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!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Last night I had dinner with my three 'best girlfriends'... which we do regularly but not regularly enough.  It was a night to catch up on grandchildren and husbands and knee surgeries (past and scheduled) and all the other stuff girlfriends do.

Pam has a new hairdresser so she had a new, shorter hairstyle.  She looked pretty cute, and we told her so.  That's what girlfriends do. 

Kathy was the last to arrive and we called her to find out where she was.  "I'm in my car"... oh yeah, but WHERE IS YOUR CAR??  LOL!!  Then the hostess didn't know we were waiting for her so we had to stand up and wave.  That was a good moment for a big laugh.  That's what girlfriends do.

Of course we had coupons -- free appetizer, with lots of gooey Wisconsin cheese on top.  Nobody mentioned diets or health-consciousness or the effects of cheese on our cholesterol... at least not last night!

We laughed about how Kathy had told her husband that she had to hurry or Marian would be at the bar getting sloshed and someone had to be there early to stop her -- haha, Kathy, the last to arrive, and Marian, the LAST person ever to either sit at the bar or get sloshed!  That's what girlfriends do.

We laughed about how long we've known each other... we worked together at a national fabric chain store in 1987 and 1988, bonding over hand written fabric receipts and figuring out the fractions for 3/8 and 7/8 of a yard.  (for the record, .375 and .875 and we had to do the math using a chart and a calculator!!)

So after we updated our phones with everyone's proper emails and phone numbers, we sat over dinner and chatted until they started turning off lights in the restaurant and sweeping the floor, still telling more stories and laughing.  That's what girlfriends do.

Dinner, $22.50 each.  Catching up with friends, priceless.

Girlfriends, absolutely worth their weight in gold!!

Thanks, ladies.  I love you all from the bottom of my heart.

Sew on...