Poll of the day: darts

Somebody asked me a question, it’s a survey question she asks of others who’ve been around. If you had to pick one or the other, is a dart an ornamental seam or a functional seam? Oddly, this answer to this question is telling. I never would have thought to ask it. Leave comments if you need to.

Edit 11/23/12
Vizu polls have closed down. Below is a screen capture of the poll results.

Get New Posts by Email


  1. dawn says:

    I picked ornamental b/c you can certainly wear a dress without darts. It just looks like a bag. A shoulder seam is functional. A dart gives a garment a certain style. Just my 2cents.

  2. Oxanna says:

    I voted before peeking – I voted functional, although I had my suspicions that it was actually ornamental. Dawn’s right, I guess, although theoretically you don’t even need shoulder seams – you could make it strapless or use straps instead of shoulder seams. Stretching it, you don’t even need shoulder seams, just a neck opening and side seams. :D

    A dart is a *fitting* seam, which lends a certain style to a garment (ornamental), and it could be functional as far as ease of movement goes.

    I’m probably way over-analyzing this…

  3. J C Sprowls says:

    I believe it’s both. But, if I had to split hairs, I chose Ornamental over Functional.

    As Oxanna and Dawn say, it lends shape to the garment more so than understructure (i.e. “bones”).

  4. Katrin says:

    I voted functional because a dart’s main purpose is shaping. I guess if you define “functional” as “structurally necessary to hold the garment together”, then it isn’t. (By that definition you could say sleeves are not functional, either.)

    A dart has a specific function as opposed to being purely decorative, which is how I’d define “ornamental” – so I’m standing by my vote.

    Now tell us, what are the official definitions of these terms? And what about the way we answer is “telling” (our respective bust sizes, perhaps)?

  5. bethany says:

    If you define functional as: having or serving a utilitarian purpose; capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed, and ornamental as: something ornamental; decoration; adornment, then my pick is functional. A dart usually creates an ease of movement or a better fitting garment. This, in turn, creates a garment with better function. Obviously a dart can be both functional and ornamental,but if I had to choose (and apparently I do) I choose functional, IMHO.

  6. Karen C says:

    It’s functional. It’s function is to fit something that is one dimensional (fabric) to something that is three dimensional (the body). And even if you don’t have a dart per se, it’s because you’ve moved it into something else, such as the armhole or the neck.

  7. Catherine McQ says:

    Is this question intended to show that the same term can be used in more than one way? A dart is used to achieve a particular shape or fit, which sounds functional to me. But perhaps there is a part of the industry where the terms “functional seam” and “ornamental seam” have specific technical meanings. I’m just guessing here — could “ornamental seam” mean something sewn on a special machine (such as a dart/pleat machine), whether it looks ornamental or not?

  8. J C Sprowls says:

    I had an epiphany on the drive home. I was SO TOTALLY WRONG – it’s functional.

    After I answered, I kept hearing in my head the word “suppression” over-and-over. Then it donned on me, darts are used to suppress the waist, the bustline, etc. and can be manipulated.

    Since they are, effectively, a verb (they act – suppress), they must be functional. Ornamentation, like embroidery, embellishment or a seam is a noun (it exists) – yes, they can be moved, too; but, they do not act.

    Seams are located where they are in blocks because we have found there are areas of the body where they are either least visible or present the most advantage to manipulate the dart to.

    Oh… and a shaped seam is shaped because a dart was manipulated out, so that doesn’t make it functional. The function is the dart, itself, it was simply manipulated into the seamline – but, it’s still there!

  9. Catherine McQ says:

    It just occurred to me to check the Stitch and Seam Guide, ASTM Standard D-6193 (formerly Federal Standard 751a.) In the Ornamental Stitching (OS) Class, stitch OSf is commonly used for darts. I thought I was onto something until I discovered that FS doesn’t stand for functional seam, it stands for Flat (Butted) Seam. That would mean a dart is OS, not FS. It would also mean that the survey contains an error, so I guess that’s not the “right” answer. Still, I love your quizes because they stretch my brain!

  10. elizabeth says:

    I say it’s functional, but it can also be placed or shaped in different ways to become an ornamental part of a garment.

  11. Eric H says:

    Everything hinges on the difference in the definitions. My own are:

    functional: serves a construction purpose (shaping, integrity/strength/durability)

    ornamental: serves *only* an aesthetic purpose

    From these, a functional seam could be ornamental, but an ornamental seam is never functional. I have it on good authority that the book is wrong.

  12. Danielle says:

    Ok, I am going to call “Trick Question” on this one! According to almost every dictionary online, a seam as a “line formed by joining two pieces”

    So if that is true, a dart isn’t a seam at all!

  13. Mimi says:

    It is neither. If it is ornamental, it isn’t a “dart”, and if it is functional, it isn’t a “dart”, either. It is for shaping the garment, when other methods aren’t desireable. It can be pretty, but that doesn’t make it ornamental, and it can be necessary to make a garment fit well, and be more pleasing on the body, but that doesn’t make it functional. I vote “neither”, but that isn’t an option…

  14. Kindy Kemp says:

    This is a question, not a comment–do you know where to find a needle-point tracing wheel (so that I can copy some favorite shirts) on the web? I’ve been looking and have found only chinese sites and southstar, which wants a 50-dollar minimum order (this is an $8.50 item).
    Port Townsend, WA

  15. jinjer markley says:

    I said functional, because there’s more than one way to achieve shape. To me, princess seams are an ornamental way to achieve the same shape that a dart provides functionally.

    It gets real blurry when you have groups of darts. three adjacent darts is magically more ornamental than one big dart.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.