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The Aesthetics of the Extended Front Dart


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#1 Sator

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:33 PM

Before I begin, TAILORS please note, that this thread is meant for the non-tailor connoisseurs on the forum. Please don't turn it into a full on technical discussion!!! Please :hi: If tailors want to discuss this issue in full technical detail you have this thread to post in.

What is an Extended Front Dart?

I thought I would specifically discuss the aesthetic aspects of the extended front dart. If you aren't sure what I am talking about take a good look at this Savile Row coat from the 1950s:

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If you are still having trouble seeing what I am talking about, I have highlighted it in red:

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That's an extended front dart. Modern coats nearly always have a front dart, but it usually stops at around pocket level. This way of darting a coat differs in that the front dart is cut through all the way to the hem.

Take a look through your closet and see if any of your coats have this. Most of you won't own anything like this. Those who do own a bespoke garment with this feature are probably thinking that they own something extraordinary exotic, featuring an esoteric bespoke cutting technique not found on ready made clothes.

Let's have a look at how exotic, and esoteric this really is. This is a very simplified explanation, and I really don't want to go into too much detail, as most people find this off putting.

Why Have a Dart at All?

Let's start with the purpose of darts. We'll start by drafting a simple wedge shaped dart onto a simplified "pattern" like this:

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When you cut this wedge out and close it, it creates a bulge:

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You can imagine how a dart like will give you a bulging or fullness in the chest. You can also imagine what the effect would be if you enlarged the dart:

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Yes, you guessed it - you get a bigger bulging effect. This is what the extended front dart that goes all the way to the bottom does: it creates a bigger bulge in the chest.

Why Does the Front Dart Have to be Extended to the Bottom?

Some of you are probably wondering why you can't just put a dart shape in like this - only bigger/wider:

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The simple answer is that it creates a bulge at the top and the bottom. If you make the dart too big, you get a funny bulge at the level of the pocket - not a pretty sight. One way of making the front dart bigger without causing these funny distortions is to cut through the front dart all the way down to the bottom. If you do things this way, you can make the front dart much bigger to get more chest effect while avoiding unwanted distortions.

A Little Trick with a Side Step

Now let's look at a clever trick! Instead of drawing the dart straight down I have done this:

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See the way it does a horizontal side step. The width of the dart at the bottom remains the same as when the dart went straight down. When you close the dart, you get just as much chest effect out of it:

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That was a neat trick wasn't it?

You might ask if tailors actually do that. The answer is a big YES!!! Look at this:

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Can you see the extended front dart do a clever side step? No? How about this:

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The "side step" goes straight through the pocket, so it is invisible. The dart can then continue down to the hem, but where it is nicely hidden underneath the sleeve rather than being an eyesore at the front of the coat. Pretty cool isn't it? If you check your wardrobe, you will find that most of your ready-made jackets are darted like this. It is the standard modern way of doing things.

The Aesthetics of the Extended Front Dart

Now that you know this, you have to ask yourself why you would have that front dart extending straight down the front like this:

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You can also see that on a window pane check like this, you get a pattern matching distortion that draws even more attention to the presence of the dart there. In the next side by side shot, you see a coat cut with the front dart extended all the way to the bottom, and beside it a coat where the front dart does the nifty little side step so that it is hidden underneath the sleeve:

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The main thing to note on the second example is that the large pattern (wide stripes) is not disturbed all the way down to the bottom of the front, where it can be seen:

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Here is another coat where the extended front dart does a side step so that it is hidden under the arm. Can you see it?

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In case you missed where the dart is extending down to the hem and causing a bit of pattern mismatching, here it is:

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If you make the extended dart do that side step, the pattern mismatching gets hidden under the arm, where it is hard to spot.

If you are still wondering where the nifty side step of the extended front dart is hiding, it goes like this:

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You just can't see it because it is cleverly hidden under the arm.

Seams Can be Decorative

Some of you are going to say: WOW! what a cool decoration that seam running straight down the front is. The more decorations the merrier. So why not go all the way and have lots and lots of these decorative seams:

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This sort of fancy "panelling" with seams galore is sometimes found in ladies' tailoring. However, in men's tailoring it is more traditional to avoid having seams show. Of course, if you want to put in decorative seams for show that is your aesthetic choice, but as you can see, it is not necessary. That is why almost everyone does it the more modern way, to avoid having seams show. The older technique of extending the front dart straight down to the hem is considered outdated today. The only reason to have that is just to be different, old-fashioned and eccentric as an end in itself. The problem is: what's the point?

If a tailor can sell this to their clients as something really "unique" or "bespoke" then good luck to them. Still, some people may actually enjoy the effect when it is deliberately put in for style effect:

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There is nothing wrong with that either. In this case, the presence of the seam has even been highlighted with strongly contrasting topstitching. You could have placed the patch pocket over the top of the seam to hide it, but instead the pocket is placed off to the side to make doubly sure that you can see the seam!
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911): "Tradition ist die Weitergabe des Feuers und nicht die Anbetung der Asche."

