Friday, June 13, 2008

Wonky Darts

Bust darts have given me fits in the tops and jackets that I've sewn so far. At first, I thought that it was me and some strange dart ineptitude that I have, but then I noticed that my waist/butt darts never seem to have the same problem. My bust darts usually seem to be overly pointy, and I have a heck of a time getting them to lay flat.

Fairly recently, I realized that it might not all be my fault. I usually have to do a pretty large FBA to accommodate my bust, and this usually results in a huge bust dart. I've started playing around a little bit with rotating the bust dart elsewhere. The Emily blouse has been my first attempt at splitting the bust dart into a second dart (in this case, I used an armhole dart, which someone had recommended to me)...but *sigh* this clearly didn't fix the problem of my wonky darts:

Here's a closer look at my oh-so-prominent dart:

And a front view (ignore the fact that there's too much ease in the sleeve cap and that the blouse has no waist shaping--I can fix those things):

This is a muslin (thank you $1/yard swap meet fabric) that I went ahead and finished to practice collars, shaped hems, etc. But, I'd like to make this again and actually try to make this work. Sadly, even as wonky as my bust darts are, they don't look as bad as they usually do, so I think that I may have been onto something with my gigantidart theory...just that I didn't decrease the dart size enough with this one. My thoughts on what I'd like to change for my next version:
  • I hate the armhole dart. I'm rotating the bust dart excess to a waist dart next time.
  • I think the bust dart is still too big--I'll rotate out more excess next time.
  • I think that I lowered the bust dart too much. I usually lower my darts 1/2-1", but when I did the tissue fitting this time, it looked like I'd need to lower them by 1 1/2"...which I think was too much.
Any fitting gurus out there have any other thoughts?


  1. Are you pressing them over a ham? They shouldn't actually be "flat" but instead the bust mound area should be rounded. Also, you can serge off the uptake so it isn't so prominent.

  2. well. I'm not a fitting guru, but I just found you blog and I will be back to see what you are up too, hope you figured it out by now!

  3. I found you on pattern review, and am so pleased I did. I am a sewing teacher (and I will immodestly say I AM a fitting guru) with an averagely large bust, but I have a student who comes every six months to alter another batch of patterns, and she is shaped very similarly to you. She's really struggling with it, because the fullness arrived so fast and unexpectedly that she's beginning to suspect medical reasons. I will tell her about you, so she can see there is elegance and fashion fun beyond a 40 inch bust.

    Now, about your shirt. Firstly, from the front, it looks like there is tightness across the bust fullness. I don't think the dart needs to be larger, because from the side (thank you for sewing it in a stripe!) the fabric is hanging straight down from your bust. There are pull lines from armhole across the top of your bust in the very first photo, and I suspect they mean the chest width is too narrow. To fix that and the tightness over the bust, I would add width to the side seam, and swing the armhole line from shoulder point to new underarm point. Your armhole will increase in length slightly, but the ease in the sleeve will cover it.
    Even better though, would be to extend the shoulder as well. Because your bust extends beyond the sides of your body, the armhole sits closer to your cf than the sides of your breasts do. This means that a classic fitted armhole emphasizes their width. The line from shoulder point to hem is interrupted by two bumps. The reason the Burda jacket looks so fabulous is because the line from shoulder to hem appears straight. It has a wider shoulder and chest.
    On some styles I recommend a larger base size and smaller FBA to reduce the contrast between shoulder area and chest. Lose a little perfect, by-the-book fit, gain a smoother look.

    I also just noticed the two drag lines from top button to shoulder. The shoulder angle is too sloped for your figure. I would open out the shoulder seam a little (From about 1 inch away from the collar - don't torture yourself by ripping and resewing a collar!) and let it out until the drag lines are gone. Undo the sleeve just over the top and sew less ease into the sleeve head. It's got too much anyhow, tailored shirt sleeves aren't meant to be puffy) You could use this opportunity to sew a smaller armhole seam allowance and gain a little width.

    Now, about the general dart problem. When you fold them to sew them, you can see that you are coming toward the fold of the fabric at a pretty steep angle. If you were an airplane pilot coming in at that angle, it would be a very scary landing. If you follow the usual advice to sew the last 3 or 4 stitches on the actual fold in order to blend the dart smoothly, it will do diddly squat. Little busted girls with their little narrow darts get a gentle curve, fuller busts still get a corner. Dividing the darts to make two smaller darts helps a lot, but sometimes it's hard to choose the best location for the second dart. I think you will find that sewing the dart as a scooped out curve will improve things too. The side of your bust is a full round shape from side seam to point. Try making the dart match your curve. Then you'll be approaching the point at a shallower angle, and as a bonus you'll gain vertical length over the side of your bust, which you also need.
    In summary, and in this order:
    1. square shoulder adjustment.
    2. more width at chest and side seam on front only (and consider wider shoulders)
    3. curve dart to match your curvy bust.

    I hope this helps, and isn't too presumptuous - but you did ask! I am available for personal fittings,reasonable rates, and the good news is, I live on the west coast too. The bad news is, west coast of Australia ;=) Oh well, if you're ever over here, you're welcome to pop in for a cuppa and a lamington, and we can have a nice chin wag about pattern shapes.


  4. Thanks for your feedback, Sandra...although reading through all of this made my head hurt. ;) I think that some of your suggestions are beyond my fitting skills, at this point, but maybe someday...

    I have to say that after this experience, I've decided to just stick with princess seams for a while...