How to add darts to your basic bust pattern

You may already have built your basic bodice shell without darts or you’re just curious about how to adapt a rectangular sheet of paper to your wonderful morphology. You are in the right place because we will tackle the darts issue.

Before you begin, make sure you have properly taken and recorded on a paper the following measurements:

  • breast depth
  • nipple distance
  • bust measurement
  • waist
  • hips
  • hips height

You also need your basic pattern bust without darts, a calculator and a curved line.

There are two main darts on the bodice pattern:

  • the strap dart
  • the waist darts

The strap dart
Draw the bust line at a distance equal to the bust depth of the starting point above the neck. On this line, mark the point A at a distance equal to one-half nipple distance to the middle line.

From point A, draw AB, B is the middle of the shoulder line. AB is the first branch of the strap dart.

Darts1

Now calculate the value of your strap dart:
Value of the dart = 1/20 bust measurement

Draw the second branch of the dart spaced apart from the first with the value of the dart. The second branch is the same length as the first: AB = AC

To adjust the shoulder line after closing the dart, trace the shoulder at an angle of 72 ° with the second branch of the strap dart.

Extend the arm-to-arm line with the value absorbed by the dart, DE = GF, and close the armhole curve. Your strap dart is now complete.

Darts2

Waist darts
Calculate the value to absorb by darts:
Value of waist darts = bust measurment – waist

This value must be absorbed on the front and back pattern, like this:
Value of waist darts = 4 * half-side darts + 2 * front darts + 2* back darts + 1 * mid back dart

Darts3

Try to set values to waist darts in this order:

  • Side darts start at the armhole line.
  • Half front side dart = half back side dart . The half-side darts value must not exceed 4 cm.
  • Front waist darts start at the point A and must not exceed 3 cm each.
  • Back waist darts start to the armhole line and must not exceed 3 cm each.
  • The mid-back dart starts at the arm-to-arm line and should not exceed 2 cm.

Darts4

Have some fun to add and remove centimeters to your darts values. The exercise is far from easy. Additionally, you should bear in mind that:

  • If you are very thin and your chest is barely 15-20 cm largger than your waistline, you can forget the mid-back dart.
  • If you have a very well shaped body, the darts are your best friends to highlight your curves. You might be required to add front and back waist darts to absorb the difference between the waist and chest.

It is better to keep darts value between the brackets mentioned above as giving high values can distort the garment.

Once you have assigned values to your waist darts, check again:
Value of waist darts = 4 * half-side darts + 2 * front darts + 2* back darts + 1 * mid back dart

For strap and front waist darts, observe a 2 cm flatness from point A.

For the back pattern, there is also a shoulder dart, only used for large sizes or when sewing heavy fabrics, like for coats.
It is placed in the middle of the shoulder, its value is 1 cm, its length does not exceed 7 cm.

Your bodice pattern is finished to the waist. But if you want to draft jackets or shirts you’ll need a bodice pattern to the hips.

Extend your front and back patterns with the hips height  previously measured and trace the hips line like this:

  • Front hips width =  hips / 4 + 1 cm
  • Back hips width = hips / 4 -1 cm

The hips darts should match the waist and side darts drawn before. The side line is not straight but rounded.

Image0008

Your basic pattern is completed. This method is inspired by Teresa Gilewska’s, “2D Pattern-Making: the basis, vol 1″.

Copy your pattern on in-woven paper, so you can try it on and adjust it. Once you are satisfied, I suggest you to transfer it to a card and copy it whenever you draw a pattern. Don’t forget to add the ease.

I will do a separate post on how to change darts position which is much funnier and less mathematical because you will only need a pair of scissors.

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7 thoughts on “How to add darts to your basic bust pattern

  1. For example I subtracted my bust measurement from my waist and according to this post that is the valve of my waist darts, but then I don’t understand what I am supposed to do next. I guess I am having a problem in absorbing the darts in the front and back bodice. Honestly this is my first pattern and I don’t really know how to do that and I am a little confused for this part.

  2. I have tried ( several times from other sources,too) making slopers with formulaic proportions and have had very little success. Maybe it is my personal proportions but I have better results by drawing the basic bodice shape and adding the numbers from my measurements. This makes my osteoporotic stoop workable and my small bust workable. Perhaps it is just me but this way everything fits.

    • What do you mean by ” drawing the basic bodice shape and adding the numbers from my measurements”?

  3. Thank you so much. I finally found my answer to understanding the basic pattern block.
    I have a book that explains the patterns but I got confused because some patterns have darts others don’t so whenever I drafted a bodice pattern I question myself wether I should add or change something but this cleared these issues for me so thank you soo much :)

  4. I’m having trouble with this pattern. I’m trying to draft one for my sister but sadly she is quite obese, which brings me to a problem I didn’t expect having: her waist is bigger than her hips and bust, so I can’t add no darts apparently, and also I just realised the basic bodice pattern won’t fit her either because it’s based on bust size… is there a different way of making patterns for this kind of body? DO i have to add “inverted” darts or something? Awesome tutorial anyway, I’ve used it for me and works perfectly.

    • Thank you Isi for bringing in issues I have not thought yet. In this particular case, the baisic pattern should be built on the waist size rather than bust size. I am not sure if you need to add darts. The best option I think is to sew a canvas bust in white coton and to see if you need to add darts and where by draping the canvas on the body. I hope it helps

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