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How to Lower a Bust Dart Tutorial

HOW TO LOWER A BUST DART TUTORIAL

Let’s talk darts first, I do love a good dart!

A good dart takes away fullness where we don’t want it, enhancing our lovely shapes!

A bad dart, well doesn’t. It points to the wrong bits. Sits too high, or low, or long, or short and drags the fabric.

It’s easy enough to get your darts looking pattern perfect. They can be altered to sit lower, higher (though that’s unusual, but perfectly possible), the angle of the tip can be changed, shortened or lengthened.

THE BASICS | anatomy of a dart 

LOWER BUST DART TUTORIAL-01

PRESSING DARTS: A quick note on dart pressing darts, As a general rule contour and other vertical darts are pressed with the excess bulk towards the centre front or back. Horizontal darts, that would be bust darts, are pressed with the dart excess down. I know some sewists prefer to press upwards as this is supposed to be more youthful. I press downwards, that was the norm in industry, but mostly because my needlework teacher told me they go down so they don’t get full of dust. Yuk! She also said I wouldn’t pass my ‘O’ level needlework and was quite wrong there. As there is no such thing as the Sewing Police, please do what makes you happiest, I won’t judge you.

LOWER BUST DART TUTORIAL-01

A common dart alteration is the need to lower a bust dart. The Kitty Dress has a bust dart at the centre front seam, a lovely feature. But what if the dart is not in the right place for one’s boobage and it needs moving? I do mean move the dart, not the boobage. Panic not, ‘chop and slide’ that dart is the way forward to get that dart (or indeed, any dart) sitting where we want it.

METHOD

As always wear your intended underwear before you start fitting and measuring, if you are going to wear a padded bra go pop it on. Remember that a well fitted bra will make all the difference to how your garment fits.

EQUPIMENT:

COPY OF PATTERN PIECE (OR ABILITY TO REPRINT ORIGINAL!)

RULER

PENCIL

STICKY TAPE

TAPE MEASURE

PAPER SCISSORS

PATTERN PAPER

TRACING WHEEL (optional, but very useful)

BUST POINT | BUST APEX

LOWER BUST DART TUTORIAL-01

1. One of the first things to do is find your BUST POINT (BP) (also called the APEX).

The BP of the pattern is easy to find, extend the central line of the dart and mark the BP 2.5cm (1”) away from the tip of the dart. (see diagram below)

If you’ve made a toile try it on, mark your BP and transfer to your pattern.

Or you can also measure yourself from nipple to nipple, and then from mid shoulder to the nipple.

MY PATTERN PIECES HAVE THE SEAM ALLOWANCE ON! Just mark your seam allowance if you leave them on. I would suggest a consistent approach to leaving them on or taking them off for alterations so you develop your own process.

LOWER BUST DART TUTORIAL-01

2. DRAW LINE 1: LINE 1 length is HALF the nipple to nipple measurement. Draw it horizontally across the pattern starting at CF STITCH LINE.

3. DRAW LINE 2: At the end of LINE 1, draw LINE 2 parallel to the grainline,

4. DRAW LINE 3: from the mid shoulder draw LINE 3 the same length as shoulder  – nipple measurement, it will intersect LINE 2 at your BP.

The difference in height between the pattern BP and your BP is how much you need to move the dart.

LOWER BUST DART TUTORIAL-02

 

5. DRAW LINE 4: Draw a line vertically through the dart tip, parallel with the grainline

6. Draw a box around the dart.

7. On LINE 4, Measure down from the base of the box, and mark the distance the dart is to be lowered

CHOP AND SLIDE !

8. Cut out the box, slide it down along LINE 4 to your mark.

 

LOWER BUST DART TUTORIAL-10

 

LOWER BUST DART TUTORIAL-01

 

9. Tape the dart in place. Tape a piece of paper behind your pattern to fill in the gap.

10. Redraw the dart legs. Remember, the tip of a bust dart is usually 1” (2.5cm) from the BP, but this can change depending on you – it could be ½” (1.2cm) if you are small busted and up to 3” (7.5cm) if you have a fuller bust.

