How (& Why) to Work Bust Darts

Bust Darts are an amazing way to customize knit sweaters and cardigans to work with your curves. It's a great solution if you find your pieces riding up in the front. Many bustier knitters will knit a size up to accommodate for their chest. This isn't the best approach as other areas of the garment will likely be oversized, when in reality you just need to adjust that one area. Bust Darts are a great way to isolate ease just where you need it. Want to learn more about why you may want to add bust darts? Watch Julie explain why, here

This tutorial is a general guide, but you can dive deep into the subject with Amy Singer’s book, Big Girl Knits or through this Ravelry group: The Bust Line. We highly recommend both of these references if you'd like to prefect the art of customizing knit patterns to your body and preferences.

Step by Step Instructions


Place Markers

For this method, we're simply eyeballing where we want the dart to run. We recommend trying the item on and placing the first marker where you don't want the dart to run any further. You certainly don't want it to come past the center point of your bust, rather along the side. That being said, since we're working Shadow Wrap Short Rows, the line of ease will almost be invisible from the right side. Your second stitch marker should be placed at the center of the underarm. If following a Cocoknits Method pattern, your marker should already be there!

Once you've marked your spot on one side, simply mark the same section on the other side of your garment. 


Determine How Many Extra Rows You Need

Like we said before, you can dive into the math of this with Amy Singer’s book, Big Girl Knits or through this great Ravelry group: The Bust Line. For this tutorial, we're not going to be that precise. For this project, Emma Version C we had a gauge of 4.5 rows per inch. If you're around a B or a C cup you're probably going to want around 4-6 extra rows (adding about .75-1.25 inches).

If you have a bigger bust, simply do more short rows within your bust dart section. Every time you do a pass it's an extra two rows, so you can calculate how much room you want for your bust, consider your gauge, and add the amount of passes needed to achieve the proper shaping. 

However many rows you decide to add on, make sure that they're evenly spaced throughout your bust dart area. For Julie's example she had 10 stitches between her markers, and worked 3 passes. Her first SWSR was at the first stitch marker, second SWSR was 5 stitches past her first SWSR, and final SWSR was worked at the second stitch marker. 


Knit to Marker, Remove Marker

Now it's time to knit! Work your way to your first marker and remove the marker. 


Work SWSR, Turn, Purl, Knit to SWSR and K2tog

After you've removed your marker work a Shadow Wrap Short Row. We love this technique because it's almost invisible from the right side. It's also pretty easy once you get the hang of it - if you don't know how, you can learn with our SWSR knit tutorial here. We totally remove markers while we work this because it's quite obvious where the shadow stitch is. After you've worked the initial SWSR, you turn your work, purl to the end, turn, knit to the SWSR, k2tog, and knit to your next SWSR. 


Repeat as Detemined

Repeat step 4 until you've added the amount of rows desired for your bust dart. Lay your piece out WS, you can see the triangular area of ease here. 


Work Other Side of Bust

Once you've completed your first side knit the the end of the row and begin the same process on the other side. Please note if knitting flat (like with this cardigan example), he next side will work SWSR on the WS rather than the RS like our first set.


Bust Darts in the Round

If knitting in the round (like with a pullover) you would work both sides of the bust darts with each pass. For example (following Julie's project), you would do a SWSR at the first stitch marker on the left bust, turn, purl to first stitch marker at the right bust, SWSR, turn, and knit to 5 sts past the last SWSR, SWSR, etc. Julie explains this process around 10:40 in the video above.

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