15 August 2012

DIY Sewing: Adding Darts

This post is written by contributing author Paige Ronchetti.

Well, it's happened again. I scored a secondhand dress that fits doesn't quite fit perfectly. I loved the color and the ruffles on the shoulders... but it didn't have a lot of shape. That might work for some people, but it's not exactly spectacular on me.

Time to add some darts!

With my last project I showed you how to take in the side seams of a dress, but that one had more of a structured fit. In this case, we need some darts to add a waistline. This a smidge more complicated than sewing side seams, but still on the easy side of the coin.

--awesome dress
--straight pins
--tape measure or ruler
--sewing machine or needle and thread

What to do:
First, try on the dress and make note of the baggiest areas. I used the darts at the bust line as my starting point. I measured while wearing the dress, and I noted that I would have to start pinning about four inches below them (this will vary depending on how tall you are).

Next, remove the dress and lay it on a flat surface. Take your straight pins and section off two identical darts on the back. The middle of the dart should contain the most fabric, gradually thinning out the longer it goes. To make sure things are symmetrical, measure from both side seams and from one dart to the other. They should also be the same length.

Now turn the dress right side out and check that the outer layer of fabric will lay smoothly. There will be little gaps between the pins (which is normal), but none of the fabric should pull or seem crooked. This is how mine looked when it was ready to roll:

Finally, sew along the side of your pins. You can use a machine, but I actually did this one by hand. The fabric is more delicate than what I normally work with (it feels like chiffon, but the label is missing), and I didn't want to goof it up. I tend to zoom along with my machine, so going by hand forced me to slow down and keep things smooth.

And that's it! As long as you measure twice and sew once, you'll be good to go.

Have you worked on any sewing projects lately? Or found a great secondhand piece that needs a little work? Are there any sewing tips/tricks you've been itching to learn? I take requests!

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is Little Nostalgia is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, Little White Chapel and Oh Nostalgia. Connect to Paige via twitter or pinterest.


  1. The dress looks great! Being able to adjust the size sure does make more sense than spending a fortune on a new one.

    1. Paige is an expert in making clothes more beautiful, isn't she!

  2. Perfect! :)

  3. Have a dress in my closet needing darts...now if I would just make the time!!

    1. It was pretty quick! I ended up re-pinning to take in more fabric, but if you get it right the first time you'll be even faster. Less than an hour for sure. :-)

  4. Thanks for the DIY. Your dress looks great, and you saved a real beauty.

  5. awesome tip! that dress looks divine on you

  6. This dress was really the time worth spent on changing the cut a bit!

  7. Measure twice & sew once <--- I like that!

  8. I need to improve my machine sewing skills so maybe I should try this! I've left way too many vintage dresses on the rack because they didn't fit properly. It looks great on you!

  9. Ruffle heaven —so beautiful! :)
    And good call on sewing this by hand! That fabric looks like it would move around a lot under the machine's presser foot.