There are all sorts of darts that you can sew on a garment and they are there mostly to give the garment a little bit of shape. Learning how to sew darts in a shirt isn’t as complex as it might sound; in fact, even a beginner can do it in most cases. You just have to follow a few simple rules and the rest is simple.
Most darts are found at bust lines or in the back of a garment, and sometimes in the waistline of pants. Learning exactly how to create them isn’t difficult and requires nothing more than a few basic sewing tools and accessories. In fact, most sewists already have these tools on hand in their home.
What You’ll Need
Before you start sewing your darts, make sure that you have the following sewing tools and equipment ready to go:
- Some type of marking tool made for sewing
- Fabric garment pieces, already cut
- Paper pattern pieces
- Towel that is rolled up or similar device
- Sewing scissors
- Sewing machine
- Sewing pins
As you can see, these items are not fancy or expensive ones. In fact, they are very likely items that you already have in your sewing room.
How to Sew Darts in a Shirt: A Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1 – Transferring Markings to Fabric
Darts have either one pointed end and sometimes two. Some of them also have curves. Sometimes the patterns don’t include the marking in the very center. You have to transfer the dots on the dart in order for the dart to be accurate; on the other hand, if you transfer the line that indicates where the fold is, it will make sewing the dart much easier.
This step involves transferring all of your markings to the fabric. Follow the pattern carefully so that you recognize all of the lines and all of the dots that need to be transferred.
Step 2 – First Pinning
This is your first pinning. For this step, use your straight pins so the dots are matched up in order to keep the darts in place. To do this, follow these steps:
- Match the dots and use that to make sure the dart is folded
- In a dot marking right in the middle, go ahead and place one of your pins there
- After the fabric is folded, take a pin and push it through the dot that matches it
- Use your pin to keep everything in the correct place
- Do the same thing for all of the dot sets that you see
Once you’re done with all of this, you can move onto the next step.
Step 3 – Final Pinning
This step includes your final pinning job. The first thing you need to do is re-pin everything so that the pins aren’t in the way of where you’ll be doing your stitches. If you like, you can also use a running stitch to hand-baste your dart and make sure it’s in the right place. Do this just inside of the line that you marked earlier.
Remember that you should never sew over any of your pins. If you ever get to the point where you’re comfortable with this step, you can even remove each pin if you like but you won’t want to do that if you’re a beginner.
If your baste stitch does not go through the dots, you’ll want to remove it and resew it. This is because the markings have to stay correctly aligned while you’re sewing them in place.
Step 4 – Sewing the Dart
This will be one of your favorite steps when learning how to sew darts in a shirt because this is where you start to do the actual sewing. To start with, go to the seam line or raw edge of your dart and backstitch at the raw edge. Then use a regular stitch length to sew the line of stitching and keep doing this until you are close to where the dart’s point is.
Now you are ready to sew the point belonging to each dart. For this step, shorten the length of the stitch as you get near the point, then go ahead and sew until you are off of the fabric. Make sure that there is a lot of thread at the end before you cut it off.
At the end of the dart, you’ll need to knot the thread by hand. Then go ahead and trim all of the threads.
Step 5 – Pressing the Dart
Make sure that the dart is pressed in the direction of its sewing. Then press using the direction mentioned in the instructions and, if you like, you can use either a rolled towel or a pressing hem in order to keep the shape that the dart has provided to your garment, which is a little fuller. Finally, if necessary, clip the threads if this is what the pattern instructions tell you to do.
Step 6 – Trimming the Dart
If you’re working with fabric that is bulky, you might have to trim the dart fold, so go ahead and do this if it’s necessary. When you trim it, you can leave behind the seam allowance. You might also need to grade the seam allowance in order to prevent the fabric’s exterior from developing a line that ends up being too bulky.
If you’re working with fabric that is woven loosely and has a tendency to fray, clip it at different locations on each of the layers. Use the scissors in such a way that your clippings are found very near the first clip but never at the same thread in the fabric.
Step 7 – Darts with Two Points
The above instructions were written for darts with one point. For darts with two points, simply act like the darts are two separate sets. If you’re working with a dart that is double-pointed, follow these instructions:
- When you start sewing, go to the widest point, or the center of each dart, but don’t backstitch. Sew to the point and shorten the length of the stitch just as you would with a dart with only one point.
- Go back to where the dart’s center is and restitch a few of the stitches you sewed before, then move towards where the dart’s second point is.
- Sew to where the dart’s second point is but keep in mind that the length of your stitch has to be shorter when you move towards that point.
- To finish the points, knot the end threads just as you would for a dart with a single point. At the center of the dart, go ahead and clip off the starting threads.
How to Sew Darts
Some Tips to Make Sewing Darts a Little Easier
Learning how to sew darts in a shirt is relatively simple even for beginners but this doesn’t necessarily mean that your darts are going to be perfect the first time you do them. As with anything else, you can improve your skills by practicing and by learning some tips and suggestions from sewists who have a little more experience than you do.
If you’d like to review a few of these tips and suggestions, here they are:
- Before you top-stitch, make sure that you press your darts. This way, seam allowances are much less likely to show through.
- If you want to stop fraying on your cut seam allowances, you can use a bead of seam sealant or by serging or zigzagging.
- To prevent a “shadow” from appearing after you press, there is a simple solution: simply press the dart with a pressing cloth in between the dart and the garment.
- When stitching, always stitch from the widest part of the dart (the dart leg ends) to the end point
- When you get to the end of the dart, you can leave a long tail thread and then knot the very end of it close to the point of the dart.
- When you go to stitch a dart and mark your fabric, it might be a good idea to use a tracing wheel and some tracing paper.
- When you pin, pin horizontally across the dart. This makes it much easier to remove the pins when the time comes.
- You can backstitch as you begin to sew, but never backstitch at the very end of the point. If you do, it can cause puckering in all the wrong spots.
- You can reduce bulk when using heavy or deep fabric by trimming the dart excess on the wrong side of the fabric.
- You can use tailor tacks if your fabric isn’t going to show your tracing marks.
Tips telling you how to sew darts in a shirt are easy to follow; in fact, these are tried-and-true methods that work regardless of the garment you’re working on. As a general rule, darts are not a particularly difficult sewing task to learn but, again, if you’re a beginner, it is still good to practice them and make sure that you listen to any advice given to you by more experienced sewists.
If you’re interested in learning how to sew darts in a shirt or even another garment, you can relax because darts are simple by nature. They do a great job of making a garment look a little fuller and not so “flat,” so if you’re going to sew from now on, you’ll need to learn how to make them. You can take the steps mentioned above and use your own common sense to improve upon them if you like. In the end, sewing darts just makes sense and is quick and easy to learn.