Carry on…we haven’t finished yet!

LOWER BUST DART TUTORIAL-01

GOOD DART | BAD DART

DART EXTENSION | truing the Centre Front Seam

Take a look at good dart / bad dart.

Bad dart hasn’t been trued, so the dart extension is too short and that seam is a pointy mess. Bodies are not generally that shape, they curve! Bad dart, go hang your head in shame. The dart extension is the pointy end at the seam allowance end. For the dart to sit properly and not drag and cause pulling we need the dart extension to be EXACTLY the same shape as the part of the garment it sits against. And when it’s closed, we want the seam to run in a smooth line. 

11. Fold your dart, along the dart legs as if you are stitching your dart closed, with the excess downwards. A bit of tape doesn’t go a miss to hold the dart temporarily in place. (Now is the time to go excess upwards if that is your preference.)

LOWER BUST DART TUTORIAL-0112. Oh looky, those dart legs aren’t the same length are they? There is a stagger at the CF seam. All you need to do is TRUE the dart and the CF seam. Which is a posh way of saying REDRAW the CF LINE. while the dart is folded, blending the new line in as naturally as you can to get a smooth line.

WHEN TRUING a seam or dart it’s usual to go half way between a stagger, gaining a bit and losing a bit of pattern.

13. While the dart is still folded, use a tracing wheel to transfer the new line through to your dart, creating the dart extension. No tracing wheel? Cut along outside the edge of the pattern, straight through the dart excess. Unfold your dart. Now you have a new CF line you’ll need draw in your new seam allowance.

14. Label your pattern, I always add the date to keep track of the latest version, it’s a good idea to make a note of the alteration(s) done too!

A LITTLE MORE DART FUN

because I know how to party….

LOWER BUST DART TUTORIAL-01

If you don’t need to move the whole dart, it’s easy to shorten or lengthen one instead. Mark where you would like the new DART TIP to be, draw in the CENTRE LINE and just redraw the dart legs back to the base of the dart. Don’t forget to TRUE the dart and seam!
You can also just move the tip up or down, rather than the whole dart, again redraw the legs and TRUE the dart and seam.

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Sewing The French Dart Shift in jersey!

|SEWING THE FRENCH DART SHIFT IN JERSEY |

I may have mentioned I like to get some mileage out of my patterns and when I was asked about sewing The French Dart Shift in jersey, a Ponte Roma knit to be specific,  I thought let’s see! (And Elfi did make a rather splendid jersey one.)

A few things to remember…

Firstly, this pattern is not designed for a jersey. So the darts are staying and the knit fabric is more for cosiness and comfort, rather then body con type fit!

Second point…I bought this Ponte online and I’m not a huge fan of it. It feels very acrylic-y but for a toile type garment, it does the job. This particular Ponte reminds me of my girls’ school uniform sweatshirt fabric, although it actually sewed up quite nicely.

I chopped my dress pattern shorter (by 12″) so it would be a hip-length top without pockets and made with a 3/4 length sleeve (tutorial here). I had ideas of looking Audrey Hepburn-esque. I stitched the hem in red so it would show up, but school uniform Ponte combined with red stitching actually makes this top look less Audrey in Paris and a little more like British Airways crew outfit. Enough of the styling tips and on with the tutorial…

Sewing The French Dart shift in Jersey

| SEWING JERSEY TIPS |

jersey machine needles

correct-needle-fds-jersey-tutorial

  • Always use a ballpoint needle so you don’t get skipped stitches.
  • I used a walking foot, which helped but I don’t think it was essential.
  • Use a stretch or ballpoint twin needle to create a faux coverstitch for the hem.
  • Use a stretch stitch.
  • Test your stitching on a scrap bit of fabric first. Stitch in both directions, along the selvedge and across the width of the knit, to make sure your stitches don’t crack when you pull them. Tension and stitch settings will vary dependant on your machine and your fabric. Sorry, but you need to get friendly with your manual!
  • Don’t pull and stretch your fabric as you sew.
  • If your seam goes a bit wavy after stitching, very gently steam and press flat.
  • My machine tried to swallow the garment into the footplate at the beginning of a seam, so I placed a piece of paper under the garment before stitching. I had some heavy tissue paper handy but the off-cuts from printed Indie sewing patterns would be perfect!

| STITCHES |

jersey-stitches-fds-tutorial

There are a couple of options for stitching your seams.

