The House of Tatterdemalion


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Less and more: less blogging, more darts!

April 17th, 2017 by tatterdemalion

Hi I don’t know f you are still blogging but I was wondering if you could clear up something about having a very large side bust dart from making a fba and then rotating half to a waist dart and leaving the rest at the bust. does this work or would you be left with extra fabric at bust dart and therefore should rotate the whole amount. If this is possible I’m not sure why people aren’t doing this instead of trying to split bust darts into 3 etc and leaving them at the side bust position.
Thank you so much if you can clarify this for me.
Kind regards Valerie

Valerie! Thank you for writing! I’m sadly not blogging, because I am even more sadly not sewing, a situation I still dearly hope can be remedied someday, but as for today: alas. But I still love taking your questions and trying to answer them, and I welcome all inquiries, even from the Time of No Sewing. Here is my best answer, complete with my classic low-quality but highly effective illustrations.

You are correct that a very large dart makes for poor shaping and is better divided up into more than one dart. In fact, the more darts, the more subtle and flattering and plain old accurate the shaping is. More lines (or darts) make for a smoother shape.

Absolutely you could rotate half of it to a waist dart and leave the rest at the bust. And there’s nothing to say you have to stop at two darts. You could do one bust dart and two waist darts, or any other myriad of combinations.

Why aren’t people doing this? Some are, I’m sure. But this is the place where we leave technical possibility and go on to choice of design. Some people feel that waist darts bring more attention to the bust, acting as arrows toward what is already prominent:

Some people feel it ruins the flow of the pattern or nap. The larger your dart, the more it disrupts the pattern. Bust darts on the side still disrupt the pattern, but they’re near your arm pit and often covered by your arm, so who knows or cares?

Some people feel it conflicts with the garment design they were going for (and again, the side dart can be more easily hidden and provided shaping without structural lines).

But can you? Absolutely you can, and in many cases, it is not only functional, but quite flattering! Darts are both a functional element (shaping) and a design element (appearance). If using waist darts to shape for the bust works with the fabric you have that you want to use, the shape and structure of the garment you want to make, and whatever you find to be flattering on your body—well, the choices are pretty much endless. For a bucket load of ideas, try taking a look at “Make Your Own Dress Patterns” by Adele Margolis, who I rather adore for having her sewing book re-published at the ripe old age of 97 (she lived to a hundred and is now sadly departed). Or, search for “dart placement” on Pinterest or Google Images.

Or, ask me another question! 🙂


Posted in Tutorials | 1 Comment »

Yokes: One Way to Hide Darts

August 12th, 2012 by tatterdemalion

Hello y’all, and especially Jenn, who took me at my word and asked for a tutorial on how to make yokes! It may be helpful if you’ve already read my crash course on dart moving, but even if not, it should be pretty easy to follow along. Hands on helps for faster learning, so you may want to work along side with your own copy of miniature slopers, found in nearly any pattern drafting book and probably some places on the web. Or you can draw your own, if you are handily artistic. Which I am not. As we will see shortly.

So this is a yoke sloper (or block, depending on who is calling it names). It is 1/4 of a skirt, and half of the back, and it has one dart for your bum. As you can see, even though life has picked me up, swirled me around, and dropped me on my bum, I still have the same ol’ dining room table and the same really bad lighting.

The first thing we’re going to do is draw a line straight across the sloper, level with the bottom of the dart. (Please bear in mind that right now we’re talking theory so we understand what we’re doing. Please DON’T go do this to the original pattern that you want to modify so that it has a yoke.

Now take a cute lil pair of scissors and cut along the line we drew, the same way you cut out the dart earlier. This essentially renders our solid sloper block into three pieces.

Now rotate the two top pieces together until they touch, and Ta-Da! You have a skirt with a yoke!

And now this is the part where you say, “Now, wait just a second, honey. I don’t know about you, but the rest of us don’t consider this a yoke. A yoke is sort of like a waistband-type thingy, and this thing goes half-way down your backside!”

Okay, okay. Technically, this could be a yoke, albeit a very deep one, but really this is just to give you an idea of what we’re working on here. A yoke appears to have no shaping in it, because the shaping is moved to the seam between the yoke and the rest of the garment, rather than in it’s original dart location. But shaped it is. All we are doing when we make a yoke is moving around the shaping so we can put seams where we’d rather. The fit stays the same, but the fabric pieces look different.

