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Dart manipulation is at the heart of many fashion designs and fitting resolutions. This 3-week course will introduce key concepts and techniques using blocks or slopers, but also apply this knowledge to knitwear design.

Incorporating silhouette, shape and darts at the design development stage paves the way for more solid and inclusive grading and fitting solutions. Because darts are an integral part of the design, not an afterthought or a can kicked further down the road, they can inspire designs from scratch as well as facilitate problem solving.

It is strongly recommended that you bring your own design ideas to the table for workshopping and group discussion. You may be more inspired by the silhouettes you need to create for certain body types. This is another kind of visual research. Instead of being led by pattern, objects or imagery, you could be driven by what suits the body or bodies you want to dress and represent as a designer.

This mini-course will form part of the final Design Development module of the How to Design Knitwear course, complementing the existing material on silhouette.

We will cover:

  • Pivotal dart manipulation;
  • Slash and spread dart manipulation;
  • Bust, waist, raglan, and back shoulder darts.

Case studies from Natalie’s portfolio (Aneeta cardigan, Falling Leaves sweater, Karin sweater) will encourage you to relate dart manipulation to surface pattern, directional construction, fabrication and garment styling.

By the end of the course you will:

  • Have a solid understanding of how dart intake is represented in volume, seams, and panels;
  • Know to how use blocks/slopers and related pattern cutting equipment;
  • Visually analyse design ideas and establish a starting point for design realisation;
  • Have a library of exercises to use as a basis for future knitwear designs.

Be prepared to do some visual research – dart manipulation is as interesting as you allow it to be. There will be plenty of practical exercises, prompts and experimentation. Be ready to draw or sketch quickly and use your imagination freely! Your primary research is important.

Equipment needed:

Quarter scale blocks will be provided, but you will need to print these out and stick them onto card for personal long-term use. If you have a full-sized block drafted to your own measurements, you’re welcome to use that too.

  • Card (two A4 or Letter sized pieces, for mounting the blocks);
  • Specialist grader’s set squarelike this one from Morplan;
  • Awl;
  • Needlepoint tracing wheel – NOT the serrated kind used with carbon paper. One like this from Morplan;
  • Self-healing cutting mat – the surface you work in will be damaged as a result of the exercises, so please protect it;
  • A3 paper – this doesn’t have to be good quality, but large sheets of paper are easier to work on. You may get through a lot of it! You can go bigger than A3 or use a specialist roll of plotter paper like this, or this from Morplan, especially if you intend to work in full scale. One roll will keep you going for ages, even if you’re serious about pattern cutting;
  • Stationery kit – fineliner pens no thicker than 0.7mm, mechanical pencil (sharpening a wooden pencil becomes tedious very quickly), paper scissors, pencil eraser, masking tape or magic tape;
  • Varyform curved ruleralso available from Morplan

Please make sure you have cut out and prepared the quarter-scale blocks ahead of time.

Advance reading (optional):

Helen Joseph Armstrong, Patternmaking for Fashion Design, 5th edition:

Other resources will be added throughout the course.

Blocks to download and print 01 | Tools, techniques and fundamentals
How to Design Knitwear | Dart Manipulation [PILOT]

Natalie in Stitches

I design for confident knitters who are keen on getting their garments to fit well. My catalogue includes knitting patterns for lace sweaters, cable sweaters, shawls, cowls, and the occasional scarf. These designs are ideal for building or curating an inspiring wardrobe. I am also a qualified teacher and share my favourite tips, tricks and techniques on my blog, where you can also find advice on garment fitting, alterations, knitwear design and sewing pattern reviews. Courses are also coming soon - sign up to my newsletter for updates.