Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lesson 6...My Techniques to Sew Darts, Buttonholes, and Gaping Armholes

We're nearing the end of he sewing classes until the fall. For the past two weeks, I've shared techniques that are useful to a sewist and am combining them in this week's post.

Techniques for Successful Darts

1. Mark the dart clearly with chalk or some other type of marker. For bust darts mark the beginning of the dart by making little clips in the side seam.

2. To pin, place your pin in one side and come out  the other side.Don't close the dart yet.Go on to the next pin and so on  until you get to the point. The photos should help illustrate what I'm trying to say.

3.  Bring the dart together at each pin by pinching the sides together .

  I begin to sew at the wide side of the dart. Some prefer to start at the point.
  It's important to aim toward the point of the dart as soon as you begin the sewing process. 
  and that the last little bit before the end of the point is very narrow. Sew slowly!

4. Sew along the legs of the dart until you have about an inch left before the point. Reduce the stitch length  to a very small stitch. I use 1.5 stitch length. Finish the dart making sure the last half inch is very narrow. Sew off the fabric. Don't back stitch. The small stitch length makes it so you don't have to knot your threads.

   When sewing "fish eye" darts ( the kind that has a point at each end usually  used to define the  waist in both the front and back of a bodice) , it's best to start in the middle of the dart and sew to each end. This takes two steps but is worth it to get a nice skinny point at each end. 

 Waist darts  are pressed toward the center front or back and  bust darts are pressed downward.

 Here is an example of one dart sewn correctly and another that has too wide a point at the end. Notice the difference after they are pressed.

For those of you  (Dorothy) who prefer to learn through video, I found this one on line by Sure Fit Designs on darts.

My Techniques for Sewing Buttonholes.

It is very important to make a sample buttonhole or two on scrap fabric that has the same finish as your garment. If your garment has a facing ,your sample should also have a facing and the seam which joins the facing to the garment should be trimmed.
The rule of thumb is to make vertical buttonholes for shirts and blouses. and horizontal buttonholes for jackets and coats.

1. Apply fusible or sew-in interfacing behind the area where your buttonholes will be sewn.

2. Use a new needle on your machine. A  Sharp needle #70/10 is a good choice. You could go smaller for lightweight fabric.

3. Mark the placement of your buttonholes with a pin to begin with

4. Wrap and pin  pieces of tear away stabilizer over the area of each buttonhole.

5. Mark  each buttonhole 3/8" to 1/2" from the outside of the garment as in the photo below. The long line does not indicate the length of the buttonhole unless you don't have an automatic buttonhole feature on your machine. The line is to keep you stitching straight once you start sewing.

     The automatic buttonhole foot will make your buttonhole to the size of your button which is placed in the back of the foot. ( I find it will make it a little too long so I take the button out and lessen the length by pushing in a little)

     If you do not have an automatic buttonhole foot, the buttonhole should be the width of your button plus 1/8" or the thickness of the button.

As much as possible, let your machine do it's job without touching the garment too much. Sometimes you might have to gently straighten it but the electronic mechanism does not like to be tampered with!

6.After your buttonholes are sewn , tear away the stabilizer and run a line of Fray Check along the opening. Allow this to dry before cutting open.

Place a pin at the end of the buttonhole so you don't inadvertently cut past it. Cut the opening.Trim away stray garment threads being very careful not to cut the buttonhole thread. (Ask me how I know this!)

Sorry Dorothy. No video for this one.

A Fix for Gaping Armholes or Necklines.

I alreadyh ave covered this topic in another post so please click here for that information.

Again I do hope this has helped someone to improve their sewing skills. I would really appreciate some comments so that I know if it is worthwhile to continue with these lessons as they can be quite time consuming.

Hoping to hear from you,


  1. Hi, Diana, I am coming out of "lurkdom" to tell you I enjoy and appreciate your posts and tutorials! I am always seeking to better my techniques! Great idea to put a pin in to keep from cutting too far in a button hole! Blessings, Kristen

    1. Thank you Kristen. I appreciate your feedback. I think these are worthwhile even if it helps only one person .

  2. Good tip about the Sharp needles..I use them a lot. Sandra Betzina suggests using sharps most of the time.
    I enjoy your lessons....and appreciate your time and talents.
    Thank you...

    1. Thank you Enid. Nice to hear from you again!

  3. Thank you Diana, Your tutorials and tips are excellent, and are really appreciated. I enjoy your blog and cannot wait to see what you have made each week. Your clothes are professional, very stylish, and you know what suits you.

    1. Thank you Ronnie. I've spent so much time on these tutorials these last few weeks and I'm glad to know someone out there reads and uses them! I'm working on a bias dress right now so will probably post that on the other blog soon.

  4. I'm all for your continuing the tutorials. Please do!

    1. Thanks Faye. Some of the info I share is quite basic but for beginners, it could be useful. Now you ,my dear are no beginner and you could probably teach me a thing or two!

  5. I just went back and looked at your solution to gaping armholes. I had no idea anything could be done after the garment is assembled. Thanks.

    1. Yes Nancy. That technique is very helpful for necklines and for where the lapel on the jacket turns ( I can't think of the term for it.Lol ).Thanks for the comment.

  6. Are you thinking the term "turn of cloth?"

  7. Yes and no. I meant the roll line that is sometimes marked on the pattern. The stay tape applied afetr this procedure haelps the lapel to turn and fit closer to the body.

  8. Whether you have previous experience or not you can learn all the different techniques by taking up sewing lessons and if you prefer to stay at home and learn you can as there are sewing lessons online which are simple and easy to follow or you can join a class which is also a lot of fun.

  9. Wait, I just found you! *cries*
    I'm taking online courses as well, but just in this first post of yours, you covered two tips on darts that were new to me. Thank you so much for this resource, and I intend to catch up with your past lessons.
    Best regards!

  10. I just found you when I Googled "Vogue 1182 Instructions." Your pink dress is beautiful. I love how you tweeked it at the neckline to make it fit better. And cutting it different sizes front and back was a brilliant idea! I have sewn since I was a young child at my mother's side, but never had lessons as an adult. Your tutorials are clear and helpful. I'll be following your blog and catching up on previous posts. Thank you for the time you put into your sewing lessons. I'm sure they are appreciated by many, as they are by me!

  11. Love your sewing lessons and Blog. It's always great to have a place to find new techniques. I LOVE your invisible zipper technique. I'm going to try it today!

  12. I haven't been sewing very long so I'm really enjoying reading your blog. The lessons are awesome as they have been covering all of those little nagging questions that crop up. Thank you!