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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!