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October 10, 2014


If a sweater is at all fitted I add bust darts. I find they make a massive difference in fit and ease of wear for my figure. In stockinette sweaters or cardigans it’s super simple to do the math and add the dart. If the sweater is worked in the round then the darts are a short section of back and forth, and quite invisible especially if you’ve had a lot of practice with a favourite short row method. 

Blank Canvas with bust darts

Handspun Sugarleaf with bust darts

Blank Canvas and Sugarleaf are two examples of sweaters of mine where adding short row bust darts was straight forward. Also, as I’ve done a number of sweaters for myself, I have a standard set of bust dart numbers worked out for different gauges. You’ll find that once you’ve worked them successfully once that it’s easy to transfer the process to different garments. 

Bust darts in colourwork

When I saw Pam’s Aunt Fred I loved it, but was hesitant to make it for myself because the body has no shaping at all.

Aunt Fred by Pamela Wynne from The Rhinebeck Sweater

After some discussion with Ysolda I decided to go for it with some modifications. I normally knit a 40″ bust and add bust darts. Because Aunt Fred is allover colourwork with no waist shaping we came to the conclusion that the 42″ size plus bust darts would work. 

For the bust darts I had to adjust my standard numbers a bit. The colourwork is a 6 stitch, 8 row repeat, so those were my constraints for my bust darts. The stitch repeat can be broken down into groups of 3 so I used that for my turns. In order for the colourwork to appear unbroken the total rows of the bust dart has to be a full repeat: I did 2 full repeats. So my darts are 8 turns on each side, 3 sts apart.

I made a note of which row I ended on before I started the bust darts so they finished on the same row. That way the colourwork would be in the correct place to start the next round. In order to keep the end of round in the same location at the underarm, I broke the yarn after finishing the final wrong side row of the bust dart. Then I rejoined the yarn at the end of round and continued on with the pattern as written.

The yarn is Nate’s Yarn from Briar Rose Fibers in 140 and undyed.

Paneled sweaters

The sweater I’m currently working on Foxcroft from Twist Collective is also patterned but way easier to add bust darts to than Aunt Fred was. The cable panels are centred on the front and back with stockinette areas on each side which are perfect for adding bust darts to.

Ready to add bust darts
Ready to add bust darts

I made sure my bust darts were only in the stockinette side panels, so my final turn is just outside of the cable section in the stockinette. The main thing to be aware of is that after completing the bust darts the front and back cable panels will no longer be on the same row. Which won’t be an issue for long because once I reach the underarms I’ll be separating and working each section flat.

The yarn is Wollmeise DK in Golden Pear.

Bust dart complete
Bust dart complete

I know this wasn’t a specific tutorial on adding bust darts to sweaters but I hope it helps you see that with a bit of planning you can add bust darts to sweaters in more complicated stitch patterns. Ysolda’s book Little Red in the City has lots more information about sweater fitting and calculating bust darts.

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