Want to know the secret to sewing beautiful darts without having to do any time-consuming and messy tracing? Then check out these four tips that will hopefully change the way you sew darts forever!
Tip 1. Don’t trace with a pen, use scissors and an awl instead
Using tracing paper or coloured chalk when marking darts is seldom a good idea. Why you may ask? Well, the marks tend to stick to the fabric and if you don’t get rid of it completely before ironing, the heat will set the colour and likely make it permanent. Not fun!
How to mark darts with an awl
1. Punch a hole at the end(s) of the dart using an awl or another sharp tool. Make the hole just below the apex, so that it will be enclosed inside the stitch.
2. Mark the sides, by punching holes just inside the lines. If the dart is fairly short, just one hole on each side, somewhere in the middle, will be enough. On longer darts, add 1 or 2 more holes on each side. If sewing a closed dart, add holes at the widest part too on both sides.
3. Clip small notches at the ends with a pair of scissors, if you are making a single open dart, such as a bust dart or waist dart. Make the notches no more than 3-4 mm (⅛”) deep This is all the marking you need!
4. The finished markings. The holes will be a visual guide and you should sew just outside them. Note: The holes are accentuated in the photo for clarity, they are much more discreet in real life.
Tip 2. Use the thread tail to help you sew straight
Have you tried using the thread tail as your guide when sewing darts? If not, now is the time to try.
This simple trick is to pull the thread tail towards the tip of the triangle. Just place it slightly to the right from the center and then sew with the needle hitting the fabric on the left side of the thread.
Tip 3. Don’t backstitch, finish off with smaller stitches and a knot
I do not recommend backstitching to secure the dart, as it will make the ends bulky because it’s nearly impossible to stitch exactly over the first row when backstitching back and forth. And then you end up with the dreaded bubble at the apex, which you don’t want.
How to secure darts with small stitches and a knot
1. When there is about 1 cm (⅜”) left of the dart. Stop sewing and shorten the stitch length to slightly less than 1 mm.
2. Sew a few small stitches and let them catch the fold of the fabric. It’s very important to sew super close to the edge, don’t stop before your reach the folded edge!
You can also do a tiny pivot with the needle to sew the last few stitches to make sure you really hit that edge.
3. Tie the threads into a knot or two, to fully secure the dart. Clip the threads, and you’ll have an amazingly neat dart with very little effort.
Tip 4. Sew darts with just the bobbin thread
Have you tried the bobbin thread dart method? This genious technique uses only one strand of thread and is perfect for sewing darts in sheer and very thin fabrics, where even the method described above might be too bulky.
How to sew darts with just the bobbin thread
1. Thread the bobbin thread in the needle.
2. Attach the upper thread with the bobbin thread using a knot
3. Wind up the bobbin thread. The knot will go all way to the thread spool. You will only sew with the bobbin thread, so make sure you have enough thread.
4. Start sewing at the point of the dart. Make sure the needle will hit the edge of the fabric and that you have no surplus thread. This is the only tricky part.
5. The finished dart. As you can see there is only a thread from the bobbin (the red thread). The purple needle thread will never hit the fabric.
To learn more about this method, check out the Bobbin Thread Dart Tutorial for a detailed demonstration of all the steps.
I hope that these easy and time-saving methods will be a gamechanger for how you sew darts. And the best part, once you practised a few times, I can pretty much guarantee your darts will look absolutely perfect!