Sometimes the simplest alterations we can make to a pattern are the ones that end up making a world of difference. Moving darts - especially bust darts - is one such miracle alteration.
For this tutorial, we will be demonstrating on a bust dart that starts at the side seam, as on our Eloise dress pattern, but you can apply the exact same process to any dart that should be pointing towards the apex, or indeed any dart at all that you feel should be moved, once you have grasped the concept of moving darts in order to better direct fullness.
A dart is a long and narrow triangle shaped wedge that we sew in order to give 3D shape to a garment. Below is an image of the bodice front piece of the Eloise dress, dart highlighted and coloured in in pink. We are demonstrating on a size UK12.
Darts on a bodice are typically found coming from the side seam, waistline, underarm, and/or shoulder seam pointing towards the bust. When a dart points perfectly towards the apex (aka your nipple!), it is directing the fullness in the bodice to the fullest part of your bust, where it needs to be in order to fit well. If the dart does not point towards the bust, it will be directing fullness to a part of your body that does not need it, resulting in a squished boobie and a puckery, saggy-looking dart point. Not what we're after.
It's easy to tell if your dart is in the wrong place for you, but you will need to make a toile. This type of alteration cannot be spotted by comparing your measurements to the sizing chart.
Try on your toile, and check yourself out in the mirror. Make sure that you are wearing the same bra that you intend to wear with your finished garment! All you need to ask yourself is simply, "does the dart point directly to my nipple?".
Image above shows a bust dart pointing perfectly towards the apex
If the dart is pointing above your nipple (which, let's face it, will be the case for most of us as our breasts tend to head south as we age / have babies / live our lives), you will need to lower the dart. Measure the distance between where the dart point is, and where it should be in order to be pointing towards your nipple. This is the amount you will need to lower your dart by.
If the dart is pointing below your nipple, you will need to raise the dart. Measure the distance between where the dart point is, and where it should be in order to be pointing towards your nipple. This is the amount you will need to raise your dart by.
On your pattern paper, draw a rectangular box around your dart:
Please note that we are using itty bitty replicas of our pattern to demonstrate - it's not full scale!
Cut the box out.
Keeping the box parallel so as not to alter the angle of the dart, and the vertical cut line flush so as not to move your dart out of the bodice, move the box up or down by however much you need to raise or lower your dart. When you're happy, tape it down.
Slip some scrap paper underneath the negative space opened up as a result of moving the dart and tape that to fill it.
True out the side seam ("true out" basically just means redraw the side seam so it's all smooth and nice again), and trim away any excess.
And there you have it! With all alterations, we highly recommend that you make another toile to check that you're happy with the alterations that you made before cutting into your delicious fashion fabric!