Bust Dart Placement

Knitters, meet Bertha

Third in Our Series on Bust Darts…

For long-time Knitting Daily readers, this post might feel like a slice of deja-vu. There's some information that is just so critical to understanding how to do your own bust darts that I am borrowing some information from a post I wrote a year ago: Where The Darts Go. What the heck. It was fun the first time around, because that post was when we all first met Bertha…

Time for the Virtual Bust Dart Demo. Ready? Here we go. Yes, "we." This is an audience-participation exercise. Bertha will demonstrate, and if you want to find out more about where bust darts might work for you, grab a loose-fitting T-shirt of your own, stand in front of a mirror, and follow along. (Bertha promises it won't hurt a bit, especially if you stop now and then and wave at yourself and say "Hi, Gorgeous!" Flattery will get you anywhere, remember.)

In Photo 1, Bertha is wearing a loose-fitting T-shirt over her most comfortable, best-fitting underthings (or she would be, if she were a real woman like you and me). Note how the loose-fitting T-shirt fits her. The widest part of the shirt is at her widest parts, but the shirt falls vertically down from there, creating bagginess under her bustline. Although Bertha is a nicely curvy gal, she looks about twenty pounds heavier than she really is, because of the baggy factor. (An odd-but-true corollary: Bagginess right over a round little Buddha Belly can also make you look twenty pounds heavier. Just hold onto this thought for now.)

Bertha wants to be a member of Hot Tomato Nation, so I got some of those "jaw-style" hairclips and added them to the front of the T-shirt, pinching in the fabric so that the shirt is more fitted to Bertha's womanly curves. (See Photo 2.) The black clips are slightly off to one side of each of Bertha's "bustiest points," and the pink clips are about one-third of the distance between the black clip and the the midpoint of the armhole. (Photo 3 is a closer view from the side.)

Photo 4 is the infamous Bust Dart photo of my own Tomato-in-progress, so you can see that Bertha's black clips correspond to my innermost darts, and her pink clips correspond to my outermost darts.

The steeper your curves, the closer together the two darts should be—because the majority of the baggy fabric will be under the curviest part of you. The flatter your curves, the further apart the darts should be.

One-third of the distance between the first dart and the midpoint of the armhole is a good place for us larger-cup gals (C, D, and DD) to put the second dart of each pair. Truly gifted gals may want to consider adding an extra (third) dart (towards the armhole), whereas those with more subtle charms may want to consider having only one dart on each side.

Of course, you are your own Hot Tomato Gal, and if you do the above exercise for yourself, in front of a mirror (or even with a trusted friend and a digital camera), you’ll find out a lot about yourself and your curves, and you'll have that much more confidence when you sit down to customize your own handknits.

As for those Buddha Belly Darts: Yes, folks, I have a Buddha Belly, and I did in fact knit darts into the lower half of my Tomato in order to skim those curves oh-so-gracefully.

I bet you're wondering all kinds of knitterly stuff, like how many stitches in and how many rows and all that. Stay tuned for Dart Math.

— Sandi

 P.S. Yep, I am still out of the office, but still reading your comments from my Secret Location. Got something to say? Leave a comment!

Past Adventures of the Hot Tomato

You Asked For A Top, We Gave You A Tomato

On The Third Day, I Ripped

My Surreal Knitting Life and That Stripe

In Which The Commenters Chant: Bust Darts, Bust Darts, Bust Darts!

A Hot Tomato

Questions, Questions: The Darts and More

Increases and Decreases for Sweater Knitting

Sandi Wiseheart
Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily. What's on Sandi's mind? Knit for your heart. It will do you good.

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24 thoughts on “Bust Dart Placement

  1. I love how you help those of us without “perfect” bodies work our knitting to fit us like it should. After all, if we are putting that much effort into something, shouldn’t it look fabulous? You give us the tools for fabulousness!

  2. Ummmm I think probably bust darts are for those who do… have something to dart in the first place. Sandi writes: “The flatter your curves, the further apart the darts should be.” I have a dart under my arm pit LOL! Thanks for all the great tips Sandi because even if my curves are… MIA, I can still make things for my beautiful daughter.


