I thought the previous entry would be an open and shut case, silly me. It wasn’t a trick question but we did get off track a bit (that’s not a complaint). The proposition was simple -how to shorten a dart- but we stepped off into whether it should be shortened, other associated fit problems etc., all topics worthy of exploring. I propose we analyze comments in two parts -as best as we are able. First up, how to shorten a dart. Second part, alternative proposals and all the other fun what-ifs we love to debate. Game?
Part one: original context of how to shorten a dart.
If we were giving out prizes -in this admittedly narrow context- those would go to CLF, Lauren, D Scheidt, dosfashionistas, Anne, Lisa, Donna, Paula (who said she agreed with Mimi but whose illustration was like the above) and Yvonne. Bonus points to everybody who mentioned you needed to prove the altered dart by truing it to the waistline seam. Don’t do that and I’ll skin you alive. That doesn’t mean everybody else is wrong but I’ll get to that.
The only difference between what everyone else said and the way I do it is that I work from nett. Before shortening the dart, I’d draw in the finished sewn dimensions of the dart (which finishes 1/2″ beyond the punch end), from there draw a vertical line midway between the two legs, shorten it the proscribed amount and then come back another half inch for the punch hole dart end. Not doing it from nett will probably work 90% of the time but doing it from nett will always work. It is just a good work habit to develop.
The original bone of contention was a book in which the new edition said to shorten darts like this (left) versus its earlier edition which said to shorten darts as it’s done on the right. I still think that in most cases, the right side is the better way so I was puzzled that the book would take what I felt was a step backwards. Just my opinion.
The detractors of this method were Mimi and Karen with Patsijean and Barb in classes all their own. Mimi et al say to shorten darts as shown on the right (“new dart end”). I can see cases in which I might do it this way but it wouldn’t be often. If I were shortening the dart before splitting the front for a princess seam, I would do it Mimi’s way because I’d want to keep that line. Otherwise, you’re changing the angle and the point at which the dart ends which may or may not affect the fit. It depends on how tightly it’s fitted to the body and weight of fabrication.
That said, I’ve always believed it is possible to change the end point of a dart within an as yet undetermined radius of its original point but I’d be lying if I said I knew where the safety zone lay but Mimi’s is probably well within it. The reason I wouldn’t use this as a matter of course -other than the risk of changing the dart direction- is because one of those dart legs has increased in length disproportionate to the other and it’ll take some fiddling to get the lengths to match up again. If it’s a loose fit, it’s not a problem to true it by whacking off a bit of the longer dart leg at the waist or lengthening the shorter leg to match (which also changes the dart end point again). If it’s a tighter fit or in heavier goods, who can say? It’s too simplistic to say only one of the two ways works, it depends on the project, fit and silhouette.
Switching gears, Ingrid brought up an interesting point that Barb’s solution may solve. I haven’t ever tried this but it’s interesting. It’s a provocative idea. Try it Ingrid and let us know how it works. I think Patsijean’s idea is a variation of the same theme.
It is possible that a shortened dart could release too much fabric at the end of the dart and puckering would result. I would think that two shortened, but smaller, darts might work better.
For a more fitted look, two 1950’s era (that’s not an insult) short darts could work but for a classy look in drapey goods, each of the two darts may need to be narrowed as per Barb’s suggestion. Any comers on this theory? Another alternative is to make the two darts into tucks.