Today is Dart Day! Hooray!
OK, now that I have that out of my system, I want to share with you a couple of little tricks I’ve picked up at night school. Some of you will undoubtedly already know them but they’re not common knowledge.
Pattern makers don’t bother with time saving measures for home sewing. However I’m yet to meet a home sewer who liked making darts. There are many ways of marking them, and all are tedious. All involve a lot of fiddling around, visually checking from one side of the fabric to another to make sure that all the marks line up. Or thousands of pins. And it can be so hard to get them to the same length.
Professional sewers don’t have time to spare and they can’t afford to unpick and start again, so they use a combination of notches and drill holes. It takes much less time, and it goes together better. You should try it too! You will need a tailor’s awl. They’re very, very cheap.
First of all: what are you doing cutting around those crazy little diamonds in your patterns? It’s not accurate and it slows you down. Just cut clear around your pattern and then make notches no deeper than half the seam allowance. Seriously. Don’t be scared of damaging your garment. Unless you’re using a flimsy fabric like silk chiffon, you won’t.
Try it, really. In all your sewing. Notches are awesome. Diamonds are annoying. OK, on to the dart. First notch the tops of the dart.
Then get your tailor’s awl. Stick it in through pattern and fabric, 1cm (1/2 inch) above the apex of the dart. Really, it’s OK! The awl is so sharp that it won’t tear your fabric. It might break a thread but more likely it will just push threads out of the way and make a mark that will slip back into place with a little bending of fabric. Besides, you are using the awl inside the dart. The marked fabric won’t ever be under stress and it isn’t part of your garment. It’s more like seam allowance than anything else.
Now the fun part! Fold the dart over on itself as usual. Isn’t it easy to line the tops up? And all you need to do to make sure it’s lining up straight is to get the awl mark sitting flush with the fold.
Sew the dart as usual, starting with the notches and sewing past the awl point by that 1cm or 1/2 inch. The last few stitches should only catch one thread. I could have done better in the example below, but it’s good enough. Tie the threads off and press.
Now, go forth and conquer!