Monday, April 4, 2011

Tutorial: Lining Up the Seamlines of a Dart

I'd like to share a tip on how to line up and pin the seam lines of darts, particularly on long vertical darts often seen on blouses and dresses. Every time I've had to sew them, I have a heck of a time matching up the seam lines properly, and I finally worked out a trick.

1) Mark Your Darts

On the back of your fabric, mark the locations of the small circles along the dart, as indicated on the pattern piece. Try to keep these dots small. I usually stick a pin through the centre, then draw with a ballpoint pen fabric marker or chalk directly below where the pin enters the fabric. Then "connect the dots", marking where the dart seam line will be (preferably with a different colour, but just make sure you don't obscure the dots).

2) Pin the Dots on the Donkey Darts

Take a pin and push it through the two dots directly across from each other on either side of the dart. Best to use long pins if possible, depending on how wide the dart is. Do this for all dots.

In addition, put a pin through the dot at the top of the dart where the seam lines connect, only catching where you marked the dot. This will help you when you fold the dart.

3) Pinchy Pinchy!

At each pin, pinch the fabric so that the two dots on either side of the fabric are touching, pierced on the pin, as shown below. Make sure that you haven't twisted the fabric and that the pin is going straight through the fabric.

Then simply bring the pointy end of the pin through the fabric below the dot, with the head of the pin over the edge of the dart. Do this for all pinned dots.

Complete the fold along the dart, then lightly press the fold flat. Add more pins along the dart, if needed.

4) Double Double Toil and Trouble

Double check to ensure that the seam lines are lined up properly, otherwise it could cause toil and trouble (and seam rippers). Sometimes the fabric shifts when you bring the pin back through the fabric, so it's always good to check. To do this, push a pin through the seam line on one side of the fabric, and make sure it's coming out through the seam line on the other side.

If the seam lines do not line up perfectly, then adjust the fabric until it does. I usually find that if it does shift, it's only by a tiny amount.

5) Sew Sew Sew Your Dart (Gently Down the Seam-Line)

Now all that you need to do is sew the dart! Et voilĂ , a perfectly lined up seam line for a perfectly sewn dart! Well, if you manage to sew it straight, which is usually where I go wrong. Sorry, I haven't any tips to help you out with that!


  1. Thanks for the great tutorial! I'm really going to use this as I do more dresses. I totally know what you mean about not using ball point pens (or pencils!)

  2. Thanks for the comment! I showed my Grandma this method and she laughed, since it was how her Mom showed her how to them. :)

    And uh yeah, I totally don't ever use ball point pens. Not at all. *shifty eyes*

  3. This is almost exactly how I do them. ;) To keep the seam perfectly aligned as I sew, I put my machine needless in the center position, then match the chalk line to the center marking on the sewing machine foot. Hope this tip can help you.

    Now... what I would like to know is how you get such nice markings on the fabric. Nothing I've ever used shows up as well as yours. It's a constant battle in my sewing room.

  4. I'm bad at following a straight line, which made me super proud when I managed not to bugger up my top-stitching on my last project. Thanks for the tip, though! :)

    For the markings, I didn't use a ball-point pen for the dots, and then plain chalk-board chalk for the lines. If you sharpen an end, it work beautifully, although you do have to be careful of the fabric dragging. I'm sort of thinking of getting a box of coloured chalk for when I have light fabrics!

  5. oh man, why did i never think of/learn this! thanks so much for writing this! i usually have the worst time checking and double checking if i'm stitching darts right.

    ::hides pen::

  6. Thanks! I'm going to use this when it comes up in classes, it's a great method.

  7. Thanks for publishing. I used to walk around with uneven darts or avoid patterns with them altogether. This is an approachable way to stay with perfection. BTW I just love the blue apron with abstract print you have on your home page. It's like old meets a new change. Best of luck in all you do.


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