How To: Dart Manipulation

When I made my recent blue and white Sorbetto top, I altered the pattern by converting the bust darts into neckline pleats.  I mentioned I’d do a post showing how I used dart manipulation to do it.  And look, I’ve finally gotten around to it!  🙂

Blue Sorbetto

I added two little pleats on each side of the neck line.  I also removed the center pleat.

Since it’s easier to photograph, I made a miniature version of the pattern to illustrate the steps.**

1. Start with pattern piece.

2. Mark the bust point.  Here I marked it in red.  (It’s about 1/2 away from the tip of the dart.)  This is really important.  The trick to successful dart manipulation is to always use the bust point and not the end of the dart (or dart point) when moving darts around.

3. Redraw dart legs, so they reach the bust point. (Redrawn in red.)

4. Draw a line where you want the pleats to be.  Here, I drew it in green.

5. “Cut away the old, and cut on the new.”  This is what my pattern making teacher repeated over and over in class.  Cut the old dart away first, along the red lines.  Then, cut on the new green line, but stop just shy of the bust point so you have a hinge.

6. Close up the old dart and tape together.

7. Even out any excess at the side.  Here I cut off that bit extending from the green line under the armhole.

8. Now you have opened a space at the neckline for the pleats.  (This could also be made into a new dart, or even gathers.)  Here, I wanted to have two pleats, so I drew another green line.  (I also could have done this at step 4.)

9. Cut on the second green line.

10. Spread out the pieces, and tape in some more paper.

11. Smooth out the line across the top, and cut off the excess paper.

12. Mark the new pleat lines. (Marked here in purple)

13. When your pleats are folded and sewn they will look something like this.

Here’s a picture of what my actual pattern looked like before and after.





Here’s a closer shot.  The pencil is pointing at the closed up bust dart.

**Disclaimer: I really have no idea what I am doing. My experience and knowledge of pattern drafting is fairly limited. But this did work for me. Remember, whenever in doubt, make a muslin to test out any pattern changes. 🙂


Modifying the Truffle Dress

I promised I’d post about how I modified my latest version of the Truffle dress.  I made several changes, including: (1) raising the neckline, (2) changing the the shape of the skirt, (3) adding a waistband, and (4) changing the darts on the skirt front.

Truffle Collage

Modified                                                                 Original Pattern (but without front drape)

I also drafted facings and installed a full lining, but I think that deserves it’s own post, and I didn’t take any pictures of the construction process.  😦  So more on that another day.  For now, I’ll outline how I went about each of the four changes below.  But with the caveat that I don’t really know what I’m doing here, and this may not be the “right” way to do things. 🙂  I follow the “if it works, it’s right” school of thought.  So this is what worked for me.

Raising the Neckline

This was simple.  I decided I wanted the neckline to be higher than the original pattern.  I simply took my pattern, marked a point above the center front, and used a curved ruler to draw the new line.  I made sure the first 1/2″ of the new line was at a 90 degree angle to the center front.  I did this to prevent my neckline from getting a v-shape. Here’s what my pattern looked like. The red line was the original neckline.

IMGP4601 copy

*Note – I retrace my pattern pieces when I make design changes.  That way I can always go back to my earlier versions if I want to.  I get my tracing paper at the art supply store.  It comes in a big wide roll, is inexpensive, and lasts me a long time.

Straightening the skirt

I wanted a straighter skirt, so I measured down to the fullest part of my hips, and then drew in new side seams.  Here’s a (not to scale) illustration of what I did.  The red line became the new cutting line. (I did this to both front and back skirt pieces.)


I also lengthened the skirt by about 2 inches.  Since the skirt didn’t have as much walking ease, I added a back vent by following Sunni’s tutorials.

Adding a Waistband

I didn’t want to belt my holiday dress, but still wanted a defined waist.  A built-in waistband seemed to be the answer.  I thought a 1 inch waistband would be about right.

First, I drew a cutting line 1 5/8″ from the bottom edge of my pattern.  You could make a wider waistband, just make sure to include the 5/8 seam allowance in your measurement.

Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

I cut along the red line.
Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

Then on the waistband piece, I closed the dart legs. I cut on the green line on the left and lined it up with the blue line on the right, and taped it together.
Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments
Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

Then I smoothed out the top, and I added a 5/8″ seam allowance to the top of the waistband piece AND the bottom of the bodice piece.  (Hint:  Mark which side of your waistband piece is the top, to avoid confusion later.)
Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

This is what my actual pattern pieces look like:
Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

I did the same thing for the back bodice pieces.  When I constructed the dress, I sewed the bodice darts, then sewed the waistband to the bodice pieces.  Then I constructed the rest of the dress according to the pattern instructions.

Adding Two Darts to Skirt Front

I got this idea from the pencil skirt pattern in Gertie’s book.  I love how those double darts look.  Also when I was searching for inspiration for my holiday dress, I saw a lot of vintage dresses with double darts or pleats.

