Where The Darts Go

Photo 1: Knitters, meet Bertha

Before we get started: Would everyone please chant "SHARon, SHARon, SHARon" a few times? Sharon is the clever, funny gal who chanted "Bust! Darts! Bust! Darts!" in the comments on Friday. I inadvertently changed her name to Susan when I quoted her yesterday, and if she’s gonna be famous, she’s got a right to be famous under her real name. A Bazillion Thanks to SHARon and all you other fabulously funny commenters who made the last few days so much fun.

I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce our new Knitting Daily assistant, Bertha (in the green T-shirt, at right). Bertha has graciously agreed to help us out with Bust Darts 101: Where The Darts Go.

The original Tomato is essentially a darling little knitted T-shirt. Wendy Bernard designed this knitting pattern for women to be dartless, slighty huggy, and comfy, as all the best T-shirts traditionally are. (Wendy rocks. In fact, go visit her site and tell her how much you appreciate her designing the Tomato for all of us. Go now. I’ll wait.) But if you need darts, where do you put them? Short-row darts are out of the question here: we’re working in the round, and from the top-down, and if you want to leave the colorwork where it is in the original, the short-rows would end up being a nightmare. We can do darts without short-rows, as we discussed Monday. So how do you know where the darts ought to be placed on your own particular curves?

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.)

Photo 2: Holy Bust Darts, Bertha!

In Photo 1 above, 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.

Photo 3: Black clip, pink clip

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.

Photo 4: Hot Tomato Darts

As promised, I am working on a PDF with the actual numbers for adding bust darts to the original Tomato pattern. (It's taking longer than I thought. It will be worth the wait, right? Right.) However: You are not Bertha, and you are also not me. 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 am knitting darts into the lower half of my Tomato to skim those curves oh-so-gracefully. (And yes, I will put those instructions into the PDF as well.)

Friday: You have questions, Knitting Daily has a building full of experts whom we can pester, er, ask, in order to get you answers!

Annie Modesitt is someone who has given all of us knitters so much joy over the years with her wit, her technical savvy, and her patterns (one of which I am featuring on Knitting Daily this week, the Ballet Neck Twinset, in her honor). Annie and her family are facing a medical crisis right now, and our hearts and prayers go out to them. Find out how you can help in other ways, too.

Join the Knitting Daily KnitBlog Tour! Every day this week, I’ll be dropping by a different knitblog to answer questions and chat about all things knitting and Knitting Daily. Come on by and join the fun!

Monday, July 2: Ready, Set, Knit! Podcast, hosted by Kathy and Steve Elkins of WEBS Yarn Shop. Read about Kathy's life amongst the yarn and her podcast on Kathy's blog.

Tuesday, July 3: Crazy Aunt Purl, hosted by Aunt Purl herself, a.k.a. Laurie Perry.

Wednesday, July 4: Lolly Knitting Around, hosted by Lolly, a.k.a. Lauren Weinhold.

Thursday, July 5: Dogged, hosted by DoggedKnits, a.k.a Ashley Shannon.

Friday, July 6: CRAFT Blog, hosted by Natalie Zee Drieu.

See you in the blogosphere!

Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


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71 thoughts on “Where The Darts Go

  1. I’m so happy to hear this! I’ve been thinking about “bust darts” since your last post in contemplating how to do them. Love the newsletter! Thanks.

  2. How about some other knitbloggers on your “tours”? There are many more than the 3 or 4 that are always asked to ask questions to the experts.

  3. You are amazing!!!!
    You have no idea how much I appreciate not only the information you are sending, but also the way in which you are sending it. What a relief to have someone who not only understands, but who also helps encourage and celebrate supreme curvy-ness! I am now actually really excited about making something to fit over my very ‘gifted’ bits! This could even mean the end of my sweater avoidance!!!

  4. I have chuckled while reading all the comments and instructions regarding placement of the bust darts in the Tomato top. Being close to 70 the darts don’t really fit any part of my anatomy as gravity has taken over!!! Darts are the thing of the past for my figure. Keep up the good work. I enjoy every issue.

