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Using Side Darts Instead Of Side Seams

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Using Side Darts Instead Of Side Seams

Often times I will sew with fabric that I am reluctant to cut because I do not want to ruin the pattern or design of the fabric. Having to match patterns at  seams can be difficult to get perfect and with some fabrics it is impossible.   Examples  of these types of fabric would be fabric with a large design or picture on it, embroidered fabric,border prints or plaids.  

Silk panel

One solution is to drape the fabric on a dress form and create a garment that will require very few seams.   This option will be dependent on your draping skills.

A design method that works well for me is to replace side seams with side darts. This would work nicely on skirts and palazzo culottes or pants.  The side seam can be used to give the body some shape. The side seam follows the curve of your hip, starting from your waist to the largest part of your hip. To achieve this same shape you can use a dart. The dart will take in the ease at the side and create the curve of your waist and hip without having to cut any fabric.


Since I have a dress form that is close to the shape of my body, I like to drape my fabric on my dress form during the design process. You will require basic draping skills in order to do this since you will need to determine the proper placement of the darts, the width and length of the darts while at the same time ensuring a flattering drape of the fabric. However another method would be to place front and back pattern pieces together and cut as one piece, marking dart locations for back, front and side. The length of the dart for the side seam would typically end at your hip point to create a smooth line however this can change according to your size, shape, type of fabric or silhouette. Doing a mock up using cheap fabric would be a good practice.

For the silk skirt below I did not want to cut through the picture because it would ruin the beauty of the fabric. I was able to eliminate side seams and both back and front darts by using side darts. There is only one seam which is the back seam.

Example of silk panel skirt

The dart seam works particularly well on wrap skirts.  When sewing a wrap skirt you can avoid seams altogether.  This is an example of a silk wrap skirt with no seams. I did not want to cut side seams and I did not want back darts so I made the dart extra long, easing in the excess fabric and creating a nice drape.

Another example is when sewing with plaid. Typically you will match the plaid at the side seams.   The skirt below is a light wool plaid faux wrap skirt. I could have cut side seams  and matched the plaid but the fabric had such a beautiful drape to it that I decided I did not want seams. The only place I had to match the plaid was at the back seam.



One thing I like about using darts in place of side seams is that there is more forgiveness when you make a mistake.  Once you have cut your fabric, there is no going back.  With darts you can just undo them. Another positive is not having to finish the seams. You can also substitutes darts with pleats, gathers and/or drapes  The options are as limitless as your creativity.

(1) Comment

  1. Pat Lueck says:

    I found this really interesting

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