Yay for Bank Holidays. I’ve been working through again, sorting out my studio this weekend with the help of my very patient boyfriend. Big changes, I’ll share on here at a later date.

So, let’s talk about adding darts. This week I decided to alter a sixties style summer shift dress by adding some fish darts in the back. The front of the dress is Broiderie Anglaise and it has a plain cotton back with an exposed metal zip. This style of dress isn’t meant to be close fitting to the body but I bought it in the sale and it was probably a size larger than I needed. I felt a bit like a sack of potatoes in it, but my boyfriend pointed out that I would rather a loose fitting dress for the summer and convinced me. I did however want it slightly less sack like.

Adding Darts to a Dress

Let’s mend! This dress is fully lined in cotton. Normally, I would try and add darts to the lining and main dress fabric separately, to help keep both layers sitting flat against the body and avoid any puckering or uneveness but since the lining is stitched in at the side seams as well as the zip this wasn’t possible, so I knew I would have to stitch the darts with the lining and outer fabric together.  I  didn’t want to touch the Broiderie Anglaise (stitching both layers would be tricky enough without adding this textured and holey fabric to the mix) so I decided to take in some of the excess at the back. Here’s  how:

  • Turn the dress inside out, put it on and zip it up
  • Either side of the central zip (or centre back if no CB zip) as evenly as you can, pull the fabric into a fold to create a dart on either side, until you are happy with how it fits from the front (note if the dress is more than a size too big it may not be possible to add darts to the back only – more on this at a later date.)
  • Letting go of one side only (as best you can) place a pin vertically in roughly the back waist position and once this is in, grab the other side again as before, as evenly spaced as you can from the centre back and place a pin at roughly the same position but on that side
  • *If this sounds a bit confusing see the pic below for what you’re aiming for. I’m afriad it was impossible to photograph myself*
  • Now add pins above and below this central pin so moving up towards the middle of the back and down towards the lower back.
  • Note: The darts should have a larger seam allowance in the middle and it should gradually tail off into nothing to give a smooth dart
  • Remember unless you want it to be really fitted not to make it too tight
  • Try and pin both sides evenly but don’t worry about being too accurate as we can adjust these once the dress is off
  • Carefully shimmy the dress upwards to get out of it without pricking yourself like I did (OUCH!)
  • Once it’s off, lay it flat on a table and measure the distance of each pin from the centre back outwards on each side making any adjustments if necessary. The aim is to have darts equal in size and evenly spaced from the CB.

Adding Darts to a Dress - Mending Monday

  • While you’re doing this, make sure the two layers (lining and outer fabric) are as smooth as possible to avoid any tucks or ripples when stitching together
  • I used chalk to mark a smooth line to follow
  • Once you’re happy, grab a hand sewing needle and a contrasting coloured thread and stitch large tacking (or basting) stitches along the pinned lines. Make sure you start and finish parallel at the top and bottom.

How to add Darts to a Dress

  • You should now have two temporary darts wider at the centre and which gradually get skinnier at the top and bottom into nothing. These are called fish darts as they look slightly fish shaped.
  • Try on the dress again and make sure you are happy with the fit with some pins to hand incase you need to take it in more anywhere
  • Now remove the dress and taking into account any adjustments, using the same colour thread as your garment, machine stitch the darts using your tacking (basting) line as a guide, remember not to back stitch and to keep your threads long at both ends and tie a double knot to secure.

Improve the fit of a dress with darts

  • Remove your tacking and press your darts towards the side seams on both sides

This is a great way of improving fit without much work. Obviously it would be much easier for you if you had a friend to hand to help with the pinning and adjusting! Sorry I couldn’t take a back view photo. I will update this later in the week once I can get someone to take one.

Add Darts to a Dress

Don’t forget my new Mending Club starts next Wednesday evening at the Petit Miracle Hub in Shepherds Bush. Learn easy techniques to alter and mend your clothes at home and save £££s! You can sign up for the full 4 sessions for £99 or if you can’t make them all or only want to learn one or two you can now sign up to individual sessions for £30 each. Check out the full details here.

This week’s Mending Monday completes my #MMMay15 challenge (if the sun doesn’t properly come out I’ll wear this dress over jeggings this week) but I’ve really enjoyed it and I will be keeping up these Mending Monday posts and try my best to fix and wear one garment per week to work through my to-fix pile..so stay tuned!

If you have any requests of how to mend something, just send me a message via the contact page or find me on twitter, instagram or facebook.

Daisy x