  5. If you’re into BUST DARTS then you may want to check out Nikol Lohr’s “Naughty Needles”. There is a pattern in there of a corset (The Felt Up Corset) which uses short-row shaping to create this beauty. And it’s a corset so your boobs, whether busty or no will be in your face. It seriously works! My boobs were in my face!

    If you want to check out the finished product before you buy the book, check out my blog. http://www.thashizknit.blogspot.com

    Happy knitting!

  6. Thanks for all the fun I’ve had the last couple of weeks. Although opening today’s post and finding you chanting my name was WIERD! (Hi Sharon R!) As someone with a belly, but who barely fills an A cup, what do I do? I’m sure you’ll cover it soon! Thanks again.

  7. Bust darts are good in some situations, but I am not convinced that they are good if the wearer is quite busty, or if it is a summer sweater. I like looser fitting garments in hot weather, also to avoid calling attention to my bustline.

  8. Holy Toledo! What a transformation! Great visual to show all of how and where to place the bust darts. I’m looking forward to the numbers. 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for the great tutorial – it makes so much more sense to me now. I’m looking forward to the pdf chart to go with the pattern. And THANK YOU for mentionning the Buddha Belly! That is my problem so the chart and seeing your progress with your Tomato will be so helpful.

  10. Thank you so much – this is real world advice at it’s best! One question though – why rule our short rows? I’m half way down a top down u neck sweater(loosely based on a Glampyre pattern)and I’ve gone for the full whammy – short rows to add a bit of length to the front and some body darts to suck in the width. I’m going to rip back those and use tomato booby darts instead but keep the short rows. Am I heading for a disaster??

  11. Bust Darts!!! Oh where, oh where should they go? Based on having taught clothing and design for many years, the dart must point to the fullest part of the bust (the nipple), but fall 1 1/2inch away from the crown of the bust. Several darts may be needed, but all should point to the crown of the bust. Does that totally muddy the waters? Carol

  12. Let me see if I have this right….In this particular case I am knitting the size that will correctly cover my biggest parts so the darts are to remove some of the fullness so the top doesn’t turn out too baggy – the bigger the amount to be removed the more darts there should be and the further apart they should be placed. Yes?

  13. Sandi here…Wow. Great questions! Looks like a compare/contrast piece on short-rows versus Tomato Booby Darts needs to go on the to-do list. (Sally H., I completely dissolved into giggles at that one.) I don’t think you’re headed for disaster…but there are different kinds of darts, just as there are different ways to do everything in knitting, and it might help everyone to know why and when to choose what and where.

    Carol The Clothing/Design Teacher…I had to sit down and sketch and mumble for a bit after reading your comments to try and figure out the two sorts of darts. I THINK, and this is without consulting my own design tomes, but I think that the type of sewing dart you are referring to works a bit differently because it is based on fabric that comes to a folded point, rather than the engineering details of decreasing knitted stitches. That’s my first mumble-sketch guess, but I’m a geek, so I want to mumble-sketch some more to get this figured out. Carol, would you email me at knittingdaily@interweave.com in the name of Better Booby, er, Bust Dart Knowledge? I learned to sew and to draft clothing patterns from my mom when I was in high school, so I love coming at knitwear design from that perspective.

    And Yarnswatch, I love your interpretation of GG 🙂 Any knitter of any shape should have the pleasure of wearing something she (or he!) made herself (himself). Life’s too short not to knit for YOU.

    More questions/comments? Bring ’em on. You guys are great.

  14. If you’re pinning various notes about this issue up on your memo board, you should re-name it “The Dart Board (or The Tomato Booby Dart Board!)

    I guess I should quit boobing now, and go watch the boob tube!

  15. Being a novice to knitting for grownups, I have no idea what you are talking about but I am enjoying it all so very much! Your writing style is fantastic and I am saving all the blogs so when I get to darts I will know where to come. This is soooo much fun!

  16. “I’m so happy, oh so happy” (dancing on the moon, escaping the french rain)
    Bust darts can make people travel in a new world, where bagginess doesn’t exists ! Houray !!!
    Thank you for this clear tutorial :o))

  17. Hi, Thanks for addressing the dart issue in such a fun way. i never thought of adding darts to enhance my 36DD’s!! Question, would darts really work on a buddha belly? especially one like mine that looks like there are triplets in there!LOL. keep up the good work in recognising that we are not all a size 0

  18. you have a great sense of humor and I really enjoy reading your entries. And thanks for sharing some of the other blogs out there, I now have more I have added to my “must read” list!

