How To Put Gussets in Pants or Shirts

When a garment is really too tight in the crotch area of a pair of pants or in the underarm area of a shirt, you might want to add a gusset.

A gusset is typically a diamond or triangular shaped piece of fabric that is sewn into one of those areas to give some extra room to the clothing.

(If you need extra room in a strapless dress or a dress or top that has straps, you’ll want to look at the post on How To Put Gussets In a Dress or Top.)

However, this post will focus on diamond shaped gussets that are inserted into an area where four seams intersect. They are usually found in pants or the underarm area of a shirt that has sleeves.

For this type of gusset, you’ll need to make a diamond shape gusset, and I’ll show you how.

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The gusset shape and size will be determined by how much extra room you need in the crotch area or the under arm area.

To be more specific, in a pair of pants, the gusset is sewn into the intersection of where the inseams meet the center front and center back seams of a pair of pants. It is the lowest point of the pant before you start into the leg area.

This is a view of the underside of a pair of pants after a gusset is put in so you get the idea of what they look like:

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In the under arm area, the gusset is sewn into the area where the under arm seam and the side seams meet the sleeve seams. It would look basically the same as the photo above only it would be located in the armpit area and there would be no zipper!

(You may have guessed by now that I am going to use diagrams exclusively on this post because I think they might be easier to follow than actual photos.)

Read through all the instructions before starting. This is not a difficult alteration, but you will want to be familiar with all the steps before you start.

To begin with, have your customer try on the slacks and then provide a mirror so they and you can see what you are looking at. (If this alteration is for your own pants, you also should try your slacks on in front of a mirror.)

If the pants are too tight in the crotch area, the fabric will bunch and pull and you’ll see horizontal lines or folds of fabric that seem to originate from the crotch area.

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A rule of thumb here for any garment:  tight “pulls” of fabric always “point” to the problem. So, in this case, the tight pulls “point” to the crotch area.

Measure from the lowest “pull” line on the left side of the pants to the lowest “pull” line on the right side of the pants. The diagram below illustrates where to measure. That will give you one measurement of the gusset. Let’s say it is 3″. Write that measurement down.

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I used to also measure the crotch length of the customer which looks like this:

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But, I have found that pants do not sit at the natural waistline very often anymore and each customer likes their pants or slacks to sit at a different place in the front and in the back. So, ask your customer to tell you how much more they want in the front and the back to make the pants fit and feel better.

Let’s say the customer wants 2 more inches in the back and 1 more inch in the front.

You’ll need a total of 3″ for the vertical measurement of your diamond shape.

The same rules apply if you are measuring for an under arm area.

The first measurement in the under arm area is how much more they need in the arm circumference and then how far it is between pulls:

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Once you get those two measurements, (for either the crotch area or the under arm area) you are ready to draw a gusset pattern on paper.

Even if you don’t want to add any to the crotch length, (or the arm circumference), you’ll need to, in order to make the diamond shape. In that case, it could be a skinny diamond by only adding 1/2″-1″ to the crotch length area. (I will only be referring to the crotch alteration from now on, but apply the principals to the underarm if that’s your alteration.)

Let’s say you need to increase the crotch length by 2″ and the width by 3″. (Again, you could have any combination of measurements, based on the measurements you need, so your gusset shape most likely will differ from mine. Yours could even potentially be a square shape.)

Here is how I would make the gusset. Mine needs to be 2″ high by 3″ wide.

So, I get out a ruler and a piece of paper and draw 2 dots representing the increase of the crotch length measurement (shown below by the red dots..mine is 2″). Then, I draw a vertical line between those two dots (below).

Then, I use the ruler to find the middle point of that line (In my case, it is 1″). Because the measurement along the inseam from pull to pull is 3″, I draw a black dot 1 1/2″ to the right of the midpoint and a black dot 1 1/2″ to the left of the midpoint. Next, draw a horizontal line connecting the 2 dots (represented below… mine is 3″ total).

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Then I draw the diamond shape by connecting the dots like this:

 

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This diamond shape is the base of your gusset shape.

Next, I add seam allowances to the diamond shape. This is very important. If you don’t add them, your gusset will be too small.

If you are feeling a little unsure of the size of the gusset you made, or this is your first time making gussets, add 1″ seam allowances all around the gusset shape. Doing this will give you some added room to adjust it later, if you need to, without having to make another gusset.

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(Just so you know, on the garment itself, you will be using the original seam allowances to stitch on when we get to that point.)

Cut out your paper pattern.

Next, cut your gusset out of any scrap of fabric that matches your garment, as close as possible. It may be difficult to get it to match exactly, but get it as close as you can.

