Black chain pencil skirt: Shaping up

Hand-pinned darts. [Click for a larger view.]

The thing about darts that kinda drives me bananas is that there aren't really rules for them. There's no equation (that I know of) of waist-to-hip ratio that reveals how long and wide a dart should be and where it should be placed. It's all about feel.

And that's how I made the darts in my muslin: a pinch and a pin here. Take a pin out, put a pin back in. Now drop your hands, take a step back, and be critical.

It's trial and error.

The directions. [Click for a larger view.]

I used the directions above from Sew What! Skirts as a guide. Those directions, however, called for putting the darts in the front, which I suppose would work OK, but I prefer keeping the front part of the skirt as flat-looking as possible.

A few other words about the darts:
- In case you didn't notice, the darts are on the INSIDE of the skirt.
- These darts are long and narrow because this is a high-waisted skirt. If the skirt sat lower on my hips, the darts would be wider and more squat for a better fit over my bum.

Left: The pinned darts. Right: I drew a dashed line in marking pencil of the sewing line. [Click for a larger view.]

The darts are 8 inches long, 1 inch wide (or 1/2 inch wide when folded and sewn), and each dart is 4 inches from the zipper. (I eyeballed the location of the second dart based on the location of the first, and I was dead on! I think it's from years of measuring points and picas.)

After I made sure the darts were identical, I took the skirt off my dress form and drew sewing lines in marking pencil.

Left: Sewn and pressed dart. Right: Follow the dashed line! [Click for a larger view.]

Sewing the darts was a breeze, with one caveat: the darts have a slight curve to them (check out the directions). This little arc will help the skirt skim gracefully over my curves.

The darts were then pressed toward the zipper. (I had to think for a minute about his because I was working on the inside of the skirt.)

Darts truly make a garment "custom." This muslin (and the final skirt) will be absolutely Erin-sized and Erin-shaped.

Making darts on a garment while you're wearing it is hard. Darts go a lot faster when you're working on a dress form. (Let's be frank: sewing clothes for yourself without a dress form requires a lot of dressing and undressing. I've been there!) It's important, though, that you take your time and don't give up until you're satisfied with fit. The alternative is quality time with your seam ripper.

P.S. If you're interested in making your own dress form, here's how I made mine (with the help of MVH, natch).

Next up: the waistband (and some pretty cool sewing techniques)!

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