  19. I have to comment about one of the seemingly throw-away lines in the article – that you can’t do short rows in a top down, worked in the round sweater. Not true! You just work them in reverse. Instead of starting near the side markers, you start just outside the bust points, at the end of the dart, and do your wrap and turn. You’re essentially ignoring that you’re in the round and you knit back and forth for a while. You also have to pick up the wraps as you go along, working your way to the side markers, instead of picking them all up at the end. I’ve done several top-down raglan sweaters this way, and they fit fabulously. I can choose a size that fits the rest of me, and add the bust inches where I need them (instead of choosing a larger size and cutting down at the waist). I usually start 1/2 – 1

  20. Sandi here–Yes! On the short-row comments, I mean. Gooood Catch. (Did I mention the quick turnaround time there is for writing these little posties? Sometimes those subtle wording thingies get away from me.) Thaaaannnk youuuu!

    You CAN work short rows in the round, top down…but the Tomato has That Stripe, and anyone who wants That Stripe to be anywhere in the vicinity is going to have a short-row brainteaser.

    Plus, even though they’re brilliant, short-rows can seem really scary to a lot of knitters. Beginning knitters, busy-mom knitters, or knitters who have to do extra math because they have a shape that is more gifted or more subtle than most may feel very intimidated by short-rows.

    I actually started out working the short-row magic for my Tomato. I had the calculations done…but it wasn’t the effect I wanted. I started playing around, and at some point, the little decrease darts just popped into my head and there it was.

    Once I did the little decrease darties, I thought, well. Here’s an alternative, and there you go.

    Short-rows, decrease darties, other sorts of shaping….choices, choices, choices. More ways to wrap ourselves in lovely yarn.

    You’ve noticed I’m answering in the comments. We need a forum, don’t we? 🙂

  21. If someone’s darts are a bit saggy do you get “Tomato Soup”? And OMG! in the news letter you mentioned you had a “Buddah Belly”. Would that mean you are knitting a “Ripe Tomato” suitable for Maternity use?

  22. I LOVE this! Thanks, Sandi, you little hottie, for sharing your darts (and your girls) with us. I love the way knitters are problem solvers – always thinking out of the box. What a joy! My own Tomato is on hold, but I am making notes!!!

  23. I absolutely LOVE your daily news letters. Thank you for providing this wealth of info. You put a smile on my face everyday. Nice to know there are some real people out there with some great tips on helping us look our best and getting our projects to fit.

  24. I understand the principle of the bust darts and eliminating extra fabric where it isn’t needed, and the ones on the Tomato are super! Now the question: After the darts, there are fewer stitches in the round, right? So presumably you thought about that beforehand and arranged to end up with the number of stitches you needed for the pattern repeat, right? and now you are talking about belly darts because, with the fewer stitches you’ll need more room again when you get to the belly. Am I thinking this through correctly? Since you told us several days about negative ease, you apparently picked a size based on bust measurement minus 2 inches. Am I getting this? Thanks for all the info! Jane

  25. Hi, In response to Sandi’s dart placement and Carol the design/patternmaker , I would choose Sandi’s. I am a retired custom dressmaker, and worked for hundreds of bodies over 38 years! I can vouch for the fuller the curve, the subtler the ultimate fit with more than one dart. In my early days, I darted out a D cup with one well-placed dart. She looked like Wonder Woman with VERY pointy boobs! Maybe in the “50’s, but not now, thank goodness. I think you “did good”, Sandi, and thanks for the wonderful posts.

  26. Sandy, wow. Excellent newsletter topic!

    I like that you moved the fairisle down below the bust on your Hot Tomato. IMHO it works for those of us who don’t want any extra emphasis right across our “gifts”.

    And I think doing vertical darts in a top-down pattern is a good choice in that it allows “fit-as-you-go” in a more straightforward way than short-row darts would.

