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Intro to Dart Rotation, a Quick Sewing Overview

When I first learned about dart rotation, my mind was blown.

I distinctly remember my thoughts were something along the lines of…

“…wait- I can change the pattern like that?! What?! How? THIS IS GOING TO BE HARD!”

I’ve lived through it- survived it- and let me tell you: it’s a piece of cake.

Intro to Dart Rotation, Sewing Overview | Vintage on Tap

Dart rotation is a reminder that a pattern piece can be anything you want it to be, so change those darts how you see fit. 

The “standard” sloper usually has one dart, with most patterns rocking two darts on a basic bodice.

Of course, the amount of darts in fashion design are plenty.

  • Regular plain darts
  • French darts
  • Shoulder darts
  • Shoulder gathers
  • Dart tucks
  • Waist tucks
  • Princess seams
  • Aaaaand more!

Full disclosure: there are still quite a lot of darts/gathers/tucks that I haven’t tried sewing yet– the concept is generally the same for all.

 Intro to Dart Rotation, dart placement lines | Vintage on Tap

You can rotate a dart anywhere on your pattern that makes sense for you and for your design.  

There is one general “rule” to keep in mind though. However, the more you practice dart rotation, the more you may be comfortable to break the rule down the road.

The main rule is…

The bust point should/must/has to end about 1in away (A, B cup)/2in+ (C cup and above) from your bust point. The larger the cup size, the further the distance your bust point should end.

For example, if you move your dart to the shoulder, as long as the dart ends the designated distance from your bust point, you’ll be good to go.

Note that this is less of a concern if you have to change your dart to a gather, just as I did for my vintage-style slip.

Dart rotation on a Vintage Slip sewing pattern | @vintageontap

After completing an FBA, the bust dart was too much of a point and wasn’t flattering. I changed the dart to a gather, “softening” the dart which made much more sense for the design and for my body. (Read more about the process over my vintage slip blog post.)


Other examples of dart rotation and dart manipulation include…

Vintage Vogue V8789

Vintage sewing, Vogue V8789, dart rotation tutorial | Vintage on Tap

For this piece, after doing a full bust adjustment, I rotated my dart to a single waist dart to keep the design intact. The waist dart now included enough fullness for my full bust.


Vintage Butterick B6282

Flags of the World Challenge, 1940s Vintage B6282 | Vintage on Tap

In this vintage piece, I completed a full bust adjustment and then rotated my darts out to the shoulder and waist, to keep the integrity of the gathered 1940s style.

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Grosgrain ribbon waist stay and interior reinforcement, Vogue 8789 | Vintage on Tap

Dart rotation and dart placement for fuller chested people requires some additional care

As much as I wish this weren’t the case, further considerations must be taken with dart rotation if you’re rocking a C-cup or above.

Questions to consider include…

  • Does the dart accurately point to the bust point?
  • Does the angle or shape of the dart actually cup the breast in a way that makes sense?
  • Does the placement of the new dart highlight or detract from the chest area? (Depends on how much attention you want there.)
  • Does the dart make sense as a gather?
  • Do the ladies have ample space to breathe?


Shoulder detail, vintage 1940s B6282 | Vintage on Tap

Not all darts are created equal and not all darts will work with your body shape.

Don’t be intimidated by changing up the garment design to make the dart work for you and your body! I know it can be intimidating to change a design, but remember you’re (usually) working from a pattern that is made to be altered to work for you.

As long as you’re mindful of having a nice distance between dart end point and your full bust, move your dart around as you see fit.

Intro to Dart Rotation | Vintage on Tap


Have you tried rotating a dart? What was the hardest part? Is there a specific dart you’re stumbling with right now?


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  1. I don’t understand why you cut through the middle of the dart and then ‘closed’ it by moving it to one leg?? Doesn’t this only close half the dart? Wouldn’t you cut along one leg and move it to the other leg to close the whole dart??
    Many thanks for getting me thinking!

    • The cut location doesn’t matter so much, as long as the legs overlap. So you are correct! Cutting through the middle and only overlapping one dart leg will only close half the dart, and move the (half) dart to another area. So there’s definitely wiggle room, depending on what you’d like to do to the dart by wiggling it around. Hope this explains it!

  2. This is a great video but I don’t understand the closing part… You still have a lot of fullness there still and if you were attaching a skirt etc wouldn’t you still have a dart there only a smaller one???

    • Good question!

      If, for example, you have two darts that meet at the waist line- one from the bodice and one from the skirt, as long as they end at the same point at the waist line, it’s ok if one is bigger than the other. They’re essentially working as a fish eye dart, with the waist being where they collide for a nipped in waist, but both darts can be different sizes. However, you may have to increase the skirt waist to accommodate the bodice skirt.

      Hope this helps!

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Vintage on Tap started in 2013

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