"Tradition is about passing on the flame, and not the worshipping of ashes"

#2 Martin Stall

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:50 PM

Interesting. Though I'm sure you'd be able to find tailors who will defend the full length dart, without displacement. Not in this thread though, it seems :)
Sure, I believe your work rocks, but... have you considered, how are you going to sell that stuff?

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#3 Youngsarto

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 12:35 AM

Isn't it nice that an opinion for or against a certain method of work can be shared without the fear of being argued against. What a magical world that must be. I happen to know two incredible tailors in Italy who still cut using an extended front dart... But this is not the place to discuss them...

#4 Nishijin

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 12:41 AM

I don't understand... Is this thread to discuss the aesthetic of the extended front dart, or to defend the idea that it is an "outdated" technique that should no be used anymore, except if you want to show "eccentricity" ?

It is not a feature I use myself, but I would be delighted to read the reasons of tailors and customers who do like it. Why closing the topic in its opening post ?
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#5 Sator

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 12:57 AM

The topic is not closed to technical discussion. It has been WIDE open for weeks and weeks and weeks :shock: :

http://www.cutterand...indpost&p=24333

This thread is in this forum because it is just a really simplistic version of the full technical version, so that non-tailors can understand it.

It isn't the first time I have argued that whether you displace to the side or continue straight down the front, the effect is the same. I've been saying it for years, and I remember Jefferyd said much the same thing once before. So I am completely and utterly gob-smacked that tailors would read this thread as though they never came across the concept before.

If tailors didn't really understand what was being said unless it was spelt out in simplistic terms, I can move this to the technical forum. But I wanted it to be non-technical and simplistic enough that non-tailors to be able to understand (since to really discuss it in full, you need to also understand how to insert a Donlon and the effect it has on a pattern, but I don't want this thread to explode out into a full on technical discussion). Even Whife says that customers often objected to the extended front dart.
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911): "Tradition ist die Weitergabe des Feuers und nicht die Anbetung der Asche."

"Tradition is about passing on the flame, and not the worshipping of ashes"

#6 Sator

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 02:14 AM

Isn't it nice that an opinion for or against a certain method of work can be shared without the fear of being argued against.


It is not a question of opinion. It is logic. If someone says that a 1 + 1 = 3 then it doesn't matter if the person who said it came from Italy or Mongolia. If something is illogical and if I see no reason why I should be not able to present an argument why it is illogical, without coming under personal attack for saying "this doesn't make sense". If there is logic to the extended front dart, someone should state what that logic is.

These things are like geometry: a simple matter of logic.
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911): "Tradition ist die Weitergabe des Feuers und nicht die Anbetung der Asche."

"Tradition is about passing on the flame, and not the worshipping of ashes"

#7 Nishijin

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 02:25 AM

Topic's title is "aesthetics". I expected something about the beauty (or lack of) of the extended dart.

Instead, we have a technical explanation of how the dart works (with very good paper models), and an assertion that moving the lower part of the dart to the side is better, and that keeping it in front is outdated and eccentric.

I don't find this introduction really open to discussion.

And now, you even say that explaining anything else would be illogical.


Aesthetics is not about logic, it is about beauty. There are many things done in fashion for aesthetic reasons that I don't understand, that are not logical, and that I myself find ugly. But some people like them, that's why they do it.

Saying ad libitum that the extended front dart is outdated, eccentric and illogical will not incite people who do like it to explain why.
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#8 tailleuse

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 02:46 AM

Topic's title is "aesthetics". I expected something about the beauty (or lack of) of the extended dart.

Instead, we have a technical explanation of how the dart works (with very good paper models), and an assertion that moving the lower part of the dart to the side is better, and that keeping it in front is outdated and eccentric.

I don't find this introduction really open to discussion.

...


Admittedly, I've only skimmed this (I save many things to read later or as needed), but I took this post to be nothing more than a general introduction to a tailoring feature with which nontailors have little or no experience. I don't have a strong feeling either way about it. I think some nontechnical threads are good, with links, if available, to more technical posts for those who wish to explore the topic further.

Sometimes I have no idea what is being discussed. Take fit for example. Most of the people I see wear clothes that fit terribly. When professionals here go off about how badly something is cut I don't always understand (The jacket has two sleeves of demonstrably the same length, the front isn't gaping, what's wrong? :-) ). Some basic elaboration can be helpful.

Aesthetics, while in part subjective, is about training people to see.

Edited by tailleuse, 20 September 2011 - 02:47 AM.

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#9 Sator

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 02:47 AM

I have made it very clear that the reason the dart is displaced to the side is to hide it better. That is an aesthetic decision.

Logic can be aesthetic too. The fact that displacing the seam off to the side to hide it, seems to me both logical and aesthetic at the same time - especially on a cloth with a checked pattern. Having a seam visible down the front seems to me neither aesthetically pleasing nor logical. However, others may feel some sort of aesthetic merit in having that seam going straight down the front, and therefore see no logic in wanting to hide such a thing of exquisite beauty.
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911): "Tradition ist die Weitergabe des Feuers und nicht die Anbetung der Asche."

"Tradition is about passing on the flame, and not the worshipping of ashes"

#10 CoronarJunkee

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 03:14 AM

Wow...!