Mark the stitching line (1″ in from all the edges) on your gusset. You can use a piece of chalk, washable marker, or hand stitch a running stitch to mark it.

Finish the edges of the gusset with a zig zag stitch or use your serger. This will prevent the gusset from fraying as the garment is worn and washed.

Next, you will open up the inseams in the garment where you will put the gusset in. So, my measurement was 2″.

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Only open up exactly the amount you need and back stitch those openings well with your sewing machine so that they are anchored well and they don’t open up any more.

Next, you will stitch one continuous side of the diamond to one side of the pant opening. Right sides together!

Make sure you line up the correct side of the diamond to the correct side of the pant (center front, right leg, center back, or left leg). You want your diamond to be in the correct position when you’re all finished sewing.

Also, be sure to line up the drawn stitching lines on the gusset to the original stitching line on the garment. The seam allowance on your pants may be 1/2″. If your gusset has 1″ seam allowances, the edges will not line up evenly and that’s ok. Just be sure to match up the gusset seam allowance to the pant seam allowance and pin well or baste between the dots on the gusset. This will be explained further below.

Use the original stitching line of the garment to stitch the garment and the gusset together being sure not to catch any part of the gusset in the stitching as you go.

Be sure and stitch only from dot to dot. Do not stitch the diamond piece all the way to the gusset edges. The corners of the gusset should always be loose. If they aren’t, the gusset will not fit properly.

In the diagram below, the wrong side of the gusset is facing us while the right side of the pants are facing us.

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Stitch the next side of the diamond in the same manner:

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Both seams should be sewn tight. If there is any open area, stitch it up being careful not to catch the gusset in the seam.

Now, you should have a perfect gusset!

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If the gusset is too tight, take out the stitches and use a smaller seam allowance on the gusset which gives you more room in the gusset.

If the gusset is too large, take in more of the gusset with even larger seam allowances on the gusset.

Once you get the fit correct, stitch over the original seam again. This will secure it and keep it from coming undone in the future.

Update: February 1, 2018: I’ve received some really great questions about specific situations concerning gussets….

First, the reader asked if you need to pay attention to the grain line of the fabric when cutting out and sewing in the gusset. Here’s my answer:

Personally, I don’t think it’s critical to pay attention to grain lines unless you are working with a stretchy material. The lengthwise grain of the fabric has the most stretch and should be placed in the same direction as the inseams (side to side in the diagram on the post.) Don’t use the bias as the bias is too stretchy and the weakest part of the fabric. It will stretch too much, and in some cases leave a bulge in the gusset over time.

Second, the reader asked how to stitch over the thick intersection of jeans where the inseams meet the center front and back seams. Here’s my answer:

There is an amazing tool called a Jean-a-ma-jig and it makes this job so much easier. Check out this link on How to Use a Jean-a-ma-jig. You must also know how tough your sewing machine is. If you are having trouble sewing on denim, you may want to hand walk your needle over the thickest part of the intersection. To do that, just stop sewing right before you get to the thickest part and use the fly wheel located on the right side of your machine and turn it toward you until you’ve “walked” it over the hump. It should still be pretty secure and that way you don’t break a needle. If you need to trim the seam a bit before you sew, just be sure you’re not taking out too much fabric and not leaving enough to hide the raw edges inside the seam. Top stitch over the original stitching line.

Congratulations, you’ve just accomplished making and inserting a gusset!

Now, for those pants that are too baggy in the crotch area, here is a post on How to Take in the Crotch Seam on Pants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make A Dress With A Tulle Skirt

As you readers know, altering garments is my focus, not constructing them.

But, I just got a great question from a reader and I would love your input in helping her.

I’d love your thoughts on the tulle (netting) fabric. Do you have some tips on how to expedite the process and make that skirt bottom look even without a lot of heartache? Do you use a rotary cutter or what is your secret? Thank you ahead of time! Linda

Here is what she wrote:

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My daughter will be wearing this C version (green full length dress in the photo above) and I have been asked how much it would be for me to do all 8 dresses. I’m a little concerned about the skirt material.
I’ve made tutus for dance costumes, but not for dress. I would love any hints or advice you can give. I have no idea what to charge above materials, so if you can, give me a suggested $ amount to ask for. Because it’s for a wedding I’m a little nervous. I sew well, I just haven’t worked with this style.
Thank you, your blog is fantastic for referencing “how to” do different projects.
Paulette

I will say that when I am altering a tulle skirt or dress, I use scissors and trim the hem by hand. If the hem isn’t even, make sure that when you take off the excess, you are taking it off at the correct height all the way around the hem.

When I go to actually do the cutting, I use my ironing board and a seam gauge to keep my cutting straight.

