The Return of The Bust Darts

(I know you want to hear all about my adventures with the Yarn People at TNNA, but I am going to be out of the office this entire week. Thus, I have prepared several posts for you ahead of time which I think you will enjoy…)

Today, we begin a long-awaited journey into The Land of Bust Darts. Yes, I know it has been months and months since you first asked me to help you insert vertical bust darts into your sweaters, but what can I say. Knitting Daily has been a busy place this past year. Good things, like fine wine, take time…

Okay. Never mind the excuses. Let's get on with the Bust Darts.

For those of you who were not with us when we first peeked into Bust Dart Land, allow me to summarize our adventures-to-date:

  • Wendy Bernard made a Tomato. (See the photo at the bottom? Adorable!)
  • The Tomato was published in No Sheep For You.
  • Knitting Daily released the Tomato as a free pattern.
  • Sandi decided to make herself a Tomato.
  • Sandi did not, however, wish to have That Stripe go across her bustline, so Sandi moved That Stripe down, so it crossed just under her bust.
  • In the process of moving That Stripe, Sandi inserted vertical bust darts to make pockets for her, uh, assets, thereby giving her Tomato a little added fiery spice.
  • Sandi nicknamed her version the Hot Tomato Salsa.

And then all heck broke loose–in the comments, anyway. Everyone wanted to know how to put vertical bust darts into their own sweaters.

And here we are…

Why The Darts?

Let's stop for a moment to note that you don't NEED to work darts into any knitted garment. Not unless you want to. Wendy's original Tomato, for example, is a lovely, soft, drapey little knitted tee shirt that is quite lovely just exactly the way it came off of Wendy's needles. However, given my shape, I had doubts about That Stripe running across my bustline, so I decided to move it. (The stripe, not my bustline. I mean, there's only so much a knitter can do.)

This is where things got interesting.

If I moved the stripe down anywhere near my waist, I would run into the increases and decreases Wendy included as waist shaping. I really did not want to mess with increasing and decreasing in the colorwork pattern, as I figured I was fussing quite enough with the pattern, thankyouverymuch. I did not need to wrangle bright orange and teal herringbone houndstooth patterns into submission as well. So I charted out the waist shaping for my size on Excel, and realized that I could fit the colorwork band right into the "work even" section of the waist shaping. No muss, no colorwork fuss! Yay! (If you don't know what I am referring to when I say the "work even" section, there's info here.)

Once I had graphed that out, I realized I had a bit of a problem on my hands. If I just knitted the shoulders and neck as written, and then plopped in That Stripe near the waist shaping, I was going to have a whole lotta extra room for The Girls up top. There was going to be so much extra fabric, in fact, that the top would look silly: fitted shoulders, loose bust, fitted waist, fitted hips.

Not exactly a Hot Tomato.

That's when I realized I needed some darts to help shape things up a bit.

You won't want to miss the next few posts. I'm going to go over vertical darts, what they are, how to use them, and of course, The Math, so you can become a Master of Vertical Dartage. (And just a note to those who think that they can skip the next few posts since they don't need bust darts: Do you have a little round belly, or do you knit for someone who has one? Then I have two words for you: Belly Darts. Maybe you have junk in the trunk? Booty Darts. Yep. Trust me. Darts are a curvy person's best friend.)

Oh, and I may be out of the office, but I'm still reading comments from wherever I am. So leave a comment and let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

— Sandi

P.S. Some of you might be wondering why I constantly use cute little euphemisms like "The Girls" or "Booty." Well, sure it's fun, but it also helps keep these Knitting Daily emails out of your spam box; and it helps keep the whole Knitting Daily website from getting blacklisted by parental control software. Yep, I'm a silly gal, but sometimes there is also a method to my silliness.

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 is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.


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48 thoughts on “The Return of The Bust Darts

  1. I’m so excited about this series! I could never see myself wearing the Tomato as it is originally. The horizontal motif across “the girls” would have been incredibly unflattering on me. As my shape is very similar to yours, I’m very excited to see how you made it look so flattering. Talk about making a sweater absolutely fabulous!

  2. Oh, phew! The email seemed a little messed up and I didn’t want to miss a word–especially since I’m contemplating bust darts for the sweater I’m working on RIGHT. NOW.

    Great timing, Sandi!

  3. Hallelujah! I’ve been searching the archives sure that I’d missed something, and my own Hot Tomato is perilously close to its own dart-critical moment! Thank you SO much!!

