Tuesday, December 8, 2015

That Diagonal Pants Dart!

When I get emails about my blog, 90% of the time they're about one of the following three topics:
  1. I love that ____ that you made! Can you make one for me, or can I buy yours? 
  2. Thank you for making your free dolman-sleeve top pattern available! Or less frequently, thank you for making your free raglan-sleeve top pattern. Here are pictures of my finished garment.
  3. Your pants alterations post is so helpful! But what did you ever do about that back diagonal fisheye dart? I can't find the answer anywhere!

While I try to respond to most emails in a timely fashion, sometimes I forget or am too busy, and then by the time I rediscover the email, it's been months and it's too awkward to reply at that point. So here are my standard answers:
  1. I'm glad you love it; I do too! If it's a sheet dress, there's pretty much a zero percent chance of me finding the same fabric again, so unless you have the fabric in hand, no. If you want mine, no, it's mine. But most importantly, you probably can't afford me, so unless you have at least a hundred dollars at your disposal, no. And even if you can afford it, I may not have time, as I have a day job and a small human being to wrangle.
  2. This is my favorite kind of email. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to let me know! I love seeing pictures of how it worked for you! 
  3. Ah, now this one deserves more than just a quick one-line reply. And it happens often enough that I feel like I should save myself some time and just put the answer in a blog post for easy access. 
Ironically enough, after I made my other adjustments, I didn't need the diagonal dart anymore. As I mentioned in my post about the finished pants, there was still a little bit of looseness at the back, but it was necessary for sitting ease. When pants are skin tight, there's no room for flesh to shift when one sits, walks, and generally lives life. 

Of course, other people may still need this dart, so I've done my best to illustrate how to alter the back pattern piece. I'm using a tiny pants pattern piece (it fits on a piece of printer paper) to show the steps, so if it looks a little weird, it's because of the scale of cuts I'm able to do on such a small pattern piece.

I've sketched the dart take up here in pencil. 

Cut a diagonal line from the edge of the pattern piece, up the outer edge of the dart, and then a diagonal line back to the edge of the pattern piece. I've sliced it and pulled it slightly to the side here so that you can see where I made the cuts.  

Make a series of horizontal cuts on either side of the stitching line about 1" apart (mine are about 1/4" apart on this tiny pattern piece) so that the stitching line stays intact and the little flaps are free to move on "hinges." This is difficult to explain, and the photo makes it difficult to see some of the cuts...my apologies. 

Once the cuts are all made, you can line up the bottom stitching line and push the stitching line until the outer edge of the dart (which you've cut) now meets the inner edge of the dart. The points on the new stitching line may need to be smoothed out, but you've essentially just removed the dart take up while still keeping the pattern piece flat!  

Hopefully that helps if that alteration is necessary for you. I'm going to put a link to this post on the pants alteration post so that I don't have to keep repeating myself in emails!


  1. What this also does is drop the curve of the crotch deeper which is what most back photos of pants reveal that they need. If you measure the actual crotch length now, after the slashing and spreading, from waist to the inseam, it probably is a bit longer for ease of wearing too. Great diagram!

  2. This is just so weird looking, it has to work.

    When I get asked about sewing pants to fit, I link them to your posts on this topic, because it's all there. I'd build you a signpost, a marble pillar, an altar to those posts. And now this.
    I am humbly in your debt (kneels into cat hair covered floor).

    I am gifted in the derriere, and increase the height at the back waist seam. I don't like that little breeze at my lower back when I sit, but it's a tiny detail.

  3. Wow this is very interesting, thank you for the diagrams.

  4. Thank you so much--you share your findings and patterns and all the digging up you do! Thank you for this blog!

  5. Great diagrams. Thank you so much. One question, do you straighten out the little jog just above the crotch curve or allow it to curve out slightly in that area?

  6. Thank you thank you thank you. I have this problem and have been trying to find the solution. Thank you thank you thank you for the great explanation and diagrams. I'm going to try this on my third muslin to see if it fixes my problem.


Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.