Last Saturday we swapped our regular #PatternPuzzle for some #PatternFundamentals. The focus of the conversation
was GAPE DARTS and how to use them in your pattern making to get a
better result in your first toile of new designs. You may know them as
contouring darts as suggested by Alexandria of In-House Patterns
The first question for fans was do you know what a gape dart is?
And do you know when to use them?
Gape darts are most often used to tighten necklines and sleeveless
armholes. When you decide not to use the sleeve in your block or
pattern, it will be the gape darting that achieves the neat fit of the
armhole. When you cut a deep or wide neckline it will be the gape darts
that bring the neckline closer to the body. Gape darts are essential
for a successful sleeveless garment, wide or deep necklines, wrap styles
Gape Darts are rarely mentioned in pattern making instructions. And
they will always be needed in the pattern making changes you make to
your fitted block. And until you understand gape darts they will drive
you crazy. Those gaping armholes and saggy necklines we are here to
Following are a couple of examples:
The Sleeveless V Neck &
A Sleeveless Panel Wrap
The Sleeveless V Neck
The pattern plan below is an example of a sleeveless style with a 'V'
neck. Gape darts are needed in this style in the neckline (1cm/3/8")
and the armhole (1cm/3/8") to achieve a clean, close fit. Width
reduction in the underarm (-1cm /3/8"), along the side seam will remove
the extra fabric required when including a sleeve. These three
reductions in the armhole, neckline and side seam can be applied to
nearly all similar styles. The measurements suggested in this paragraph
are approximate only but represent a good start in developing these
Cut through the new dart position to the bust point. then fold closed
the bust dart and both gape darts. Add paper behind the new dart space
and fold out to get the correct shape on the outside edge. Close the
gape dart on the back bodice, pivoting on the armhole edge. Clean up
the curves in the neckline and armholes before adding seam allowances.
A Sleeveless Panel Wrap
The pattern plan below is a good example of dealing with any long
diagonal line in the bodice. In this case the asymmetric wrap in this
panelled bodice has a neckline gape dart near the bust dart and further
reduction of the line on the left side waist dart. The armhole gape
dart is built into the panel seam. And the side seam at the underarm
has the same treatment as above.
To make the pattern below transfer the bust and gape darts into the
panel seam and simply close the left side waist dart as much as you can.
Longer lines tend to need twice as much gape darting as a regular
Let me know if you have any questions about gape darts or any other fitting issues with your toile.
Fans have found a text book reference for gape darts
from Helen Joseph Armstrong. This is a great pattern making book for
anyone learning to cut patterns. Thanks to everyone for pointing the
way to yet more resources for making better patterns.