Poll of the day: darts 2

In the first entry, I asked whether a dart was an ornamental or a functional seam. The answer is functional. I think JC’s point of verb vs noun is telling. A functional seam is doing something, in this case it provides shaping. Shaping a garment is functional, it’s doing something, a verb. An ornamental seam is just something to look at, a noun. I am aware that many of the books describe this as an Osf-1 (below).

I think it’s a case of misinterpretation by one author, with subsequent authors copying predecessors. The description of the seam from the standard reference (751-a) is describing a pin tuck or a small sewn down pleat:

This type of stitching shall be produced by folding and stitching plies of the material near the fold with one or more rows of stitches.

Besides, until very recently, it was only narrow darts that weren’t trimmed. Again, I realize sewing books all say that we sew the dart and then we trim it away but this is generally false. When the pattern is made, we trim the dart away. The cut edge of the seam allowance more accurately shapes the dart because if the dart is not pre-cut, the shape of the dart is often anyone’s guess.

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11 comments

  1. Esther says:

    That is assuming the dart is shaped. Home sewing patterns do not have this and many pattern making books ignore it. Darts can be added to children’s clothing but they are usually considered ornamental since they aren’t needed to fit a shape.

  2. Oxanna says:

    I was never even told *to* trim a dart away, ever. The trimming being managed in the pattern step was something I learned from your book. Which brings up a question – what is the standard seam allowance for the dart? I assume that if the dart is overlocked you would make it match your machine, but if it’s only lockstitched, is there a standard?

  3. Kathleen says:

    Darts can be added to children’s clothing but they are usually considered ornamental since they aren’t needed to fit a shape.

    Not to be argumentative but if they’re not needed to form a shape, they aren’t darts. They’re tucks which are ornamental. No argument there :).

    what is the standard seam allowance for the dart?
    It’s like anything else, it depends. Usually, barring some unique seam finishes it’s whatever you’re using elsewhere.

  4. Alison Cummins says:

    I struggled with this question because it seemed so obvious to me (functional, of course) that it must be a riddle or trick question. (Are the wheels of a bicycle ornamental or functional? The answer to this question is telling!) I worked hard to figure out a way darts could be classified as ornamental, failed, and voted functional. Judging from the early comments, I wasn’t the only one with this problem.

    So, um, what’s telling about our answers?

  5. J C Sprowls says:

    You’re not kidding, Alison. It took me a while to figure out I was wrong, initially. As soon as I answered my gut took over.

    So, yeah. What’s so ‘telling’?

  6. Kathleen says:

    What’s so ‘telling’

    Valerie (the originator of the question, she also asked it of me) uses it as kind of a litmus test. When she’s worked with students in the past, she says that the ones who think it’s ornamental, do not have the requisite understanding of pattern making, sufficient to understand it provides the function of shaping a garment. They see the line as ornamental, they don’t grasp the concept that it’s used to pull the garment in closer to the body. She says she sends those students back to pattern making 101. My friend Trish has expressed similar frustrations.

    For me, this question has been very educational. I am dense. Very dense. It did not occur to me that people would think a dart was anything but functional. To have some people -not beginners by any means- assert it was primarily ornamental was very surprising. This tells me I have to back up on a lot of levels. I’m presuming an awful lot. I think the most shocking thing for me to learn was that some book authors have incorrectly listed a dart as an OS. I never looked that closely.

    okay, now to totally muck things up, go to Zara’s home page and see a top with with plenty of ornamental pin tucks being “functional” lol.

  7. Deanna says:

    I did a top a few years ago that was striped, and had 12 darts radiating from the neckline to make the stripes “bend” around the neckline. The bust and shoulder shaping were worked into one or two of the darts, but the rest were there just to get those stripes to bend. Would that be an example of ornamental?

  8. Kathleen says:

    You answer your own question (in the negative) with this:

    but the rest were there just to get those stripes to bend.

    Iow, the darting provided a function, they did “work”, shaping.

  9. Kaaren Hoback says:

    Re: The Zara example’s pin tucks being functional- many historical garments used cartridge pleats, release pleats and pin tucks in multiples to shape and be functional. Though they Can be just ornamental they May be functional. Ornamental tucks usually are stitched to the raw fabric before applying the pattern, while with functional tucks and pleats, the pattern is adjusted to the “take up” and the tucks, darts are stitched after the patterns shape is cut out.

    Kaaren Hoback

  10. Angela says:

    I would say they are functional because even if you would like them to only be ornamental you can’t get away from the fact that they add shaping and 3 dimension. You can’t just add them haphazardly in places that they look pretty or else you will have a really lumpy bumpy garment in all the wrong places. In sportswear darts are used extensively for articulation around knees and elbows to creat ease of movement. Function.

  11. jinjer markley says:

    I guess the piece of info I was missing is that “ornamental” and “functional” are technical terms, not opinions. I assume “os” refers to “ornamental seam,” but that’s the first time I’ve noticed that acronym anywhere.

    Confusion arises because it’s possible to make your blue-collar seams look pretty, but what you’re hinting at is that the definition of “ornamental” precludes a function OTHER than looking pretty.

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