  • stretch stitch (sometimes called lightning stitch)
  • zig zag on a narrow width and 2.5-3mm length (I used this as was quicker than the lightening stitch, and set my stitch width to 0.5 and stitch length to 2).
  • I also tested just using a straight stitch, and it was OK on this fabric, but probably not very reliable on a stretchier jersey.
  • Overlocker – you can cut, sew and neaten your seams all in one go.  3 threads are usually just used for neatening seams, 4 (or 5) threads for all in one seam stitching as it makes for a stronger seam. The pattern has 1cm allowances for the body and 6mm at the neckline so be sure not to cut off more than you should!
  • To neaten your seams either use a zig-zag or overlock together. You could in theory just stitch and leave them raw as the fabric doesn’t really fray, but it seemed a bit lazy.

| Sewing The French Dart shift In Jersey |

| METHOD |

RST: right sides together  CB: centre back  S/A: seam allowance  

FDS: French Dart Shift  WS: wrong side

(Refer to your Maker Instructions for detailed descriptions of general methods.)

 

FDS JERSEY TUTORIAL

Pre-wash and press your fabric, lay up and cut out carefully.

The collar would normally be cut on the bias for a woven cloth. For a knit fabric cut instead on the straight of grain with the shortest edge of the pattern parallel to the selvedge.

Tape the neck as described in your FDS Maker Instructions. (This style has a wide neck and we don’t need (or want) it to stretch. If you are ever making a t-shirt style that stretches to pull over the head DO NOT TAPE the neck!)

Make all the darts.

| TAPE THE SHOULDERS |

fds-jersey-tape-shoulder

Measure a piece of stay tape against your pattern by laying on the shoulder line, including the seam allowances. Pin the shoulders with RST and place the tape in place on the stitch line and stitch the shoulders together through the stay tape. Press the shoulder seam open.

Close the side seams and underarm sleeve seams. Neaten together.

Set in the sleeves.

| ATTACH THE COLLAR |

THE FRENCH DART SHIFT JERSEY TUTORIAL

Stitch CB collar seam, do not neaten. Press seam open.

Fold collar in half with WS together, so raw neck edges are aligned and the seam allowance is enclosed inside the collar.

THE FRENCH DART SHIFT JERSEY TUTORIAL

With RST pin collar onto the body, align collar and body notches and CB collar seam with CB neck.

THE FRENCH DART SHIFT JERSEY TUTORIAL

Stitch together with a 6mm S/A, neaten and press S/A towards the body.

| OPTIONAL |

fds-jersey

Ready to wear t-shirts and sweatshirts often have a row of stitching at the neckline to hold the seam allowance flat. You can twin needle or edgestitch the neckline to mimic this if you wish. Confession: Proceed with caution, I broke my only twin needle when I hit the CB seam, so I continued with an edgestitch. Both look good!

| HEM |

The pattern has a 3cm hem allowance, press to the WS.

Twin needle the hem (I overlocked the raw edge first), again follow your machine guideline and test. My machine and a twin needle meant not using the walking foot and sewing at a slower speed.

| POCKET |

fds-jersey-pocket-1As I made a top it was too short for pockets. Side pockets in jersey generally ring alarm bells for me. It’s perfectly possible to do the pockets but also possible the weight of the jersey bag will be lumpy or droopy under the dress or the pocket mouth will stretch and not sit flat. The final result is really going to depend on your fabric and your sewing skills.

If you made a dress version and want to add pockets, I did a test sample. I’ve followed the basic instructions for the FDS pocket but overlocked the side seam together rather than open. *I also didn’t fuse the pocket mouth, unlike the woven version, just to see what would happen really. It was OK but this Ponte is very stable, although next time I would put a small spot of interfacing at each pivot point for extra reinforcement. Again test your fabric to see what works for your jersey, and remember to use the knitted kind of interfacing.

