Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dart placement in the skirt

As I am delving further into the new patternmaking method by a Russian designer and patternmaker Galya Zlachevskaya (more about it later) I am gaining much better understanding of the general principles. It has often annoyed me in other systems that you had to memorize, or frequently refer to, extensive tables and formulas for dart placement, for example. The graph that I am placing below gives answer to many questions about skirt dart placement.

adopted from a book by a Russian designer and patternmaker Galya Zlachevskaya

What I am learning is that darts should be distributed at the hip line within dedicated areas only. Where precisely they are placed depends on the individual body and aesthetics. Let's take hip circumference of 90cm (35.4") - I will be using metric system from here on because of the ease of calculation with decimal numbers.

1/3 of the hip circumference in the front area (30cm in our example) can be used to place our front darts without hardly any effect for the fit. You can move them closer to the side seam or to the center front - it won't matter much unless you have some pronounced curves - in this case you will want the darts to place so that they help create an appropriate shape around your tummy.

Same applies to the back area: 1/3 of the hip circumference (30 cm for our example) for the back darts (there could be two, four, six, or even more darts), which should point at the most prominent part of your buttocks, or, as a less accurate solution, placed in the middle between center front and side seam

What you can't do is move your front or back darts to the side darts area (that extra intake at the side seam), which takes up approximately 1/6 of the hip circumference (15cm in our example). That also gives you a range for the side seam movement. Adding 1cm, or more, to the front or to the back is, actually, purely a design decision, not a construction necessity as it is sometimes presented. On the graph, though, the hip circumference is distributed equally since this is the easiest for the calculations for a basic straight skirt - the first project in this patternmaking course.

This whole dart placement rule makes even more sense if you are designing a pleated skirt. I am talking a pleated skirt where pleats are only pressed and start at the waist (not mid-hip). Why? If you are not curvy you may be just fine with the most common way of creating pleated skirts:

(hip circumference - waist circumference) : number of pleats = pleats reduction at the waist. 

This would work great for a perfectly round ball, but our waist looks more like an ellipse from the top with slight deviations. So, if you are slightly curvier, even distribution at the waist can lead to a problem when some pleats overlap where less intake is needed (usually in the front), or spread where the intake in not sufficient (usually in the back, or on the sides).

In the past two days I have browsed internet in search of a perfect pleated skirt and realized a pleated skirt is not possible without compromises. I will continue on this subject later... Today, I would love to hear your comments about this dart placement rule! Please leave your comments and feedback about the subject. 

18 comments:

  1. Oooh! Love general principles. Look forward to your discoveries about pleated skirts.

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  2. this is very interesting. i'm not sure i understang the design part where you say 120 degrees and 30 degrees... could you explain?

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    1. this is to indicate the circle segment. the entire circumference is 360˚ around the center, so 1/3 would be 120˚ angle segment, 1/12 - 30˚ etc. That's why I added both options, degrees and fractions. I hope it is clearer now, or? :)

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  3. I love how scientific your process is! I like to place darts in relation to the fullest part of the curve/ most projected. In a skirt dart scenario this would be the fullest part of the buttocks. Front waist darts are not so much for creating roundness, as much as compression for hip to waist transition.
    I agree, pleated skirts are always a compromise. I think pleated styles are most wearable for school girls and guys in kilts because they have no curves to contend with. You can totally build in the darts by altering the pleat depth, but it gets tricky with the math. I'm into doing things the easy way so I would tend to go for a low-slung pleated skirts that would require less shaping, or a yoke above the pleats.

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  4. This makes so much more sense than the usual place your darts 10cm from the seam line! Thanks!

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  5. my brain is not completely wrapped around it yet... but i'm definitely going to try it. i just always pinch on my form, but i may be form-less this summer :(

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  6. I don't have time to read this carefully, although I am saving it. I recently downloaded two Kindle books, How Patterns Work and Sewing and Fitting with Darts.

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    1. The first book, "How Patterns Work," is meant to be read in conjunction with a technical pattern book. It explains the reasoning behind pattern making conventions. It may be too basic for advanced readers, but I think it's interesting. It was about $9 on Kindle. You can read a free sample.

      "Sewing and Fitting with Darts" is a free Kindle book that has detailed exercises. There's a miniature sloper that is downloadable from a companion site. I haven't done the exercises yet, but it seems like a good way to practice on my own.

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  7. Thanks for this information. It is interesting and definitely sparked my curiosity to look in to it more.

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  8. This makes sense, and is fascinating to learn--any book recommendations?

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  9. Interesting! I was JUST working out which dart lines to follow when I'm grading between sizes from the waist to the hip on the pencil skirt that I'm sewing right now when I got distracted by my blog reader, and here we are! Thanks for demystifying this!

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  10. Oooh, this sounds so interesting. Please share more of this Russian lady's design and patternmaking principles!

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  11. Hi Marina

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with us , you have a wonderful site.

    Loved the book which seems just great!

    Would like to know if there is a publication of it in English and from where to get it?

    I went to Gala's site and there is only an introduction in english although she mentions she has online courses.

    Happy Sewing!

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  12. Thanks for the graph, it helps a ton.

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