Friday, 28 March 2014

Swingin' Darts! Or, How to Reduce Fullness From a Baggy Neckline

Unusually for me, I made a muslin for the bodice of my last project, Butterick 5747. 

Butterick 5747 from 1960
Seeing that it was a fitted style, and knowing I'm a bit larger than average in the bust region, I wanted to make sure it would fit on the neckline and so I took the extra time and made a trial run in a light poly cotton similar in weight to my dress fabric.

I cut it out the size 14 without any adjustments and stitched it roughly together. And wouldn't you know it - major bagginess around the front neckline:

The waist was fine, the fit around the arms and at the back was good, but as you can see there was lots of floppy, baggy fabric along the 'decolletage', which wasn't going to look good on the finished piece. 

To me, the point of a muslin is to give you the opportunity to 'play around' with the look and fit, ultimately helping you decide if a style will work for you. With this challenge, I thought about moving the centre front, but ultimately I went with a dart. I pinched out the excess along the front and pinned it:

Success! All of the wobbly excess along the front was eliminated, and the shape of the neckline was still retained. For a little while, I considered leaving the darts in the final piece - after all, the wide collar would probably hide the darts. 

Then I decided I was just being lazy and decided to redraft the pattern. Here's the original pattern front, with the new neck dart added:

To get rid of the neck dart I decided to swing it round to the waist dart by closing the neck dart, then slashing open the waist dart to accommodate it, like this:

By closing the neck dart and slashing the waist dart through the middle to the point of the neck dart, the pattern falls open naturally to accommodate the excess, as seen below:

Then I redrafted the pattern with the adjustments, re-drawing the waist dart taking care not to take it all the way to the point of the neck dart or else I'd end up with pointy boobs!

Re-drafted front bodice

At first, the balance of the piece looked slightly 'off' - I decided to keep the centre front on the straight grain for stability, so the rest of the piece curves around quite dramatically. But would it work?

It did!

Sorry about the gratuitous boob shot...
Snug around the neckline, and still fits on the waist and bust.

And here's the finished outfit with the redrafted piece at work:

And that's that! I hope you find this technique useful if you're making this dress, or even if you have fit issues on other projects - the same principal can be used pretty much anywhere there's a dart.

And don't forget to enter the Pattern Pyramid competition that's running until Sunday the 30th - leave a comment here to join in the fun!


  1. That's so interesting and SO helpful. Thanks for posting about it.

    That dress is brilliant on you. Fits beautifully, too.

    Now I'm wondering if, instead of leaving darts in the back neckline of my By Hand London dresses, I could transfer the excess to the waist. Hmm...

  2. It looks fabulous as ever ms needles! Great tip about swinging it around to the waist dart. I'd have been lazy and probably hoped the collar would cover it!

  3. Genius! I never would have figured out a solution like that but I'll try and remember it for next time I have a gaping issue!

  4. Gorgeous dress, I have that pattern but have passed it over as I though it was a bit dull, your version changes my mind completely its fab!!! Your are so clever I would never have thought to have done that, I often have issues with neckline bagginess so I will have to remember to give this trick a whirl!


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