Hope that helps and can’t wait to read your comments!

How to Avoid Ruining a Garment

Here’s  another good question from a reader…

Judy wrote:  My question regards mistakes.  I’ve never destroyed anyone’s item (thank goodness!) but I’ve always been afraid of messing something up, especially an expensive item, like a prom or wedding dress.  Have any of you ever made an error like this?  If so, what did you do?

Here’s my answer:

Yes, I’ve made two errors in the last 13 years. First, I ruined a man’s shirt once when I accidentally serged part of the shirt in a seam and it got cut off by the serger blade. There was no way to fix it, so I gave him the money to buy him a new one, along with a huge apology, of course. I simply asked him how much he had spent on his shirt and gave him the money. He was thrilled that I would pay for a new one. By giving him the cash, I didn’t have to go shopping and find him a new one. Win-win. (The second error is explained below).

There are two things I do before I begin working on a garment.

First, I pray before I start each alteration asking that God would help me pay attention and do my best work and keep me from making any irretrievable mistakes. By His grace, that hasn’t happened since.  Now, I realize that that could have happened with a wedding gown or something else that was expensive, but I determined in my mind that if that were to ever happen, I would make it right. In other words, I would pay for a new garment or pay to have it fixed if it was possible.

Second, I always examine each garment well before the customer leaves my presence. That way, I can point out any flaw, defect, stain or problem the article of clothing has and that covers my back so that the customer knows it was not something I had done, while it was in my care.

Once, when I had finished a wedding gown and had my customer try it on, I noticed a pencil mark on the front of the gown. Knowing that I had checked the gown over very well before she left it in my care, I knew it had happened on my watch. So, I pointed it out to her and told her I would get the dress cleaned for her at the cleaner of her choice.

The pencil mark came out of the gown and it cost me $50, but it was a good lesson for me and I’m just so thankful it didn’t cost more than that to fix it.

I think the bottom line is to have confidence when you take a garment in. Have faith in your ability. Take your time (haste makes waste) and be careful. Mistakes happen when you’re tired, distracted, and/or in a hurry. You’re human. You will make mistakes, but the more alterations you do, the more confident you will feel sewing on different fabrics and garments. If you can, go to the fabric store and get a swatch of a fabric that is close to the one you’ll be working on and practice on that first. The more you do, the better you’ll get.

Now, let’s hear from you.

What do you do to minimize costly situations?

Altering the Shoulders on a Jacket

A customer brought me two jackets to take in at the shoulders.

Both of these jackets had shoulder pads, too, which she wanted removed.

You don’t see those much anymore!

She tried the jacket on and I put a pin marking the spot where she wanted the sleeve to be moved to.

See the white pin head about one inch in from the armscye (sleeve seam)?

This customer is a very classy lady and I know this jacket probably cost a pretty penny.

But, doesn’t it just scream “80’s” to you?!

Let’s get started.

The first thing you want to do is, turn the jacket sleeve inside out.

You are going to open up the sleeve seam of the lining only.

We do this to access the shoulder seam easily and when we close it up, it’s super easy and doesn’t show when you take your jacket off.

 

Open the seam up about 5 or 6 inches (I usually open it around the elbow area and up towards the shoulder) using your seam ripper.

Then, pull the shoulder area out so you can work on it.

Unsew the lining seam:

If you have sewn blouses or jackets with a pattern, you know that there are notches on the pattern of the sleeve.

Your jacket may not have notches in it, like the diagram below, but just open a large section of the seam.

This diagram shows how far you should take the seam out:

Next, take out the shoulder pads.

These particular ones were made of foam rubber!

That’s the first time I’ve seen foam rubber shoulder pads….ick!

They just disintegrated:

Shoulder pads are usually just attached with tacking threads.

Just clip those threads to free the pads.

In rare cases, however, you may have to open up the shoulder seam, take out the shoulder pads and restitch the seam together again before doing any alterations.

Once you take out the shoulder pad, you’ll notice that there are a few items you may not be familiar with.

One of them might be the white interfacing strip (or a strip of seam tape).

It is there for support

The second might be a  flannel-like sleeve cap (or one made of a similar material).

In this case, it is the lighter grey fabric strip:

This gives the sleeve stability and shape.

Take that off.

Before you take apart the shoulder seam, put in a tailor tack at the top of the sleeve.

Use a contrasting color of thread so you can see it against the jacket fabric.

You will put it in the seam allowance of the sleeve, where the shoulder seam meets the sleeve.

You need this tack in order to match up the sleeve after you make the alteration:

Next, match up the tailor tack mark to the new pin mark you made earlier on the shoulder of the jacket:

Be sure you are matching the seam allowance of the sleeve to the pin mark, not the cut edge of the fabric to the pin  mark.

