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A gusset is a "sewing term for diamond-shaped pieces of fabric seamed at underarm of cut-on or dolman sleeves, to permit greater movement. Also a triangular piece used in sides of handbags for wider openings and at sides of mens shirt tails, sides of shoes, etc." (Fairchilds Dictionary of Fashion).
In other words, the gusset gives you more room to breath. Keep in mind that a gusset should never be sewn in just because something is too snug. When cutting the gusset, remember to follow the grain line in the pattern. Otherwise the gusset will droop.
Treat the slash end of a gusset the same way you treat a corner. First, mark the slash line from your pattern, Cut a piece of fabric to 1 1/2 by 3 inches using lightweight interfacing. Now, place this piece of fabric on the underside of the garment at the end of the slash line. Be sure to catch this piece as you sew the corner. When sewing around the V, be sure to take one extra stitch so it will lay right. With tailors chalk, mark the seam allowance on the point of the gusset and sew one inch on both sides. Right sides together, pin the gusset into the slash. Start at the point and work out. Be sure to use your 5/8 inch seam allowance when sewing the gusset to the garment. This is true except right at the point. This tapers to virtually nothing. Key points in inserting a gusset are the following: be sure the point of the slash is secured to avoid tearing. Use top-stitching for firmly woven fabrics. If doing by hand, use a buttonhole stitch into the point. It is most important that the gusset be applied perfectly to avoid a sagging underarm seam. Although preparing a gusset requires some expertise, with a little practice, you will feel comfortable with this technique.
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