22 November 2013

Five or Six Ways to Sew a Dart


Just as there's more than one way to skin a cat (aw poor kitty!), there's more than one way to approach any sewing technique. When you're just starting out, following instructions from a book, sewing pattern or website on how to make something is a great way to learn. But don't be fooled into thinking that technique you learnt is the only way. Keep your ear the ground, as you'll probably discover multiple methods of accomplishing the same outcome. As your confidence grows, you might even invent your own technique - and that's awesome! I'm a big advocate of innovation and questioning convention (man), and it makes total sense to be creative when you're creating, non? That's why it's called DIY. In any case, I guess what I'm saying is be open to new ways of doing things and to do what works for you, rather than worrying whether you're doing it the "correct" way. (Because there's no such thing.)

Case in point, in the last few weeks I came across no less than five different ways of sewing a dart. Five! I love that. Each one had me ooh-ing with interest. Wanna know what they are? Here goes...


1. The Tilly
Okay, so this isn't one of the five, this is my starting point of the method I use. I didn't invent it, it's just my go-to technique. Although that'll probably change once I try out all the other ways listed below. In brief, with this method, you mark the dart legs on the fabric, start sewing from the outer edge towards the tip, stitch off the end and tie the loose threads in a knot. Hand-tying and then steaming the point will avoid creating a nipple bump. Phew.


2. The Christine
In Christine Haynes' Emery Dress sewalong, the approach she uses is to change the stitch length to 1mm to sew the last 1cm / 3/8" or so of the dart. The smaller stitches will stay in place so you don't need to tie them in a knot. Genius! (If you're still getting used to the sewing machine, just take extra care here as the smaller stitch length might lead to wibbly-wobbly stitches.)


3. The Katie
I came across an interesting tip in the instructions that accompany the Watson jacket sewing pattern from Papercut Patterns. Katie suggests pivoting around when your needle reaches the tip of the dart, and stitching half way back down across the flap of the dart itself, as a way of finishing the stitching away from the end so it's not left too pointy.


4. The Kristen
When I took a course in professional sewing techniques, we learnt lots of short cuts to maximise productivity. If you're sewing for fun, you can afford to take your time, but it's interesting to know a few tips and tricks of the trade. One such short cut was recently shared by Kristen from Colette Patterns. Instead of marking the dart on the fabric, pull the thread from your sewing machine needle towards you and - more importantly - to the tip of the dart. Use the thread as a stitching guide - sew in this direction to end up at the tip. Clever! This is definitely one for the more advanced stitchers amongst you, so don't be disheartened if you find it tricky.


5. The Anna
Anna from A Few Threads Loose shared a tip she learnt on another sewing course. This time, instead of sewing in a straight line towards and off the tip of the dart, you stitch a slight curve towards the end of the dart for a smoother shape. I must try this!


6. The Marie
And finally, Marie the Maverick defies convention by starting her stitching from the tip of the dart rather than the edge of the fabric. I don't do this myself, as I find my needle and bobbin thread all get tangled up together into a knot before I've even started. But somehow Marie manages it, so she wins ten points for sticking it to the man and going her own way. Yeah!

So there you have it! Multiple ways of achieving the same outcome. Do you know any other tips or tricks for sewing a dart? Whether it's something you learnt from someone else, or a method you made up yourself, do share!

37 comments:

  1. I was taught to sew off the end point of the dart and fabric, then backstitch a little into the dart fabric. When you stitch off the end of the fabric you don't get those little nipple dimples at the point of the dart.

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  2. I love being a Maverick! It happens so infrequently, but I'm sure as hell feeling pretty cool right now! Thanks for sharing all these great techniques Tilly, I'm definitely pinning for future use!

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  3. Excellent post! I have to say I'm very keen to try The Katie and The Anna - they look like very effective ways of avoiding the pointy nipple problem!

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  4. This is a great compilation to have. I also found this method from Marina that is sometimes used in couture sewing. It's called a "one thread dart," and it doesn't leave any thread tails. It's kinda like magic, and it's not that hard. It just requires a few extra seconds of work.

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  5. The only one of these methods I haven't used is 'the Katie' the rest I seem to alternate through depending on my mood (and how much time I have!)

