Putting Darts in a Tank Top or Dress

Do you have a tank top or sleeveless dress that doesn’t fit well on top?

Is there extra fabric hanging loose between the shoulder and armpit?

Alot of loose fitting tops and dresses are made without alot of tight fit to them in that area.

But you can do a simple alteration to make it fit better.

sewing blog 526Most darts lay somewhat horizontally on a top or dress. If you were making a garment from scratch you, would have a nice fitting horizontal dart. If you tried to do that on this top, the edges along the armhole would not line up evenly. Try pinching it up horizontally and you’ll see what I mean.

Since we aren’t constructing a garment from scratch, we need to have an alternate plan. So, when you are pinning your darts, pin them so the outer edges are even.

Just pinch the fabric together and pin the excess fabric all the way to the full part of the bust sticking in as many pins as you need until it fits well.

Now, press the folded edge of the new dart with the tip of an iron or a mini iron.

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Be careful not to press the heads of the pins as they might melt.

Now, before you take out the pins, measure the distance down from the outer edge of the shirt and write down how far in the pin is placed.

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So, for this dart, you can see that at the outer edge (or “top” of the dart), we are going to take in 5/8″.  At 1 3/4″ down from the edge, we’ll take in 3/8″. At 3 inches down from the edge, you won’t take any amount in. This means, you’ll be finished sewing the dart at this point.

You’ll understand it better in the next few steps.

Now, take the pins out and turn the shirt or dress  inside out. You’ll notice the pressed line you made with the iron.

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With the right sides of the fabric facing each other, you’re going to pinch the shirt along that foldline you made with the iron. It will seem weird at first since you are pinching the foldline in the opposite direction that you pressed it in:

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Referring to the measurements you took earlier, pin the dart from the inside of the shirt.


For the first pin, start at the outer edge of the shirt and put a pin in 5/8″ away from the folded edge of the new dart as shown below. Then, move down the shirt 1 3/4″. At that spot, put a pin in 3/8″ from the folded edge. At the 3″ mark, I just put a pin right on the fold. That tells me where to finish the dart.

I like to push my pin in at the exact spot of that marking. It gives me a sewing line to go by. You can also pencil that line in with a washable marker, but I don’t like to take the chance of it staying permanently on the fabric. I like to just “eyeball” where I should sew, using the pin placement as my guide..

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Normally, you want to take the pins out and not sew over them, but I wanted to show you (by leaving the pins in this time) where my sewing line goes in relation to my pins. As I mentioned before, I stick the pins in in the exact spot where I am going to sew the seam or the dart:

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Now, just press the dart down toward the hem of the top or dress

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If the dart doesn’t want to lay flat, you can stitch it down with matching threads as in the photo below. (Just stitch the area between the two pins.)

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When you are finished, you won’t have that gap like you did before. This time it will fit perfectly!

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