So what would we really do?

Let’s draw our line higher up, bisecting the dart. In real life, we wouldn’t want a yoke so deep. So here’s our little example we’re drawing; in real life, you would measure down from the original waist however deep you wanted the yoke to be. (So, if you wanted a 3″ yoke, you would measure three inches down from the original waist at several points, and connect them as needed. That is to say, if your original waistline is curved, you really want your lower yoke seam to follow that same curve.)

Cut along that line, and again, you have three pieces. From here, you really have a lot of different options. Let’s explore some of them.

The simplest option is to put the two top pieces together, and blend the edges where they meet (smoothing out those points and dips into gentle curves). That leaves you with this:

You would still sew it up just like you would a normal darted skirt. So that lil’ dart, but then seam the yoke piece onto the top edge. The shaping–the fit of the garment– is still the same, but sewn up, the pieces now look different than the original draft.

But what else can you do?

Here, we’ve put the two “yoke” pieces together, effectively “sewing the dart” in that part of the garment. But now look what trickiness I’m going to do. I’ve drawn a line running straight from the point of the dart down to the hem of the skirt.

Slice it and dice and sew it up, and what do you have?

An embarrassingly bad sketch of a yoked, princess seamed skirt! All the same shaping is still there. The “dart” for the top pieces is now “hidden” in the horizontal seam, and the dart for the lower pieces is now hidden in the vertical seam. We’ve added more seams, but we haven’t changed the fit of the skirt. This style would be good for firmer fabrics without a lot of drape — denim or dressier weaves that are thicker and stiffer — or just any time you want a more tailored look.

But what else can we do after we’ve sliced it and diced it?

Take a minute to think about this one. As you recall from previous tutorials, when we close the dart at one end, we “open” fullness at the other end. Rather than sewing this dart, we’ve rotated it closed, opening it up in the bottom. We’re not going to sew this dart in the bottom; we’re going to leave it open on the pattern and un-cut in the fabric. What will this look like?

An inky sketch of an A-Line skirt with a yoke. This skirt will now be nicely fitted up by the waist and through the hips, but after that, it opens up in to a much more full skirt with lots of drape and movement. This would be good with thinner fabrics, or if you’d like a skirt with a little more swish and swirl.

But what else can we do?

You can gather it. Put together the top pieces for a yoke. Don’t sew the darts in skirt portion; instead, gather the extra till the skirt fits the yoke.

Not really my kinda thing, but everyone knows I’m a style heathen.

Here’s another option, if you are into fashionable, noteworthy sorts of things:

It might make your head hurt a little, until you figure out how it goes together, but I promise, it’s the same fit, just with different seamlines on the backside. And as one who has made a lot of stuffed animals, I can tell you it’s really not too hard to sew, either. Sew the skirt dart first, and then the horizontal dart connecting the skirt to the faux yoke.

If you really, really, really don’t want darts in the back, there is another option, but this one will mess with the fit a little. I’d only do it if your original dart is already pretty small, for whatever reason (this can include having already lowered the waist, making your skirt a little low-riding, or a different body build. For example, being short and sturdy, I def have darts back there. My lithe, bean-pole sister? Not so much so. She could get away with this method a lot better than I could).

‘K. So. Here’s an up close picture of our original dart.

Now we draw the line that will make the yoke. (See how I was clever enough this time to make it follow the original waistline?)

Now we’re gonna monkey with the dart. Draw a straight line down through the center of the dart.

And draw new lines for the dart, ending at the lower edge of the yoke.

So for this version, it will still fit snugly right at the waist, but you won’t have the same amount of shaping through the hips. You really need a drapey fabric to make this work, like a very fluid knit or even silk.

Cut out only your new dart, and then slice and dice.

And rotate for the yoke.

You can see why you can’t really get away with this unless you have a pretty small dart to begin with. You can also see that there’s pretty much a fish-eye dart of un-sewn ease. Maybe you’re okay with that, and maybe you’re not. It all depends on what you’re heading after.

Now, I have reprimanded you to follow the original line of the waist when drawing your yoke. You don’t really have to; that’s another style option. You can draw it how ever you’d like it to look and however you’re willing to dare to sew it. (Angles and curves can get tough, but if quilters can do it, so can you!)

