, one day I’ll learn, I promise.  : )

Step 6: Admire your finished dart!  Not bad for a beginner, right?

And here it is from the right side, all nice and sewed and ready for my big shoulder to fill it out.  Awesome!  Yay darts!

I must say, sewing these darts tonight was quite a thrilling experience.  Good thing this dress needs a lot more fitting, so I have plenty more darts in my future!  Next up though: finishing the armhole.  I’ve made my own bias tape and will attempt a professional-looking bias-tape armhole… another first for me.  So much to learn…

Any ideas on how to actually sew darts the proper way?

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5 thoughts on “Darts for perfectionists

  1. I like your technique for pinning to get the centre of the fold. One thing I learned was not to finish the line of stitching by reinforcing (ie backwards and forwards) but to leave long threads, bobbin and main threads, and tie them together with a couple of knots. That way you get a smoother dart with no puckering at the point. Just snip the ends and leave a cm or so long. Also make sure you sew from the outer edge to the inside and sew right off the fabric, before you ‘tie off’. Hope that helps

  2. you’re making me feel like a dart-slacker! i just throw in a few pins and sew it off like ooobop suggests (though if i’m feeling lazy, i’ll just backstitch instead of tying off). congratulations on your beautiful work 🙂 i love the neckline, too.

  3. @ooobop! – Thanks for the great advice! Sounds like you know what you’re talking about (unlike me). : ) I’ll have to try tying off the ends when I take in the rest of the dress.

    @stirandstitch – Thanks! No need to feel like a slacker around here. This dress has been sitting around unfinished for months – talk about slacking! The neckline was a pain, but I do think it was worth the effort. No pain no gain!

  4. Tying off the ends of the dart really does make it look nice and less puckery. That’s a technique I learned when I sewed my first Colette pattern and now I use it on all the darts I sew. My technique for sewing darts is much lazier too. I just use my fabric pen to mark on my fabric where the dart needs to go. Then I sew along the line that I drew with just a couple of pins to keep the fabric from shifting. I’ve discovered that if something requires a lot of pinning, I’m less likely to do it 🙂

    Great job on your first dress!

  5. @Katie – Thanks! Yeah, I tend to overdo it on the pins, but I think it’s because I’m new at this and a little nervous. : ) Thanks for the advice – I’ll have to try my fabric pen too.

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