    Carol, IMHO these vertical darts behave pretty much like multiple vertical darts in a sewing pattern. Yes, one on each side pretty much points to the fullest part of the bust, but the others do not.

    To deal with my Budda Belly I’m planning to stop decreasing below my bust at the point where it would skim over the top of my belly if continued straight down, rather than decreasing right down to my ribcage. (I hope that makes sense.)

    BTW — Bonnie, a Buddha Belly is not normally understood to be a maternity belly. (For one thing, the original Buddha was a guy named Siddhārtha Gautama.)

  27. I love, love, love Knitting Daily. Bust darts, who know. I wish I could knit faster so I could knit everything. I’m going to try the Hot Tomato.
    Thanks, Alice

  28. I am truly enjoying this daily newsletter. And have ripped out many a sweater only because I was getting too much fullness on the belly after compensating to fit the

  29. Too much info on editors personal issues. i am not interested in blogs or ongoing projects. I don’t find the “tomato” sweater even remotely attractive or flattering, including the colors. Please remove me from your subscription list.

  30. I like the maternity Tomato idea. I haven’t run into much in the way of maternity knitting patterns, actually. Am I just not looking in the right places? Sandi, I just wanted to tell you that I finished my own “Summer Shawlette” a couple days ago and I got to wear it this evening watching fireworks on my roof. I didn’t think I would get to wear it so soon because I live in desert-cookin’ Utah, but it was windy and cool up there. Yea! It kept me warm and stylin’. Thanks for the lovely pattern!

  31. Since we’re all talking about boobs and darts…A related question, for women who aren’t so curvy, I have a lot of trouble with v neck and related patterns because they gap too much in the front, assuming more curviness than I have. Any ideas?

  32. There’s a great book by Jillian Moreno called “Big Girl Knits” that has an excellent explanation of bust darts and other shaping hints for us busty gals, although I love Bertha’s idea with the hair clippies.

  33. i do have some buddha belly, so i am looking forward to this, becaus ei have always thought that having some loseness around the belly helped not put the belly into focus, so i am waiting to see if i am convinced.

    on another note, i love your color choice much much more than red and white, i don’t like white that much.

  34. Okay, this has everything and nothing to do with darts. I saw the wedding gown pattern and loved it!! Only problem, I’m larger than a 36 bust, and I’m definatly larger in the hips. Two questions: 1) How to expand the pattern to make the size larger, and 2) what does the bride wear under the dress?
    So it has to do with sizing and altering patterns- I guess along the lines of putting darts into the tomato! 🙂 Thanks!

  35. Man, I’m still grooving on the stroke of genius to not have the stripe plastered right across the rack. I can’t be the only one who, duh, didn’t think about the fact that we can put our stripes anywhere we please…and for what it’s worth, my brother called me yesterday and asked me if I’d seen Knitting Daily’s rally cry for the bust darts. I had no idea my brother even knew what Interweave was!

  36. I absolutely love reading your posts. They are great and they always put me in a good mood. Speaking of bust darts though, I put on this wonderful blouse from Lane Bryant this morning and wouldn’t you know it has bust darts and then that got me thinking how much I love this blouse on me so I am thinking I might be making my own Tomato (with bust darts, of course) in some fantastic color! Thanks for the inspiration.

  37. Thank you! Thank you! I hadn’t even considered knitting a top for myself b/c of the whole need-for-bust-darts thing. How wonderful of you! And thanks for your detailed tutorial. Without it, I wouldn’t even be considering all this.

    Oh, and one more thank you for being willing to share your experience on making real patterns work for a real figure. I love to look at knitting (and crochet) magazines, but spend too much of my time ruling patterns out b/c the model is very slim and I am more “curvy” than that. You’re great!

