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Aggressive scooping and droopy darts

2013 August 1
by elizabeth_admin

Doesn’t that sound promising?

I finally sewed up my second try at Advance 8612.  If you will recall, I wanted to make 3 more changes to the fit: 1. scoop out the armholes some more to get rid of the stress wrinkles above the bust in front and back, 2. move the dart apex further back, 3. elongate the front tucks.

How did it turn out?  Before I get into the nitty gritty of what went down and how, I have to give a thankful shout out to Sherry at Pattern Scissors Cloth for her absolutely amazing convertible collar tutorial.  As I mentioned in my review of Advance 8612, the convertible collar instructions were less than useful.  So I used Sherry’s great tutorial to sew my collar on this blouse.  It went fantastically well.  Seriously.  It was sooo easy.  I still had to ease the collar onto the neckline, but I am thinking that it may have been drafted that way on purpose so that it would curve around the neck better?  Any more experienced seamstresses want to weigh in on my unfounded theory/guess?   I am no pattern drafter, so I wouldn’t know at all.  I’m just taking a stab in the dark here.

My beautiful convertible collar…



But back to how the blouse turned out…  Well, I was little too aggressive with my armhole scooping and the armholes are a little too large now.  I redrew the dart and moved it further away from the bust apex, but there was this weird poufiness under the bust and the dart tip was puckered.  Should I have distributed the 4 inch fullness of the dart into two darts?  I don’t know, because I am feeling like I don’t know anything anymore.  Also, plaid matching is a total beeyatch.  I was able to match the dark blue stripe horizontally, but forgot to match it vertically at the shoulder seams and collar.  Ooops.  I guess I can only learn one thing at a time.

Anyway, here’s what it looked like this morning…



Upon the recommendation from my sewing friends on FB to alter the bust darts, I tried pulling the front side seams in a bit.  That didn’t really help too much as you can see below.  It tightened up the back, but the poufiness was still there right under the dart.



Then I bit the bullet and unpicked the side seams, serged seam allowances and all, the hem by the side seams and the bust darts.  I had my mom fit the bust darts so that they were angled downward more, thereby taking in the poufiness under the bust.  I marked my pattern with the new dart position.  I resewed the darts and basted the side seams and here is where I am now.





As you can see, the poufiness under the bust is now gone, but I still can’t seem to get rid of the puckered dart tips.  No matter how much I press them, they stay puckered.

I have to admit to feeling a little disheartened with my sewing right about now.  I seem to be getting worse, not better.  I mean, why do I still have puckery darts after 6 years of sewing?   I think I’m at a point now where I know what good sewing looks like but am not there yet with my skill set and I am frustrated with it.  I am frustrated with my bosoms (is that term even pluralized?) and how much they make fitting so difficult.  I know the broad strokes of doing an FBA, but how much of an FBA do you do for each pattern?  Is it the same every time or dependent on the pattern?  I am guessing it’s a little different for each one.  And where do you place the dart?  Should it angle down towards the side seam 45 degrees? 20 degrees?  Is there a formula or a rule for dart placement or is the stock answer, “It depends.”  As I found out today, I had to angle my dart lower to get rid of excess fabric beneath my bust.  But I’m still left with puckered dart ends.

I don’t mean to be a debbie downer all the time.  I probably shouldn’t be writing this post at midnight.  I should probably just save it in draft and then delete it after I wake up.  But I also want to keep it real.  I want to show my struggles and my successes (as little of them as there are).   Maybe I should just give up and sew Eileen Fisher-like clothes from now on.  At least they don’t have darts.  I’ll be the mom in the school carline with the shapeless clothes in interesting fabrics.  Wave hi if you see me.

23 Responses leave one →
  1. August 1, 2013

    I think learning is like a spiral – you go back a step, then forward two steps 🙂 It is possible that your bust dart is too large, or maybe you had to curve it at the tip to make it follow the curve of your bust. It can also be the fabric (if everything else fails – blame the fabric!) 🙂

  2. August 1, 2013

    Re: puckered darts: Do you have a tailor’s ham and use it for pressing your darts?
    I got mine from stitch nerd (they’re custom made with a selection of fabrics) and it’s made a difference. Also, when you get closer to the point reduce your stitch length and then sew the last half inch of the dart right on the fold. Oh and I transfer the dart line right onto the fabric using wax tracing paper and the tracing wheel with the points (not the smooth one). I don’t know if you’ve tried all of that but it does seem to help. I still get puckered darts but not as frequently and they’re not as largely puckered when I do have them (if that makes any sense).

