Claire Shares How to Shape without Darts

One of the advantages of having couture garments in my personal collection is that I can peek under the linings. And, on occasion when the jacket has been relined, I can remove the lining without guilt.

Recently when I examined a Chanel jacket from 1971, I found a handsewn waist dart on the silk organza backing. There was no evidence of a dart on the jacket. Instead, the wool had been shrunk to create the desired shaping.

The Chanels in My Closet-1971 – YouTube

This isn’t unusual in couture; darts are eliminated when possible to avoid interrupting the fabric pattern. Of course, you can’t really eliminate the darts and maintain the fit; but you can use a dart substitute. The dart substitutes I use most often are to convert the dart to ease or incorporate the dart in a seam. Dart substitutes are not a new concept, but using an underlining or backing to maintain the eased structure is less common.

Many of the fabrics we use today are woven with a variety of fibers instead of wool so I made a sample using one of Linton’s multi-fiber fabrics. My sample is 23cm (9”) wide and 30cm (12”); and my dart is 2.5cm (1”) at the base and 8cm (7”) long.

Here are the directions:
1. From the fabric and backing, cut a rectangle 23 cm (9”) wide and 30cm (12”) long.
2. On the fabric, place a row of ease basting on a short seamline. Place a second ease basting .5cm (1/8”) below the first.
3. On the backing, baste a dart at one end that is 2.5cm (1”) wide and 8 cm (7”) long.
4. Place the backing on the wrong side of the fabric; baste the long edges together.
5. Pull up the ease bastings on the fabric and shrink the fabric to fit the backing. To avoid creases when shrinking, pull up the bastings a small amount and shrink; repeat until you have shrunk out the desired amount.
Claire’s Hint: I use an organza press cloth when pressing from the right side.



Photo 1: RS fabric basted to backing

Photo 2: Backing side up basted to backing (optional)


Photo 3. Backing side up after fabric shrunk

Photo 4: Fabric side up after shrinking.

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