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Pivoting Darts: A Dart Manipulation Method

In the last tutorial, we looked at the slash and spread method of dart manipulation, and transferred the underarm dart to the neck. In this tutorial, I will teach you how to pivot darts, which is a faster dart manipulation method, but comes with it’s own risks. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for the video tutorial!)

When pivoting darts it is super important that you work methodically and slowly.

The slash and spread method of dart manipulation that we looked at last week is destructive, in that when you cut into the pattern, you are ‘destroying’ it, which is why we created a copy of the original first. For this reason, the pivoting of darts is better, because you can work with as many versions of a traced copy as you wish and as no cutting of the pattern takes place, nothing is destroyed.

I love pivoting darts because it is fun, creative and a great (speedy) way to make sewing patterns more unique to me.

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a fee at no extra cost to you if you purchase a recommended product. I only recommend items I have had experience with.

Reasons To Pivot Darts

You may be wondering why you would even want to pivot darts – and the reasons are fourfold!

  1. To move one dart to a new place on a sewing pattern
  2. To separate one large dart into several smaller darts
  3. To distribute the fabric suppression in a dart into tucks, pleats or gathers
  4. To add style lines to pattern and eliminate darts either partially or fully

Tools For Pivoting Darts

The tools needed for pivoting darts on sewing patterns are:

Pivoting Darts – The Process!

Start by tracing off the one section of the bodice. Starting at the bust point, I traced clockwise along:

  1. The bottom dart leg
  2. Around the armhole
  3. Down the side seam
  4. Across to centre front
  5. Up centre front
  6. Around the neckline
  7. Down to the bust point to connect the section
Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - tracing the first section of the bodice!

Next up, place your awl on the bust point with one hand (you may want to add a cutting matt below the pattern paper first, so as to not mark your worktable) and then using your other hand, slowly pivot the top piece of pattern paper around until the bottom dart leg is laying over the top dart leg.

Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - pivoting the pattern piece using an awl!

This is how the dart should look – closed! Keep the pattern paper pieces in place with a weight of some sort prevent the top layer shifting.

Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - marking in the remaining section of the bodice now the dart has been pivoted!

Grab your pencil (preferably a hard pencil like an H2 or H3) and a pattern master, and trace around the top section of the bodice in an anticlockwise direction:

  1. Up the remaining armhole section
  2. Along the shoulder
  3. Down around the neckline
  4. Down to the bust point
Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - marking in the remaining section of the bodice now the dart has been pivoted!

I’ve then traced over this line with an orange pen to highlight it better, and also indicated which direction the dart should be trued.

Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - the original dart is closed, draw the direction for truing new dart!

Here’s a reminder of what the original pattern piece looked like before we transferred the dart from the underarm to the neckline.

We now need to true the dart. What do I mean by this? We need to make sure that when the new dart is closed, both dart legs are equal in length and that the seam allowance is correct when the dart is pressed towards the centre.

Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - truing the dart!

Start by creating a fold on the dart leg nearest centre front, then bring it over to meet the second dart leg – move in the direction of the arrow as this will create the dart in a way that the fold is towards the centre front!

Pin the dart to hold it in place. Notice how the paper no longer lies flat, but has shape to it now the dart is secured in place! You should find that both darts meet at the neckline in the same place! Now, grab your tracing wheel!

Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - truing the dart!

Run the tracing wheel along the line to create a mark through all the layers. Again, make sure you’re doing this on something that can absorb the pin pricks of your tracing wheel without damage – a cutting matt always works well!

Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - truing the dart with a tracing wheel!

Remove the pin and open up the dart. Notice how the seam allowance for the dart is curved and not straight? This is good!

Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - truing the dart!

Now, grab your pencil (in my case pen) and mark in both the stitch line and the seam allowance line, following the pin-prick traced line!

Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - the finished dart transfer!

That’s it! Your first attempt at transferring a dart using the pivoting method of dart manipulation is complete!

Below is how the two pieces look placed on top of each other. If these were both sewn up in calico, they would fit exactly the same – the fabric suppression is exactly the same, we simple transferred it around the bodice by transferring the dart.

Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - the finished dart transfer!

Video Tutorial Of Dart Manipulation Techniques: The Pivot Method!

Dart Manipulation Series

If you enjoyed this tutorial on pivoting darts, why not check out the slash and spread dart manipulation tutorial as well as my guide to different types of darts in dart manipulation!

The next post to come will look at contour darts, followed by a tutorial on how to sew darts!

You can also learn more about dart manipulation in my online course Drape & Contour for Beginners!

Pivoting darts in dart manipulation - how to transfer a dart from the underarm to the neckline!

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Janet Miles

Thursday 13th of January 2022

Enjoyed immensely! I might have to go through it again to completely absorb the process, but it gives me inspiration to start another project! Thank you for the clear instruction!