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  6. Great post, especially on pointing out (hah!) that there ARE many methods in sewing, and part of the fun is trying them all. I usually use the same method as Anna, which I learned (I believe) from Palmer/Pletsch. It's a really good method when the underlying "bumps" are especially round. :-)

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  7. I love this post. I particularly like the Christine and the Anna and must try these. Just goes to show that there's more than one way to crack a nut, in a sewing sense that is.

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  8. I use the Anna technique on all my darts and it's excellent!

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  9. Thanks, Tilly! The Anna looks intriguing.

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  10. I love this post - as a dart sewing novice, this is so helpful!

    http://asaucystitch.blogspot.co.uk/

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  11. I love this post too! I have been doing the Anna my whole sewing life and didn't know it! Love your blog, Tilly.

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  12. Great tips to try! I always get a little too pointy on the back shoulder darts. Will have to try these.

    Thank you!
    Laura Okita

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  13. Great post, Tilly! There are a couple here I have yet to try and I can't wait to give it a go!

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  14. I can't seem to manage The Kristen, I like a bit of marking...
    When in sewing class I was thought the Anna as well, but now I always use the Christine...

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  15. Great post! Something so simple can be done so many ways. I love it!

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  16. A fab tutorial Tilly, thanks so much, have a fab weekend
    Big hugs
    Dorothy
    :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  17. Another way to ensure that there is no bump at the tip of the dart on delicate fabric is to not backsticth or tie a knot, when you reach the end of the dart continue sewing and the top and bobbin thread will create a tightly wrapped tail. No knots needed. This probably is best for darts that are covered by lining, etc. because you wouldn't want to see the tail inside your finished piece.

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    1. Great tip, thanks for sharing, Lisa.

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  18. Great summary! I use the Christine method but might try a Christiine-Anna hybrid!

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  19. I cut tiny squares of fashion fabric and when I sew off the tip if the dart I sew onto that square, that small amount of fabric sort of fills in the dimple.

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  20. That is what I LOVE most about sewing… you make it your own!

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  21. Great tips! I like to use masking tape as a guide for my stitching line because I always had trouble with darts. I posted a mini tutorial http://soisewedthis.blogspot.com/2013/04/masking-tape-darts.html?m=1

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  22. Cool! I use half of these at once: use the tread tail to make the line instead of marking it, shorten stitch length at the end, stitch off the end of the fabric, and then pull back and anchor the thread tail with a few stitches back up on the inside of the dart.

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  23. Great post! I definitely learned something new :) as a self-taught seamstress I really like to see the proper ways to sew something combined in one spot without have to read for ages.

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  24. Ooh, I never thought to use a smaller stitch at the end! I'm going to try this next time I dart!

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  25. My sewing teacher pointed this prep tip out to me, and it made things SO much faster. Previously, I had been thread tracing both sides of the dart from the pattern, and matching them up before stitching. She pointed out that most darts are triangles, so as if you mark the apex, and the base midpoint, and snip slightly where the dart feet end in your seam allowance, you can sew in a straight line from apex to midpoint, then fold the fabric in half, and then sew the dart.

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    1. Ooh that sounds interesting... do you then pull out the first line of stitching?

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  26. In "Fitf or Real People" they recommend to sew until 1 and 1/2 inch of the point, then shorten the stich length. Continue stitching towrads the folded edge. Stitches should be right on the edge for the last 1/4-1/2 inch. Once off the edge, stitch in place in the dart allowance about 1 inch from the point.

    I've been using this method and it worls reallt well!

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  27. Thank you very much for showing us these techniques. For my part, I used to like Marie ... not very academic, of course, but this is the technique that works best for me ;-) ... Sorry, my English is quite poor ... See you soon!

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  28. Thanks for these dart sewing tips. Will try some of them the next time I sew a dart!

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  29. Thanks for the tips Tilly. Can't wait to try them out

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  30. I came to share the same method as Claire - the single thread dart. The technique is to pull your bobbin thread up into your needle with plenty of length to get to the end of the dart and start sewing from the point. Of course you have to re thread for each dart.

    It's surprising how many variations there can be for such a simple task.

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  31. I highly recommend the single thread dart. It is dart perfection!

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  32. Claire Shaffer also recommends the single thread dart, but she ties the knot right in the threads as they are and pulls them through the eye of the needle, no backwards threading required. I just tried it, and am not sure if this will be my preferred method.

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