  4. Even though I am not super curvy, as someone with “something up top,” I cannot imagine knitting the Tomato in the original. But Sandi’s version is indeed a super hot and spicy (and therefore all the more tastier) alternative. I looked at the pics and thought, “But, I really want Sandi’s pattern, not the original.” I am so greatful that she’s here to show us the way. I am always happy to see the knittingdaily emails in my inbox. Thank you Sandi!

    PS: Is there a forum on “how to be more like Sandi because she has such an awesome personality”?

  5. I wish I could meet you. Reading today’s post on vertical darts made me laugh out loud. So, thanks for being funny and informative. I’m looking forward to the next installment.Curvy ladies knit on!

  6. As opposed to using a size or two larger or smaller, or graph paper and a pencil (too old-fashioned?), how does one use Excel to chart a knitting pattern? I’ve used Excel AND knitted for more years than I care to mention, but this is a first! Maybe Excel was used just for the math?

  7. “I charted out the waist shaping for my size on Excel” Wait–how did you do that? Could you possibly explain and illustrate? Thank you!

  8. Hi Sandi,

    Great post as always. I’m curious, as is Lewis2, about the Excel chart–whether it incorporates Excel functions, or just operates as an electronic way to chart?


  9. Hello Sandi.
    My English is not so good, that is why I don’t leave you comments. But I’m trying to get better. I’m a 50 year old woman who doesn’t like her name. I have two girls (24 and 22) and I have taken great ideas from you.
    Thank you for your mails, I read them all.

  10. “…so I charted out on Excel.” I am so glad I am not the only one who gets lost in the details. Excel and Knitting. More please. Love your writing; you always make me laugh.

  11. Just love that ‘junk in the trunk ‘- booty darts- No better way to describe. Thanks for your sense of humor. Enjoy your comments, and also the fact that your figure is just like that of so many of us — not perfect. I am just working to reduce my trunk load — belly load also!

    Thanks again,
    Betty – Portland, OR

  12. Well, reading the responses can be ALMOST as much fun as reading you, Sandi! All I wanted to say was “Love you! Love reading you.” But they’ve said it all already. I can’t quite believe that I have stayed with Knitting Daily – it’s largely due to your personality. Oh, and Bertha.

  13. Could you clarify what you meant here:

    “If I just knitted the shoulders and neck as written, and then plopped in That Stripe near the waist shaping, I was going to have a whole lotta extra room for The Girls up top. There was going to be so much extra fabric, in fact, that the top would look silly: fitted shoulders, loose bust, fitted waist, fitted hips.”

    I am having trouble following this – if you’re a person who needs bust darts, how would following the pattern as written result in a sweater that is too big in the bust? I’m lost.

  14. I really enjoy these blogs, Sandi. I’ll admit, I almost never knit for myself; I prefer the more immediate gratification of knitting smaller items. But I enjoy reading your articles, no matter what the size of the topic. I also enjoy your Winnie-the-Pooh school of capitalization – That Stripe, The Girls, etc! And, call me a prude, a prefer the euphemisms. Thank you!

  15. Sandi,

    Your Hot Tomato Salsa is “muy picante!” Love the final results! what a knitting pro you are…oh and booty darts–gotta have those–I’ve been staying away from tunic patterns because of that.

  16. OK, my Sister In Curviness, you might consider a spew alert at the top of posts that contain this: “(And just a note to those who think that they can skip the next few posts since they don’t need bust darts: Do you have a little round belly, or do you knit for someone who has one? Then I have two words for you: Belly Darts. Maybe you have junk in the trunk? Booty Darts. Yep. Trust me. Darts are a curvy person’s best friend.)” I had my refreshing beverage to my lips as I read that. But for a nano-second delay in sippage, I might have needed ANOTHER new keyboard and monitor!

  17. Sandi–Can we just have your modified tomato pattern? I mean, it’s great to learn how to move stripes and add bust darts, but an altered version of the original pattern would be lovely, too. The way I figure it, my time for bust dart skills hasn’t come yet, but I sure do like that sweater. And I LOVE your color choices–they make the tomato truly hot!

  18. Wait a minute. Did I just read “charted out the waist shaping for my size on Excel”? How do you do that? I’m probably not alone in needing “Charting in Excel 101.”

  19. Oh, Sandi, that looks so great!!! I wish I was a curvy gal! And I still haven’t made that Tomato (it’ll be more like a Carrot for me lol) although I have the yarn and everything… I’ll just wait to read all your posts about your Hot Salsa :)

  20. Great Sandi! I was waiting for the bust darts. Well, actually I am thinking about a Hot Mommy To Be Tomato for a friend – and she might not only need bust darts, she’s already 5 months pregnant.
    So I am really looking forward to the other emails this week.

