THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

June 18, 2007

Sewing a French dart

Filed under: Els,sewing,sewing notions,Tutorials — Els @ 8:05 pm

A French dart is a bust dart coming from the side seam pointing upwards, it is not a straight dart but it is shaped one.

This is an example of a French dart sewn in a linen blouse.( you see the inside of course)

French dart in linen blouse

Sewing a French dart is not difficult but needs a bit of extra care due to the way the dart is placed because the dart is not on the straight of grain lengthwise or crosswise, it can stretch during sewing and handling like pressing. The dart needs a reinforcing to stay in shape.

A way to prevent stretching this French dart out of shape is to add a lightweight piece of stay-tape to the stitch line.

 If you do not have the light weight polyester stay-tape you can also use a piece of lining cut at the cross or lengthwise grain or cut a bias cut piece of lining which you steam press and stretch during the pressing so it will not grow anymore.The advantage of using a bias cut lining it will not fray, like a crosswise or straight of grain will do.

Place the tape for reinforcing the dart at one of the dart stitching lines and sew the dart from the widest point (side seam) towards the end.I did placed the stay tape at the seam allowance which is the one heading towards the center front.

The next step is pressing the dart open till about ½ inch (1 cm) from the top, the point can be pressed open by using a toothpick which you can insert at the point, press the last ½ inch with the toothpick inside the point over a pressing ham or the end of the ironing board.

 It will depend if the garment will be lined or not and what kind of fabric you use to decide how the seams are going to be finished.

For example if your garment is a blouse or dress and will be unlined and your fabric is a light to medium weight you can finish the seams by serging both seam allowances together.Press the dart downwards.

If your garment will be lined no finishing is needed, or if your fabric does fray easy using your pinking shears to stop the fraying.





  1. A very nice and informative tutorial, thank you Els.

    Comment by Gemma — June 19, 2007 @ 3:02 am

  2. Thank you Els. I will remember your advice when sewing a French dart (I’ve never tried this technique before but I’m sure I will in the future).

    Comment by Tany — June 19, 2007 @ 10:56 am

  3. Never thought to put stay tape in a shaped dart. Thanks!

    Comment by thesecretpocket — June 19, 2007 @ 12:26 pm

  4. Els, I usually have to do an FBA on my darts. Is there anything special I have to do when adjusting a French dart? Also, where should the end of the point lie in a French dart? Should it be at my bust apex or be away from it?

    Comment by Lorna — June 19, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

  5. Lorna, if you do an FBA first then you can rotate the dart to a French dart. The end of the dart should be away of the bust point 1,5-2 cm , but it also depends if the garment is a fitted or loose one.

    Comment by Els — June 20, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

  6. This was a great tutorial! This week I hope to make a blouse after one I already have, using it as a pattern or sorts, and will need a bust dart. This tutorial gives me ideas!

    Comment by Tracy — June 26, 2007 @ 6:54 am

  7. I’ve missed Gigi. She hasn’t posted here on or on her blog in a while. Do hope all is well with her.

    Comment by Linda T — June 26, 2007 @ 7:49 am

  8. You know I love you and your tutorials Els but I differ with you on this one. I sew a french dart the way I sew any bias seam. I don’t restrain it, it took quite awhile to learn how to cut for bias in the way it can grow, meld and configuresto the body. It’s more pattern work tho. Tiny changes on an x-y axis are magnified on the 45 degree axis. If anything, I sew a bias seam with a slight zig zag so that if it is pulled in one direction or another, the seam can expand, it won’t pull, puckered and gathered at the seam line due to insufficient seam length (thread).

    I’ve found that if a bias seam grows too much, the pattern itself needs to be resized or modified. I’ve cut a LOT of bias dresses. What worked in one size for on grain goods did not come close to fitting in bias goods. I had to resize them entirely. Also, I should mention bias things I cut do not have side seams. Mine typically have an ouroborus configuration. The ouroborus seams, typically, are on grain. Long story that.

    Comment by Kathleen Fasanella — July 15, 2007 @ 12:22 pm

  9. Thanks Kathleen for sharing your expertise on bias cut sewing. If have done the method you described for sewing bias cut skirts and dresses, but never did it on a French dart. The next time I‘ll need to sew a French dart I will use a slight zigzag stitch.

    Comment by Els — July 15, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

  10. hi kathleen. i want guidance in bias cutting long dress like nighties. please help me if u can.

    Comment by roomi — April 5, 2009 @ 7:55 am

  11. […] French dart at side seam. Excellent info from Els at The Sewing Divas […]

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  12. […] is a good tutorial on the web here, but it is using a woven fabric which will respond differently to a knit. I found you needed to […]

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