Back to Sewing Basics with Baby Lock: Darts

This post is sponsored by Baby Lock and contains some affiliate links.

I’m excited to start a new series on my blog: Back to Sewing Basics! We’re going to kick off this blog series with a very commonly used sewing technique: darts! They can seem tricky, and maybe even a little daunting. With the right tools, and information- you will be able to sew a perfect dart, every time. In this post I’m sewing with my Baby Lock Brilliant sewing machine.

What are darts? Darts are a fold or tuck in the fabric coming to a point that help add shape to a garment. Our bodies are not 2D, therefore this technique helps turn 2D fabric into 3D shapes that fit over the curves and fullness of the body in various places, such as the bust and backside.

Let’s go over the anatomy of a dart! I created this diagram to help show you what the different parts of a dart are called:

There are several tools I find to be very handy and that I am always reaching out for when I’m sewing darts. Not all of these tools are necessary for sewing darts but they are definitely useful, and for more than just darts! (You may have some of these on hand already). I’ve listed them below, and linked to some of my favorites:

  1. Chalk Pen or fabric pen
  2. Tailor’s Ham
  3. Clear 18″ Ruler (this gets used with every project for me!)
  4. Iron
  5. Sewing Pins
  6. Hand Sewing Needle
  7. Thread (both contrasting and matching)

How To Sew A Dart!

In this post we will be sewing a bust dart, but keep in mind there are many kind of darts: shoulder, waist, bust dart, french, neck, armhole, double darts, etc. First thing you will need to do is mark your dart legs. I’m going to teach you the method I learned in college while studying clothing construction, and that most professionals use:

Tailor’s Tack Marking Method:

With this method you will need a sewing needle and thread. This is also a great method to use if your fabric is really busy and you’re having a hard time getting the chalk to show up, or for delicate fabrics such as lace, chiffon or embellished fabric.

For this method you will need contrasting thread and a sewing needle. Thread the needle and have the thread ends meet, but do not tie a knot at the end.

First, find your dart point and dart legs. Sometimes patterns will come with small circle/notch marks slightly above the bottom of the dart leg, and one right on the dart point. These are the spots you where you will want to make or sew a tailor’s tack. See the visual below:

Leave your pinned paper pattern piece attached to the fabric while you are making your tailor’s tacks.

  1. insert the needle through the pattern and fabric at the three marked locations as shown in the diagram above. You will want to space the thread as you pull the needle back up about 1/8″ in width. Make sure to leave about 1 1/2 -2″ long thread tails.

2. Now do the same thing but along the opposite sides of the circle mark making an X, leaving a loop behind. Cut thread, leaving about a 1 1/2-2″ thread tail once again.

3. Cut the top of the loop in half, and ever so gently pull the pattern off of the fabric. If you are marking two layers at once, gently pull the two layers apart but not all the way. Cut the tailor’s tack threads in half between the layers.

4. Then, using a ruler and chalk, connect the tailor’s tacks to draw the legs and point of the dart. You could also sew many tailor’s tacks up and down the length of the dart leg to avoid using chalk. I like to leave the tailor’s tacks in place for the sewing portion of the dart- it helps to line up the legs of the dart evenly.

That’s all there is to it! Time to sew the dart.

How to Sew a Dart:

  1. Mark and trace the dart onto your fabric, remove paper pattern.

2. Fold the dart in half right sides together, making sure the two dart legs match at the tailor’s tacks. Finger press the dart into a point ending at the dart tip. Using three or so pins, pin the dart legs along the bottom, middle and just above the dart tip.

3. Time to sew! I used contrasting thread to make the stitches easier to see, but make sure to pick a thread color that matches your fabric. Starting at the bottom of the dart legs (opposite side of the dart tip), begin sewing along your chalk mark, making sure to backstitch at the beginning.

4. Continue sewing right up to and literally off of the dart tip. Try to keep your sewing straight or right on track with your chalk mark for a nice smooth dart. DO NOT BACKSTITCH to finish the dart tip. Pull your fabric our of your machine making sure to leave a thread tail.

5. Tie a knot by hand using the excess thread tails to finish off the dart. Remove tailor’s tacks.

6. Press your dart. Darts that are horizontal with the body should be pressed down, and darts that are vertical to the body should be pressed to the side of the garment. I prefer to use a tailor’s ham here to help shape the dart, but this isn’t a necessity. You really want to make sure you press the dart right along the seam line of your dart, especially at the tip. This will help prevent a weird pucker at the dart tip. (Take your time on this step to get a nicely pressed and professional looking dart). I recommend pressing on both sides of the dart- but make sure to use a press cloth for the right side of the garment so as not to leave a burn mark of the outline of the dart on your garment.

7. Tip: If your dart has a bubbling or puckering effect at the dart tip (not due to pressing), it might be worth your time to try re-sewing the tip of your dart. If the dart isn’t sewn right up to and off the edge of the dart point it can create a puckering look at your dart tip. (If you’re lazy like I am, you can try unpicking from the middle or so of the dart to the dart tip instead of starting all over!).

There you have it! Keep i mind there are lots of different kind of darts, but with this basic knowledge you should be able to figure out how to sew any darts that may come along your way. I hope you found this tutorial helpful! I’ll be back soon with more sewing basics!

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