Prepare fabric and pattern
First up, we have to get our materials ready. Here’s your checklist:
- Wash and dry your fabric, to make sure it’s pre-shrunk and you’re not going to get any nasty surprises later!
- Press your fabric so it’s nice and flat.
- If you’re using a printed pattern, either cut or trace off your pattern pieces – if you’re making adjustments or are going to make any tops in other sizes in the future, I definitely recommend tracing.
- If you’re using a PDF pattern, you’ll need to print and assemble it. Here are some pointers to help you.
- Transfer all the markings to the fabric. For the notches, make a little snip into the fabric, within the seam allowance (so no more than 1/4″/6mm). For the dart markings, you can use a tracing wheel and transfer paper, or use a pin to mark the end of the darts and then join up the line between the notches and pin with a chalk liner.
- Stay-stitch the neckline on the front and back pieces, starting at the shoulder and sewing to the center (front or back). Then, do the same from the other shoulder, ending in the middle. This should be a short stitch length, and beat a 1/4″ / 6mm seam allowance.
View A: Sew front hem band to front
For view A with the hem band, the first step is to sew the hem band to the front. This step is covered in the French Seams tutorial here. If you’re not using French seams, then pin the hem band to the front piece right sides together. Then sew at a 1/2″ /12mm seam allowance, finish the seam allowance, and press down.
Sew bust darts (all views)
- Pin bust dart on the wrong side of the fabric, matching up the two marked lines that form the dart. I like to use a few pins along the marked dart (check on the other side that they’re lining up perfectly), and then one at a right angle, to mark the end of the dart.
2. Sew the dart, starting at the side seam (wide end of the dart) and ending at the apex. When you get to the apex there are a few different techniques for avoiding bubbling (you definitely don’t want to backstitch) – the most common is to sew a few stitches at the end almost parallel along the fabric edge, and then sew off the edge of the fabric and hand-tie the threads. Alternatively, you can sew off the edge, move the fabric back half an inch and sew a few stitches into the dart bulk to secure.
Press the dart flat over a ham or a rolled up towel, from both sides.
3. Press the dart up, over a ham. We’re pressing it up because that’s better for larger busts – we tend to have more volume at the bottom of our busts rather than the top, so it helps round things out a tiny bit.
4. Now press from the right side, avoiding pressing the very end of the dart.
5. Repeat with the second side.
Darts, done! Come back on 17 August and we’ll be tackling the back.
Do you have any questions on sewing bust darts?