How to Hack Bust Darts into Asymmetrical Gathers
Lately I’ve been really into the idea of transforming darts into interesting style lines - especially on garments with a simple silhouette!
So for this month’s Sew My Style 2019 challenge, I decided to try my hand at transforming the darts on the Jennifer Lauren Quincy Dress into graceful, asymmetrical gathers that create a soft empire-waist shape. I knew this pattern would be perfect for my vision since it had a really soft v-neckline that would work well with the feminine details I was adding.
If you want try this hack out for yourself, the Quincy Dress is a great pattern to start with, or you could try any pattern with a seam along the center front and darts in the side seam.
How to Turn Bust Darts Into Asymmetrical Gathers
Step 1: Mark your new waistline
I wanted the gathers to fall just below the bust (like a relaxed empire waist) in an asymmetrical fashion sloping downwards from the center front seam. To do this, I started with my center front pattern piece, drew where I wanted the new seam line to fall, and cut it out! This left me with two center front pieces, the top part (Part A) and the bottom part (Part B).
Where you draw this line is completely up to you as the designer!
Step 2: Move the Darts From Side Seam to Waist Seam
Now that we’ve created our waist seam, it’s time to move the darts on Part A of the center front. To do this, were going to start by marking the apex on the pattern. The apex is the fullest point of the bust (aka: where your nipple is) and is typically 1-2” away from the tip of the side seam dart. Since we didn’t design the pattern we won’t know exactly where the apex is located on the pattern, but assuming it’s between 1-2” out from the tip of the dart is a good place to start - this is just needs to be an approximation!
Once you’ve marked the apex, cut out both legs of your bust dart a a straight line towards the apex. Then, starting from the waist line, cut another straight line from the bottom directly towards the apex leaving a little paper hinge between both cuts.
Now that you have both cuts, you can swing bottle left part of the pattern up to close the dart, creating a new dart in the waist seam. Then all that’s left to do is smooth out your new dart-free side seam and your pattern piece is finished! This would be a good time to add back in seam allowances on Part A and Part B of the center front, because the new empire waist seam we created in step 1 has no seam allowances yet.
Step 3: Gather and Sew
All of your pattern making is done now, it’s time to sew your dress! Simply gather the bottom of Part A, then pin and sew to Part B and you can complete the rest of the garment to your pattern’s instructions. Easy Peasy!
In addition to moving the darts and replacing them with gathers, I also made a few other changes to the pattern that you could try if you’re making this hack at home: lengthening Part B into an A-line skirt, adding elastic to amplify the gathers, and skipping the buttons for a clean look.
Lengthening Part B
As written, the Quincy dress has a beautiful drawstring skirt with great pockets. I like the look, but I wanted the gathers to be the star of the show for this dress, so I decided to lengthen my new Part B into a midi-length A-line skirt. In my version I also lengthened the facing because I intended to add buttons all the way down, but if I were to make this again I would probably just draft the skirt without one.
Remember, if you try this for yourself you’ll need to also lengthen the back pieces of your pattern!
Adding Elastic to Amplify the Gathers
The Quincy naturally has an natural, relaxed fit. I loved the look of the gathers once they had been transferred to darts, but I wanted a little more definition and amplification for that design detail - so I added some clear elastic to help further cinch the seam! If you want to do this at home, just sew in some clear elastic (stretching as you sew) into the seam allowance, then top stitch down.
Skipping the Buttons
Like I said, the Quincy has a relaxed fit. I didn’t need the button opening to get the dress on, and frankly, I couldn’t find a set of buttons in my stash that didn’t detract from the look of the gathers so I left them off. In the future, I might make some fabric-covered buttons using the scraps from this project and add them to the center front, but for now I’m happy as is!
Did you sew up anything for Sew My Style this month? Remember, reveal day is this Sunday and you still have time to enter and win PRIZES!