10 January 2018

How to Sew Balanced Darts

How to sew balanced darts - a great way of reducing bulk in darts - Tilly and the Buttons


Have you ever sewn darts that come out a touch bulky and unsightly, no matter how much you steam them into submission? This can be a problem when sewing thicker fabrics in particular. Vanessa here with a super simple couture dressmaking technique that will “balance” out the layers of fabric to get a beautifully smooth finish on your darts, even on the thickest of fabrics.

You can use this technique on any fitted garment made from medium to heavy-weight fabrics such as our Etta dress, jackets, skirts or trousers. It works by stitching a folded swatch of fabric to one side of your dart and pressing it in the opposite direction to “counter-balance” the centre line.

It feels like it shouldn’t work – adding fabric to make something less bulky? But it does!

Practise the technique on a sample first, then move onto your dress.

How to sew balanced darts - a great way of reducing bulk in darts - Tilly and the Buttons

Cut a rectangle of fabric slightly longer and wider than the dart you want to work with. If you’re making a dress with lots of darts, like Etta, I’d use this technique for the most noticeable ones only - such as the bust and waist darts.

How to sew balanced darts - a great way of reducing bulk in darts - Tilly and the Buttons

Fold the dart in half, right sides together, and pin the legs together. Slip half of the rectangle of fabric under the dart and pin all the layers together.

Stitch the dart legs together, catching the additional rectangle of fabric in your stitching too.

How to sew balanced darts - a great way of reducing bulk in darts - Tilly and the Buttons

Press the layers of fabric flat, then press the fabric rectangle away from the stitching line. Trim away the excess fabric following the folded edge of the dart. Be careful not to cut through the dart itself!

How to sew balanced darts - a great way of reducing bulk in darts - Tilly and the Buttons

Press the dart in one direction, and the extra fabric in the other. Turn over and press the dart lightly from the right side. It helps to use a press cloth and a rolled towel or tailor’s ham to get a smooth, shine-free finish.

How to sew balanced darts - a great way of reducing bulk in darts - Tilly and the Buttons

Et voila! Slinky smooth, curvy darts that take your finish to a whole new level!

Confused about what just happened? Let me explain a bit more! You might have noticed that in past projects, when you’ve sewn darts in medium or heavy-weight fabric, they can create a small bulk of fabric in the direction towards which it’s pressed. This is down to an unbalanced distribution of the fabric’s thickness. You could cut the dart in half and press it open, but that’s messy and likely to split open! By stitching the same layers of fabric to the dart, and pressing them in the opposite direction, the thickness is “counter-balanced”. Clever, huh?

Give it a go next time you sew darts on bulky fabric!

PS. Like this post? You may also enjoy How to sew a mitred corner

8 comments:

  1. That's interesting tip. I'll have to keep this one on file.

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  2. Any chance you'd do the demo again but use a different colored fabric for the rectangle? I'm having a difficult time discerning the garment fabric from the rectangle.

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    1. I agree with Cindy. Could you do this one as a video, and with a different coloured fabric? I wasn't clear what was going on until the end when you explained what the example wasn't.

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    2. Ah sorry it's not as clear as it could be! It does make a lot more sense once you do it :)

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  3. This looks really useful. I am also struggling to see exactly where you need to cut and where the rectangle of fabric ends up. Do you cut through both layers of the rectangle following the dart edge? And you don't need to finish the cut edge because it is cut on an angle?

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  4. Great post Vanessa but could you show the rectangle in a different colour. I found it hard to see the direction you pressed the extra fabric & the cutting. I'm trying to work out if the rectangle ends up as a single or double layer. Handy one to know. 😁

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  5. Do the cut ends need finishing? What about the selvages, she cries, arms flailing.

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  6. Brilliant idea!! Thanks for the tip!

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