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How To Transfer Bust Dart Location

Megan Nielsen Patterns | How To: Transferring Bust Dart Location

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.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | How To: Transferring Bust Dart Location | The Principle


Knowing the principle is one thing though, let’s have a look at how it would actually work in practice!

The example we’re going to look at is how you would transfer the dart on a basic bodice block from the waistline to the side seam. Remember as we go through these steps though, that this method can be applied to transferring a dart to and from any position on your bodice.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | How To: Transferring Bust Dart Location | Extend & Remove Dart

To begin, draw a line through and beyond the centre of your dart. In general, the actual bust point of a bodice (where the most prominent point of your bust is) sits around 1″ (2.5cm) past the dart apex (end of the dart). This is to prevent the dart from giving a really pointy look to your bust and to help create a smooth transition.

We want to be transferring the dart from the bust point (which we’ll call the bust pivot point from now on) not the dart apex, so measure and mark 1″ (2.5cm) past the dart apex along the line we drew.

Next, extend the dart from the ends of the original dart legs on the waist edge, to this new bust pivot point. You can now cut along this extended dart to remove the dart intake from the bodice entirely.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | How To: Transferring Bust Dart Location | Mark, Slash & Pivot To Create New Dart

The next step is to mark where you would like the new dart to be! We’ve shown it marked on the side seam at a horizontal 90° angle to the grainline, but remember the principle – the dart can be transferred anywhere around the bust pivot point.

With the new position marked somewhere between the edge of the pattern piece and the bust pivot point, you can now slash your pattern along this line and pivot the old dart closed. As the edges of the old dart are brought together, the space that was once there is transferred to your slash line and magically you have your new dart!

You can now place a piece of paper underneath the new dart to fill the gap and secure everything in position along your slash lines and the original dart join.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | How To: Transferring Bust Dart Location | Redraw Dart & True Dart Extension

Now to finish things up you’ll need to redraw the elements of your dart. Draw or fold a line through the centre of the dart intake and measure 1″ (2.5cm) back along it to mark your new dart apex. Your new dart legs can then be drawn between the apex and the corners of your dart opening at the edge of the pattern.

Lastly, to make sure your dart extension will fit flush with the rest of the seam, fold up your dart as if it were being sewn (being careful to fold only to the dart apex, not the bust point) and cut along the pattern edge. The dart intake will be trimmed underneath to form the dart extension that will be now be the perfect shape to align with the pattern edge.

And that’s it! 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. To get you on your way and fill you with inspiration, let’s have a look at some of the most common dart positions now!

Megan Nielsen Patterns | How To: Transferring Bust Dart Location | Standard Dart Positions

As you can see, it’s all a matter of moving that space that makes up a dart, around the bodice. When that space is closed up, i.e. when you sew up your dart and turn the 2D pattern piece into a 3D bodice, the final shape you create will be exactly the same, regardless of where the join (the dart) is.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | How To: Transferring Bust Dart Location | Standard Dart Positions

The last thing I’ll mention is that while today we have only looked at transferring a dart from one position to another, you can also divide and transfer the dart intake to multiple positions! That dart intake is yours to move around your bodice in whatever ratio or combination you like. We have a great tutorial here on doing this kind of dart manipulation with the Darling Ranges dart, so go check it out for some great examples and support!

I hope you found today’s tutorial helpful and you’re feeling excited and confident to go and experiment with your pattern’s darts. If you’ve got any questions or would like to share your experiences in playing around with dart location, don’t forget to leave a comment in the section below!

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Laura
9 years ago

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 :)

Laura
9 years ago
Reply to  Meg

that helps a lot, I’ll do it this way. thanks again!! :D

the other emily
9 years ago

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

soisewedthis
9 years ago

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

Jennifer
Jennifer
9 years ago

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

Hazel
9 years ago

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.

Danielle
9 years ago

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…

Roz
Roz
9 years ago

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

Blogless Anna
Blogless Anna
9 years ago

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!

Lara
9 years ago

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

sophie o. (monbouton)
9 years ago

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

Abbey
9 years ago

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.

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[…] 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 […]

Jen
Jen
9 years ago

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….

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[…] 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). […]

Marie
9 years ago

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

Cynthia Ferraro
Cynthia Ferraro
9 years ago

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!

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[…] 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 […]

Tina
Tina
9 years ago

Megan,

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?

Thanks,
Tina

anu
anu
9 years ago

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

trackback

[…] 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. […]

Riana
Riana
8 years ago

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

Suzanne Skip
Suzanne Skip
8 years ago

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

Suzanne

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[…] sewn darts, they can be converted to gathers or pleats or tucks. Megan Nielson has an ace post on dart manipulation and most good pattern cutting books will show a few […]

shirley D Armstrong
shirley D Armstrong
3 years ago

How do you make a bust dart in a blouse pattern with no darts?

Sean
Sean
2 years ago

Hi! I was wondering if you had any advise specific to rotating. and combining darts? I have a drafted bodice that includes a waist and shoulder dart, and was hoping you could give some tips for doing this? Can i simply rotate one dart around the pivot point and add it into the other dart? Any tips or tricks would be really appreciated !

Shirley
Shirley
2 years ago

Hi can you move bust darts on sewing patterns that you buy I have one with French seams but would prefer underarm..Great post thanks

Shruti Shinde
Shruti Shinde
4 months ago

How to make basic bodice pattern?