When making your own dress pattern, how do you know where to put darts?
I am making my own Belle costume from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I have it pretty much planned out, but I don’t have all that much expertise in sewing, but I am good at making things. I have a feeling that where the top and where the poofy skirt starts I’ll want to put some darts on the shirt part. How do I know where I want them?
You want to put darts in where you want the material to curve to your body, usually at the bust line. We stick out there, and we have to adjust the material likewise.
Pin the pattern to you. Put the shoulder seam where you want it, the waist seam where you want it, and the side seam where you want it. You can make a dart that starts at mid breast and angles down to the side seam, or one that starts at mid breast, and goes straight down to the waist[usually seen in sheath dresses].
The angled ones to the side seam work best, that way you have room for your bust in the dress. Otherwise, the front of the dress will be flat, and you will have extra material at the side at your bust, and it will appear that your bust is straining at the material. Maybe good for a German barmaid outfit, but not good for Belle. She will want her dress to fit while she is out seeing the world. I love that movie.
When making your own pattern, add darts in where you think they might flatter you and help the dress hang right.
You can actually figure the width of the dart by how much excess pattern you have at the side of your bust. Make a dart, and keep making it wider or thinner to make the paper lay flat. Just reach over there, grab the paper, and pinch it.
So wear the underwears you will wear with the dress, pin the pattern to you and mark where your bust is sticking out the most on both sides, that would probably be right at the nipple. Make a dot there with a pencil or chalk, then start making a triangle towards the side seam by pinching up paper. Obviously, the bigger your bust, the bigger the dart might be. Might want to baste the dart in the fabric, then hold the material to you to make sure you have it right, then stitch the material.
I just made a ballgown skirt for Barbie, and it had 6 darts in the skirt to make the material stick out more. but gradually. They were put evenly around the skirt, starting equidistant from the back closing. The two in back were short, the next one long, the next short. In other words, starting at the back closure, short long short… Then the skirt was gathered onto the bodice. Then the back seam on the skirt was sewed up to the back closure, then the back closure on each side was turned under clear down to meet the skirt seam. One side of the bodice was a bit wider than the other, that side went over the other, and the down facing snaps applied there.
The whole purpose of the six down darts were so the skirt would not bunch up like a big balloon when it was gathered onto the bodice. Now if you were making a frame for your skirt like Martha Washington had sticking out so women of her time could not even fit through a door without turning sideways, [I think they were called farthingdales] then have all the bunching there you want.
but if you want a smooth gradually widening skirt, then consider some darts. It might take more material, but the end result will look better. Barbie looks smashing in her pink fairy princess dress.
good luck with your costume, you are doing great, just knowing you need darts says that you are doing well.
Rivers made a costume for herself once, really did not even have a pattern, just made a sleeveless shift, put darts in it, curved the bodice to fit my waist, faced the neck and armholes, and put in a zipper. I did good, people thought I had just found an old dress to wear, they were amazed I had made it. It was red and very short, guess what Rivers was. Rivers felt that I had to sew a design on my underwears so in case I bent over, it would be a pretty view. I’m sure I would have got a customer had I worn that out on the street. Might have had to pay him though…LOL.