Setting a Gusset

So, I’m making up a Regency style corset and it has gussets at the bust and hip to give it shape. I’m lining the corset, but I’d like to do the gussets as single-layer pieces. If you find yourself doing something equally silly, here’s how to slam a gusset in between the two layers in one go.

side back piece and hip gusset

Here are my side back piece and my hip gusset. The side back is marked with a line where the gusset is meant to go.

cutting the gusset slit

Cut a slit into the side back piece, as marked on the pattern. The end should be a V shape. (You'll see it in the pressing pictures!)

I’m cutting through the pattern piece, rather than marking the gusset onto the fabric. I’m lazy like that. Also, I’m cutting through four pieces here (the side back outers and linings, conveniently of the same fabric). This is an ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLY SLOPPY way to do things and you should NEVER EVER DO THIS even if it does generally work out ok if you’re careful and check that everything really did line up. ;) (Because, as we all know, I never cheat. Nope. Not one little-bitty-bit.)


The secret to this technique: ironing.

Poop. I hate that….

I’m using a mini-iron that I picked up at ye olde Jo-Anns. (They’re in the quilting section.) It’s good in small spaces, and I want to be able to iron each half of the gusset slit separately.

This little iron actually terrifies me. You use it for detail work, right, so your fingers are right there and I tend to hunch over my work when I’m doing something detailed so my face is right there, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be the first human being in the history of ever to accidentally kill herself with a mini-iron. And if you think about it, it really lacks dignity…  “What happened?” “Omg! The mini-iron, like, it totally killed her in the face!” “Uh, the what did what?” Mmmmmm-hmm. Yeah. Just like that.  Anyhoo….

ironing open the gusset

I've ironed back a quarter of an inch on either side of the gusset. I've ironed up the little flap you get from cutting the V at the end of the gusset line.

gusset slit from right side

From the right side, this gives us a nice slot to put the gusset into. Lather, rinse, and repeat for the lining.

pinning gussets into gusset slits

Line up the lining and outer fabrics, then slip the gusset in between the layers. Pin.

Ick! Ironing and pinning in one demo? Jeesh…. This is one of the few times I consider pinning mandatory. Make sure your pins go through the outer fabric and the lining (and the gusset, obviously). You’ll want to line things up so that the pressed edge of the gusset slit lies along the seam line for the gusset. All of the gusset’s seam allowance should be between the lining and outer layers.

finished gusset, outside

Top stitch around the gusset, 1/8" from the folded edge of the gusset slit. I've added a second row of top stitch 1/4" from the edge as well.

I doubled up the top stitch for three reasons. First, obviously, is strength. Two lines of stitching are stronger than one. Second, it’s pretty. I like pretty. :) Third, though, is that that having two seams, 1/8″ apart that go through 5 layers of fabric each gives me the structural equivalent of a corded channel. It acts like light boning. Especially for the bust gussets, I think this is a good plan.

finished gusset from inside

This is the same gusset, viewed from the inside. You can see that the stitching isn't dead-on to the folded edge anymore.

10 thoughts on “Setting a Gusset

  1. Chris D. says:

    I always have trouble ironing those Vs open and it never occurred to me to get one of those mini-irons! Thanks for the tip, now I’ll try not to kill or horribly disfigure myself with it…

    7 years ago | Reply

    • missa says:

      *laugh* I’m sure they’re not terribly dangerous, but irons in general scare me. Oddly, the smaller the iron, the more it scares me. It’s just irons, though – my steamer and my grill don’t scare me. I can’t explain. Good luck with the hussars and the not death! :)

      7 years ago | Reply

    • missa says:

      Ah-ha! I knew it wasn’t a baseless fear! ;)

      7 years ago | Reply

  2. MY Mr Knightley: Making a Shirt | Tea in a Teacup says:

    […] an upside-down V-cut at the bottom of the slit helps when sewing the bottom part, similar to when setting a gusset in a corset or doing a welt pocket). In order to reinforce the base of the cut, hand-sew a […]

    3 years ago | Reply

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    […] the sleeve lining, slash the mark and insert the gusset. Sew the sleeve […]

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  4. ~1800s stays | SAS Sewist says:

    […] the gussets to be a sewing nightmare, but they were honestly quite nice to work on! I debated on using this wonderful hack by Sempstress… but in the end I went with proper, time-consuming, fingertip-murdering techniques. Luckily for […]

    3 months ago | Reply

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