  3. LynW: In that case, it’s not really a dart anymore, it’s more like side-seam decreases for waist shaping. I don’t have much to dart, either, and doing decreases at the side seam are enough to bring the sweater in under the bust for me.

    Now on to my question…belly darts. I do get why you would do them, espcially if your belly is the biggest part of you. But does a garment tailored for your belly make you look pregnant? That’s what’s kept me from trying it. I want my sweaters to fit but I don’t want to call attention to that area.

  4. Hear hear on the belly dart issue! It seems Sandi is saying that bust darts can help with that…but I bet the math is going to be pretty daunting.

  5. [quote] Sandi is saying that bust darts can help with that…but I bet the math is going to be pretty daunting. [quote/]
    The Dart Vader of dart math.

  6. Hi Sandi,

    I don’t remember seeing these pictures of Bertha so thank you for the review. I have used short rows and some waistline darts in my sweaters but haven’t tried three yet. That will be my next challenge.

    And as far as belly darts go, the couture shifts from the 1920s that I have seen in museum collections definitely had belly darts all along the side seems. This just proves that in order to get a smooth and streamlined look one has to shape a garment.

  7. Between Bertha and my friend Bitsey…I am convinced I need bust darts. I will have to try this. No Buddha Belly though…more like a Buddha Booty.
    Jenny in Jersey

  8. Thank you, Sandi!

    Boy what a difference a few correctly placed darts can make in the fit of a sweater or shirt. It is really evident in the picture of Bertha’s “Before” and “After” dart pictures.

    Can’t wait to see the math tutorial, but I really hope it’s painless…

  9. This was so informative! Thank you so much!! I’ve read your previous posts on Darts but, like you said, there was still a sense of “Huh? Now how do I add them?” – to me. I usually customize sweater patterns because I rarely use the yarn that is called for in patterns.
    The demo on Bertha of how darts make the t-shirt more fitted is FABULOUS!!!

  10. As a new knitter (January08) I truly need articles like this series to give me more insight and motivation to try new items. I am so looking forward to “the math”! I had a different pattern picked out, but now I want to be a “Hot Tomato” too!

  11. I have been looking forever for a plain Tee to knit that will “fit”. Since the Tomato is top down I can adjust it to fit my largest part up top, but how to “tailor” it?….Sandi to the rescue. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  12. Okay, just to make myslef difficult, I’m gonna ask it. If you were to knit something like the Wakame Tunic, how would you incorporate the cleverness and the wonder that is belly/bust darts without disrupting the pattern? Also, on something that isn’t really close-fitting, is it appropriate to shape it so that it will hang at a more flattering angle?
    We’re all anxious to see how the dart sage will turn out!!
    Happy WWKIP day!!!

  13. remember darts – love em – wish I NEEDED them 🙂
    seriously – this is good – shaping can make or kill a pattern on many of us. Thanks oh Wise one

  14. Thank you so much for this bust dart series. It will help me fit my sweaters to me, rather than the stick models. And for you, Sandi, my husband says “nice tomatoes! bust darts are a good thing!”

  15. Thank you Sandi for you candidness in approaching this topic of bust darts. We’ve had about 20 (maybe even 30) years of unstructured fashions and unless you’re old (I’m approaching that), you don’t remember fitted clothing and never learned to sew where darts were part of patterns. I appreciate this reminder that women are shaped differently than men ;.)

  16. So, you’re getting me really curious about those belly darts 🙂 Could you show a picture or drawing of it? I have a really hard time visualizing it as something you could do without being pregnant…

  17. I don’t understand the belly darts, either. Why would you want to make the biggest part of the body, more fitted. Wouldn’t it show more? I understand the Bust darts, but belly darts. Please explain this to me.
    Love this new website.

  18. This was worth the price of admission the first time ’round, and thanks for the reminder!

    Finding out that it takes TWO (and soemtimes more) darts to ease over my body flatteringly was a real d’oh!!! moment. The first fitted sweater I knit had some very interesting decreases/increases to get all the required fabric in the right spots. I could have stood it in the corner and had a body double!

    And then . . . I lost weight. The sweater grew peplums at the hips, and I had to let it go.

  19. Just a quick comment–C, D and DD are not “larger” sizes, those are average. I’m in the G-H range myself, and they’re not even that enormous–I wear a size 10 top most of the time.