An underarm gusset is a square (usually) of fabric inserted between the body and sleeve of a shirt. They give you an improved range of motion without a lot of bulk around the arm. There are examples going back to the sixteenth century. My mother remembers by great-grandmother adding them to her husband’s shirts so he wouldn’t rip the seams under the arm. Just the other day, I saw directions in Threads magazine on adding a gusset to a shirt. The problem with gussets, though, is that they’re a pain in patouty to sew. If you need to do them fast (or really really small), there’s an easy way to cheat out your pattern.
The basic setup with a gusseted sleeve pattern looks like this:
The really kicker here is that the gusset is square. In the picture, you can see that two sides of the square are touching the body and sleeve pieces. The problem is that, when you’re sewing, the gusset is inserted into the seam of the sleeve and the side seam of the body.If you’re sewing by hand, this doesn’t make a bit of difference, but if you’re sewing on a machine… Well, that’s another story. It’s a lot of pivoting and dancing around seam allowances.
Here’s another picture of our pieces, this time showing the gusset folded the way it is when it’s fully operational.
If we really wanted to cheat, we’d combine the gusset and the sleeve…
But that would totally be cheating. ;)
Oh, if you already have separate gussets cut, just go ahead and cut the from point to point on the diagonal. Sew them halves to either side of the sleeve piece, and you’re right where we got to with the pattern cheat. It’s the fastest way I know of to insert a gusset, and it will work at doll sizes….