  38. Looks like the end of my comment on short row shaping in the round got truncated… I usually start 1/2 – 1 inch below the separation for the sleeves, which is a little higher than if you’re working from bottom up. You’re right – they totally don’t work if you want the colorwork at the bust line. There’s a good tutorial about how to do short rows without affecting a pattern repeat (well, at least not too much) in a Knitty article – see http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall06/FEATfall06TBP.html I learned how to do top down short rows on the Big Girl Knits discussion list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/big_girl_knits/

  39. It is such a joy to read your daily knitting blog. Finally, a knitter (newby) I can identify with. I made the bag, Amanda’s Squatty Sidekick, and it is drying as I write. LOVE it already. Thanks for sharing your hits and misses. It’s so encouraging to us who are trying to learn. Emma

  40. There are some great posts in here – thank you. My beef with short rows in the round for top -down raglans or just in the round, period (my preferred way to knit sweaters) is that there was always one gap on each side where my picking up wraps or what have you just plain didn’t work becuase the stitches are oriented differently, due to knitting in the round. I’m hoping to find some info here to solve that problem.

    I like the idea of bust darts but my question is this: will this still make a shorter garment in the front than the back, due to the extra real estate the boobies take up?

  41. Oh I love the Tomato – and adore the colours – been thinking – I admire the darts, but what if…you kniteed in a lycra mix (Fixation or Heirloom Breeze) can’t always get US yarns in Tasmania, Australia and knitted the top section on larger needles and the under bust on smaller needles? Would that do a similar thing to darts? Or is that a really dumb idea?

  42. As one who used to be a 32A, had a child, then expanded to a 34D, it was your article that made me finally see the light. I’m at the bottom ribbing of a top-down short-sleeve sweater and I am going to rip ‘er out in order to redo it with the bust darts. No kidding. I actually took it off the needles to try it on, and it indeed looks downright stupid without the darts. I can’t wait! Who would have thought one could get so excited about re-knitting?!?

  43. Hi, Since I’m not very computer literate I’ve had no luck in downloading your TOMATO sweater. I have the adobe reader and I’ve logged in and signed up along time ago. I’ve also downloaded your shawl and sock patterns. So I,m confused as to why since you’ve changed the web I’m not able to download. I receive the emails that are sent. Thankyou for helping Janice of shinydiamonds@msn.com

  44. Linda — about the V-neck thing:

    Sandra Betzina (a sewing guru) in her book “Power Sewing” recommends that a curve should be built into the V so that it will lie flat against the upper chest. She suggests that for smaller busts, the curve should be slightly concave:

    ( )

    and for larger busts, the curve should be slightly convex:

    ) (

    Sandra says that these curves should curve inward or outward no more than 1/4″ (6mm) from the straight-line V.

    So for a smaller bust, instead of a straight-line increase when knitting the V-neck from the top down, you could try creating a slightly concave curve by omitting the neckline increase on each side of the V at the 1/3 point and then adding that increase back by doing an increase on each side of the V in what would normally have been a non-increase row at the 2/3 point.

    Busty women might try doing an increase in a normally non-increase row at the 1/3 point and omitting an increase at the 2/3 point.

    I hope this makes sense!

  45. My dart problem was a little different. The back neck of the pattern was too wide for me, so I decreased the number of cast on stitches and added two darts at the back neck to increase to the proper number of stitches to get the back width I need for my bust size. Now the sweater stays put at my neck instead of crawling down my back as I wear it.

  46. I am having a lot of trouble with the idea that short rows and vertical darts are alternatives to each other. They can’t possibly be alternatives because they address different issues. Vertical darts deal with the difference between the waist and bust measurements. Short rows deal with the extra length needed at center front. Lily Chin explained this beautifully in an old Threads article. Sandi’s sweater is lovely, but it rides up at the center front because her vertical darts did not add any extra length where it was needed. This is accentuated by the placement of the stripe, which arches up at the center front. In order for the stripe to be horizontal, Sandi would have needed to add short rows above the stripe. Yes, short rows are difficult in stripes and cables. They are NOT impossible. It requires some serious design decisions. By analogy, consider sewing. Would you not follow the darts in a sewing pattern because you have chosen a striped fabric? Isn’t it more likely that you would take both darts and stripes into account in developing the garment? I worked a striped sweater with short rows, and they are hardly noticeable. Cables are a bit trickier. In one case, my precious cables did not meet at the shoulders precisely. That was my design trade-off for the extra length I wanted at center front. In another case, the four-row offset between the front and back cables actually made them meet more gracefully at the shoulders!