You’d still just rotate out the dart in the yoke portion (put the two pieces together and cut them from the fabric as one piece), and you’d still just sew the dart (or any of the other options we’d discussed) in the skirt portion. The fancy-shmancy curved line doesn’t change any of that.

As a final note, it’s very important to realize that this tutorial DOES NOT just apply to skirt yokes. A significant example would be a shoulder yoke. Technically, these can go in either the front (taking up some bust fullness) or back (for shoulder curve), but are most frequently found in the back.

My picture up-loader is telling me I’m out of space, so I can’t do a step by step for you; but you’d follow the exact same process of drawing the line for the yoke at the tip of the dart, cutting the pattern into 3 pieces, and rotating the top two together and smoothing the lines. It would look something sort of similar to this.

The top is the original darted pattern sewn up. The middle has the same shaping, but now that dart is hidden in the yoke seam. And the bottom one is supposed to portray a boxy, unfitted top with no shoulder shaping.

But don’t feel like you have to stop at what is most common. You can actually turn the bottom of a bodice into a yoke in the same manner. Experiment! And let me know if you have any questions. 🙂

Posted in Technical, Tutorials | 2 Comments »

I take your questions and do my best to answer them, vol. 2

March 29th, 2009 by tatterdemalion

Bernice recently left a comment on my “Crash Course on Dart Moving“.




I like taking questions from the audience, and I like being able to help people who are struggling to figure something out. If anyone out there has questions, please ask them. It may take me a few weeks for me to get back to you, but I will get back to you. I can’t give a 100% guarantee that I know the answers to everything, but I have to be getting close to knowing everything. (Right? Right? C’mon, somebody back me up here!)

Okay, this explanation is going to be on the long side, so bear with me. Because the first thing I’m going to talk about is the whole reason or purpose for darts.

Here’s a sheet of paper. We’re going to pretend it’s fabric, because like fabric, it is flat.

paper or fabric, you choose

(That’s my brother’s mouse, and my brother’s speaker.) And here in this next picture is a can of Parmesan cheese.


(And that’s my brother’s mess. I take absolutely no responsibility for that mess. It’s all his.) The poor, abandoned cheese container has no clothes. But we’re going to fix that.

no darts

So we take our fabric and wrap it around the container. Perfect fit, right? And no darts! This is our “guy” example. His clothes need no shaping. He doesn’t understand why you always get so grumpy about clothes not fitting, because how complicated can it be? You just wrap some fabric around yourself, and you’re good!

We will try not to do violent things to our guy example, even though he has no empathy or understanding and thinks everyone in the world is just like him.

Here’s a girl example:


She has curves.

If she takes a piece of fabric and wraps it around her, it’s not going to fit her the same way it fit the guy. Here’s a cutaway example so we can see what’s happening:

the speaker covered

The fabric fit our guy example the same way all over. There was nothing complicated about that situation. But in our girl example, the fabric covers her just fine at the largest point, and it’s loose everywhere else. In order to get the fabric to fit her the same everywhere, we need to do this:

speaker with a darted cover

We’ve pinched out the extra. What does this look like when we take the paper off?



So, darts are shaping that is made by taking away fabric where it is too loose. Generally speaking, anyway. That’s the idea; tuck it away in the back of your head for the moment—we’re going to talk about something slightly different now.

Here is another mild-mannered piece of fabric/paper:

another example

Hello, fabric. This fabric has no shaping. It has no darts.


Here I’ve drawn on a 1″ dart. So now this fabric has a dart, but it is an “unsewn” dart, so there is still no shaping. Let’s “sew” this dart.


Now instead of laying flatly on the table, this fabric has some shaping.


See what I mean?

Now what happens if we make the dart bigger? Here I’ve made the dart into a 2″ dart.


And when we tape it up, the shaping is even greater.


The larger we draw our dart,


The taller our shaping becomes.


Some people phrase this as “The bigger the bump, the bigger the dart.” I think of it as simply the difference between two measurements. You have to take as much as necessary out of the bigger measurement to make it equal the smaller measurement.

Now let’s move on to a real life example. Here’s me. In an old t-shirt. A Land’s End boys’ t-shirt, to be exact.


