Part 2 of a 3-Part Style Overhaul Series, including:
Every bargain hunter knows the very best finds need a bit of spit and polish. Whether it's seeing the potential in that overlooked, run-down little property, envisioning new upholstery on that tired chair, seeing through the dusty muck coating a glorious vintage tea set or eyeing up an ornate frame that's desperate for a stunning new artwork. And yes, the same is true for clothes. Revitalising your own wardrobe (FREE SHOPPING on a rack of stuff you actually like!) or scoring a soon-to-be new favourite that unfortunately (for now) is a bit too big, too long, too tight in places, too 80s, too frou frou, not frou frou enough, too high cut, too low cut... you most definitely get the idea... needs only a wee bit of elbow grease. So, fear not my fellow bargain-loving style pioneers - let us break uncharted ground with scissors in one hand and dressmakers pins in the other. We're kicking this off with... darts!
(Editor's* note: deeply Australian reference to follow) No, no, not the dart:
The dart! That glorious little fold of sewn-in goodness that will transform the shape of just about any boxy, oversized or ill-fitting garment you can get your mits on. Sitting below kimchi pancakes but above ice-cream on the "gargantuan list of things Hayley loves", darts are my most favourite of all style alterations. While it's obvious this is a great one for all my fellow pear-shapes out there as we chant "cinch, Cinch, CINCH!" even in our dreams, darts will make the world of difference for those with: larger busts, smaller busts, high waists, low waists, wide across the back, narrow across the back... yeah, you get it. Everyone.
How awesome are darts?
You'll remember from a previous conversation with my bum that I was given a gorgeous frock by a pal who has recently dropped a size. In trying on said dress - this was the initial result:
And after an hour or so adding a few cheeky darts...
Not bad, eh?? I popped a set of two theoretically symmetrical darts in the front and two further in the back. Let's take a closer look:
I've just tried to find you a little YouTube video as a good intro to darts but unfortunately - after some time - I have lost the will to live. So, I hope you're happy to just follow along with my chat below.
What I have learned by adding darts to everything I own...
1) It needn't be perfect
While my first set of darts was the result of 4.5hours of triangulation utilising assorted apparatus designed originally for amateur astronomy - I now know this: it needn't be perfect. Throw the tape measure away (not in the bin you crazy person! Heavens, I've got to keep an eye on you!) If the dart looks right to your eye, then it is going to look right to other eyes too.
2) Pin your darts wearing your garment inside out
Pop on your dress/shirt/skirt/trousers and stand in front of the mirror. Looking at the hang of the garment, start to pinch the fabric in places, doing so symmetrically with both hands. Looking in the mirror, just pinch away until - SHAZAAM - you see an improvement in the whole fit of the garment. Honestly, you'll know when it happens - then, pin, pin, pin! Obviously if you have a friend or a very sympathetic partner - asking them to pin for you is a big help. BUT if you wriggle about enough, you can certainly pin a good guide yourself.
3) Let your nipples be your guide
The dart alterations I most often make are either to cinch the waist or reduce excess fabric in the bust. The best place to start to pinch in the darts is in line with the nipples.... for waist darts, I pinch the fabric directly below my nipples, while for reducing bust size (honestly, when you have a bum the size of mine, you're expected to be slinging great, glorious cantaloupes around), I pinch the fabric horizontally from my nipples. While not always the perfect formula, this is the best starting point I know. Plus, I get to talk to you about pinching nipples.
4) If you bugger it up, there's no harm done!
At the end of the day, you've only sewn a few little lines - something which is easily reversed with a few crass words shouted at the sky and a few minutes unpicking the stitches to start again. For this reason, I very rarely cut away excess fabric created by darts. The extra room means you can always let the garment out again if you go one too many rounds of yum cha. But, if the darts are quite large and add unnecessary bulk, simply trim with pinking shears so the fabric stays fray-free, as below:
5) Once you start, you won't be able to stop!
Friends, loved ones and people on the street will be lining up to have you make a few sneaky alterations to their fave pieces! I only just made a few adjustments for my pal after she nabbed these maxi dress beauties at a vintage kilo sale but quickly relegated them to the cupboard as too big...
So go on, get darting! No doubt there is something in your wardrobe that is just going to keep hanging there unless you do something anyway.... so, what have you got to lose? (Well, besides your dignity and precious hours of your life? Don't think about it, just dart).
*you and I both know The Editor is me.
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A big dollop of love from my finger tips to your screen (I promise that's not as creepy as it sounds). xx