  3. cidell permalink
    August 1, 2013

    What Kyle said. Exactly.

  4. Mae Wilson permalink
    August 1, 2013

    Your first attempt was fine. At the beginning of your sewing journey, you would have been amazed by its fabulosity. Now, you know enough more to be critical of small imperfections, but you are still working on solutions so you are less thrilled. Changing the angle of your darts was an excellent solution. I’d be delighted with that blouse! If you aren’t, well I guess you are further along your sewing journey than I am. I have two strategies for improving dart points.
    1) Don’t sew a straight line from side seam to dart point. Curve the seam slightly so your dart point is very narrow.
    2) No back stitching. My preference is to run off the point with tiny stitches, then tie the thread ends.
    Or, you could buy a very pointy bra 🙂

  5. August 1, 2013

    Elizabeth, it’s also the seersucker to blame. It poofs naturally.

  6. Tanit-Isis permalink
    August 1, 2013

    Awww! I love what you did with the dart, it looks great. As for the poofy tip, well, you’ve got good advice but probably I’d just live with it. I am not so good at darts, either, especially the tips. Really, though, it’s fine. Better than fine! 😉

  7. Kristin P permalink
    August 1, 2013

    Please don’t be discouraged! I love reading your blog and your sense of humor about things, not to mention beautiful clothes! I know what it’s like to know that something you’ve made is not spot-on-perfect, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a very wearable blouse and perfect for summer!
    My only suggestion is that it looks like the over-large armholes might be the culprit in your side seam/bust dart issue. In the very first photo, those diagonal drag-lines down each side suggest that since the armholes are a bit droopy, the whole side seam is drooping a bit. Maybe that’s why it’s so tricky to nail down that dart to the correct spot. I wonder if you could potentially re-bind/face the armscyes and ease them in a bit to pull them back into shape. Grab your sewing mojo and hold on tight!

  8. August 1, 2013

    Darts in seersucker suck, the weave of the fabric makes it less likely to lay flat. Bust darts should end at least 1.5 – 2 inches away from the nipple or in polite society they are called bust points. This depends on the cup size as the flatter you are, the closer the end of the dart can sneak into what I call the circle around the bust point…the no-fly zone. So back up your dart point, really narrow it to about 1-2 threads wide nearing the point, well the last inch or so and then you will have the best chance of getting seersucker to do what you want and have a nice flat dart.

  9. August 1, 2013

    Everyone else gave good dart advice. Some fabrics are poof-prone. But I think we’ve all been exactly where you are. One day you are sewing confidently, marveling at how far you have come and how much you’ve learned. Then, you start a project that gives you trouble and leaves you feeling like you don’t know a damn thing. But realistically, you probably would have seen this as a major win not all that long ago. It’s the curse of ever increasing standards. Hang in there! The majority of people would think this is a perfectly fitting top and have no idea about the darts!

  10. August 1, 2013

    I agree with above, plaid matching plus seersucker is setting yourself quite a challenge. the final photo looks great.

  11. Alexandra permalink
    August 1, 2013

    The dart points look fine to me. But if they bother you, it’s probably not your technique–large darts (such as sometimes happens with an FBA) are inevitably kind of pointy and weird at the ends. The only thing you can do about it is rotate some of the bust dart into the waist dart (or pleats in this case).

  12. August 1, 2013

    Is there a middle way between over-fitting and EF sacks?

    Pucker-free darts require a very gradual taper at the tip, which you don’t have enough room for. If you split your darts into two, they’d be short enough to allow tapering off length.

    The deep waist darts are pulling your shirt too far in and off-grain. I’d make them less severe and contour the side seam a bit. Then I’d call it a day and accept that the blouse will not fit like a glove.

    I do a SBA instead of a FBA. But, I used to have a 25″ W and 39″ H. That was a huge amount of width to take in over a short amount of length. I learned that sewing 8 darts gives a much better fit than 4 darts, even if it takes longer. It also distorts the grainline less, leading to a much more attractive product.

    If the waist of a skirt or pants is too loose, it will fall down.

    What will happen if the waist of your blouse is not tight? Is that a problem for you? Does anyone else notice?

  13. August 1, 2013

    Perfeito, parabéns!

