Sometimes, bad things happen to good costumers. Like, your sister is throwing an 80’s party the next evening and you bomb out finding anything that can be mangled into some reasonable approximation of Cyndi Lauper so-unusual-excellence, and every bit of vintage you can find is a size 4. Now, that’s maybe not to traumatic if you actually are a size 4. I wouldn’t know, because as it turns out, my left thigh is a size 4. But I found the jacket of my dreams, and it was merely 4 or 5 sizes to small. What’s a girl to do? Gussets. Gussets will save you here.
Fortunately, yon jacket came with a skirt that was utterly, tragically useless to me as a skirt… But perfect as a source of matching fabric. Here’s the general process:
When you’re doing a massive addition at the side of a garment, it’s a good idea to fade it out into the sleeve. If you don’t, you have to fade it out by the armscye, and often you need to expand the chest and shoulder with this level of surgery. (Because otherwise the armscye will be bigger than the sleeve head. Trust me.) You can still do this alteration if the side seam of the body and the sleeve seam don’t line up, but it requires more careful cutting and sewing.
I need to add a bare minimum of 6″ into this garment. Since I plan to eat the day of the party, 7″ will be slightly better. 7″ divided in two gives me 3.5″ gussets. The original garment has 1/4″ seam allowances, so each gusset is a convenient 4″ wide.
The original dimensions of the jacket were 36″ at the bust and 29″ at the waist – like most of the 80s, it was cut for the other side of the fruit bowl. I have a curvier figure, so I needed more at the bust than the waist anyway. If you need more at the waist than the bust, don’t follow the waist curve on the gusset. Keep everything lined up edge to edge.
To finish the gusset, you’ll want to do the exact same thing to the other side.
You want the stitch lines at the arm seam to fade into each other at a point, even with the existing sleeve seam and with no puckers.
Then you need to do the same thing on the other side of the garment.
As a side note, I hear the 80s are coming back. I am terrified. For those of you trendy young things who either a) don’t realize why the 80s were a bad idea the first time and just need someone to guide you, or b) you won’t believe me that it was a bad idea and you really want to know how to spot a real live remnant of the 80s at thrift, here are two key signs:
And I have finally achieved my preteen dream of wearing a size 4. You can diet, or you can cheat. ;)