Saturday, September 8, 2012

D is for Darts

 While darts may not be as exciting as collars or accessories, they can totally change the fit of a garment and give it a more vintage look.  Each decade seems to have favoured different types of darts and dart combinations to achieve a unique overall silhouette.

I'm super excited to have just gotten Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing in the post yesterday! It's jam-packed with vintage sewing tidbits (and yummy patterns).  I really love the illustration above on the different types of bodice darts.

Here are a few examples of bodice darts through the decades from vintage patterns:


The 1930s and 1940s utilized a wide range of bodice shaping techniques.  The most common darts I see in my 30's patterns are side darts and waist darts usually partnered with some specific pattern design that gives unique shaping (gathering, princess seams, etc.).


I love the 1940's silhouette and a lot of the shaping comes from waist darts.  Have you ever had a 40's blouse and found it hard to wear with non-40's trousers?  That's because the waist darts made it easy to tuck blouses into high-waisted trousers.  In my opinion, the 1940s (and late 1930s for that matter) is also the decade with the most variation in bodice shaping achieved through tucks, gathers, princess seams among other techniques.

Here's an example from a 1939 and 1940 pattern respectively (all of these patterns are from my ever increasing pattern stash):

The 1950's silhouette combines a side dart and a waist dart to achieve, well, a more pointy look.  This often makes it difficult to wear with modern undergarments.

I also see a lot of slanted or 'French' darts from 1950s patterns, especially in blouses.  These are usually accompanied with waist tucks (such as in the Maudella pattern) or neckline shaping such as in the Simplicity pattern.  I really love this silhouette and find it very easy to wear!

We see a lot of 1950s style darts in the 1960s, just longer!  I really love the Simplicit pattern above which has a dart shaping turn into a design feature (hidden pockets) and the Style pattern shows the long darts that give 60's shift dresses their shape.

Have you seen this illustration?  It's absolutely mind-boggling to see all the different dart arrangements for various blouse shapes.

Here's some handy resources for working with darts:

Are there any types of darts you prefer over others?


  1. I didn't realise different decades had different darts.  I love this series, and also enjoying the beautiful pattern illustrations.  Thank you!

  2. Debi_myhappysewingplaceSeptember 08, 2012 9:33 AM

    Thanks Denise! I just love vintage patterns...I could look at them for it's fun to share some of the pattern covers---there's so much variation :)

  3. I just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying this series, thanks very much, I'm definitely going to check all the links you've included. I realise I know absolutely nothing about darts!

  4. Really interesting post Debi. The 60's pattern I'm planning to make this autumn has those long slanted French darts and I was wandering what they were! x

  5. Great post! I'm really digging this series. As a curvy gal, I just love darts and princess seams and anything that adds shape. Waist darts - like the 40's ones you highlighted - work well for me since they provide a lot of shaping under the bust and through the waist.

  6. One of my 1940's patterns has something I'd never seen before - a double bust dart!  I found it works very well for shaping the bust without making it excessively pointy.  I recently tried to make a 1960's wiggle dress that wasn't fitting right, so I switched the single dart to two darts, and it fit so much better. 

  7. Loving this series! You are a true delight. What fun!

  8. Thanks for this!  I loved reading about the different techniques for darts.

  9. Those of you with largish bosoms might also research the Dior dart (small dart included in the apex of a princess seam) and the "S" dart -- a way to stitch a side dart that gives a subtle bit of slimness at the side bust.

  10. Well done, Debi. I'm really enjoying these posts!

  11. Just wanted to add my voice to the others in saying thanks for running this series, it's so much fun (and educational besides!). The darts I like best are the extreme looking ones but they don't necessarily suit me... 

  12. Awesome! The one dart I'm missing is the shoulder tip (or shoulder ridge) dart. Also, the slanted darts are also called French darts. :)


I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

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