Gussets Galore

gusset_jacque_in_colorGussets were mentioned on a recent episode of the Great British Sewing Bee, and since I haven’t sewn one, I paused to grab a few books. (Any excuse to crack open old sewing books.)

Construction methods were varied with outright contradictions about when to hand sew and when to machine sew, how to reinforce, and whether and when topstitching is okay. I’ve scanned some in for comparison…



1 Evelyn Mansfield
Clothing Construction (1953)
Diagram to show whether a gusset is needed for a kimono sleeve. Instructions on prep and machine sewing. Points reinforced with ribbon. Topstitching suggested for cotton sports wear.  Hand basting if fabric is hard to handle.
Read the full scan

2 Adele Margolis
The Dressmaking Book, A Simplified Guide for Beginners (1967)
Instructions on hand sewing gussets so that they’re as strong as a machine stitch with a few tips if you “insist” on machine. Points reinforced with machine stitches or seam binding and later with whip stitches. She includes a note not to topstitch it on, or it will “look like a patch”.
Read the full scan

3 Frances Mauck
Modern Sewing Techniques (1963)
(Intended audience is intermediate to advanced)
The longest section on gussets I had. Info on pinning and machine stitching gussets, with a short second method of topstitching that would make Margolis shake her head. Points reinforced with cloth or with hand or machine stitches.
Read the full scan

4 Line Jaque
Sew the French Way (translation of 1956 text)
(Intended audience is intermediate to advanced)
For gussets that are at risk of fraying at the point, she has you slightly alter the pattern first. There’s a short section on fitting, hand basting, and then machine stitching. Points reinforced by the pattern alteration and by basting stitches left in at rounded parts.
Read the full scan

If anyone with gusset experience wants to chime in on which methods you prefer, I’d be happy to see!

At the moment, I’m thinking machine sewing is probably the way to go for longevity, basting before ( just because I prefer it to pins).  I’m interested in Jaque’s pattern alteration, and have used other suggestions in that book with good result, but having never sewn a gusset, couldn’t say how useful the alteration might be.

Carol at bywayofthanks has just posted Gussets Demystified with scans as well! Off to look…

And Fifty Dresses put up Gazing at Gussets… with scans from her vintage Vogue pattern.


5 thoughts on “Gussets Galore

  1. I’m dancing for joy! Really this boosted my confidence. I sewed a gusset in by hand exactly as Margolis described back in 2013. It came out very well but none of my blog friends had ever heard of sewing them by hand. I’m here to testify that it works–beautifully!


    1. Validation! :) I’m glad Margolis can back you up. (And she says pretty much the same thing in her ‘Encyclopedia of Sewing’, which I refer to all the time.) I enjoy hand sewing, so it’s good to hear it worked well and held up fine for you.

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      1. Here was my experience:
        1. Use bias cut diamond shaped pieces of organza to reinforce the points.
        2. Stitch these by machine using the smallest stitch.
        3. Use machine stay stitching 1/4″ or 1/8″ in from the edge of the gusset.
        4. Handsew using Sharps (hand sewing needle), beeswax and silk thread.


  2. Jess, I just wrote a short piece about gussets. I think it’s best to sew each side separately. I find I have good control sewing toward the point, then pivoting and sewing away from it. Not sure how easy it would be with a complete garment.

    Liked by 1 person

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