In Praise Of Split Bust Darts

Lilou Bodice DartsSplit bust dart on my Lilou dress

I’m currently in the process of making a bodice toile for a potential new make. It’s the Simplicity 2215. I was inspired to order this pattern after seeing it featured on The Village Haberdashery Instagram account. As if we didn’t already know, social media really helps a person spend money!

I liked the dress, but could see immediately that I’d need to toile the bodice. I often have fitting issues around the upper chest with excess fabric. Over the years, I’ve learnt that doing an FBA (full bust adjustment) really helps.

Colette Patterns Book

Whenever I do an FBA, I turn immediately to page 88 of The Colette Sewing Handbook. I don’t even read the instructions anymore, just look at the diagrams. Then I set to with my Swedish tracing paper, pencil, scissors and fashion curve.

Split Bust Dart Collage

An FBA can give you a very deep bust dart, encasing a big lip of fabric. Which can lead to a very pointy point on the tip of the dart. I prefer to avoid the bullet nipple look, so was very happy last summer to learn about the split bust dart. At its simplest you divide the largest section of your bust dart in two and open up your dart to make two darts. My FBA’d bust dart had a depth of 6cm. I split that into two darts, each with a depth of 3cm and about 1.5cm distance between the two darts. Keep the two darts level – you’re not altering the angle of either dart. Just spacing them out. (See above far right.)

If you can do an FBA, you can certainly apply a split bust dart. These techniques look head scratchy, but once you’ve successfully done one you’ll realise that nothing is as difficult as it first appears. Nothing! Okay, maybe opening a jar of olives without spilling brine down yourself. That’s still difficult…

Happy mid-week, everyone!

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32 Responses to In Praise Of Split Bust Darts

  1. karen says:

    Thank you. The photos all together make it so logical. I am a picture learner K xXx

  2. Deb Cameron says:

    Thank you…off to research split bust darts…love learning new sewing tips…thanks 😊

  3. SeeKatSew says:

    I had no idea splitting the darts existed! It looks great, I will have to try this. Thanks for posting this.

  4. Stina P says:

    Oh! I was given this advice once but had totally forgotten it – thanks för the reminder!

  5. Jane says:

    I’ve FINALLY got round to doing FBAs on patterns which has been a big success, but the only thing that still displeases me is the bullet nipple effect. The diagram explanation is fab, thanks Karen! x

  6. Caroline T says:

    Hi Karen. Thank you so much for posting this. The pictures of your split bust dart answer all the questions that I had about the angle of the new darts. That is so useful and I have saved your post for my next make. 🙂 x

  7. FBA!!! I had a total success applying it in my Liberty Dress, Now, split bust darts? interesting! Thank you for the post.

  8. Thank you for this. I have been working up to splitting my darts after feeling that my FBAs resulted in killer pointy boobs. I just wasn’t sure how far to space them. Thanks for your tips.

  9. Jacana says:

    Such a practical and useful tip. Thank you Karen.

  10. Birgit says:

    Thank you, this is very helpful!

  11. Bella says:

    I quite like the way they look. Practical and a design feature!

  12. I haven’t yet tackled a FBA, but know I probably need to… Thanks for a great, visual reference!

  13. Anon says:

    Thank you for this information and your encouragement. I am still leery of the FBA, but very curious. It does not take much to really need it. The pattern companies should be much more accommodating in giving varying bust sizes. Thank you so much!!!

  14. DeDe says:

    Love this and will definitely be trying it out. I hate one large dart. LOL!!

  15. Martha says:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve never heard of this technique, and have always stressed over making the wide dart work. I’m going to try this.

  16. Omg! Omg! Thank you Karen! I’ve seen you post this, but I’ve always scratched my head in amazement. While, I know how to split the waist dart, the bust dart always confused me. The picture helps. Now, I feel more comfortable with patterns that have darts!

  17. Gail says:

    i like the logic of this. My bust darts can get quite deep after a FBA. Thanks

  18. ellegeemakes says:

    Interesting tip! Thanks! I’ve been eyeing that Simplicity pattern for awhile. I can’t wait to see how yours turns out!

  19. sometimes i move the upper dart into the armseye. i have a slightly hollow chest and my breasts are spaced a bit further apart than ‘usual’

  20. I have to make such a huge bust dart after an FBA that I am now doing split bust darts. Really makes a huge difference and looks so much neater on the outside. Thanks for sharing about this. I’m going to try rotating darts into other places next. 🙂 Xx

  21. Bonnie says:

    What lovely tutorial just when I needed it! Very helpful and will come in much use in the future.
    See me @

  22. senjiva says:

    D’oh! Thank you for reminding me of this incredibly smart solution!

  23. I really need to implement this. I always end up with a big bust dart and always forget to split it. The split dart looks so much neater.

  24. I did my first FBA this year but forgot that what you did to one side would on the other so I ended up with a whopping bust on the top. You live and learn. Jo x

  25. Wow, this looks great. How clever.

  26. Heather says:

    Karen I always read your blog (I love it!), and I never really comment (sorry) but I always learn something. And somehow it’s always what I need to read/hear at the exact moment I need it. I cannot wait to try this split dart technique, so thank you!

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  28. Good to know! I like that you traced it first; your photos were much clearer without all those lines from the original pattern’s darts.

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  32. ashubais says:

    Nicely explained. Thank you very mush for your instructions.

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