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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.


  1. Chris D.
    Chris D. September 4, 2011

    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…

    • missa
      missa September 4, 2011

      *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! :)

  2. Sheila K
    Sheila K September 15, 2011

    Those mini irons have an AWFUL lot in common with soldering irons, if it makes you feel any better.

    • missa
      missa September 17, 2011

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

  3. Joanne
    Joanne September 27, 2011

    Here’s my secret… chopsticks! Well, I use just one in place of my finger for situations like your killer iron or holding a fold as it gets too close to the presser foot when stitching. The wood has some “tooth” to it and holds fabric nicely!


    • Lydia
      Lydia May 19, 2019

      That is actually genius. Thank you for the chopsticks idea. Or eraser end of a pencil…or anything that isn’t a finger that will blister.

  4. […] 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 […]

  5. Eli
    Eli December 5, 2017

    I constantly mash my fingers with that screw that holds the needle in place it rams up and down and as I push or hold the fabric it mangles my hand. Do I have massive man hands or does this normally happen, also did the maker not think maybe to put the screw a fingers length away from any possible needing to touch stuff? I don’t think I could maneuver a chop stick to hold my fabric and I have no idea how people use their left hands to steer. Thankfully I’ve only ever burnt everythin but y face with te iron so I do feel very proud of that.!

    • missa
      missa December 5, 2017

      Lol! Congrats on more successful iron usage, Eli! You could make yourself an easy tool for holding the fabric/grommet in place – just remove a couple tines from a plastic fork so it fits around the grommet ditch (my phone doesn’t know tines, but I mean the stabby-bits), or use a fondue fork or similarly posh, sparsely tined type fork. I just always have chopsticks in the workroom so I don’t burn myself when I’m hot-glueing things. :)

      • Eli
        Eli November 8, 2019

        Oh that’s clever!!! I’m going to try your bust gusset in a while I’d forgotten I’d looked at this ages ago. I must try the fire idea I am like that kid in school who ends up stuck to herself with glitter stars on her face lol!

        • missa
          missa November 8, 2019

          Thanks, Eli! Lol – I just end up covered in thread, with needles stuck in my shirt. I feel like glitter stars would be more festive. :)

  6. ~1800s stays | SAS Sewist
    ~1800s stays | SAS Sewist February 23, 2018

    […] 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 […]

  7. elizabethcbunce
    elizabethcbunce February 15, 2020

    This tutorial is GENIUS, and so much easier than any other method I’ve seen. THANK YOU for saving my gussets!

    • missa
      missa February 15, 2020

      Glad it helped, Elizabeth! Lol – I really don’t do well with most of the fussy gusset methods I have seen. ;)

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