Ghastly Gussets (or Why Isn’t “Insert Tab A into Slot B” Working?)


Exhausted caryatid, source unknown.

I don’t understand this. I don’t understand this at all. I am good at spatial relationships. Very good. As in consistently score in the 99th percentile good.

Except for this. (These?)

Some time back, while stitching happily away on the Regency chemise, I came to the “insert gussets” step and immediately came to a screeching halt.

Now, I’ve had clothing with gussets and know why they are there and what they do. I love gussets, especially in hiking pants and other things that I don’t want riding up as I move.

However, in all these many, many years of sewing, I’ve never actually inset a gusset. Never. How I got this far along without doing so is a mystery, but there you have it.

So when I came to the gusset phase of the project I read the instructions. Carefully. Four times. And they didn’t make sense. My spatial relationship special powers kicked in and I didn’t believe it would work. It couldn’t work. I’d been dithering over this for a long time and last night I finally decided to just do it and follow the instructions step by step and the worst that could happen is that I’d have to pick it apart and start over again.

So that’s what I did.

And I was right – it was wrong.

The instructions show the wrong side of the fabric when it should be the right side of the fabric and I ended up with raw seams on the finished side of the chemise. Rats. Pick it out and give it another go.

No problemo.

I read the instructions twice more, accounting for the inside out factor, dove in again and still couldn’t get it to work. Now I was getting a tad annoyed, but wasn’t about to let two little squares of cotton get the better of me.

I searched the internet for instructions on how to insert underarm gussets and everything I found was just as confusing as the instructions I already had. I found one video on YouTube that looked promising, but the author never posted the second part of the process, which is what I need. For the most part, everyone showed how to prepare the pieces, then essentially said “then just do it.”  I went through my vintage sewing manuals and got the same thing, only in more proper English. I went to my Threads sewing manual and they had everything except gussets.

By now I was downright perturbed and I swear those two little cotton squares were giggling.

At last I decided to take the chicken’s way out boldly re-design the inset and just appliqué each of them in place. Then I could finish off the inside edges however I wanted. Hah! Take that, you devils. <bwaaaaahahahaha>

Gusset #1,first two edges

Gusset #1, first two edges

It was looking pretty good, so I kept on going. (Sorry about the bad light, it was late and lamplight doesn’t work too well for photographs.) I hadn’t hit the seam line dead on, not even close, but I figured it’s underwear so as long as it’s comfortable I’d be willing to let it go.

Pivoting merrily along, I stitched the other two sides down and held it up to congratulate myself on my inherent brilliance. Are you familiar with the expression about counting one’s chickens before they are hatched? Meet my bird:


Can you believe it?! I just sat there, stunned. It took me a few minutes to figure out how I’d managed to achieve a 3-D gusset…I sewed it in along the side seam, which was now firmly stitches to three sides of the gusset. Original, but probably not too functional. Or comfortable.

At that point, I decided to do what any self-respecting seamstress would do: sew the bias tape onto the neckline.

neckline tape1


3 thoughts on “Ghastly Gussets (or Why Isn’t “Insert Tab A into Slot B” Working?)

  1. it took me forever to figure out what I was doing wrong with chemise gusset. sewed it inside out upside down every which way but right. It was once I realised the little trick of pressingthe square into a triangle it suddenly dawned on me how it should work.

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