How to: Move a Dart

This is an easy peasy trick and if you’ve ever dabbled in a little bit of pattern drafting, you’ve probably done this several times. Darts are basically excess fabric pick-ups that, when sewn together, create shape for your curves – you know, like for your bustline, waistline or hipline. They can also be a great way to incorporate design lines – think princess seams, the tutorial that’s coming up tomorrow – into a garment. I really wanted to be able to show you how to create armscye princess seams as I’m doing the same for my wrap dress, but first you need to know how to move a dart. Let’s get started!

I’m going to show you how to move a dart on a front bodice, but this technique can be used for other parts of a basic sloper/TNT (tried’n’true) pattern too – any where there is a dart, you can move it! Let your imagination run wild.

Step 1 ♥ Find your apex. What’s the apex? It’s going to be the middle/shifting point of the dart. For our front bodice, its right square in the middle of the breast. Many commercial patterns already have this marked for you, but if not, find your apex and mark the apex with a circle.

Step 2 ♥ Redraw the dart lines to the apex. Most, if not all darts, tend to end about 1 – 2 inches shy of the apex. To move the dart we need to extend the dart lines to the apex. To do that, you’ll simply take a ruler and shimmy it up to a dart leg end (the fat end of the dart) and along and up to the apex and pencil it in. Easy right?

Step 3 ♥ Pick a spot for the new dart. This is where it gets fun! From the apex, you can shift a dart to pretty much anywhere. I’m going to move the shoulder dart here to the armscye because I’m going to show you how to draft a princess seam from there, but you can put the new dart anywhere.

Step 4 ♥ Cut out the dart. Then cut the new dart line all the way to the apex.

Step 5 ♥ Shift the old dart closed and tape it up. And Voila! You’ve moved a dart! Fill in the new dart with some paper and tape. Shorten the dart back to where it was – opposite of Step 2, within 1 – 2 inches of the apex and then cut the dart from the paper after you’ve folded it into position. From here, true up the rest of your seam lines if needed. Not so bad, right?

Tomorrow I’ll continue this little creative exercise with how to draft a princess seam. Have you ever moved a dart? Ever wanted to dabble a bit in pattern drafting? I’ll admit, if you were to ask me about pattern drafting several years back, when I got back into sewing, I would have instantly said no. But over the years, I’ve developed a keen interest in it and have found that its more of a continuation into this wonderful enormous world of sewing. I find it rather fascinating and to be honest, extremely liberating. Being able to dissect that latest dress I spotted whilst window shopping is awfully fun.

Ciao friends!


23 thoughts on “How to: Move a Dart

  1. I love playing around with dart placement–it’s so fun! I think sometimes people don’t realize how easy it is, but I think it’s probably one of the simplest pattern alterations you can make. Thanks for sharing this tutorial, Sunni!

  2. This is great, thank you for sharing. Here’s one for you: I want to add gathers in the front bodice of a shirt, at the shoulder yoke seam (does that make sense?). How would I do that?

  3. Thanks for sharing this post! I recently came across a pattern that had darts in the waist and shoulder of a children’s bodice. Any idea how to remove them? Most children’s bodices don’t have darts and I don’t want them!


    1. This is a little more complicated than I have room to explain in a comment, but basically you take the dart pick-up amount and its placement and re-draw a curved seam. Like at the waist of a shirt. You would mark the natural waistline and then measure the dart pick up (how big the dart is at the widest point) and draw in a curved seam instead. I’ll admit, it would be great if you purchased a pattern drafting book if you’re interested in creating a dartless pattern from a darted pattern though!

  4. WHY oh WHY didn’t i have this last night when i was moving the dart on my pencil skirt!?!?!?!?!?! Just have to say that I adore your blog.

  5. Hi, thanks for the excelent explanation! I am working on a Burda bodice for a dress, and I want to remove the dart (there is only a waist dart) and include a princess seam, how do I do that?


    1. Where do you want the princess seam to originate from? If you want it from the shoulder, you merely have to extend the dart to the apex, sketch in a design line from the shoulder and cut the dart out and and cut the design line (keep track of your grainline by adding that before you get started to each side of the design line). From there add a seam allowance to each piece and there you go! If you’re looking to do a princess seam from the armscye I’ll be showing how to do that tomorrow, but you’ll need to add in a dart at the armscye for that tutorial. You could do that just by following the steps above. When you cut out the one waist dart, just split the difference and give each dart the same about of width. Does that make sense?

  6. I just love pattern drafting… I’m by no means an expert, and something always goes wrong, but I love the technical 2D-work… But I have a question for you, and it relates to exactly this dart-movement. When I first drafted my basic block, we didn’t sew anything but the muslin, so we never moved the darts from the apex (as they were supposed to be in the apex-spot, I guess, for later construction?). Now when I move the darts it seems like there’s some extra fabric sagging right in front of, you know, the apex… Do you think that means my pattern was slightly to big in the bust line to begin with? I have, on some dresses, made a tiny ‘small-bust-adjustment’, and that has seemed to help… Sorry for the long comment here, I just hope you can help!

    1. I’m by no means an expert either, just so you know! But, yes, I do think that the pattern was slightly big in the bust line to begin with. I have the same problem with Colette Patterns – I’m a B cup and they draft for a C cup. Right out of the envelope, I get that little sag just like you are explaining.

  7. I’m super interested in pattern drafting and look forward to your next post. Thanks for the detailed post here. I also would like to know about adding gathers in the front bodice of a shirt, at the shoulder yoke seam. I think I know how to do it but would like to see what you recommend. There are always a few ways to do something. I have a book on different sewing applications. In the book it’ll show 5 different ways to say install a cuff. So I’d love to see you address this topic in a post.


  8. I’ve always wondered about how this is done. You’ve explained it so clearly and it makes so much sense that it’s now etched in my mind. Thanks!

  9. Thanks for this tutorial. I have changed the placement of darts as needed over the last year. It’s funny because in the process of learning about darts, I didn’t understand what the apex was and where it was located on the body, the books I read never really came out and said that it’s the middle of the breast, and the illustrations were lacking. So simple, but without that information I was a bit loss. You made this so easy for people to know, thanks! Also, something I didn’t realize, is that most commercial patterns are geared for the average 20 year old body. As a older gal things have changed and I need to lower those darts for a good fit. Thanks for this simple, great information!

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