Sunday, May 9, 2010

Curvy Girls Need Curvy Darts

I finally finished a draft of my dissertation chapter yesterday, so hurrah, I have a bit of time and brain-power for sewing again!  I know I owe you pics of the WGD, but we keep having lousy weather on the weekends.  (My friend Thom, who just bought a convertible, says: "What do you call the first sunny day after two days of rain?  Monday!")  So you'll just have to wait for mother nature to accommodate a photo-shoot.

In the meantime, I've been working on a muslin of my brunch dress.  My first draft of the bodice was all wrong--so wrong, in fact, that I can't actually post photos online.  For my second attempt, I increased the width of the waistband from 3 to 4 inches, which yielded a more balanced shape, a more tasteful neckline, and less of the unfortunate droopy look that characterized the first version.

I still wasn't thrilled with the fit, though.  The back was great, and the waist measurement was correct at my natural waist, but the front still seemed kind of baggy under the bust.  Then, I had an epiphany...

...curved waistline darts!

When I originally fitted my sloper, Gwen explained that I needed to sew curved waist darts.  Instead of the traditional triangle-shaped darts, these darts have more of a tear-drop or lozenge shape.  The length of the dart is the same, and its width at the widest point is the same too.  The only thing that's different is where the fullness is released by the dart.  (If you've ever taken calculus, think about the difference between a line and a curve--the rate of change.)

Once I wrapped my mind around the idea of a curved dart, I was amazed by the difference it made in the fit of my garments.  Instead of bagging weirdly, they fitted much closer to my ribcage, which created a slimmer look overall.  Understandably, this alteration is common for (ahem) "full-figured" women.

I used curved darts to great effect in both of my sheath dresses, but I didn't even think about it when I was drafting the brunch dress.  Empire waist-lines are supposed to be flattering for curvy girls because they fit close under the bust, so I was confused when my muslin didn't.  But pinning out the equivalent of my standard curved darts made all the difference!

Here's the dress before the adjustment:

And here it is with the darts pinned--what a difference!

Here are the adjustments I made in my pattern pieces to reflect this alteration.  For the bodice, I increased the width of my bust dart one inch at the waistline seam, maintaining the same length of the original dart.  For the waistband, I removed an inch on the upper edge to match the adjustment in my dart, then tapered down to nothing at the waistline, which already fit correctly.

This made a significant difference in the shape of my front waistband piece, which is now much less curved.  (The old waistband is on top in this picture, and the new one is below.)

I'm confident enough with the changes I made in my muslin that I went ahead and cut my real fabric today.  Hopefully I'll have a dress to show you soon!  I'm also pleased, in a geeky way, that I diagnosed this fit issue and was able to make the changes I needed to fix it.  You never know, but I might be starting to get the hang of this sewing thing...


  1. Wow! I completely see it now. What a remarkable difference the curved darts make. I think the fit is good in both, but I can definitely see how the curved darts improved the fit in the second photo.

    What I don't quite follow is why you needed to remove an inch from the waistband if you increased the dart one inch.

    You've got me thinking now!!

  2. Basically, the top edge of the waistband and the bottom edge of the bodice need to be *the same length*. Since I took 1 inch out of the bodice by widening my dart, I also needed to take 1 inch out of the top edge of the waistband so they would match up.

  3. D'oh! That makes total sense. Never think about sewing while hungry and newly awakened from sleep. =)