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Just the mere mention of the word "gussets" can cause panic if you aren't accustomed to sewing them. But don't despair-you can attain foolproof results with even the trickiest of gussets by using appropriate reinforcement and very careful stitching.
A gusset is a triangular or diamond-shaped piece of fabric set into a garment at a slash. Most commonly it will be found at the underarm curve of a kimono sleeve, set in a slash that cuts across the garment from front to back. It makes possible a longer, slimmer kimono sleeve with an armhole closer to the body-in general, a more sophisticated fit than the kimono sleeve without a gusset. Another by-product of the gusset is added comfort through increased flexibility of the sleeve. Because the area under the arm receives a maximum amount of strain and needs ease for movement, the gusset should always be cut on the bias.
The gusset can be of one- or two-piece construction-with a seam joining the two sections. Occasionally the gusset is combined with a portion of the garment, such as the underarm section of the sleeve or a side panel of the bodice.
There is very little difference between the insertion of one- and two-piece diamond gussets. The gusset can be shaped by either a contour dart or a seam to eliminate bulk under the arm. The other variation, a triangular gusset, is quite simple to construct because the gusset and the garment side seams are continuous.
Before you slash the garment, it must be very carefully reinforced. Cut 2" (5 cm) bias squares of underlining or 4" (10 cm) long pieces of ribbon seam binding for each slash point. Center them over the slash points and stitching lines on the right side of both front and back sections. Or, for fabrics that ravel easily, use a very lightweight fusible interfacing on the wrong side of your fabric at the slash point before you underline. For all reinforcements, stitch along the stitching lines, using short stitches [15-20 per inch (6-8 per cm)] and taking one stitch across the 'Slash point (1).
Cut between stitching lines right up to the point. Turn reinforcement squares or seam binding to wrong side of garment so they can be treated as a seam allowance while you are pinning and stitching (2).
Stitch all bodice seams, ending stitching at markings as shown on your pattern and leaving gusset area open. Press all seams open. Prepare gusset by stitching any dart or shaped seam, if necessary. Pin or baste gusset to garment, right sides together, placing stitching line of garment along seam lines of gusset.
From the garment side, stitch gusset to garment. Use small stitches and stitch on the garment alongside the previous stitching, beginning at the seams or markings and pivoting carefully at the point, treating the reinforcement patch or seam binding as seam allowances. End stitching at seams or markings so that the side seam allowances of the garment are not caught in the stitching. Press all gusset seams toward the garment.
Stitch shoulder seam only and press open. Right sides together, pin or baste the gusset pieces into their corresponding garment slashes, placing stitching lines of garment along seam lines of gusset. Stitch gussets in place the same as for the diamond gusset, being very careful at the slash points. Press gusset seams toward garment. Matching gusset seam lines of the garment front and back, stitch underarm seam of bodice and sleeve in a continuous seam. Press the side seam open, clipping where needed.
Pull all thread ends to wrong side of gusset and knot. If you use squares of underlining for reinforcement, trim the square of fabric to ys" (10 MM). Press the gusset seam -toward the garment (1). To further strengthen the gusset on sporty or casual clothes, top stitch close to the gusset seam on the outside, as shown (2).
| © Ragnar Torfason|
2006 March 28