Hello there! Today’s post is somewhat of a lazy make-shift post to hide the fact I’ve had a really unproductive week. It was productive in terms of my reading life, as I finished 4 books, but I haven’t been feeling great so I haven’t made anything. I’m in the process of making a shift dress, which has 4 lovely double pointed darts in them. So far I’ve only altered and cut out the pattern and I’ve been putting off making the thing because of said darts.
Darts are one of those things that I learned for the first time in college, everything in college is done to a deadline so I associate darts with pressure and disappointment. I remember trying them so many times until I was finally told that my wonky, bendy dart “would do.” When you study fashion you learn a weird mix of beginner pattern cutting and sewing, which is why it’s completely possible for me to a bit more comfortable with pattern cutting than with sewing, even though most people master the latter first. In our first week of pattern cutting we were taught how to manipulate a dart into a princess seam and ever since then I have literally never sewn a dart. I would just cut them out of every commercial pattern I did, and a year of sewing later I still can’t sew a dart. It’s embarrassing.
Two days ago I decided to face my fears and dedicate a whole day to practicing them. I cut up an old Betty Boop duvet cover (RIP Betty! </3) and practiced for a few hours. In the whole time, I probably sewed around 40 darts. They still kind of suck, but are definitely a big improvement. I found that after practicing my darts were straighter, flatter at the point, and started and ended where they were supposed to. I thought I’d share some pictures on here and share a couple of things I learned as a complete beginner.
- Firstly, I learned that I definitely prefer to start sewing at the point of the dart. You kind of have to with double-pointed darts, but with the regular kind they encourage you to start from the raw edge. I practiced both ways but I found that, although my dart aim was eventually quite good, I would still overshoot around 10% of the time no matter how much I practiced if I started at the raw edge.
- I found that the best way to start sewing the dart is to put the needle right next to the fabric, just above the point, and then twist the hand wheel to get the needle to make a stitch right on the point. I’ve tried to show this in the image above. This usually gave me a dart that didn’t have a pucker at the end.
- In order to get a straight dart I found that you have to kind of aim your stitch line, and then once you start sewing commit to it 100%. Otherwise, the dart will turn out wonky. The best way to aim the dart is to line the end point of the dart up with the needle the best you can, and try to sew in a straight line. After realizing this and practicing it a few times my aim was pretty good. You really do have to have to have faith in your aim though, even if you think it isn’t going to meet the point keep going because it probably will if you’re sewing straight.
- Instead of back- tacking at the point I learned that you should tie a double knot instead. Otherwise it can look bulky.
- I still suck at double pointed darts, I’m not entirely sure what the center is supposed to look like. I know it’s not supposed to be a sharp turn but I struggle getting the curve in the exact place if I try to sew it more smoothly. I need a lot more practice with these, although I think that for now I’m good enough at them to make my dress.Here are some pictures of my progress. I am really am pretty happy at the moment and glad I sat down and gave them a try. As you can see the first dart doesn’t even hit any of the points and is really wonky, but the last is smooth and hits the guidelines I drew perfectly. These are just a small selection of the ones that I sewed. I’m not ashamed to say it took a LOT of practice for me to get them right, they are something that I have always struggled with.
Here are some of the resources that I used to help me learn (contains affiliate links, read disclosure):
- Alison Smith’s Couture Dressmaking Techniques class on Craftsy- Alison Smith is my pink-haired hero. This class is a little out of my depth but I would still recommend it to any beginner as her extensive expertise of sewing has been so helpful to me. It was with her advice that I tried sewing darts from the tip (which worked best for me) and the information about how to press darts beautifully will no doubt make my projects look so much better. The class is around £40 but wait for a sale (there is always a sale) and you can get it for £20 or less. You might be able to get the same information in her popular book, but I don’t own it, so don’t hold me to that.
- Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing – It will become quickly evident on this blog that this is my favourite sewing book. This book has 5 very detailed pages all about sewing darts. It covers basic single point darts, double point contour darts, French darts and gives information about how to sew darts in underlined and interfaced garments. I have the old edition of this book, and you can usually get it on amazon second hand for a few pounds. I got mine for £1 at a boot sale.
- The Singer Sewing book by Mary Picken– This has a little bit of information about the different placements of darts in garments that I haven’t seen anywhere else. The book was originally published in 1949, so I imagine that I haven’t seen this information before because these dart placements are only seen in vintage patterns. This book is super cheap so I recommend it anyway.
I hope that this post was helpful to anybody who also sucks at darts. I’m still very much a beginner at sewing so I might do a lot more of these posts. I think it’s helpful for me to list things that I have learned/ figured out as a beginner, it will help me do beginners tutorials when I am more advanced. Thanks for reading!