Sewing Darts : 15 Dart placements & tips for sewing them

What are darts ?

If you have seen darts you already know what they are for – anyways, let me give you a simple explanation. A Dart is a fabric manipulation technique that gives the fabric a three dimensional contour by folding the fabric and stitching it to a point- basically giving shape to a garment. It accentuates curves of a body and gives clothes the correct fit.


Darts take in fabric at a section of the garment and narrows down to a point at another creating a fullness at the narrowed section. There are sections of the body which are more full than other parts – like the derriere / hip , bust.  This fullness is given on clothes with strategic placements of darts. The dart is drawn as triangular sections which taper to nothing

The most important thing you should take into consideration when designing darts is the length and position.

The more curves in the figure, the more darts are necessary to give a good fit. The larger the person, the deeper the darts have to be.

Designing darts

You should take the correct length of the most important points in your body – shoulder to bust; shoulder to waist line; shoulder to hip line or waist to hip length; bust point to bust point ; bust line to waistline etc . This is different for different people  and hence would make all the difference in the way the dart is placed.Checkout the post on taking body measurements.


15 Different Dart placements

Darts come in many sizes and placements. Some darts are double pointed ,  extending to either sides, others point to one direction. The main sections that they are placed are Bust, shoulder, neckline and waist.

Basically, there are two types of darts – one is V shaped, the kind which start wide and then taper to a point, used on skirts, pants etc. Then the next type is the body dart which is wider in the middle and then tapers to noting on both ends.

Let us see all the different places that darts are used, more in detail.


how to sew darts


1 Mid shoulder dart

The shoulder dart generally begins at a point slightly closer to the neck than half-way on the shoulder seam, and slants slightly toward the center front, ending on the point of the bust. The distance this dart extends depends on the style of the garment. Generally, it ends at a point half-way down the armscye.

2 Shoulder tip dart

3 Mid Armhole dart

4 Mid neckline  dart

5 Centre front neck dart

6 Standard waist dart

7 Center front waist dart

8 Double waist dart

These are those long darts that you see in dresses that shape the waist. They extend both above and below the waistline, are wider in the center and taper to points at both ends

Vertical darts from the waist down may be necessary to take care of a protruding abdomen.

9 Center front bust dart

10 Side straight dart / under the arm– This is a bust dart

Usually the under-arm dart is placed two inches below the armscye
and points toward the bust.

11 Side angled dart (french dart) Another bust dart starting from the waistline to bust in an angled cut. 

12 Elbow Dart

Darts at the elbow are necessary to make a sleeve fit closely. 

13 Sleeve hem darts

A vertical dart running from the little finger at the wrist toward the elbow will make the sleeve fit snugly at the lower arm.

14 Skirt /pant darts

These are darts starting at the waist and going towards the hip to create a fullness there. They are placed in the back of a skirt to give
a smooth fit from the waist and over the hips. You can cut the yoke such that the darts are unnecessary.

15 Fisheye dart

This is a dart used to eliminate the sagging portion under the derriere in pants . It is a horizontal double pointed dart

Small darts at the back of the neckline take care of rounded
shoulders or a pad of flesh across the back of the neck. 

How are darts added to a pattern

When you add dart to a pattern extra width that will be sewn up has to be added to the pattern. This dart is then sewn up to provide fullness.

Darts are added so that it points to the high point of the curve. The tip of the dart should not reach this point however – atleast 1/2 inch short of the point is best

As to the length of the dart – this is a formula that I have noted down in my sewing book copied  from where I do not remember

When a dart width is 3/4 inch, the dart length should be 3-1/2 inch; for 1-inch dart width, 4-1/2 inch length; for 1-1/4 inch dart width, 5-1/2 inch length; for 1-1/2 inch dart width, 6-inch length, and for 2-inch dart width, a 6-1/2 inch length.

The width of the dart at the wide part depends on the fullness you want near the tip of the dart. If you have a big derriere you would want to add a wider dart in the waist tapering to the hip, so that you get that much fullness there.

  • Draw the bodice on a piece of paper

dart in dress

  • Draw the dart where you want shaping
  • Cut along that line
  • Cut out the dart to the width you intend to take in ( include the seam allowance as well. Tape it up.

dart in dress pattern

  • Now redraw the pattern with this taken in width added. This is your pattern with the dart added. Checkout more details on this in the sundress pattern

dart in dress pattern

How to sew Darts


The professionals always mark the dart with tailor tacks – this will ensure that you get the point exactly in the same place on both sides of the garment

Always sew the dart from the wide end to the narrow end ( point).

Adjust your stitch length to short stitches and stitch very slowly.

Start sewing the dart with backstitching at the wide part ( you can also skip this backstitching as this area will be in the seam allowance so will be secured later when you stitch that part)

In pants skirts etc you need a shaping convex dart and it should be sewn as shown below; The right picture with the sewing line almost touching the fold as it reaches the point of the dart is how it should be sewn.


The tip to getting a perfect dart point is to sew the dart in a slightly curved way so that near the tip you will be sewing very close to the fold till the tip. Stitch the last 4-5 stitches along the fold of the fabric, then stitch past the tip

Reduce the speed of the machine as you reach the tip of the dart and use the hand wheel to slowly guide the needle.

At the narrow end, never back stitch. Back stitching distorts the dart point.  end stitching leaving long tails of thread. Remove the cloth from the machine and tie these thread tails in a knot.

Another option to finish the dart at the points is to reduce the stitch length to close to zero as you reach the point . Yet another one is to reach the point and then  back stitching on to the extra seam allowance of the dart.


Snip the fold of the fish dart at the waistline so that it doesnot stretch and cause wrinkles. You may have to finish the fabric edges to avoid fraying – you can make small overcast stitches there

If it is a wide dart or made of a heavy fabric you may want to avoid dart bulk by cutting the inside of the dart before sewing it ; you will have to slit through the fold of the dart; finish the fabric edges with over cast stitch and then press it open

In her book Sewing A-Z Nancy Zieman gives a tip to mark the dart lines with a small snip at the start and end and then keeping a thread aligned on these snips and using this as  the guideline for sewing the dart. 

How to press darts properly.

Pressing the darts is the most important element in making them look good. As soon as you have sewn a dart  – press it. Do not wait for the whole garment to be finished. If you have a pressing ham well and good. Otherwise use the end of the sewing table to press the curve of the dart

Press Darts on the wrong side of the dart. You should press waist darts towards the center of the garment. Press bust darts down. If you have cut open darts , press seam allowances to either sides

How to sew double darts

Double pointed darts are basically two single darts combined. Begin sewing the double darts from the middle and sew to one end. Come back to the middle and sew to the other end. Ensure that the middle stitching is overlapping and without distortion. 

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