*If in doubt just interface the pocket as the instructions and you could always add an extra strip for the back pocket mouth if you think your fabric needs it.

FDS JERSEY POCKET

  • Attach the pocket bags to the body, but don’t overlock.
  • Understitch the front pocket bag
  • Pin front and back with RST and stitch side seam and around the pocket bag. Reinforce at pivot points.
  • Neaten the side seam and around the pocket bag together.

Overall I’m rather pleased with sewing The French Dart Shift in jersey. The collar is lovely in knitted fabric and it makes a very cosy and comfortable little top now that Autumn is upon us!

Sewing The French Dart shift in Jersey

 

 

 

 

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The Bicep Adjustment Tutorial

Hello! What’s a bicep adjustment I hear you ask? Because it sounds painful. It’s not, no biceps were harmed in the making of this tutorial…

So the question is, how are your sleeves fitting? Is your sleeve a little snug and restrictive at the upper arm, or is it a little bigger than desired? But it’s actually a good fit in the armhole.

Well, here’s the answer to your pattern alteration prayers…The Bicep adjustment tutorial. A pattern alteration to help you get a better fitting sleeve without touching the bodice armhole.

BICEP ADJUSTMENT | THE RULES

We are going to cut up the pattern so…

RULE NO 1 OF PATTERN ALTERATIONS: DO NOT DESTROY YOUR ORIGINAL!

Trace off your pattern (unless it’s a PDF – you can always print another – hurray for technology!). If it all goes horribly wrong, you’ve just wasted a bit of paper and time – you can then just start again and have another go. It’s also a very good habit to date your pattern alterations, you can easily keep track of your latest version that way.

RULE NO 2: THIS ALTERATION ONLY REALLY WORKS FOR CHANGING BICEP MEASUREMENTS TO A MAXIMUM OF 2.5CM (1″)

RULE NO 3: TOILE, TOILE, TOILE. Don’t even think about mucking about with a sleeve without testing it out!

RULE NO 4: RULES ARE, sometimes, MADE TO BE BROKEN (except rule 3 – just don’t). There’s more than one way to do anything and you could also need a combo of alterations!

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

First, you need to know how much extra to add. Measure your arm at the fullest part with your arm bent. Measure your pattern (without seam allowance) at the bicep (see below for the bicep line) and compare. The difference is the ease.

As with all things, how much ease you have in your pattern is going to depend on your fabric and how you want your garment to look and feel. There isn’t a one size fits all solution but a good guide is 4-5cm (1.5″ to 2″) should be enough for a woven dress, around 10cm (4″) for a coat to be worn over other garments. And then there’s jersey. Depends who you talk too – some say no ease, so the pattern is the same measurement as your body. Some say add 2.5cm (1″) ease. Some patterns have negative ease they are actually smaller than your body (very stretchy cloth!). With jersey fabrics consider how tight do you want the bicep area and how stretchy is your fabric as a starting point.

BICEP ADJUSTMENT TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

STEP 1: Mark the seam allowances. You can mark the whole pattern piece but you can just do each intersection: at the underarm, sleeve head, hem.

THE BICEP ADJUSTMENT TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

STEP 2: Draw a horizontal line joining the underarm points together, this is the BICEP LINE. Halfway along the bicep line (fold the pattern in half to mark it) draw a vertical line at a right angle to the bicep line the entire length of the pattern. It should be parallel (or in the same place as) the grain line.

BICEP ADJUSTMENT TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

STEP 3: Cut along the lines up to the seam allowance (NOTE: I’m using the Kitty sleeve pattern that has no hem allowance as it is finished with a binding, so I’ve cut straight through).

MY TIP: I like to work with a larger piece of paper behind my pattern piece and then on it draw a horizontal line (for the bicep) and a vertical line (the dashed orange lines above). It’s a good guide to make sure your sleeve pattern stays square and doesn’t go skew-whiff! Some cutters don’t do this and are happy to just slide a piece of paper behind the pattern and tape in place to fill the gaps later. Each to their own, neither is right or wrong, as always pros and cons for either!BICEP ADJUSTMENT TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

STEP 4: Snip from the outside of the pattern, back toward the seam allowance, leaving 2mm of paper, to make a hinge to help pivot the pattern. They do rip apart, it’s not a big deal, just use pins or tape to anchor in place as a backup/alternative to help when pivoting the pattern into position. The large piece of paper is handy to pin to.

