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Sewing Neck Gussets

Lots of people have trouble interpreting the directions for sewing neck gussets in shirts from period patterns. So, when I was sewing the neck gussets in my nephews' 18th century shirts, I took the time to write down the steps. I have also added the additional steps I take to add reinforcement stitching around the neckline slash because the seam allowance at the corner of the slash is practically non-existant.

The gusset, when complete, will sandwich the raw edges of the corner of the neckline slash. The raw edges of the gusset will also be enclosed in this sandwich. The folded edge of the gusset (the hypotenuse of the triangle) forms part of the neckline edge.

Eventually, I will add pictures for each step, but for now the text will have to stand by itself.

  1. Mark the stitching lines on the gusset with an air soluble pen.
  2. Stitch around the gusset on the stitching lines just drawn with a regular stitch one half normal stitch length, i.e. if regular stitch length is 2.5, use 1.2.
  3. Trim seam allowance to .25 inch.
  4. Serge edges of gusset or use strongest overcasting stitch.
  5. Trim corners of gusset diagonally. Do not clip into seamline stitching.
  6. Fold gusset in half, wrong sides together, to create a triangle. Press.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 with other neck gusset.
  8. Mark the stitching lines on the neckline of the shirt with an air soluble pen.
  9. Stitch on these marked lines with a regular stitch one half normal stitch length.
  10. Clip as close as possible to the corner without clipping through stitching.
  11. Just outside the stitching line (The other side of the stitching line from the raw edges.) at the very corner edges of the end of the neckline slash, make a dot with the air soluble pen. Mentally note this is point 2.
  12. Unfold the gusset to its original square shape. (It will no longer be a true square since the corners have been clipped diagonally.) Just inside the stitching line (The other side of the stitching line from the raw edges.) at the right angle of the triangle of the gusset, make a dot with the air soluble pen. Mentally note this is also point 2. This only needs to be done on one right angle corner of the gusset.
  13. Right sides together and raw edges together, match up point 2 on the neckline slash and point 2 on the gusset. There should be only two layers of fabric - one of the body of the shirt and one corner of the gusset. Most of the gusset should lie on the shirt and away from the corner of the neckline slash.
  14. Thread a needle and take a small stitch, 2-4 threads wide, connecting the neckline point 2 and the gusset point 2. Cut the needle off the thread and tie the ends of the thread together with a square knot tight to the fabric.
  15. Right sides together, match the stitching lines of the neckline slash and the corresponding side of the gusset. Put a pin where the fold of the gusset is, mark that point on the stitching line of the neckline slash with the air soluble pen. Mentally call this point 1. Repeat with the other side of the neckline slash and the other corresponding side of the gusset. Mentally call this point 3.
  16. Set your machine to one half normal stitch length. With the wrong side of the neckline slash up, the gusset on the bottom, and raw edges to the right of the needle, stitch just to the left of the stitching line from point 1 to point 2. Make sure to backstitch at the start.
  17. At point 2, raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric around the needle so that it is possible to stitch from point 2 to point 3. Lower the presser foot and stitch, just to the left of the stitching line to point 3. Backstitch to finish off.
  18. Check to make sure the corner came out OK with none of the stay stitching visible.
  19. Set your machine to a narrow, short zigzag (i.e. stitch width 2, stitch length .8.) With raw edges to the right of the needle, stitch just to the right of the previous stitching. Starting at point 1, continuing to point 2 and finishing at point 3.
  20. Check again to make sure everything came out OK and no stay stitching is visible. Then press seam allowance toward gusset.
  21. Press under the remaining seam allowances on the gusset. Match right angle corners of the triangle of the gusset. Pin. Match pressed fold of remaining seam allowances of the gusset to stitched seam line of gusset. Pin
  22. Hand stitch pressed fold of the remaining seam allowances to stitched seam line of gusset. Take care that the hand stitching does not show on the right side of garment.
  23. Repeat with other end of neckline slash and neck gusset starting at step 10.

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