Saturday, November 1, 2014

Swirl Sew-along : Part 2 : Marking Up and Darts

By now you will have followed the instructions in Part 1 and cut out your fabric pieces.  In Part 2 we will mark up the pieces of fabric you have cut, and sew the darts.

But lets start with marking up the pieces.

Here is a list of all the pieces, and what you need to mark.  You need to mark on the back side of your fabric (lets call it the ugly side) to make it easy for yourself.  This is why its always better to fold your fabric pretty side in when you cut it.  You can either use a chalk pencil or one of those water soluble textas depending on the colour of your fabric.
  • BODICE FRONT : waist dart, bust dart, circle at arm hole, where the bodice decoration meets the edge of the pattern piece, and the clip line on the neckline.
  • BODICE BACK : waist dart, shoulder dart, circle at arm hole, button hole, circles on side seam, where the tie-belt attaches.
  • BODICE FRONT FACING : clip line.
  • SKIRT FRONT : the pleat line, the pocket line
Yes, there are those bloody triangle thingys, but I never mark them on a pattern and I'm doing ok.  If you normally use them, I have put them in for you, so go right ahead!

The next job actually involves sewing - HOORAY!

But its my least favourite type of sewing - darts.  Ugh!

I've always thought the hardest bit about sewing a dart is actually sewing it so all the points are taken up as noted on the pattern.  I have come up with a method of pinning my darts to give me the best possible chance of sewing the dart correctly.  I insert a pin in one marked point through to the right side of the fabric, and back out the other marked point onto the wrong side of the fabric again, making a hill out of the fabric in between - like this:

Once all the marks are pinned, I pick the fabric up by the hill, and let it fold along the created line.  I push the fabric together so each mark comes together at the base of the pin.

I then insert a pin pointing to the point of the dart so I know where it should finish, and I put pins in away from the stitching line to stop the fabric moving and pull out the pins going through the points.

Then I sew my way through all the points to the place where the dart finishes.  But before we do that, I want to mention the few tips I have learned about sewing darts.

I start and stop my darts (well, all my seam lines actually) with about half an inch of very short stitches - about a 1.0 on my machine - before I go back to my normal stitch length.  Some people do a stop stitch (that special knotting stitch that some machines have) or do a back stitch.  But in fine fabrics that can cause bulk, so its best to develop a different habit.  It is also wise to knot the threads at the point of the dart before you cut the excess thread off.

There is also something you should do when sewing a dart that ends at or near the bust.  No-one wants pointy bust darts.  No-one.  So instead of letting the line of stitching run off the fold in a straight line, curve it, to eliminate the point.  If its a shoulder or a back dart, don't worry a jot about the curve, just go straight off the edge.

The dart below was sewn just as described above:

Close up of the curvy bit at the point.

To make things more speedy, I sew all my darts before I iron them, so I'm doing things more in an assembly line style.  But when you do choose the iron them, press the shoulder and waist darts towards the centre, and the bust lines down.

Thats all that I am going to cover in this post.  The next one will be up soon, and will be much more exciting than this one!!!



  1. Great information! Also love your fabric choice. Excellent sew-a-long!

  2. Looks like a fun project! I may try it out down the road.