The Essentials course spaces are now live 🚀🚀🚀 Use the code EARLY_BIRD for 15% off - limited time only!

How to turn a dart into pleats or gather

Orange dress with pleated waist and ruffle sleeves

Turn a dart into a pleat

Dart into pleat

You can quickly turn a dart into a pleat or multiple pleats by removing the dart and drawing in notches instead, then add the pleat direction. Fold the paper to check there is enough volume in the pleat, remember the amount will be half the original amount, once the paper is folded. 

Combine this technique with adding volume (using the cut and spread method) to make a bigger pleat. Or for tops, move the bust dart into the waist or whichever area you'd like the gather. (If you're interested in learning more about adding volume check out our Intro to Pattern Making course.)


Turn a dart into gather

Darts into Gather

You can easily turn a dart into gather. Measure the distance without the dart, remove the markings and write the amount of gather onto the pattern. This will ensure the area still measures the same amount as the original seam.

You can choose to add more volume into the pattern if you want to add more gather.

To finish the pattern; 'true' the pleat edge by folding it in the direction it will be sewn and draw over the shape with a tracing wheel. Truing the pleat ensures all the edges of the fabric meet once sewn. You can see an example of the technique used in the video below.

Designer examples - gather

If you move the bust dart into the waist, you can use the extra volume as gather.

Rachel Comey

white dress with short sleeves and gathered waistlineKnoto

The example above likely has some extra volume added to it, but it would depend on the size of the dart and the pattern you start with.


Did you enjoy this tutorial? Let us know if you give it go and tag us on socials using the hashtag - #PatternsUnpicked


Cut, flare, gather - Intro to pattern making online course

If you'd like to learn more about pattern making such as moving darts around the bodice and into seams, check out our online course to start learning today!

Leave a comment