How to Sew Darts for Shaping Fabric

Making darts in dress fabric and lining and pressing towards the centre of the garment (making a sleeveless shift dress)
Deepak Aggarwal / Getty Images
Overview
  • Total Time: 60 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Darts on purchased patterns come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They take in fabric to give shape to the garment. They are usually found at bust lines, the back of a garment and waistbands on slacks or pants. Dart placement is a fitting issue and may require alterations. Learn how to transfer darts from patterns and sew darts for your projects.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Dressmakers carbon paper or other marking tool
  • Sewing pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Pressing ham or rolled towel
  • Scissors

Materials

  • Paper pattern pieces
  • Cut fabric garment pieces

Instructions

  1. Observe the Dart

    Darts can have one or two pointed ends. Some darts have curves. The center marking may not be included in the pattern marking. If not, it is simply the fold line. Transferring the fold line will help guide you as you construct the dart but the transferring the dots on the dart are imperative to sew an accurate dart.

    The Anatomy of a Dart
    The Spruce Crafts / Debbie Colgrove
  2. Transfer the Markings

    Transfer the markings to your fabric.

    What to Transfer
    The Spruce Crafts / Debbie Colgrove
  3. First Pinning

    Use straight pins to match the dots and hold the dart in place.

    1. Fold the dart matching the dots.
    2. Place a pin in the center of one dot marking.
    3. Fold the fabric and push the pin through the matching dot.
    4. Pin in place.
    5. Repeat for each set of dots.
    First Pinning
    The Spruce Crafts / Debbie Colgrove
  4. Final Pinning

    Re-pin so the pins are not in the stitching line or hand baste the dart in place using a running stitch, just inside the marked line.

    Once you are confident with handling the fabric and sewing machine, you may want to eliminate this step and just remove the pins as you come to them. Never sew over pins.

    The important thing is that the markings stay aligned as they are sewn in place. Remove the stitching and start again if the stitching does not go through the dots.

    Final Pinning
    The Spruce Crafts / Debbie Colgrove
  5. Start to Sew a Dart

    1. Starting at the raw edge or seam line of the dart, backstitch at the raw edge of the dart.
    2. Sew the stitching line using a regular stitch length, until you are near the point of the dart.
    Starting to Sew a Dart
    The Spruce Crafts / Debbie Colgrove
  6. Sew the Dart Point

    1. As you approach the point of the dart, shorten the stitch length and sew off the end of the fabric. Leave a long tail of thread before cutting the thread from the machine.
    2. Hand knot the thread at the end of the dart.
    3. Trim the threads.
    Sewing the Dart Point
    The Spruce Crafts / Debbie Colgrove
  7. Press the Dart

    Press the dart as it was sewn, then press in the direction stated in the pattern directions. Use a pressing ham or a rolled towel to maintain the shape the dart has added to the garment. Clip if necessary as instructed in the pattern directions.

    Trimmed and Pressed Bulky Dart
    The Spruce Crafts / Debbie Colgrove
  8. Clip and Trim

    A very bulky fabric may require you to trim the fold of the dart. Trim, leaving a seam allowance width, if needed to eliminate bulk. Grade the seam allowance if needed to prevent a bulky line on the exterior of the fabric.

    A loosely woven fabric that frays easily should not be clipped at the same place on both layers of the dart. Instead, move the scissors so that you are clipping next to the first clip but not at the same fabric thread.

    Press the Darts and Trim Them
    The Spruce Crafts / Mollie Johanson
  9. Double-Pointed Dart

    Sew a double-pointed dart as if it were two single-pointed darts.

    1. Start sewing at the center (widest point) of the dart, without backstitching, sewing to the point of the dart and shortening the stitch length as if it were a single-pointed dart.
    2. Return to the center of the dart and stitch over a couple of the previous starting stitches towards the second point of the dart.
    3. Sew to the second point of the dart, again shortening the stitch length towards the point.
    4. Finish the points of the dart by knotting the tail threads as you would for a single-pointed dart. Clip the starting threads at the dart center.
    Sewing a Double Pointed Dart
    The Spruce Crafts / Debbie Colgrove