tutorial: how to transfer bust dart location

January 16th, 2013

One of the things i love about pattern drafting is the math of it. I come from a strong math background, and the pure geometry of manipulating flat patterns brings me so much joy (nerd, whatever)

When i first began to delve into flat pattern making, i remember being blown away by the principles of dart manipulation – and today it’s still one of my favourite elements to explore.

The basic crux of it is this: a dart can be transferred to any position around the pivotal point of the bust, without altering the fit of the garment.

Why is this a big deal? It means that if you have a pattern of which you love everything except the dart positioning, you can change it. You can move that baby pretty much anywhere as long as it is pivoting around the bust point.

Lets have a look at it in practice.

I think it’s easiest to see with an example. Here is how you would transfer the dart on a basic bodice block from the waistline to the side seam.

Pretty awesome right?! And seriously – not hard. You can do it, i promise!

Honestly, the possibilities are endless – you can really move that dart anywhere around the bust point (pivotal point), until you get the look you want.

As a guide, here is what the basic bodice block pattern would look like for different standard dart placements.

26 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    hi!! I have a short question: is a dart always constructed in this way, that the pivotal point is 1″ away from the dart apex?
    that tutorial amazing! I never thought of all those possibilities, but now I’ll use this very soon :)

    • Meg says:

      Hi Laura!

      Not always – The texts i’ve read range between 1/2″ to 1″ – i just prefer 1″. There really isn’t a hard and fast rule – anything between those numbers that is your personal preference would work fine.

      A good way to check would be to find a pattern of which you find the dart particular flattering – then mark where your bust point is (after trying on) and measure the distance between the bust point and dart apex. And that would be the number you would use!

      I hope that helps a bit!!
      So glad you enjoyed the tutorial!

  2. So, so awesome Meg – a really great tip and beautifully explained!

  3. soisewedthis says:

    great diagrams! i’m not a math & numbers person at all – i’m an art person =) so i just need visuals like these. i didn’t know about the 1″ difference between the points, but it makes sense

  4. Jennifer says:

    Brilliant AND simple. Thank you for putting together the tutorial. I have read this before, but seeing the diagrams made it “sink in”.

  5. Hazel says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out a simple way to do this for ages, all the tutorials I’ve found make it look soo complicated! So thank you for demystifying it for me, I can’t wait to give it a try.

  6. Danielle says:

    Oh, this is fantastic – thank you so much! I never knew there was an actual method for doing this (other than trial and – much – error, that is) That’s inspired me to go and play with fabric immediately…

  7. Roz says:

    This is super! So well explained and love the helpful diagrams!

  8. I’ve been reading up on this recently and you’ve provided a great summary. Math doesn’t excit me so much, but as I’m a visual person, I love your diagrams!

  9. Lara says:

    This is fantastic, I’m starting to get bored of all the dresses I make having very basic side and waist darts – this will be the next thing to try! Thanks! x

  10. great tutorial! I didn’t about that 1″ or 1/2″ away rule, it probably makes all the difference!

  11. Abbey says:

    This is really great Megan! Very simple explanation on how to pivot the bust darts. Would you be doing a tutorial on how to transfer bust darts into pleats or gathers as well? I can never seem to understand how to get that done.

  12. […] remove some of the fullness of the skirt, we're getting closer.If I used Megan Nielsens's tutorial on how to reposition a dart, I can move the dart in the Darling Ranges from the side to […]

  13. Jen says:

    Love the straight-forward explanations. Would you be able to explain how to move curved darts? My sloper fits perfectly but the darts are curved and I’d like to use this technique or similar to draft other design but can’t think how to when the waist dart on the bodice is a fish-eye curved one… Hmmm….

  14. […] recently did a post about transferring bust dart locations, and there are a whole bunch of places you could move it to (see that post for more explaination). […]

  15. Marie says:

    I just stumbled upon this via pinterest… Seriously mind blown… I absolutely love all those variation options!

  16. Cynthia Ferraro says:

    Hi, I would love to know how to turn a bust dart from the standard side dart into gathers beneath the bust. I look forward to hearing from you, Thank you for this terrific and informative site!

  17. […] ganz anders als die raffinierten vorne überkreuzten Abnäher des passport dresses. Aber dank dieser genialen Anleitung war auch das kein Problem. Ich habe die Abnäher einfach verlegt und lande bei der gleichen Optik […]

  18. Tina says:


    I have a 4.5″ dart in my moulage and was told that this will lay closer to the body if I divide this up into 2 darts. The first just above the initial dart line and the second a bit lower – splitting the dart into two parts.

    I’ve been trying to re-draft the garment with two darts – of course it sounded so easy. Can you recommend a technique for doing this?


  19. anu says:

    Your diagram s and theory is to the point. Its been very helpful…thanks

  20. […] The main change is to the bust dart – the bust dart position has been moved from the side to the waist. As much as i loved the side darts, a waist dart allows for more variations in the pattern, is easier to alter, and is flattering on a wider range of people. If you have the original pattern making this change is super easy – just follow this tutorial: How to transfer bust dart location. […]

  21. Riana says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial, I’ve been searching for days how to do bust dart, this article is amazing.

  22. Suzanne Skip says:

    I’ve recently started sewing again after many years. My problem is most European patterns have the breast darts about 2″ too high. I am 11″ front high shoulder to tip of breast. How do I lower the darts on these patterns.
    Hope you can help.

    Thank you


    • Meg says:

      HI Suzanne! It’s actually a pretty easy fix. Just redraw the dart apex 2″ lower than on the pattern, then redraw the dart legs from the new dart apex to where the dart legs hit the seamline. Thats it! You’ll have to do a muslin to make sure it fits right, as you may still need to adjust, but that’s the simplest fix :)
      hope it helps a bit!!
      Meg xoxo