Pop Quiz: How to shorten a dart?

shorten_dart_popquiz_pt1smI didn’t know that how to shorten a dart was a subject of confusion but apparently it is. Two competing methods were published in two different editions of the same pattern making book (the book won’t be named) and the crazy thing is, the version I thought was correct was deleted and replaced with what I felt was an incorrect method in the newest edition. Maybe I was brainwashed with the earlier method? Regardless, I’m interested in what you have to say. Not that I think it’s appropriate that we decide which method is correct based on a show of hands so arguments supporting your case will be important.

Using the example of the sketch at right –this larger version will open in a new window for printing- please illustrate how you’d shorten this dart. Alternatively, you could explain it or even, ask related questions. If you prefer, you can also use a sketch of your own making. You can post a link to your version in comments or you can email it to me. Thanks everybody!

Get New Posts by Email


  1. clf says:

    Okay, this has to be a trick question.

    I would put mark my new dart point directly below the existing one (however much lower I want, using my dart crease line as a guide to make sure it really is exactly below the current dart point). Then I would line up my ruler with the existing dart’s legs and connect it to the new, lower point.

  2. D Scheidt says:

    About the construction: the bottom line connects the two start points of the dart. the straight line bisects that line (it probably doesn’t quite, this was a quick hack). The new endpoint is moved along that line, and the edges of the dart connect the original start points with the end point.

    See my illustration.

  3. dosfashionistas says:

    Create a line that intersects the dart point and the bust point as well as the mid point of the dart legs. This is to check that the new dart point will be correctly aligned. Locate the new dart point on that line, then draw new legs connecting to the original legs. Now check to be sure the new legs are of equal length and correct if needed. (Really all this does is to include two checks into the process that everyone else has used.)

  4. anne says:

    Divide the dart at the widest part of the intake. Connect this point to the apex/bust point, this is the new dart fold. Measure down the amount you want to lower the dart and cross mark the dart fold. Redraw the legs to the new, lowered dart point. Refold the new dart and true the waist to get the correct shape of the intake. We fold the dart so the intake faces CF but apparently this is a move that is up for debate ;)

  5. Lisa Laree says:

    I’m just a homesewing enthusiast, but with a post-50-body, lowering darts is of GREAT interest to me! I’ve been doing it the way everyone here seems to agree is the way to do it…is there another (better?) way?

  6. Mimi says:

    Call me crazy, but I disagree with all answers so far. If I were shortening a dart, I would shorten along the line closer to the center of the body, to avoid changing the position of the dart relative to the apex. I would then only alter only the outer line to meet the new point. Am I wrong?

  7. patsijean says:

    Most of us would use the method described in most of the posts, but that would depend on how much shorter one wished the dart. 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.

  8. Ingrid says:

    I’m happy this has come up because when I’ve made patterns using a draping method, I’ve ended up with shoulder and waist darts that seemed much too long, practically ending at the same point at the apex. In trying to shorten them, I no longer have a smooth fit in the bust area. I’ll be following this one. Thanks!

  9. Lisa Bloodgood says:

    So how do you shorten a dart w/o changing the fit of the rest of the bodice? From what some people say, it seems like there is too drastic of a change. I guess it depends on the person who’s going to wear it.

  10. Donna S says:

    My instructor called this backing off from the bust point or lowering the dart point. The amount to back off depends on how full the bust is. A fuller bust requires a slightly lower dart point. The new point is marked on the fold line of the dart as this is the line that points directly to the center of the bust point. The legs are redrawn to the new point then the dart is folded and trued at the waist.

  11. Barb Taylorr says:

    Seems to me all of these might work, but to determine the best solution for the body involved draping seems the obvious answer. Personally, I’d be inclined to try to keep the angle of the dart legs as close to the original angel as possible, (same reason as patsijean’s comment about puckering) but then you’d need to remove some of that waist fullness from the side seam. I like Mimi’s point too, and would like to look at that with draping as well. It is not something I’d have considered before I read her answer.

    Here’s my sketch (pdf) illustrating what I mean.

  12. Yvonne in England says:

    I agree with Donna (which I see the same comment essentially as those from clf and others at the beginning of these comments). The ‘pinch’ at the waist would remain the same and the top of the dart lowered using the same fold line, to accommodate a larger bust.

  13. It has been sometime since I got out the vogue sewing book and followed their advice on dart alteration. So, I am going to approach this geometrically, which, I believe, is what Mimi has described.
    First I would line up a ruler along the base lines of the garment, then draw straight lines along the slopes of the base of the garment. At the point where those intersect, I would draw a line from the old dart apex which bisects the intersections of those lines. This line may not be in the middle of the dart, but it is the line which is the axis of the bust. I would then mark the new apex of the dart and draw the dart lines from the corners of the dart to the new top point.
    My thoughts are that if you drew a line such that it precisely bisected the triangle of the old dart and placed your new dart apex on that line, your dart might slope toward the sides of the garment.
    Here is a link to a sloppy drawing illustrating, somewhat, how it might look: http://www.flickr.com/photos/69118927@N00/4438263225/.

  14. Sabine says:

    I would have done it the way that Paula and D Scheidt illustrated. However, I also like the way Barb illustrated Mimi’s idea, but I do not like “my first thought.
    My reasoning:
    Don’t like “my first thought as that would make the bottom of the blouse? wider then the original ans so alter the pattern.
    I like Mimi’s idea for areas where you need less of a point, like a cup C to a 30″ waist.
    I like Paula’s/D Scheidts idea for areas where you need a more accented point due to more extreme measurements, lets say a cup E to a 24” waist.
    Maybe the best way to do it without changing the pattern line too much is to do “both”.
    I assume the dart gets shortened 2″, so, shorten it 1″ via Paula’s version and 1″ via Mimi’s version.

  15. anne says:

    At the end of the day whatever method you think is best, you must make a sample. Unless you are draping on the exact body you have to test the fit. You can’t take the easy way out…do a muslin fitting !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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