I knew I didn’t want to just add a second dart because the skirt might get too tight.  I thought of dividing the original dart in two, but I was worried the darts would be too small.  (Although it probably would have worked fine.)  So I decided to add a little ease into the skirt front, so I could then pinch it back out in the new dart.

First I marked the seam allowance on my front skirt piece.  Then I drew a vertical line to the right of the original dart, where I wanted my second dart to be.

I slashed through the purple line, all the way to the bottom, but left a little hinge.
Then I spread the pattern open just a little bit and taped it.  I added 1/4 inch (measuring at the seam line.)
Next I drew in my new dart legs.  I wanted the new dart to be longer than the original, so I marked the dart point 1/2 inch below where the original one was marked.  I made the dart 5/8 inch wide, measuring at the seam line.
Then I re-drew the dart legs on the original dart, so that the dart was also 5/8″ wide (at the seam line).

My math skills aren’t great, but this is what i figured out:  the original dart width was 1 inch (measured at the seam line).  I added 1/4 inch by slashing and spreading.  Then I divided the total dart amount in half, and made two 5/8 inch wide darts.

Here’s my actual pattern piece:

Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

I really love the result!

Holiday Truffle

So, there you have it. I have really enjoyed customizing this pattern, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time. I’m already plotting a version with princess seams!

Last Pattern Drafting Class :(

Last night was my last pattern drafting class for the summer.   😦   (Fingers crossed they offer another evening course in the fall)

We worked on adding fullness – basically adding gathers.  Here’s a peek at two of the designs we did.

Again we started with this:
Basic Block

First we did a design with a gathered panel across the bust.  If it was sewn up, it might look something like this:  (Please excuse my crummy drawings)

The pattern pieces turned out like this:

We cut the pattern in three sections and slashed and spread the center piece to add the gathers. Here’s a better look at it:

The next design was this “light bulb” top.  It’s a flat panel in the center, with gathering all around.

The pattern pieces look like this:

It took a lot of slashing and spreading to get enough fullness to get those gathers all around the top of the “bulb.”  I think my pattern piece kind of looks like a fish bone!

So that’s it for pattern drafting class, for now – which is such a bummer.  I really loved this class and going back in school, which might make me a giant dork, but that’s nothing new!

family album 1 008 (2)

Me at Age 4 – So happy to be “studying”

A Busy Week Roundup

Whew, it’s been a busy week.  Unfortunately I haven’t finished anything, but I’ve got all kinds of ideas floating around in my head.  🙂

Let’s start with some new fabric shots.

I found all of this on the clearance table, so of course it had to come home with me.  I’m super excited about that fabric on the top – it’s a knit!  I’ve only worked with knit fabric once, when I made a pair of pajamas.  This time I want to try a dress.  The fabric on the bottom may become my Hazel.

Earlier this week my iron died after 12+ years of service.  I have a crush on my new one.  It’s so shiny!

New Iron

And this week my pattern drafting class met twice!  We did a lot of work with princess seams – which I love – so I was thrilled to learn more about them.

We started with our basic block again.

Basic Block

This is what it would look like if it was sewn up:
Basic Block

Then we traced the block onto tissue paper and started cutting and taping.  The first design we made was the shoulder princess.
shoulder princess

Here’s what the pattern pieces look like:
Shoulder Princess

Next we made an armhole princess design.  The difference is obviously that the seam runs from the waist to the armhole, instead of from the waist to the shoulder.
Armhole Princess
Armhole Princess

Here’s a slight variation of the Armhole princess seam.
Armhole Princess Variation
Armhole Princess Variation

After that we started playing around with adding fullness to the bodice.  Here I made a skinny yoke, with gathering around the neck.
Added Fullness
Added Fullness Around Neck

It amazes me that all these different patterns started out from the exact same block.  Hopefully over the next few weeks I will have time to sew up some of these patterns and see how they look.

Pattern Drafting 101

I took my first sewing-related class tonight!  It’s a class on flat pattern drafting.

Pattern Drafting Class

The community college in my area has a fairly robust fashion program, and offers several courses for free, including the one I am enrolled in.  And the quality of the instruction is great.

Tonight we started with the very basics, including what tools are needed for pattern drafting.  Then we set to work on making our front bodice blocks and practiced manipulating darts.
Pattern Drafting Class!

Here’s my front bodice block:
Front Bodice Block

Then I traced it onto dotted paper, and moved the dart to the side.

Pattern Drafting Class - Manipulating Darts

After that, I did one with the dart moved to the shoulder.
Pattern Drafting Class - Manipulating Darts

Class was so much fun!  It’s been about 5 years since I was last in school, and taking this course definitely brought out my inner nerd.  I also learned a bunch of new things – and now I’ve got all kinds of ideas bouncing around my head!