Asymmetric Designs

All of the foregoing patterns were designed for a balanced effect, that is, half a pattern to be cut on a fold of fabric. When opened out, the darts will be exactly the same on either side of the center front or back. This is a formal or symmetrical balance (Fig. 18a). It is the one most generally used in clothing design.

Balance can be achieved in another way. The right and left sides may be different though equal. This is a balance of uneven parts, a “felt” balance, and the type most seen in nature. It is called an informal or asymmetrical balance (Fig. 18b). In clothing design, this is a more sophisticated type of balance and requires great skill in handling. It is so easy to push it to a point of imbalance.

Asymmetric Designs-1


1. Use two bodice-front slopers fastened at center front with Scotch tape (Fig. 18c). Asymmetric patterns must be developed from a complete sloper.

2. Close both waistline darts and fasten them with Scotch tape creating a complete bulging block.

3. Rest the bulging block on the table and draw the position of the darts on the inside of the pattern. It is easier to work on the inside of the bulge. The right dart starts at the right side seam and goes to the right dart point. The left dart starts at the right side seam and goes to the left dart point. Make the two dart lines parallel to each other; they’ll look prettier that way (Fig. 18d).

4. Slash the new dart lines so the pattern opens out fiat (Fig. 18e).

Note that the left dart appears larger. This is only because it is longer.

In reality, the amount of dart control is equal in both darts. Were the right dart extended to the same length as the left dart it would appear the same size (Fig. 18f).


If ever you are puzzled about what to do with a dart while you are developing a new design use the bulging block method. It is an easy way to eliminate any darts that get in the way of the new style lines. There is another method for freeing the area of darts in a fiat pattern while designing. Shift them temporarily to an out-of-the-way position.



When it comes to designing (any form of designing) there are two current schools of thought. One believes in the beauty of undisguised structure, purity of line, handsome materials. The other doesn’t go along with this austerity. It prefers the enrichment of additional ornamentation.

dart control

Both are acceptable in clothing design. There are outstanding designers in each category. If you are a purist, then continue to be; you are in good company. Should you prefer to gild the lily-a little or a lot-you’ll be right in the swing of present fashion. Often some discreet detail consistent with the structural line can provide added interest.

In Fig. 19a, the neck dart is emphasized with topstitching.

In Fig . 19b, ribbon ending in a tiny, flat bow has been superimposed on the dart concealing the structure.

In Fig. 19c, a curved welt has been inserted into the curved dart.

In Fig. 19d, both bodice and skirt close on the darts.


When you are using a solid-color fabric, the position of the dart control is no problem.

Asymmetric Designs-3

Your chief concern in deciding dart placement is which best carries out your design idea. When you are using a figured material-a spaced print of either large or small units-a stripe, a check, a plaid; a visible vertical or horizontal weave; a diagonal weave or print-then the choice of dart position becomes more complex.

Any dart when stitched into the garment will interrupt the continuity of the fabric design. Therefore, you must choose darts which will do so with the least disturbing effect.

Consider the simple vertical waistline dart.

In a solid color fabric, the dart shows clearly and effectively and can even be a part of the design (Fig. 20a).

The waistline dart in Fig. 20b cuts right into the floral motif of the fabric. How silly when this is the chief beauty of the dress. A better solution would be to shift the darts to an area that contains no design unit.

In a horizontally striped fabric, the horizontal stripes, easily matched, are little affected by the vertical waistline dart (Fig. 20c).

Asymmetric Designs-2A chevron design results when vertically striped material is stitched in a vertical dart (Fig. 20d). Whether this is objectionable or not depends on the nature of the stripes.

Fabrics with diagonal stripes are just plain difficult. When a vertical dart is stitched into the diagonal print or weave the resulting distortion is vivid (Fig. 20e). No darts or darts that follow the diagonal line of the fabric are possible solutions.

The French underarm dart with its long diagonal line is a problem in some fabrics.

In a solid color, the line is striking (Fig. 21a).

The diagonal stripe of the bias bodice of Fig. 21b can be worked into a pleasing little design.

The diagonal line of the French underarm dart in a horizontal or vertical stripe, a check or plaid, results in a complete mismatching of the fabric design (Fig. 21c) .

If you are planning to use a diagonal fabric, make the stripes an integral part of the design (Fig. 22).

Asymmetric Designs-4When a commercial pattern says, “Striped, plaid, or obvious diagonal fabrics are not suitable,” better heed the admonition. The professional pattern ‘makers know whereof they speak. The pattern has been carefully tested for the effect of the darts on the fabric.


If fabric is the inspiration for your design, use darts that will be consistent with the surface design of the material. If you start with your pattern design, choose fabric that will best conform to the position of the darts.






Asymmetric Designs-5LOOK, MA, NO DARTS

Dart control need not be a dart! Any device will,’do as long as it “takes in” the amount needed to make the garment fit the smaller measurement and “lets it out” at the right place to fit the larger measurement. A pleat (Fig. 23a), gathering (Fig. 23b), smocking (Fig. 23c) will work just as well as darts and often with more interest.

When you plan to use the dart control for gathers (or shirring or smocking) the amount of the control must be spread over a wider area. Were you to limit your gathering to the space allotted to the

dart, you would have to draw up the entire amount so as not to alter the length of the original seam line. Can you imagine the impossible bunching that would result? Here is how to remedy the situation.

{Credit} Design Your Own Dress Patterns

Adele P. Margolis


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