    And by the way, I love your euphemisms – I learn new words with them. Hey, some are much better then just the “double Os” I’m usually using.
    Just go on being silly, I love it when your being a bit silly.

  21. Sandi, Thanks for the smile first thing on a very hot Tuesday morning! Thanks also for writing in such a way that takes all anxiety away from trying something that I KNOW I will value and use lots in the future. Your euphemisms make me feel like we are sitting around in someone’s den, relaxing, laughing and knitting together, rather than sitting in my messy little home office, reading emails. Thanks again.

  22. Hi Sandi. I agree with everyone else about how great your writing is – as well as the subject matter. I am wondering what you suggest for those who have less fortunate curves – the ones whose curves fell. With the upper department two sizes smaller than the lower expanse and a waist in between that shows up what follows what measures would you suggest to enhance/disguise the upside down proportions. I’m sure I can’t be the only one.
    Have a great break but don’t forget to come back.

  23. Sandy:
    Can you tell us how the shaping for an extra round belly is different from a pregnant belly? Is there growth space built into a sweater knit for a pregnant belly that is not needed in a comfort belly? Why is it so difficult to find knitting patterns for pregnancy? I ask because my daughter has announced she is again pregnant. I would like to knit some sweaters, tanks etc for her but I am having great difficulty finding patterns for the pregnant figure.

    Thanks for all your hard work and the awesome daily posts.

  24. I’m confused. If you only moved the stripe down into a section that was worked even so no adjustments needed to be made to the colorwork pattern, why would the size of the bust area (where the colorwork had been) become to big if it was knit as written?

  25. I just wanted to add another request for directions for charting you patterns in excel. I have to admit that I am an excel junkie but I never knew it was capable of this too. Please do a post on teaching us how to do this.

  26. I would like to add my vote for “Excel 101 for Knitting” – especially if it involves a screeshot or two (or the actual template available to download) on what a knitting chart in Excel looks like!!

  27. I’m not sure how Sandy used Excel but in the past I have used a spreadsheet for graphing out knit patterns. I prefer QuatroPro from Corel because you can change the column widths and row heights using inch measurements, unlike Excel which only seem to use a type of point measurement (unless I’ve missed something in Excel) This way you can match the grid pattern to your knitting guage. Then I just count each square as a stitch and outline the pattern and can then fill in specific squares with the appropriate color, etc. I haven’t used this for an entire sweater but have used it to graph out specific patterns or logos, etc.

  28. The Knitting Daily e-mails come to the address that my husband and I share. My husband, who has a wry sense of humor, saw the title of the e-mail and could only imagine projectiles that deflate air enhanced (use your euphemism of choice). Many giggles followed.

    Can’t wait for the info on bust darts. There are many patterns that I want to modify!!

    Charting in Excel only requires that you scale the cell size. Try typing a capital “X” in a cell then goto Format, Column, Autowidth. Determine the width of the column, then set the column with for the entire worksheet – Voila graph paper. Or you can search the web for knitting graph paper and get paper that ca be adjusted to your guage.

  29. I agree with AnneB about adjusting the column width in Excel the only problem with that is you can’t adjust it for a specific guage. You can use QuatroPro if you have Corel Office or search the web for adjustable graph paper as she suggested. I happen to have both MS Office and Corel Office so can use the one which suits my needs at the time.

  30. Yes, yes, yes, yes…. thank the Lord for you Sandi… You just have the right answers everytime… I can’t wait for you to show us how the Inevitable Darts are going to work… with everything… Thank you

  31. I have to second Stitch-ayWoman and ValerieL in being confused by this bit:

    “”If I just knitted the shoulders and neck as written, and then plopped in That Stripe near the waist shaping, I was going to have a whole lotta extra room for The Girls up top. There was going to be so much extra fabric, in fact, that the top would look silly: fitted shoulders, loose bust, fitted waist, fitted hips.”

    Did moving the stripe make the bust disproportionate, or would it have been ill-fitting regardless of the placement of the stripe?


  32. Wow! My first time posting! I, too, am excited about the idea of “charting on Excel”. Please elaborate….

    I am new to Knitting Daily, but am nearly addicted to these emails! Thanks for helping me be in an excellent neighborhood of knitters!

  33. Thanks, Sandi! I was just getting ready to look in the archives for this series as I am gearing up to reknit a beautiful sweater that just doesn’t fit right because it needs those bust darts. Have a wonderful vacation, and I too would love to see a picture of Buddy (with or without a hand-knit sweater!)