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!