What Dart Trickery is This?

Have you wondered how horizontal lines in dress bodices in highly expensive garments at the bust or above bust level are so straight on a curvy body?  It’s never this smooth and straight in stuff you’ve made for yourself.  I hereby reveal to you that the unblemished straight seam is achieved with dart manipulation, even though the darts are not visible, and the seamline in the yoke appears to be a perfectly horizontal line. Therein lies the trickery.

The Marimekko top

It all has to do with embedding “invisible” darts. Here is an example that may explain it.  This is my daughter’s Marimekko blouse with a horizontal seam above the bust which is straight even when worn – and my daughter has enough curves to skew all horizontal lines.  I was asked if this could be copied in silk, but with the same black yoke and printed lower bodice. Simple, right?  Yeah, sure. The pattern was traced wherein the idea of a secret or invisible dart emerged. It’s no wonder she loves the fit of this top so much, and doesn’t know why.

The two places where the above mentioned darts are living:

  1. The armhole edge where the black yoke and printed bodice meet.  Once this seam is sewn, the curved up portion at the ends becomes a dart, providing the illusion of a straight line when worn. Amazing, right?

2. The center front where two pleats form on front and back.  I figured that the original Marimekko block pattern had regular side-bust darts which were pivoted to the center front to form two small pleats to accommodate the wearer’s bust. 

The traced pattern

Here are the resulting pattern pieces which may illustrate what I’m saying. Ask any question and I’ll try my best to answer. Or, correct me if I’ve misinformed you in any way — please.

You can see the yoke armhole and bodice armhole curving away, i.e. “invisible” darts which can be achieved by closing up the shoulder darts in a basic, classic bodice block. The vertical blue lines represent little pleats which are the result of closing up the bust darts in the lower bodice.

Now for some high fashion inspiration……

Carolina Herrera, SS 2018

Carolina Herrera, Spring Summer 2018 . Note the red stripe on the upper bodice. How can this be redone to achieve a straight line? Your homework this week 🙂

So, do you think this Carolina Herrera dress falls in line with this kind of manipulation? I think the dart here is visible — see red stripe on the side of the bustline. The entire bodice is printed stripe, and there has to be a seam at the bustline to create the straight horizontal line.  But that would make the factory production of this dress more expensive than it is already. Ah, mass production. However, I have to admire the perfect stripe matching work in the princess lines. Bravo!

Dior, Haute Couture 2018

Real dart trickery here. To fit all those circles on a real upper body, some real dart manipulation is happening. The flat chested model in the picture probably didn’t need to much dart magic. The hemstitching which attaches the circular pieces, though…… bravo!

I would love your thoughts on this invisible, magical dart trickery.  Have you done something like this in your fashion sewing?


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