One of our most popular patterns of late is the Gilbert Top. This beginner-friendly button up top is fun to sew and has a loose, easy fit. It features an optional tie front and a great camp-style collar. It’s no surprise that it has become a fan favourite! Check out the almost 3000 hashtags on Instagram to see what people have made using this pattern.
One question we get about this design is: Can I remove the bust darts? Yes! We want to go through how you can do that in this post today. This alteration is excellent for folks with smaller cup sizes or people without a bust.
Gilbert was drafted for two different cup sizes—a B cup for sizes 0-22 and a D cup for sizes 12-30. Each size includes a bust dart at the side seam of the bodice. The top also has added length at the center front to accommodate a bust. We need to remove both of these design elements to eliminate the dart and adjust the pattern for small or no bust folks.
We are going to share two methods today. The first is a full adjustment and the second is a ‘quick and dirty’ way to get to the same result. Both work well so just choose the method that appeals to you the most!
How to remove a bust dart from a sewing pattern
First, draw a vertical line from the hem of the garment to the dart point. Cut open this line as well as one of the dart legs. Leave a little bit of paper at the dart point to create a hinge.
Close the dart by swinging the side of the pattern over. Add paper underneath your pattern and tape your pattern to it.
Draw in the seam allowance along the armscye of the pattern. For the Gilbert Top pattern, the seam allowance is ⅝” (1.3 cm).
Draw two new lines connecting the opening at the hem of your pattern and a point on the lower armscye (just eyeball this point). Clip into the armscye seam allowance to the point you have chosen but leave a small paper hinge.
Cut along the right line of the triangle you just drew (#3) and swing the side the pattern closed again. This has eliminated the bust dart.
Trim off any excess paper at the dart and re-draw the hem of the top. You will be shortening the top here, drawing from the side of the pattern to the center front with a slight curve.
If you prefer your tops to have a loose, boxy fit and do not want much waist shaping, you can straighten out the side seam of the front of the top. This is optional.
Quick and dirty way to remove the bust dart from a sewing pattern
For a loose, boxy design like Gilbert, we don’t need to do all those steps above to get to the desired result. We can quickly eliminate the dart by simply drawing a new side and shortening the pattern by the amount of the dart opening (leaving a little bit of a curve in the hem). How much the side seam is shaped is up to you!
As always, we recommend sewing a muslin of your project, especially after making adjustments like the one in this post. Test your work to see that everything is looking the way you want before you try it out in your precious fabric.
Thanks for the tip! Great technical drawings too.
Thank you very much for giving us these instructions. Very helpful!
Great information! Is it possible to remove a dart from any sewing pattern this way or just the Gilbert pattern? Thanks
This method will work for any pattern with a side seam bust dart like this. The ‘quick and dirty’ method at the bottom of the post works well for Gilbert because of its boxy shape, but it may not work well for all patterns. We always recommend making a muslin when you are making alterations!
thank you for this.
Wow! Thank you so much for this pattern alteration tutorial. I am a size 18 with broad shoulders, a belly due to steroid treatment and narrow hips, I have had breast cancer, and I can’t use prostheses so ALL my clothes do not sit well. I have plenty of fabric to make new tops but I didn’t know how to alter the pattern to suit my new shape. Thank you so very much!
You are so welcome! I’m glad this post will help 🙂
Will definitely put your generous and well-drafted dart removing alteration to use on the Gilbert. I love the boxy look and your patterns. On another note, I just made the Jackson t-shirt, beginning with a muslin, only to discover that the size 14 muslin is PERFECT without alteration. How often does that happen????
Yay!! I’m so glad to hear that. Thanks for checking out this post and for sewing Jackson! <3
Thank you so much! I had a left mastectomy last year and do not wear a prosthetic. I have been trying to devise ways of making garments that are flatter on one side but still have room on the other. I’m going to use these techniques to see if they will work for me!
I’m so glad this is helpful for you, Sue!
Thank you so much for this!! Clearest explanation I’ve come across yet-
Thanks for this. I just took out the dart on the Ashton using this method, but now my front and back pattern pieces are different lengths. Hmmm….
Hi Susan! If you end up with a difference in front and back, you can true-up the hem of the pattern so it matches. If you removed the dart, they should match, but sometimes things get wonky, it’s no biggie!
I love the thought of the quick and dirty method for a more boxy fit, but why would I shorten the length on the front button side? Wouldn’t that shorten the front of the shirt too much? (and I’d have to shorten the button placket, right?) Could I just draw a curve from the original length to the shortened side?
Yes! A curved hem is definitely an option here. And yes, if shortening the length, the button placket needs to be shortened too.
This is exactly what I was looking for. Many thanks!
Hello! Thank you for this tutorial. I am confused about the step where it says “even out the hem at the bottom”. When I make it parallel, then since my customer has a larger bust, the front of the shirt is much shorter than the back by about 2 inches so It seems I need to add 2 inches to the front center line and make it diagonal from the edge of the side seam. Is that what I am supposed to do? Thank you!
You can keep the front length of the top by sewing a curved line from the side to the center front as needed. This tutorial removes the dart, so if your customer has a larger bust, this may not be necessary.