Darts are an essential technique, absolutely necessary for any sewist’s repertoire. And if, like me, you despise alterations, you’ll be very pleased when simply adjusting the darts makes a dress or skirt fit beautifully.
My lovely older daughter Emily, of green dress fame, had a simple sheath dress with shoulder darts (actually, they’re on either side of the zipper in back). Sadly, while the dress fit beautifully in front, it was most unflatteringly loose in back. She asked me to fix it. Fortunately, just taking in the darts seemed enough, so I could avoid taking apart the entire dress. Hooray! I had Emily try it on, and, as you’ll see at left, I marked where the darts needed to be adjusted.
Since we don’t always adjust from a fitting, reviewing the simple math of darts is helpful. Since a dart is a fold, you’re always working with double the amount you need to take in. For example, if you need to take in 1″, then you’ll need to adjust the dart by only half an inch.
To fit Emmy’s dress, I needed to take in each dart half an inch, which meant adjusting the dart by a quarter of an inch in width. To fine-tune the fit, I also lengthened each dart by half an inch. Usually, that extra adjustment isn’t necessary–I just liked the look of this dress better with that little extra tapering. Always remember to check your work by measuring the length and width, to be sure your darts are even.
Emmy’s life was in transition, as well as her dress: she was preparing to move in about a week. When I went up to lend her my packing expertise, I brought one of my sewing machines along. Despite the boxes surrounding us, we managed to pack up much of her apartment, and I finished the dress, too!
In the end, I was pleased with the results. Here is the final product. Next time, I’ll actually have Emily model the dress!
Update: here is Emmy in the lovely dress. Even though she’s sitting down, you can see the dress fits right in the shoulders. It’s not loose at all, so she’s impeccably turned out, as always.