(The mess is all mine, but I still don’t take any responsibility for it. I have lots of good excuses, but they take too long to type.)

Since it’s a boys t-shirt, it has no shaping whatsoever. Somebody has sewn together two flat rectangles, and put sleeves on it. It’s meant to fit our cheese container, which needs no shaping. It’s all the same anyway on a boy. But I am not a boy, and this means it doesn’t fit me the same everywhere.

What this means is that there are darts when I wear this t-shirt, but they are un-sewn darts.

Remember in our examples? When we put the flat piece of paper on the curvy speaker, suddenly there were these big gaps that weren’t there when we put the same piece of paper on the cheese container. And do you remember in the second example, when we drew the darts but didn’t sew them?

Well, this is what happens when you put the unshaped fabric on a shape. It tries to make darts.


Did you see them before I pointed them out to you?

This is what we call “un-sewn darts” or “fullness” or “extra fabric”. If you put an un-shaped piece of fabric on something that has shape, there is “leftovers”.

So here we “sew” the dart. I’m pinning out the fullness; I’m “creating” a dart; I’m shaping the fabric.


And in this extremely blurry picture, you can see it’s still all loose and unshaped on the left side.


So that’s what you call a bust dart. This is what happens when you put in a waist dart:


Since my nickname is not “Miss Skinny Through the Middle”, I find these waist darts to be hugely unflattering, and in real life I’m not going to use them. But if you were a guy, “waist darts” are the only darts you’d ever use, and even then, probably only if you were working on a jacket/sports coat/etc.


So shaped on the right side,


unshaped on the left. The shirt is the same. It’s just that one side has “unsewn” darts, and the other side has “sewn” darts.

You can also shape the side seams. Notice the unsewn darts on the left?


In real life, I would use the bust dart and shape the side seam, but I wouldn’t use the waist dart. This is now seriously into sausage-casing territory, which I call “Not a Good Look.”


In general, you can always use smaller darts. It just means you will have “less shaping”, or your garment will look more like the paper on speaker. But you can’t really make darts bigger, beyond a certain point. Could we have made the darts bigger on the paper on the speaker? No! Could have we made them smaller? Yes, but it would have been a looser, less shaped fit.

So what does any of this have to do with anything? Well, to answer Bernice’s questions:

(1) Your pattern probably does have darts, they’re just unsewn and undrawn. You can put them in. Probably pin-fitting a muslin would be the way to go (just as I pin fit my t-shirt), simply because it’s the most straight forward. Putting in darts will change the fit, though, so if you already like the fit, don’t bother with the darts.

(2) Once you “put your darts in”, you can’t really make them bigger. That’s just the shape you are. But you don’t need to make your darts bigger in order to put in pintucks.

All darts disregarded (either sewn or unsewn), all you need to do to add pintucks is slash-and spread.

Let’s move on to little pattern examples, of which mine are unfortunately very poor quality. I apologize, but I’m running out of steam here, and I really want to get this answer to you this weekend. Otherwise it’s anyone’s guess when I’ll finish it.

If I had a “dartless” pattern that I liked, and I wanted to add decorative tucking down the front, I’d mark off the section I wanted to tuck, like this:


Then I’d slash right up the middle of that section, and spread it apart as far as I needed it,


and tuck it.


Now if I had a shaped pattern, and I wanted decorative tucks down the front, I’d arrange my darts like this:


Mark off my area I wanted tucked, like this:


Slash right along the straight line and add my extra fabric, and tuck:


Now I think what Bernice was talking about was doing “functional” tucks, using tucks to take in the fullness instead of darts. In that case, you can leave the darts without having a perfectly vertical line, and simple tuck out the fullness at the top and the bottom. This will mean the tucks won’t make as straight line down the front of the shirt, but rather will end before reaching the bust.


And that was my rather pathetic illustration of the origin of darts, where they came from, how they got there, what they’re doing there, and what happens when they leave. If I was being paid to do this kind of stuff, I would have taken the time to actually have unblurry, focused pictures. But as it is, it has taken me 5 hours to do all of this, and everything else I was supposed to do this weekend is calling my name. So as far as picture quality, I guess you’ll have to take what you can get. As far as understanding it, however, please let me know if you have any other questions. I will keep working at it until it makes sense for you!

