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How to Make Sure Your Bust Dart Position is Correct Before You Cut

Posted by Betsy C on

Ladies, how could we possibly live without bust darts? They are my BFF's of fitting. I know a good dart will fix a lot of fitting problems: gaping at the armhole, uneven hem, difficulty with arm movements. In all these scenarios the good ole bust dart has got you covered. 

But bust dart positions can be tricky. Many times you'll make up a garment only to find that the dart is either in your armpits or the reverse- closer to your waist. Neither one is the right spot. Honestly, there is no "standard" bust dart position because everyone's bodies can vary significantly.

You can have two women with the same body measurements and cup sizes but if one is 18 years old and the other is a 70 years old, more than likely their boobs are going to be at different levels so the bust dart position will not be at the same place. Depending on the demographic of my clients customer base, the bust dart position is something that needs to be addressed at the get go and then it tends to evolve. For instance, I had thought my bust dart level was at a good place for a store that had an older clientele. However, we kept getting feedback that the bust darts were noticeably high on their customers so I had to go even lower than I would generally do and now I have a new standard for that client. The moral of this story is that everyone has their own standards. 


Also, I have found that the bust dart position can be a design prerogative. Some designers like the bust dart to be perfectly horizontal to the floor. Others prefer a dart that slopes downwards from the apex point. It all depends on the point of view. I prefer a dart that is not too long and angles down slightly so it blends into the curvature of the chest, but that's just me. Which way do you prefer?

In the case of petites, our darts are always too low--amirite! #petiteproblems. Even if you have not considered yourself petite, if you consistently find that the bust darts are always way too low, then you just may be petite- at least in the torso. Welcome to our club!

The whole point of making your own clothes is to ensure you have something tailor made to your body and fits like a glove. The bust dart position is something you definitely want to consider. To make sure your dart is in a good place it all starts with measuring. The only thing this requires is a tape measure. 

First, you need to establish where your apex is from the highest point of your shoulder. The highest point of your shoulder is close to your neck, but just after the curve. This is going to be your starting point for measuring unless you are going to be making a really wide neckline. In this case you would want to measure further out on your neck, approximately to where the neckline edge is going to be. PLEASE NOTE: I'm not going to make an exact science out of this. I want this to be a quick and dirty process so you can keep going on your project. 

From the high point of your shoulder measure straight down to your nipple level. This is considered your apex, or bust point. Remember this number. 

On your paper pattern, find the highest point of the shoulder. This is basically the front neck edge. From the highest point of the shoulder, measure to the level that the bust dart apex/tip is. If it helps, draw a line perpendicular to the CF that intersects with the dart endpoint to establish and even level.

How does the measurement on the pattern compare to the measurement of your body? Is the dart higher or lower than it needs to be? If it's a little lower, like 1/4" or 3/8" lower I'm not going to sweat it. Like I said, my personal preference is for the dart to be a little under the curvature of the breast. I'd be much more willing to negotiate if a bust dart is just a touch too low than a touch too high. A bust dart that is too high just doesn't look right and it's going to have to be fixed.  

Ok, this is great, but my bust dart is clearly in the wrong place. What do I do now?

Ah, I thought you'd never ask! Next week I have a whole blog post lined up on this. You're going to love it. It's really the easiest, no-cut method to getting your dart in the right place. Stay tuned! 

Want to catch up on some other pattern posts in the meantime? 

A Better Way to Adjust the Bicep

The Most Common Flora Blouse Fit Concerns Answered!


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  • Can you link to the follow-up post on bust darts? I can’t find it. Thanks.

    Jen on
  • Thank you so much! My project is spur of the moment so I had to make adjustments from a tutorial online and wow did this help. I couldn’t find anything I needed on youtube and this was EXACTLY it.
    Also, as someone who has a hard time with written instructions your fast and dirty explanation was very clear. God bless you and your skills.

    Ebby on
  • Thanks a lot, this write-up is so helpful. God’s continuous blessings.

    Elizabeth on
  • @Pam- you can find the post directly after this one. But you can also use this link:

    Betsy SBCC on
  • Love your patterns….just wondering, where I can find the info you mentioned was coming up, re: " the easiest, no-cut method to getting your dart in the right place"

    Pam Erny on

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