Thursday, October 17, 2013

So What's A Gusset Anyway??

There is not much I hate more in clothing than tight sleeves.  Maybe a tight waistband, but it's a near thing.

I have had occasion recently to apply gussets in two garments that were ready-made but didn't fit well.  My cousin Sharon's granddaughter had a Halloween costume with a jacket, and the jacket was too tight in the armholes and sleeves.  She asked if I could figure out a way to make the jacket more comfortable so she could avoid returning it to the catalog store where she'd ordered it.

I immediately thought of a gusset insert, which would enlarge the armscye without distorting the fit in other places in the jacket.

The term gusset in sewing is used to define a piece of fabric, sometimes diamond shaped, sometimes a triangle, that is inserted in a sewn to provide either expansion or reinforcement.

It also means the triangle that is sewn into the bottom of a bag or pillow to square the corners. I knew you did that, I just didn't realize it was a gusset!

The Miriam Webster dictionary says the word gusset comes from a Middle English term for a piece of armour covering the joints in a suite of armor, from the Anglo-French word gouseete, first used around the year 1570.

When we actually got together and I saw the jacket on Evie, I realized that the arm was too tight all the way down to the wrist. So technically I suppose the piece I inserted doesn't really conform to the true definition of gusset, but regardless, I am calling it a gusset, like the ones shown above

Of course I didn't take any pictures of the costume transformation, so I have tried to do an illustration of what I actually did.  Here goes:
So last week when the occasion to insert another gusset came up I was totally prepared!  And guess what, so was Sharon...  who is going on a cruise and bought the perfect dress and jacket except -- you guessed it, sleeves too tight!
This time the unsewing took longer than the sewing.  The jacket is polyester organza, so sheer and light.  The seams were serged, and in order not the shred them, I took my time (about an hour it turned out!!) to remove the serged seam which included a reinforcing chain stitch.  In hindsight, I don't know why I didn't just cut the seam off completely, because that quarter inch really would not have made a difference.  But then you know what they say about hindsight!
When Sharon put the jacket on to show me the fit, it was SO tight she almost could not move her arms.  The addition of a three inch underarm gusset going down to about an inch at the sleeve end gave her just enough room that she can move and breathe but not so much that you could even see it when she put it on again.  Of course she found a really close match in fabric so that helped.
I had the same tight feeling in a sweater last week, but instead of a gusset, I just enlarged the armscye using my serger.  I trimmed off about a half inch from where the front notch would be in a pattern, under the arm across the side seam ending where the back notch would be in a pattern.
Ahhh.  The fit is so much better.
Sew on!