Posted in Articles, Technical, Tutorials | 4 Comments »

Why I did what I did

August 31st, 2008 by tatterdemalion

I believe in taking responsibility for my actions. No denials, no excuses!! So here’s what I was thinking when I made the infamous cherry dress.

I’m sure you were all hoping for something much more scandalous, but no. In my own quest to better my design skills, I have attempted to read all sorts of materials on design. Mostly, they don’t say what they were thinking; they just throw out vague mumbo-jumbo that roughly translates “you just kind of wing-it, and hopefully it comes out good”. Or else they apply such strained concepts and methods that the end result is something that would be worn down the runway, which is to say, no sane human being would ever willingly, mindfully wear it.

So I may not be any great, grand designer, but I can at least show you the thought process I went through as I made this dress. You may not ever want to make anything remotely like it, and that’s okay. The idea is to be able think more consciously about what you are doing and why. This is necessary when it comes to that all important step called “editing”. You will not be able to figure out what you need to add or take away from your design if you have no idea why you ever starting making it the way you did in the first place. An idea, that is, besides the altogether much too vague statement of “Because I like it.” (Not that such a statement doesn’t have it’s uses—it does, and I use it regularly—but when one is trying to improve something, one really needs to have much more focused thought.)

So, the dress.

I started with this pattern (note the “start”. I wound up drafting my own pattern from scratch, to my measurements).


I liked it because it had such clean, flowing lines. It was a neat fit at the top, but with a nice full skirt. It wasn’t fussy, though it could be elegant if it were made in the proper fabric. I liked how the darts in the back of the bodice turned into pleats in the skirt; I liked that vertical structural line, because I’m doing just fine in the “short” and “wide” categories, and I think it works better with my proportions to encourage vertical movement.

Short side note: Note I say “my proportions”. I am no proponent of us all looking alike—far from it. I don’t hold to an ideal standard that all women must aspire to. But you have utterly no artistic ability at all if you can’t differentiate between proportions that are pleasing to the eye and proportions that aren’t. Some people refer to this as “phi” or the Golden Ratio. Some people have noted that children seem to have an innate sense of balance in their drawings. Some people study the shapes and proportions in nature. Architects (or the good ones, any way) are hugely concerned with proportion. To pretend that pleasing proportions is something that relates to everything the world except the human form is just plain silly.

The job of the clothes designer is not to say—this is an awful form, bring me another one, preferably a size 2 1/2, with high cheekbones. The job of the clothes designer is to trompe-l’oiel, to fool they eye. Anyone who firmly believes seeing is believing hasn’t been seeing well enough how he’s been fooled. Guiding the eye to believe what it is seeing is the job of any artist.

For a most basic example of this: grab a pen and a piece of paper, and draw a square. Don’t use a ruler, or any other measuring device. Now turn the paper sideways. Does the square still look as square? Probably not. The eye tends to squash things. You probably drew your square taller than it ought to have been. When you turned the paper sideways, this was revealed. Now that you have your paper turned, it looks a little more like a horizontal rectangle and a little less like a perfect square. You can search for geometric optical illusions, and you shall find fifty hundred other examples. The point is this: Your job is not is not to fault the form, but to simply present the form in it’s most favorable light. You can change what is seen simply by guiding the eye as you choose—leading it ignore some things, and focus on others. You can make anything look awful if you abuse it enough, and nearly anything will strike the eye if it’s presented properly.

And all of this is to say, I want to hear nothing at all along the lines of protest when I say something isn’t flattering to my proportions. This isn’t about rules, and this isn’t about standards. All this means is that you, as the designer, have the power to lead the eye. Make a conscious decision to do so.

Now, back to the dress.

This is the fabric that I chose.


I chose it because it had my two very favorite colors in it—red and green. It reminded me of the most wonderful part of summer. It was cheerful and full of life. It was meant to be a picnic dress—the sort of dress you can wear when you are celebrating the chance to relax, and the sort of dress you can get muddy without worry.

Hear comes the first design issue. The background color of this fabric is much too similar to the tone of my skin.