#11 Schneidergott

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 04:14 AM

I don't think that "aesthetics" was the initial reason why this dart was and is still used.
It is just one way to get a jacket with a fuller chest while keeping the hips more trimmed and having a horizontally matching pattern.
Sadly, it is now mostly a style feature related strongly to the Neapolitan tailoring style, thanks to some iGents who can afford to travel to Naples for some bespoke garments.
So the extended front dart is a must have feature to show that it is genuine bespoke.
I personally do not like it very much, since it disturbs the cleanliness of the front, whether it is a plain or a patterned weave. There are more "discrete" ways to achieve the same effect, given that it was used for a better fit and not just to make it look "bespoke"!

Nonetheless, I would never go as far as calling it outdated or old fashioned since it has been used for a reason.

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#12 Torry Kratch

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 05:25 AM

In a period of time (50 ... 80 years) in the Soviet tailor was about such an arsenal of basic designs for the jacket.


Edited by Torry Kratch, 20 September 2011 - 07:07 AM.


#13 Artist's Eye

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 06:23 AM

It's possible it should be regarded as part of the post war aesthetic of the honest open display of modernist construction. Don't hide the supporting steel I beams*, don't hide the concrete slabs. Let the people see what holds the building up and don't distract them with non-functional decoration. Don't cover stretched canvases with illusionistic views, abandon the vanishing point and let the public in the galleries see how flat the canvas is.

Don't hide the dart in a zig-zag show it honestly up front.


*Ironically when they were no longer allowed to do this and had to cover the steel for greater fire proofing, they would sometimes stick fake I beam supports made from aluminium on the outside of the building.

#14 Youngsarto

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 08:49 AM

I am no master tailor. And I have much to learn. However, I learned under a master tailor who in turn learned under another Master tailor. I was taught to draft patterns with an extended front dart. I was told that this helps with a full chest and a trimmed hip. It is not only for a real "bespoke" look but rather for me it is tradition. Luigi Gallo who learned under Angelo Litrico and who cuts 300 plus garments a year still uses the extended front dart. I know plenty of great tailors who use one and plenty who do not. I also, see no logical need for a side body but I would never put down those who use it as being illogical. In fact I have seen great work done with the use of side bodies. I think it is just poor taste to post a thread in this manner. I will cut my next coat with an extended dart tomorrow in keeping with the tradition my maestro set before me. But that is my aesthetic want.

#15 Sator

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 10:51 AM

If people want to argue for the virtues of the extended front dart, they are welcome to do so. All I am doing is repeating the content of a Viennese article from the 1950s and A.A. Whife says much the same thing. I think it is ridiculous to defend the extended front dart by attacking the Viennese authors and Whife for their alleged "poor taste". That's just an ad hominem argument.

BTW the extended front dart is probably not Italian in origin. I have never seen it in an Italian publication, but it appears in British and German publications of the 1930s. This leads me to think that the Italians are just copying the British. In the case of one well known Neapolitan firm that still does this, they were originally trying to copy the British.
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911): "Tradition ist die Weitergabe des Feuers und nicht die Anbetung der Asche."

"Tradition is about passing on the flame, and not the worshipping of ashes"

#16 Der Zuschneider

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 11:12 AM

The dart continued to the hem can avoid the stomach dart not to interrupt fabric design. The dart will then be hidden by a on top sewn pocket. Otherwise there is no need to displace the dart to the side body. The continuing dart to the hem is normally hidden by displacing it to the side body.

That is the complete reason of the dart, to be read in Muellerbook, page 93.

Edited by Der Zuschneider, 20 September 2011 - 11:27 AM.

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#17 rs232

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 12:03 PM

Getting things back on track ...

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My hunch is: "not on worsteds where the seam will be obvious, but can be used judiciously to good effect on tweeds and flannels."

#18 Sator

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 01:44 PM

BTW I should mention that the objection to having a front dart extending down the front is something that A.A. Whife states in the 1950s (A First Course, T&C):

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Obviously, Whife is in "poor taste" to demonstrate that you can get around this issue by hiding the extended front dart off at the side. It is odd that he mentions that customers object to the extended front dart only with plain cloth design. You will get more distortion of pattern matching on a patterned design.

The equally "poor taste" Viennese article (in OSZ, 1949) states that you should only leave the extended front dart going down the front if you have patch pockets:

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In this case, the tailor and client are both the same. You can see what the Viennese authors meant when they say that patch pockets hide the extended front dart.

The OSZ authors say (and I agree with them) that if your coat doesn't have patch pockets, you should move the extended seam off to the side to hide it, which becomes doubly important if the cloth is a large check.

Even then, when you have a bold check, it is easier to get good pattern matching down the fronts when you move the extended seam off to the side, under the sleeve, like this:

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Notice how, on the example on the left, the extended front dart down the front has still left some pattern mismatch at the bottom of the coat. By moving the extended front seam off to the side, you move the pattern mismatch off to the side, where it is nicely hidden.

Here is the problem area up close:

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Gustav Mahler (1860-1911): "Tradition ist die Weitergabe des Feuers und nicht die Anbetung der Asche."

"Tradition is about passing on the flame, and not the worshipping of ashes"




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