August 10, 2016

How to change the height of a bust dart

One of the most common adjustments curvy women have to make in a woven top – apart from a Full Bust Adjustment, which you shouldn’t need in Cashmerette Patterns! – is to change the height of the bust darts. We all have differently shaped and positioned busts, so it stands to reason that a pattern’s bust dart height might not work for you as designed.

Bust darts should point directly at your bust apex (the part of your bust that sticks the furthest out – often, but not always, your nipple), and for larger cup sizes, the darts should end around 2 inches before the apex.

First up, you need to check if the bust darts on the Springfield Top will work for you as drafted. The ideal way to do this is to make up a quick test garment, called a “muslin”, out of some cheap fabric – you’ll be able to check the sizing and any adjustments. Mark your bust apex directly onto the muslin with a pen, and you’ll be able to see instantly if it’s in the right place. Not making a muslin? You can approximate the position by placing the pattern piece against your body (remember about seam allowances) and you can get a rough idea.

Trace the front pattern piece off -you want to do this so if the adjustment doesn’t work first time you still have the original pattern piece to refer to. Make sure the bust dart legs are in there.

How to change the height of bust darts

Now, draw a line directly through the middle of the bust dart, and extend it past the end of the dart – your bust apex should fall on this line, about 2 inches from the end of the dart. If it doesn’t, and is higher or lower, you are going to need to change the height of the dart.

How to change the height of bust darts

If you do need to change it, draw a box around the dart.

How to change the height of bust darts

Now, cut the box out.

How to change the height of bust darts

It’s then a simple case of sliding the box up or down as needed, to get the bust dart to the right height.

How to change the height of bust darts

Fill in a piece of tissue paper behind the pattern, tape it down.

How to change the height of bust darts

Now just even out the side seam above the dart, and trim off any excess tissue paper.


It’s as simple as that! Let me know if you have any questions.

19 thoughts on “How to change the height of a bust dart

  1. Becky says:

    This is all so helpful. And I love the Springfield top… I’ve got one cut out and about to be stitched up on my sewing table right now!

    I thought the apex was the furthest out point of your chest, which may or may not be the nipple depending on your body… I’m not sure about this, but if that’s the case the instructions above might be confusing for some folks.

    Thanks for all your great work making amazing patterns and role modeling body love.

    1. Jenny says:

      For most people it’s your nipple but yes if your widest point is elsewhere, use that for the apex

  2. Meg says:

    What if you just want to change the angle of the dart… can you just tip it up or down and true the side seam, or would that mess things up?

    1. Jenny says:

      Yes you can do that, too, if it’s going at the wrong angle for you. This is better if your entire bust is higher or lower than the pattern though.

  3. Tamara says:

    I do have a question! I made the Springfield top and love it, and have plans for several more. Until this pattern, I hadn’t been brave enough to try any adjustments. Anyway, I had to move the dart on the Springfield top up and the large, folded end of it ended up in the seamline of the armhole. It isn’t terribly bulky with the thin voile I used. Like Meg, I wondered about just changing the angle. I couldn’t find any online tutorials about this. If you have any advice before I stitch up my next one, I’d really appreciate it!

    1. Jenny says:

      You can press the dart down rather than up and you’ll avoid the bulk at the armhole.

  4. I’m a new sewer and so grateful to find pattern with larger cup sizes. The additional adjustments made for curvy ladies is a bonus! However, I’m an M cup so I still need to do a FBA. So do I need to pick the pattern size based on my high bust as normal for an FBA or full bust per the pattern instructions?

    1. Hi Jillian – first of all, make sure you use your measurements to pick the size, rather than the cup size – there’s a chance you may fit anyway. If you don’t though, you can certainly do an FBA, in which case yes, do the usual approach of picking your size by your high bust measurement and adding the additional that you need.

      1. Thanks Jenny! My full bust is 56″. I would fit into the 26 G/H except for the cup size. My high bust is 48″. So I would start with the 18 G/H, grade the waist and hips to the 26 G/H, and then do the FBA. Right?

        1. Hi Jillian, so following your measurements (rather than the cup size), you should fit into the 26 G/H just fine with the 56″ full bust measurement, without the need for an FBA.

  5. Wilson says:

    Is this the correct way to adjust the bust for those of us over 60 who don’t wear bras and whose bust has “gone south” ?

    1. Jennifer Rushmore says:

      Yes, I think it’s a good starting point, but it will depend a little on the position and shape of your bust.

      1. Suzi Grossman says:

        I have this question too! I’m in my 20s but I don’t wear bras and am a C/D cup so my apex is usually 2-3 in lower than drafted. This makes the moving the dart down very clear. But does it matter whether the dart points up or points down? It seems like pointing down would better match my bust shape, but I don’t fully understand what the direction affects. Would that just be a matter of flipping the dart upside down? Thanks so much!

        1. So this method doesn’t affect the angle, it just moves it up and down. You can change the angle if you want, but you’d have to experiment to see if that looks good.

          1. Suzi says:

            Ok thanks!

  6. Alida says:

    Can this method also work for moving vertical darts up or down ? I made a fitting bodice pattern and I want to make it wearable, but the waist dart goes all the way to the apex and I’m not sure how to move it down.

  7. Suzy says:

    I tried moving my dart lower and then read about French darts. When I switched it to a French dart, the shirt fit me so much better. I love this top!

  8. Irene E Erickson says:

    I have very narrow shoulders and a range of up to 4 different sizes for bust, waist and hips. I always end up with the armhole gape and pulling across the bust. If I make a small dart about 1 1/2-2″ up from the underarm that generally fixes it. I can’t figure out if that’s the need for a FBA with a lower bust point or if something else is the problem. I generally sew only with knits but do find the same issue in wovens.

    1. Ayelet says:

      Hi Irene, yes, it sounds like you need an FBA. We have lots of info on how to do FBAs here:

Let me know what you think!