Fundamentals of Pattern Making: Viktor & Rolf Dart Clusters

Fundamentals of Pattern Making: Viktor & Rolf Dart Clusters

Viktor and Rolf, AW11, Paris.

Once you know the dart value that you need to have in your pattern you can then move this value around, as we saw when we moved the value from a waist dart to a bust dart. There is no reason however that the dart value has to be in only one dart, it can also be used in pairs or groups of darts, sometimes referred to as dart clusters. Pairs of waist darts were used in place of single darts at the recent Viktor and Rolf show.

When looking at the pictures below be aware that the dart value is normally on the inside of the garment, but Viktor and Rolf have used it on the outside of the garment, where it adds to their designs and complements other elements of the collection. To ensure that the thick dart value sits out from the body and isn’t squashed to one side by the waistband they have also cleverly clipped the dart value, possibly putting some of the dart value onto the inside of the garment.

Below are the instructions and diagrams for how to move the dart value from a bust dart to a cluster of 3 waist darts. This has been done using the “Cut and Spread” method of pattern making.

  1. Trace off your pattern onto a new piece of card or paper so that you will not damage your original pattern. Next draw on 3 guidelines to indicate where you want your waist darts to end up (I’ve indicated these in blue) You will also need to draw lines from the notches on your darts to bust point, note that this is not to dart point, but all the way to bust point (this old dart value is marked in red).
  2. Draw lines from the top of the new darts up to bust point. Then cut along the new guidelines from the waist to bust point, without quite cutting all the way through the card, leaving it slightly joined at bust point. You will need a small amount of card in there to be able to hinge the pattern. Also cut out the old dart value, which is marked in red.
  3. Next swing the bottom right hand corner of the pattern up to close out the bust dart and tape this dart closed. This will open up space between the 3 new waist darts.
  4. Tape this pattern to a new piece of card so that you can trace off the result of the cut and spread onto the new card below. Trace where I have marked in red, making sure to transfer the bust point onto the new card, as well as any notches which are along the red line.
  5. Next keep the rest of the pattern taped down but swing the pieces of cardboard for the waist darts to get an even spread of dart value. Basically the space between the pieces of cardboard is going to represent your new dart values so you will want them to be even. The pattern will still work if the dart value is uneven but you will get a better fit and nicer look on the inside of the garment if the dart value is the same. Where the lines bend will be the area of the new dart points. Measure between the gaps and make a mark half way along the line to represent your new dart point (this is marked in red, with the halfway points being marked in yellow). Do the same along the gaps in the waist stitching line, also marked below in red and yellow.
  6. Draw in the new darts as below, and draw some rough markings for where the new waist line will be (marked below in red).
  7. You can now remove the first pattern that we used for the cut and spread technique. Mark on the centre lines of the darts.
  8. You can now cut out all of the pattern except for the waistline. Fold out the dart value on the waistline as indicated.
  9. Next you will need to create a blended line for the new waistline. Keep your original waist seamline measurement in mind when marking this, comparing the new stitching line to the measurement along the waist stitching line of the original pattern. Mark in new waist seam allowance. Cut out the waist seam while all the dart value is still folded out. 
  10. To check that the finished pattern is correct, compare the stitching lines of the armhole and waistline for the old and new patterns. Even though you have moved the darts the measurements should be the same – you have only moved the dart value, not altered made major alterations to the fit of the garment so you will not have wanted to make the armhole or waist line bigger or smaller.

Catwalk images from»

Pattern making images from The Cutting Class.

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