Next, pin the sleeve all around the arm seam. Use the stitching line as your guide and make sure it looks nice and smooth and natural as you pin.

If it fits well, just stitch over the original seam line and you’re finished.

However, if you have more sleeve than armhole, you’ll need to make that sleeve circumference smaller.

That’s easy to do.

Let’s say it’s too big by 1/2″.

Take a pin and place it 1/2″ down from the seam allowance right under your tailor tack (which isn’t showing on this photo.)

Now, your new seam line will be similar to the original one, but it will look like this (where the dotted line is drawn). I don’t actually draw a line on the jacket, but you could, using a washable marker.

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Then, stitch the new seam of the arm (from imagined notch to imagined notch) to close it up.

Once you’ve sewn that seam, check how the sleeve looks by turning the garment right side out again.

Make any adjustments, if necessary, and sew again.

Next, don’t forget to sew the grey matter back in there! Just use the same stitching line.

If it looks good, trim off the excess fabric:

If your jacket came with these “stays” (this one has blue stays), be sure and sew those back on. One end should be sewn to the jacket on the seam allowance and the other end gets sewn to the shoulder seam allowance.

These keep the jacket and lining from straying too far from each other.

They are not necessary if your jacket doesn’t have them.

Stitch the opening closed in the sleeve lining down by the elbow.

Make the same alterations to the remaining sleeve and the lining on the other shoulder of the jacket.

It is easier than it sounds and I hope it gives you incentive to give it a try!

Update: 2/28/12:

Below in the comment section, you’ll see a comment from a Linda M.

Here are the photos which go along with her comment.

She adds pleats in the seams to take in the extra fullness.

Its another option if your customer would like that look.

Since one of you posted a reply asking for photos, here they are:

You can see how they look in the photos above.

Thanks Linda, for sending those to me.

 

Fun At The Wedding Reception

As I mentioned in the previous post,

we held two receptions for our daughter’s wedding.

One was held at the church.

The second was a family dinner at a public golf club in the next town.

Here are the newlyweds leaving the church:

The wedding party planned to stop off at a local reservoir for some more pictures on their way to the golf club.

We swapped cars with the newlyweds which meant we had their rental car, a small little domestic jobbie.

About a mile away from the church, my husband noticed that the “low tire” indicator light had turned on.

He figured it was a computer glitch and thought we should keep driving.

(Does this sound like your husband?!)

But I really thought we should get it checked out.

(Does this sound like a woman’s response?!)

We realized that there was a tire shop within about 6 blocks of our predicament.

As we got within 2 blocks of the tire shop, we felt and heard the wheel go “thu-thunk, thu-thunk”.

We pulled in to the shop just as the men were closing up for the day.

And they graciously agreed to fix it for us.

We had the best time with it all!

Here we were in our formal wear and they in their grease and grime.

I said to one of the men, “People go to great lengths just to get their tires fixed, don’t they?!”

We found all sorts of things to laugh about.

I figured no one would believe our story without proof, so I snapped a shot of “Jose” and my husband enjoying the moment for all it’s fun:

We kept thanking the Lord for His provision:

1. The flat tire came at a great time in the day (good thing it wasn’t fifteen minutes later) and at the perfect location

2. It didn’t happen to Jake or Michelle

3. It didn’t happen to us out in the country between our two towns

4. It didn’t happen to them the next day on their way to the airport

We were on the road in fifteen minutes and the last ones to arrive at the reception.

And the reception was so much fun too!

The bride and groom at their sweetheart table:

First Dance:

Jake and his ten, or so, buddies danced and got the whole crowd cheering with each of their unique dances:

Jake even walked on his hands across the floor. I didn’t know he had such talent!

Everyone joined in the fun and celebration.

It was my favorite reception of all time.

(Does that sound like a mom?!)

At some point in the evening, the photographer took the wedding party outside for pictures.

At the end of that session, Michelle came back inside to let me know that when Jake carried her across the expansive lawn, one of her bustles “broke”.

(Didn’t I tell you I would relate it to sewing at some point in the story?!)

Upon further investigation, we found that one of the plastic rings had actually broken in half!

For years, I  have suggested that brides pin about 5 safety pins along the inside lower edge of their dresses in case of emergencies.

I never thought I’d use my own advice! 🙂

I took one of those safety pins and used it as a “ring” and then re-tied the ribbon onto the safety pin.

(If you want to know how to add bustles, he’s a post on How To Put Bustles on Your Wedding Dress. here’s one post and here’s a post on How To Make French Bustles, Even Easier Than Before!)

She was “good to go” in mere moments!

We sent them off under a canopy of sparklers.

