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Dressmaking - Putting in a dart for the largish of boob.

I've been a bit poorly the last couple of weeks having caught the dreaded flu. I'm feeling well enough now to be a bit bored by sitting round and coughing lots, and wanted to try something new to occupy my fingers. The Great British Sewing Bee is coming back on to the TV shortly and I think I'm a victim of subliminal advertising, because my first thoughts turned to dressmaking.

I was forced into dressmaking in the early 1960's and nothing I made fitted terribly well; not sure a well gathered dirndle skirt fit anybody very well.  I ended up spending a fortune on fabrics and patterns, and still buying all my clothes from Miss Selfridge and Biba! Never daunted, I've kept trying over the years without success, until today of course when all will be different! 😅

I've bought a pattern and some lovely blue drapey fabric. (Double Gauze which has no right or wrong side or pattern direction, so an easy start I hope)

I'm taking it slowly, but the first instruction says that if you are over a "B" cup in a bra fitting you should put in a dart. Well I most certainly am, so the first step is to tackle a dart.

Actually it turned out to be quite easy and I thought I'd share the process just in case you ever needed a dart anywhere!! Don't be horrified by the number of steps - I've tried to spell it out and it always looks complicated when you do that, as you'll know if you've ever tried to explain peeling a potato step by step.

Step 1
Find your front pattern piece/s. Mine only had the one because it was placed on the fold. On the paper pattern piece mark in the seam lines with a pen or pencil all the way around. This is so that you can hold the pattern piece up to yourself to mark where you need a dart.

Step 2
With the pattern piece against you mark the high point of your boobs (ok, the apex if you prefer!) with a cross on the pattern piece. Take your time to get this position right and wear a good bra.

Step 3
Lay the pattern piece on the flat and draw a line from the middle of the apex to the bottom of the hem. Look at the photo below if you're not sure where I mean.

Step 4
Draw a line from the apex to the armhole - make a mark about 1/3 of the way up from the armhole side seam and then join this dot to the apex.

Step 5
Last line! Join a line from the apex to the side seam where you want the dart to be - in general, most bust darts angle down an inch or more below the level of the apex

Step 6
Cut the pattern piece from the hem, along line 1 to the apex. Swing the scissors and continue cutting along line 2 nearly to the edge. Leave a bit of paper for a pivot.

Steps 6 and 7, cutting the pattern piece

Step 7
Cut the pattern piece from the side seam along line 3 almost to the apex. Leave a bit of paper uncut so it can swing open.

Step 8
Lay the pattern down and gently increase the space between the edges of line 1. For a D cup I've allowed 3/4" This will mean that the other 2 cuts will open naturally. Keep it all lying flat.

Paper pattern piece which can now open to include extra fabric for a dart. A 3/4 inch gap has been left on line 1 and the other cuts have swung open into the right places.

I've popped coloured tissue paper underneath the pattern piece, and sellotaped it into place for stability. I might want to use this pattern again.

You'll notice that the bottom of the pattern has a step in it. All you do is pop a bit of tissue paper under the end, and redraw the line from the longer pattern piece to the other side.

All done!  If you are largish of boob, doing this on something without a dart will help make it fit better.


  1. I laughed out loud at your description of a dirndl skirt. I was so proud of my large checked wool dirndl with matching bolero. The fact that it made me look like one of the balloons from the Macy's parade didn't escape me. I sewed all my clothes in the 60s & 70s. Then adulthood hit and there was no time. I have resisted the urge, but I hate the clothes available in the stores, so this may change. I am so glad the Sewing Bee is back. I loved that show. Good luck!

    1. Thank you Jeannie - loved that you made large checked wool dirndl with bolero! I shall see how I get on today and may even post the results!