Draping: Placement & length of bodice and skirt darts


In my posting Draping: Pin Fitting the First Pattern, I showed photos of the first paper pattern created from the initial drape. I tested the paper pattern on a half-toile and found the dart placement, width and length on bodice and skirt needed correction. This posting presents some important pointers on darts from my dressmaking and flat patternmaking books. Corrections to the muslin were made and the fitting process continues. I will post about the finished toile when completed.

Part of my mistake was due to a lack of confidence in where to place the vertical darts of bodice and skirt. The flat patternmaking system I use has the first dart at the center of the waist of the bodice and skirt pattern pieces. When draping the Princess seams is not always at the center of the waist for that quarter part of the dress form. So, I positioned the darts at first at that point where the dart was at the center between center front and side seam, and then in the back at the center between center back and side seam. This did not work well when draping so I took out the basting stitches on the toile and re-draped the dart intake along the Princess Seams for the bodice and skirt.

Dart placement on Bodice Front

Basic Bodice Front with corrected dart.

When draping the basic bodice the vertical dart must be placed at the Princess seam line running from waist up to the apex point. To avoid stretching the muslin, pin the dart at the waist and the apex only. Gently crease the center of the dart. Mark with pencil the apex and both sides at the waist. The crease becomes the center of the dart. It should run straight to the apex point. On the paper pattern lower the dart anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4″ below the apex. This prevents the dart from becoming too pointy.

If the dart intake is more than 1″ consider making a second dart from the excess greater than 1″. The center of the second dart is placed about 1 1/2″ from the Princess line and draped the same way. The second dart may be slightly shorter in length.

Dart Placement on Back Bodice

Basic Back Bodice with corrected dart.

Like the vertical dart of the front basic bodice, the back bodice vertical dart is centered at the Princess seam. Even if it looks a little too close to the Center Back, drape the dart along the Princess seam. The result will fit better.

If the dart intake is greater than 1″, a second dart is formed as described for the Front Bodice.

The first dart, which is draped at the Princess Seam, can be 5-6″ in length. It might go slightly higher on some figures. It is best to judge the length when fitting the toile. The dart, however, should never be so high that it is moving up to the area where the armhole is.

Dart Placement Front Skirt

Front skirt corrected darts.

The first dart of the basic skirt front is draped along the Princess seam. The amount of intake for the first dart should be 1″ or less. If there is a greater amount, make a second dart. The dart is draped as described in the Basic Bodice Front. The length for the front dart can range from 4″ to 4 1/4″ slightly more or less will depend on your figure. The important thing to remember is that the dart must end right at the fullest point on the body. You do not want it too long because the shape of the skirt becomes distorted.

The draping system in Jaffe & Relis’ book, “Draping for Fashion Design” results in two skirt darts that are the same length. For my Misses 8 form, the length of both darts is 4 1/4″ each. For other figures, the second dart nearer to the side seam may be slightly shorter.

For Misses Size 8 skirt back and front my darts were:

First Dart: 1″ intake
Second Dart: 1/2″ intake

Dart Placement Back Skirt

Back skirt with corrected darts.

The back skirt darts are draped the same way as for the front skirt. The first dart is centered at the Princess Seam. The length of my back skirt darts is 5″ each. The length of the darts can be from 4 3/4 to 5″. Sometimes the second dart may be slightly shorter depending on the size and body shape.

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