It was such a beautiful scene.

I wish I had a photo of that to show you.

Everyone left and I realized I had forgotten to ask for help in dismantling the banquet room!

I also forgot to take into account that we had the rental car with about 2 square feet of storage space.

So, we detained our younger daughter for awhile while we packed her car to the brim and sent her off.

While we were packing our car, she returned to tell us that Michelle had lost her wallet somewhere.

She needed it for the airplane ride the next day.

So, we prayed on the way home that God would help us find it.

When we arrived home, one of her bridesmaids was there ready to help us find it.

We scoured the house… everywhere we thought she’d been that morning and couldn’t find it anywhere.

As we were looking in her bedroom one more time, and thinking about heading over to the church to look there,

Michelle called and explained that she remembered it falling out of her purse at some point during the day.

With that, I dropped to my knees and lifted her bedskirt and there it was right in front of me!

It had rolled under the bed apparently after it fell out of her purse.

Praise-a-lu-jah!

We were so happy to be able to tell her that God had answered yet another prayer that day!

We took it over to the hotel they were staying at and stayed up all night chatting with them.

Just kidding. We dropped it off and left.

And they had a wonderful honeymoon in Hawaii.

Now they are enjoying married life and we are enjoying being in-laws (or maybe we are outlaws!)

Now share with us your funny or unusual stories from your wedding day.

Don’t be shy.

Everyone has a story.

I can’t wait to hear yours!!!

How To Take in a Dress with Piping

This formal dress has piping along the top edge:

It has to be taken in at the bust area, which means I need to address the piping:

I could take off all of the piping, make the alteration and restitch the piping down.

However, that would involve taking off the hook or eye near the zipper and fiddling with the piping at the zipper area.

Many of you would go that route.

But for some reason, I would rather eat mud than hand stitch a hook or eye back on.

And I really don’t like trying to match the ends so that the top of both sides meet again after you zip it up.

Silly right?

I know.

But we all have those jobs that we really loathe and that is one of them for me.

It may be that your dress would be easiest to alter that way.

Or, it could be that altering the piping at the armhole is your only or best option.

So, let’s look at altering the piping one step at a time.

We will end up making a seam in the piping, but it will be barely noticeable.

You’ll see what I mean.

First, take out the understitching on the wrong side of the top of the dress with your seam ripper:

Pull the lining away from the piping:

Then, take out the stitching that holds the piping to the dress:

Next, take a pair of scissors and cut through the piping, making sure you are cutting at the point where the side seam of the dress lines up to it:

Alter the bust area accordingly.

If you’re not sure how to do that, here is a post on How To Take in the Bust.

Once you’ve made the alteration to the bust area, you’ll now address the piping:

Take out about two inches of stitches on both sides of where you cut the piping strip (the red fabric below) :

Next, open that up and you’ll see the white string type material (the cording):

You’re going to trim that off 1/2 the total amount of the alteration.

for example, if you’re taking in a total of one inch on the side seams, take 1/2 inch off of the cording on the right of the cut and 1/2″ off the cording on the left of the cut:

Next, mark with a pin, the amount you want to take in.

You can tell the amount, because it will match up to the new side seam you just altered:

Next, pin the cut edges of the fabric strip right sides together:


Stitch across the strip, parallel to the cut edge like this:

Be sure all parts are laying flat or you’ll have some puckering in the strip and you’ll have to rip it out and restitch.

This is how it should look on both sides:

Don’t worry if the cording didn’t get stitched into the seam.

Trim your seam and finger press it open:

Fold the strip WRONG sides together, like this:

Be sure and match the edges well.

Tack that down with a basting stitch, if you wish.

The point of my seam ripper (below) shows where I have tacked that down:

You don’t need to tack it down, but I like to so I don’t have to keep wrestling with the thing while I pin it to the dress.

If you took out a ribbon hanger from the dress in the beginning, this is the time to put it back in:

Next, line up the cut edge of the dress and lining with the piping sandwiched inside.

Make sure all these line up and lay flat.

If not, alter the areas that need it and then come back to this step.

Once they all line up, place a pin through all the layers:

If you’re doing an underarm alteration like this (as opposed to altering piping in a straight seam), you’ll notice that the old seam lines don’t match up.

You’re going to have a situation similar to this diagram:

So, you’ll need to line up the piping along a new imaginary seamline and then sew your new seam next to the piping:

I can do this quite easily because I’ve done it for so many years, but you can pin it or even mark it with a fabric marker if you’re not sure.

Do you see my new stitching line that I sewed with burgundy thread in the photo below?

Once you’ve checked the outside of the dress to make sure it looks good, run a second row of stitching either right on top of the first, or right next to it for added reenforcement.