Everything needs a good strong frame. Look at paintings, look at windows, look at gates. Nothing looks so awful as something that bleeds into its surrounds, without the dignity to stand up and be proper about it. It weakens whatever it is, to have the edges fade off in a sickly sort of way. So the first order of work was to contain this fabric, so it didn’t bleed away into me. The goal of this dress is NOT to make it appear that I am wearing nothing more than a few vines with red berries on them, thank you very much. The garment is separate from me.

Enter the piping at the neck and sleeves. This creates a line distinguishing the dress from me.


Having placed that red at the sleeves and neck, you can see why it was a necessity to put it at the bottom as well. In part to keep from having the dress fade out weakly at the bottom, but in a part because continuity demands it. The eye is very disappointed when what it expects to see is simply missing. It’s like missing a button off your shirt, when all the rest are very regularly spaced. Your eye just wants it to be there. It should be there. It’s the logical conclusion. Not putting a band on the bottom now would be like writing a story with no resolution. It would be most unsatisfying.

This is what we have now:


Do you notice any problems?

The eye is attracted to strong colors; it moves from similarities to similarities. (You’re going to be hearing a lot about the “eye”, just so you know.) The eye doesn’t have much initiative, it likes to be led. So it is dutifully following where it is being led, jumping about from cherry to cherry to cherry. But the eye is also lazy; it really doesn’t like all this running around. It wants to rest. This is utterly too much work. It would rather look away than keep moving around on this crazy surface.

And so, the waistband. It needed this solid block of color to give the eye a rest. There are those, by the way, who inform you with rigid rules and firm rebukes that you should never ever ever never ever have a belt, waistband, sash, etc unless you have a size 2 1/2 waist. Because, they say, this draws attention to the waist, and unless you have the most beautiful waist ever in existence, it’s basically a sin to wear anything that draws attention to the waist. I would maybe go so far as to caution that I think it’s generally more flattering to wear a dark, receding color, if it’s going to be at the waist like that. A bright, light color looks bigger than a dark color. If you’ve ever seen a black refrigerator, you’d know what I mean. Not that I subscribe to dark colors all the time, every where, by any means, and of course every rule or guideline is meant to be broken, but that’s my two cents.


I suppose at the this point you might be disagreeing with me.

You might be saying you preferred the dress without the waistband. You might be saying that the waist band chops me half, that it totally defeats the purpose of trying to encourage a more vertical leaning of the eye. You might be saying, that darn band is the first thing that pulls your eye, and it makes you look short, short, short.

You may have a point.

I still hold that the fabric I chose demanded that treatment, but therein lies the problem. This is why you can’t just design off of ideas separate from people. This fabric, on someone else, could have been wonderful. I still love this fabric. Just, as a table cloth, or curtains, or something else besides on me. The flaw of my design was not my design, per se, just that I really had no idea what it would look like on me.

In retrospect, this fabric doesn’t suit me. Even with the solid bands of color, the eye simply does way too much moving around, and usually the more your eye has to move, the wider things appear. Since I am already short, adding in more horizontal eye movement is only making me look shorter, and my frame just can’t handle all that busy-work.


What works better for me is solid colors, like this:


It’s not to say that I can’t use textures or details, but over all, I am more flattered by simple shapes and solid blocks of color. See?


(I made the wool skirt. I did not make the wool blend sweater, but I did accidentally send it through the dryer once. It doesn’t drape as nicely as it once did. . . )

You will note that when we compare those two pictures side by side, your eye is instinctively drawn to the the picture on the left. You will also note that as soon as the eye has looked to the left picture, it also goes immediately to my face. If you make yourself look at the photo on the right, you will notice that your eye does indeed get stuck on the red sash. For one thing, it is the largest solid block of color. Your eye wants to rest, and that’s a good place. For another thing, my face is still basically the same color as the background of the dress. It fades away into the background. When I wear the cherry dress, your eye is not instantly pulled to my face. It forgets about my face and pays attention to the dress. This is a problem. Well designed clothes do not draw attention to themselves, they draw the attention the the wearer.

The outfit on the left understands this; it grabs your attention with its large blocks of strong colors, and then promptly shoves all the attention to my face. The dress on the right doesn’t understand this, or else is simply being willfully selfish, because it isn’t interested in sharing any of the attention. Your eye can get distracted jumping from cherry to cherry to cherry for a good five minutes, but it your eye is extremely unlikely to be interested in paying attention to my face. (This is most obvious in a still photograph. In real life, the eye is attracted to movement, and as I’m nearly always running my mouth off, that would give my face a chance to be noticed. Or my mouth, at any rate.)