NOTE: All the pivoting will be done from the SEAM ALLOWANCE line, not the outside edge of the pattern.

BICEP ADJUSTMENT TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

| TO INCREASE THE BICEP |

Mark the amount you want to INCREASE the bicep by on the bicep guideline, either side of the vertical line. (I’m going with 2cm = 1cm each side of the line)

Line up the sleeve with the guidelines and then gently slide the underarm points outwards along your guide bicep line until you have gained the extra you need in the middle of the pattern. Anchor them down with a pin or tape.

The hinges will help pivot your pattern into place, keep the hem and sleeve head on the vertical line. As the bicep gets wider, the sleeve head will automatically lower and overlap the lower portion of the sleeve. Crucially, the sleeve will still fit into your armhole because the sleeve head is the same measurement. You will probably need to redraw the sleeve head and hem to smooth the line. (See short sleeve picture below).

When you are happy, tape your pattern back together.  You can just tape in that new extra bit in the middle and cut away the excess, or trace off the whole new pattern piece.

THE BICEP ADJUSTMENT TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNSClose up of one section

You can see how the pattern spreads, raises in the centre and lines up with the guidelines.

BICEP ADJUSTMENT TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

| DECREASE BICEP |

This uses exactly the same principle as before. We just decrease the bicep measurement by OVERLAPPING the pattern at the centre, rather than spreading it apart. When you decrease the bicep measurement, the sleeve head raises in height. Redraw the sleeve head and hem to smooth if necessary. Tape back together or trace off the pattern.

BICEP ADJUSTMENT TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

 | SHORT SLEEVE |

Add to your bicep measurement in exactly the same way as the long sleeve.  At the hem, you need to cut through and leave a gap to allow for the extra ease. Mine is pretty much parallel all the way down from the bicep, as I wanted to keep the underarm seam at the same angle. You can also see how I’ve redrawn the sleeve head and hem, it’s not a lot, just enough to create a smooth line.

| RESULTS |

So now you have a new sleeve pattern, with an adjusted bicep. You need to toile (make a test) now, just check it’s working for you. You may need to tweak and add or reduce the bicep again. There are other methods for adjusting sleeves too. You might need a combination of a few alterations so look out for PART 2 of the Sleeve Alteration Tutorials!

 

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#MAVENMAKERS – a jersey surprise!

#MAVENPATTERNS_jersey surprise-36

#MAVENMAKERS – A Jersey Surprise!

I had a Facebook message from a very lovely lady called Elfi from Germany, asking if I had ever made the French Dart Shift in Jersey.

No, I replied, I’d thought about it, but wasn’t sure about the darts. In actual fact I had bought a gorgeous Olive striped cotton jersey with that very intention last November and then made something else because of my stripe/jersey/dart dilemma.

I’m regretting that now – Elfi’s has turned out so beautifully!!!

#MAVENMAKERS_MAVEN PATTERNS

The collar looks great in jersey, but if you’re intending to try this at home, remember to cut it on the straight grain rather than on the bias. The straight grain follows the same direction as the body, so cut your collar out with the shortest length running parallel with the selvedge of your cloth. If you look at Elfi’s you can see the pattern on the collar and body all runs in the same direction. The neck will still need taping of course, to prevent it stretching out of shape. Depending on the fit you want, you may also need to skim in the body a little to make use of the stretch. I’m thinking of making a short version (hip length) to wear more as a semi-fitted sweatshirt sort of feel, with a comfort/cosy factor, rather than a very fitted t-shirt look. But you know the rules, ladies..TOILE FIRST!!!!

UPDATE: If you love the jersey used for this dress, I have some good news…..Elfi has a fabric shop! It’s full of lovely, lovely prints! 

The  BIGGEST of thank you’s to Elfi for sharing her very inspiring French Dart Shift