On the outside of the dress, you’ll see a tiny little seam in the piping, but it’s hardly noticeable:

Here’s another example of one I did this past week:

If you need to understitch the inside of the dress, be sure and do that.

If you’re not sure how to under stitch, look at the instructions at the end of this post on How To Take In Side Seams and Facings.

I think you’ll find that you can use this technique on many applications from clothing to upholstery.

 

Stain Remover For Wedding Gowns

Every morning I open up my e-mail and receive many wonderful comments and good questions.

Last week, I received a tip on how to remove a stain from a wedding or bridesmaid dress.

In all my years as a wedding coordinator, I don’t remember a bride or bridesmaid spilling anything.

Maybe that was partly because we made sure they didn’t drink or eat anything that could cause stains.

It’s really important for a bridal party to have food and drink around, especially if the photo session before the ceremony lasts for hours.

And often times, they do.

I asked the bride to bring things such as water to drink and cheese, crackers and green grapes to eat.

Someone is always in danger of fainting under the warm lights or the hot sun outside, so it’s always a good idea to have something in their stomachs.

But, there’s always the chance of spilling something other than food or water on your gown.

You might drop your makeup or lipstick or who knows what and have a catastrophe on your hands.

So, Janet sent this tip and I wanted to pass it along to you.

Now, mind you, I haven’t tried this tip myself, but it sounds like Janet has used it several times and I’m willing to try anything when it comes to removing a stain on formal wear, aren’t you?

Especially when someone else has already been courageous enough to try it and had success!

She even included detailed instructions.

Thank you, Janet!

She wrote:

“I saw your tips for brides and bridesmaids and I wondered if I might add to your suggestions? I always try to bring what I call a ” bride’s emergency kit “. It is actually only one thing, but it has saved the day many times. It is a product most people have probably heard of called Dryel. It was created to allow you to freshen up your dry cleanable clothes in your own dryer, but it also contains an excellent stain remover.

It seems that inevitably just before the wedding, either the bride to be or one of her bridesmaids, spills something on their dress. When it happens, I take the bottle of stain remover and the absorbent pad and am able to remove most, if not nearly all, of the stain. You just slip the enclosed absorbent pad under the stained material and apply the stain remover sparingly to the spot, being careful to keep the liquid and pad away from their skin and yours. The pad absorbs any excess liquid and also provides a safe area to, using the top of the closed bottle, gently work the stain around until it disappears. The product really is amazing!

Dryel is found at Walmart, Target, most grocery stores, etc. My daughter uses it when she doesn’t have enough time to take something to the cleaners.

So, I just went into our laundry room and found her container of Dryel in the cupboard.

This is what it looks like, if you’re not familiar with it:

And, sure enough, it has a stain pen right inside:

She’s a “Tide To Go” fan, so I bet she didn’t know about this little gem.

Janet wrote about a stain bottle. I don’t know if it’s the same solution.

I e-mailed her last week and haven’t heard back from her yet.

Have you tried this product and stain treatment yourself?

I’d love to hear your comments on this or other stain removing secrets.

If you accidentally cut your finger and it bleeds on your dress, here is a great solution. It’s found in this post on Fun At The Wedding Reception.

How To Put Gussets In a Dress or Top

Do you know what a gusset is?

It’s an inverted triangular (or diamond shaped) piece of fabric inserted into a garment to make it fit more comfortably.

If you’d like to put gussets in pants or a top that has sleeves, look at this post on How To Put Gussets in Pants or Shirts.

This post will cover how to put gussets in an area where two seams intersect. These triangular gussets are usually found in a strapless dress or a dress or top that has straps.

When adding gussets to a strapless dress or top, you will usually have two gussets….one in each side seam, even if you have a zipper on the side.

You know you need a gusset, when you are zipping up a dress or skirt and it won’t zip up all the way.

(There are other instances where they are needed, but we’ll focus on this problem for now.)

I’ve written a post that teaches you how to put in a corset back in your dress, but not every dress needs a corset back.

If you need to enlarge a bridesmaids dress, for example, and you want all the dresses to look the same from the back, you’ll want to put in gussets instead of a corset back.

Or, you need to enlarge a bridal gown or formal dress and there’s no other option.

I have had a few e-mails asking how to enlarge a garment that’s too small.

And I get several customers each year that need this alteration as well.

In August,  my daughter came back home to be a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding and the bodice of her dress was too tight to be comfortable.

She ordered it in the same size as the one she tried on in the bridal store, but the one that came in didn’t fit the same as the one she tried on. Unfortunately, this is a common problem.

So, with about two hours to spare, I knew what it needed.

You guessed it: gussets.