  14. Lyrique permalink
    August 1, 2013

    a) Yes, your increased analytical skill was overtaking your joy in sewing late at night.
    b) Gosh, it’s nice to have the expertise of those who have responded to your queries. That’s so cool.
    c) Most people really aren’t looking at the points of your bust darts.
    d) It’s a cute blouse! Enjoy it and wear it with pride. 🙂

  15. August 2, 2013

    My darts still pucker too at times. I’ve come to the conclusion that some darts are just too large, especially if I’ve done a FBA. Don’t give up, I think your blouse looks sweet.

  16. Lala permalink
    August 3, 2013

    Yes, there is a formula for FBA. Each cup size change is 3/8 inch. Most patterns are B cup, if you are a C, your FBA is 3/8″. If you are a D, yr FBA is twice that, or 3/4″, etc. if the circumference is still too tight after that, what is needed is letting out the side seams or something similar, but not a bigge FBA.

  17. August 3, 2013

    It can be so frustrating if a project just doesn’t seem to want to work out…

    Speaking as someone who is used to drafting patterns (but not to fitting a large bust size) I would say that 4 inches (that’s 10 cm in metric, right?) is a too much for a single dart and makes it very difficult to let it ‘merge’ smoothly into the fabric beyond the dart. Depending on the design, you could either rotate some of its width into the waist dart (though that isn’t a great solution in plaid) or make an extra dart or pleat, dividing the width between the two.
    Also, when sewing darts, the last three cm (1 inch) should be carefully tapered.
    And that FBA’s will certainly be different for different patterns. Different brands start out with different ‘standards’ in minds so the amount by which you deviate from those will be different for each of them. For example, I keep reading on blogs that colette patterns are drafted for more curves than big 4 ones and I know from experience that vintage patterns are often intended for shorter women than modern ones (even though they don’t always include height measurements in the sizing table). And then there are the style differences. The manufacturer may have designed a garment to have much more (or sometimes less) ease than you, the seamstress and wearer would like. This also has an effect on the fitting alterations needed. Blouses especially are often designed to be only somewhat fitted and, as a result, have more shallow darts (also at the bust) then, for example, a fitted dress.

    Despite all the trouble you had with the blouse, I think the end result looks good. And believe me, it is close to impossible to match such a small, tightly woven plaid both horizontally and vertically on a fitted garment like this. And it’s hardly visible anyway. Oh, and have you ever seen a fitted blouse worn by a living, moving woman which didn’t show some drag lines or slight bits of puffiness? Movement causes lines and requires ease.

  18. August 4, 2013

    I am no help on FBA issues, but I think the altered fit looks good. We all have those moments of, Seriously, shouldn’t I know this by now? It’s a process!

  19. cindy permalink
    August 5, 2013

    As a bosomy lady myself, I can totally relate. I think the FBA is different by pattern company because they (in theory) should be designing from the same black so each pattern should (theortically) fit the same. I haven’t sewn up my muslin yet but I took the fast track fitting class on Craftsy and I think it would help you, at least in terms of the dart. It makes sense to compare your measurements vs. the pattern’s. Or maybe you’d benefit from having a sloper, I know I did.

  20. August 5, 2013

    I love that you’re keeping it so real. This is how I’m feeling right about now too! On the upside, if there’s anyone who can help its this wonderful online sewing community. Sorry I couldn’t be of any help but I totally feel you for what it’s worth. Good luck!

  21. August 5, 2013

    I think you look lovely in your new blouse. I’ve had the same challenges with darts. My opinion is that the problem is with the fabric, seersucker, which is why I have (so far) resisted buying seersucker fabric, or any crinkly fabric (for the same reason). Maybe seersucker is meant for dart-free garments? Anyway, I think you should pat yourself on the back and totally enjoy wearing your new blouse! And thanks for the convertible collars tutorial; I’ve bookmarked it.

  22. August 6, 2013

    I like your top a lot, and wish I had more advice to offer on the darts. But everything I thought has already been mentioned.

    Incidentally, I am also a mom who refuses to wear shapeless “mom” clothes, and I HEAR YA! I only have time to sew after bedtime, and I recognize all your midnight musings because they resemble all of mine!

    Keep on truckin!

  23. Annemarie permalink
    August 11, 2013

    Thank you! I have been working on this exact same problem. I just gave up my garment sewing for a while and went back to quilting because I was so discouraged. I have a very large bust and have not known whether to sew two smaller darts or just struggle with these very large darts. To top it off my breasts are different sizes so that each dart is a different width. The advice here was so so helpful.

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