Does this mean that the pattern draft was a waste, and that I should burn it and never look back? No! I would still like to make the “cherry dress” pattern again—just, with a few modifications and a solid color of wool crepe. The lessons here to be learned are:

(1) Good fabric stores ought to have full length mirrors in them, so you can better approximate how a fabric will look on you, and

(2) You can’t design clothing apart from the people who will be wearing them. The idea might sound perfectly grand on paper, but in real life is where it counts. On paper, this dress might sound wonderful, but in real life, I feel uncomfortable and awkward wearing this dress. Because I worked from ideals without seeing how it would work in reality, I failed to meet my ideals that I started with.

Posted in Design, Projects, Technical, Tutorials | 1 Comment »

Moving Darts to the Side Seams

February 6th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

In the comments of my last post, Rita said she still had a hard time understanding moving darts to the side seam, so this is a more detailed explanation. Again, I think it will be helpful for you work the examples shown with your own paper.

Here’s our new piece of paper.

New Paper

You can see I’ve marked some dimensions on this piece. Each half of the dart is 1″ wide; from the edge of the paper to the edge of the dart is 3 3/8″, on either side.

In this next picture, I’ve slashed the paper horizontally. I’ve also cut out the dart wedge (and colored it, front and back, with a colored pencil).

The paper has been slashed

Cut the wedge in half vertically.

Cut the wedge in half

Next, flip over the left hand corner of the paper–this makes the diagonal line of the dart face the side instead of the center. Also take half the wedge, flip it over, and make it fill the diagonal gap.

flip over the left side

Now do the same thing to the right side.

flip over the right side

What have we accomplished? The amount taken out (the wedges) is still the same. But instead of one wedge in the center of the piece, there are two smaller wedges at the sides. The width across the horizontal slash is still the exact same length, and width across the bottom (sans the wedge, regardless of how it is destributed) is still the same.

However, this technique should be used with caution. As when making princess seams, this isn’t really a removal of darts, just a moving and hiding of darts. Conventional darts always point to the bulge or bump–the apex. It isn’t a matter of where you want darts to be, but a matter of fact: where ever the dart is pointing creates the highest, fullest point in the fabric shape.

So if you move the darts to the side seams, even though the width measurments are the same, the darts are “pointing” at the side seams, not toward the apex (as, in our example, the center of the paper is the apex of the shape we wish to create). The less shaping that is required (the smaller the dart), the more likely you’ll be able to use this technique without problems. The larger the dart, the more you may have problems with distortion or wrinkling. You should always do a test muslin when experimenting with moving darts to the side seam, to see whether or not you are getting your desired results.

Now, for some bodice examples. Here the first one:

The first bodice example

This is an example of a bodice front cut as one piece–no center front seam. (Don’t mind the center front line; that was just so that I could properly line up the second half of the tracing.)

The solid lines are the original sloper, with two vertical darts, pointing from the waist up. The dashed lines are how we will alter this sloper. We will not sew the existing darts. We measure the base of a dart, and mark that from the corner inward. We measure the height of the existing dart, and mark that from the corner upward. We draw a diagonal line connecting those marks. That is the dashed line.

As with our paper example, the distance from the dashed line to the center line is the exact same length as the distance from the center front to the beginning of the dart plus the distance from the end of the dart to the side seam. The width across the bust is also the same. But the darts haven’t just “disappeared”–they’ve been moved to the side seams. The side seams are not where your apex is, so you may have issues with distorting or wrinkling.

To help avoid having that problem, it’s wiser to have a center front seam, and rotate half the dart to the side seam and half the dart to the center seam.

Second example of moving darts to seams

In this case, the dashed lines are the original sloper, and the solid lines are how we’ve changed it. Again, the width remains the same, and the amount taken out is also the same. But instead of making huge darts at the side seam, there are smaller darts at the side seam and smaller darts at the center front. It generally always holds true that the larger a dart is, the wiser it is to break it up into several smaller darts. I think that’s doubly important when rotating darts to the side seam.

Rita, I hope that clears things up for you. If it doesn’t, please let me know.

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