This is what one of them looks like:

Just so you know, the gathered fabric to the right of the gusset is a tie that was sewn into the dress and it tied around the waist.

Here’s what it looks like with the ties pulled away from the bodice:

Chances are, your garment won’t have ties like this, but if it does, you don’t have to take them out.

Just ignore them and forget they are there.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the gusset-making process when I added these to her dress, because I was in a hurry to get them done before the wedding.

So,  today I’ll show you how to make these gussets using mostly diagrams.

Read all of the instructions before you begin so you are familiar with the process.

Here is a diagram of the back of a dress and what this dilemma looks like. She was only able to zip the dress up part way:

To do this alteration, you’ll need to take two measurements.

They are marked in the diagram below by the dash lines:

Let’s say that the opening across the top is 4″ and the measurement down the side of the zipper to the zipper pull is 5″.

Jot your measurements down.

Grab a piece of computer paper (or something of similar size.)

Make a big dot at the top middle of the paper (shown in the diagram below).

This mark will symbolize the center back of the dress.

Take the top measurement (in this case, it was 4″) and divide that number in half.

You’ll be making two gussets: one for each side seam of the dress, so that is why you divide the number in half.

In this case that means 2″.

You are basically going to add 2 total inches to the left side of your dress and 2 total inches to the right side. Adding them up equals the 4″ total that you need to make the dress fit.

Measure out to the left of that main dot one inch and make a second dot. Now, measure out one inch to the right of that first dot and draw another dot, just like in the photo below.

Then, measure down 5″ from the first dot (or whatever your second measurement is) and make another dot.

Connect the dots with a ruler like this:

As you can see, the measurement that is horizontal, represents half the opening you have in your dress along the top.

The vertical line represents the opening you have from the top of the dress down to the zipper.

Make sense so far?

Ok, now draw a line from the bottom dot up to the outer dots like this:

This represents your gusset without seam allowances.

Now, we’ll add the seam allowances.

I add a half inch to the sides and bottom of this triangle, like this:

****Whether you have lining in your garment, or not, you’ll need to place the top edge of this triangle on the fold of the fabric scrap you have chosen to make your gusset out of.

Otherwise, if you didn’t place it on the fold, you’d have a raw edge at the top.

(Sometimes, when the garment has a seam in the armhole, then I’ll add a seam allowance to the top edge and cut two pieces out and seam them at the top edge before inserting the gusset into the garment.)

But I try to avoid that step if at all possible.

If I don’t have to add the seam allowance at the top edge, I’ll cut this triangle out like this:

To me it’s much easier to have a fold at the top edge of the gusset I make.

This means you need to pay attention to how much fabric you need to make the gusset out of.

I try to match the gusset fabric to the main fabric of the garment as best I can, from the scraps I have around the house.

Many times my customers think that if I take a few inches off the hem of the dress, I’ll have enough to work with, but many times I don’t.

Many times that hem scrap is curved and I don’t get a full triangle piece when I place that pattern on the fold of the scrap.

You may have to go and buy a small piece of fabric (a quarter yard is usually plenty) that matches.

Once you do that, place the top edge of the pattern you just cut out of paper on the folded edge of the fabric and cut it out along the lines.

Press the top edge of the gusset piece with an iron to set that fold.

Many times, I’ll iron on interfacing on the inside of the back piece of that triangle (which, if you unfolded the triangle, would look like a big diamond shape.)

The interfacing will add some stiffness and body to the gusset piece. I don’t iron on interfacing to the front of the triangle piece because many times it gives it a very stiff look, instead of the soft satin look.

Now, mark the seam allowances on the gusset pieces.

Mark those dots on the gusset piece too (except you don’t need to mark that center back dot.)

Now, set aside the gusset pieces and pick up your garment.

Looking at the garment where the side seam meets the underarm, you may have understitching there.

See the horizontal stitches in the photo below?

I’ll take out twice as many as I think I need to work in that area.

Take apart the side seam.

You may have boning in there.

Remove it and mark which way the boning came out. You don’t want to get it in backwards or upside down when you put it back in.

Then, take out the side seam stitches, only and exactly to the 5 inch mark (or whatever your measurement was…no more!)

Lay the gusset (right sides together) to the right side of the dress, matching the seam allowance line of the gusset to the stitching line of the dress.

Match the top dots to the top edge of the dress.

Match the bottom dot to the 5 inch mark, right at the point where you stopped when you took out the side seam.

You’re only matching and sewing the front edge of the gusset right now.

Using the original seamline as your guide, stitch along one side of the gusset, starting at the fold area and sewing down to the 5″ spot.

Backstitch and cut your threads.

