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.
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Reasons To Pivot Darts
You may be wondering why you would even want to pivot darts – and the reasons are fourfold!
- To move one dart to a new place on a sewing pattern
- To separate one large dart into several smaller darts
- To distribute the fabric suppression in a dart into tucks, pleats or gathers
- 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:
- Pattern making paper
- Hard pencil
- Coloured pencils
- Pattern master or fashion ruler
- Paper scissors
- Tape measure
- Masking tape (the non-tacky option)
- Glue stick
- Tracing wheel
- Cutting mat
Pivoting Darts – The Process!
Start by tracing off the one section of the bodice. Starting at the bust point, I traced clockwise along:
- The bottom dart leg
- Around the armhole
- Down the side seam
- Across to centre front
- Up centre front
- Around the neckline
- Down to the bust point to connect the section
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.
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.
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:
- Up the remaining armhole section
- Along the shoulder
- Down around the neckline
- Down to the bust point
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.
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.
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!
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!
Remove the pin and open up the dart. Notice how the seam allowance for the dart is curved and not straight? This is good!
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!
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.
Video Tutorial Of Dart Manipulation Techniques: The Pivot Method!
Dart Manipulation Series
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!
Eve Tokens (aka The Creative Curator) is a fashion designer, creative pattern cutter and sewing pattern designer.
Eve graduated with a 2:1 in Fashion Design from the University of The Creative Arts in the UK, has a BTEC diploma in Creative Pattern Cutting, a Foundation Degree in Art & Design from Wimbledon College of Art and gained extensive experience in the fashion industry by interning and freelancing for London based fashion brands – Hardy Amies, Roland Mouret, Peter Pilotto and others.
As well as running her own small sustainable fashion brand, Eve has more than 25 years experience sewing and making clothes for herself and family members.