Now, stitch along the other edge of the gusset from the top fold down to the 5″ spot again.

Check to make sure you dont’ have any bumps or haven’t caught any stray fabric in that seam.

If you have, rip it out and restitch it.

If you don’t restitch it, it won’t lay flat on the outside of the dress.

Next, pin the other end of the gusset to the lining, matching it in the same way you did the original end.

Stitch. Then, double check your stitching again.

If you need to put boning back into the dress, add it to the side of the gusset that is closest to the back of your dress.

You can stitch through the boning (if it’s not the heavy plastic kind.)

If it is the heavy plastic kind, you can make a casing in the side seams by stitching the outer edge of the gusset and that back side seam.

Then, slide that boning right down into that casing.

Then, I push the seam allowance to the back and tack that casing to the lining, if necessary, so it doesn’t move.

The gusset should look and lay flat.

You shouldn’t need to iron it at all.

I like that, because many bridal or formalwear garments are made of un-iron-able (is that a word?!) fabrics.

Now, sew the other gusset into your garment.

If you measured correctly, this dress will be perfect!

So, here is the photo of it again:

If the top edge of your gusset looks a little wavy, don’t be alarmed.

When you, or your customer, or family member puts it on, that waviness will disppear.

Most likely it’s wavy because it is a fitted garment and it’s not on the person yet.

Now, have them try it on and you’ll be the new hero because they can zip it up!

It looks great and they can now breathe!

How To Fix Boning Issues

 

I’d like to address how to fix a few problems with the boning in your dress or tops.

Recently, a customer tried on a dress that just didn’t seem like it fit correctly in the bust.

I knew right away that it had an issue with the boning, because one side was fine and the other was dimpled.

So, after I finished marking the hem, she handed the dress over to me and I looked inside.

Can you see what I saw?

The photo above shows the interior of her dress.

On the left side, the boning was just fine and the curve was “pushing out” like it should be.

In other words, it followed the natural curve of the body.

The right side, however, was the exact opposite.

The right side curves in toward us.

Here’s a side view. You can see that the dress fabric (where my hand is) is sticking out like it should, but the boning (where the lining of the dress is) bends towards the body:

That meant that the boning was in there backwards on the right side of the dress.

To fix the problem, I needed to take the dress apart, remove the boning, and put it back in correctly.

Here’s what I found when I turned the dress inside out:

The lining is attached to the dress. That is why it looks all scrunched up.

So, remove the cording that connects the two together:

I usually just cut the cording in the middle. That way, there is a little bit of cording on each layer which tells me exactly where to reconnect them again after I make the alteration.

Once I cut the cording, I noticed that this particular dress had the boning stitched directly onto the lining. It wasn’t enclosed in a casing.

We’ll talk about those that are enclosed in casings in a few minutes.

To get this boning out, I needed to rip out the topstitching that was holding the boning in place:

I just start by finding a stitch I can rip and then continue pulling out stitches until the boning is out.

Before I take the boning completley off, I mark it so that I know the direction it was in the dress:

I used a black pen on this one because I knew it would never show.

If you are uncertain about the mark showing, use something that won’t show, or stitch some loose stitches in the boning and take them out later.

I mark the boning so that I don’t put it in the same way it was before.

I’ve done that before! You only make that mistake once, don’t you?!

Now, turn the boning over and lay it in the same spot it was when you took it out.

If you have a bit of fabric or ribbon wrapped around the top of the boning, keep it there:

It is meant to protect the sharp ends so that the boning doesn’t poke through your dress.

If your dress doesn’t have this ribbon or fabric, you can put a piece on if you want.

If it looks like your boning is going to slip around while you are sewing it down, just anchor it to the lining with a few hand stitches to hold it in place:

Now, machine stitch the boning in place, from the right side of the lining, being very careful not to catch other parts of the dress underneath.

Make sure everything is out of the way before you begin.

I just sew along the original stitching lines:

Sew down one side (be sure and pull out your pins so you don’t run over them)

Then, sew across the boning to anchor it in.

(Don’t worry, you won’t ruin your machine by stitching over it.)

You might want to go slow, though.

Then, stitch back up to the top again:

Now, you can stitch across the boning at the top, again being careful not to catch the dress itself underneath the presser foot:

That should be all you need to do.

Make sure you replace the cording that holds the lining to the dress (or use ribbon or a strong thread).

Have the customer try the dress on again and you’ll see how it takes care of that bad dimpling problem.

Now, if your boning is enclosed in a casing, just take out the understitching in the dress that is found at the very top:

Turn the dress inside out and take out a few stitches of this top seam:

 

You only need to take out three or four stitches, the minimum amount needed to pull the boning out, turn it around and put it back into the casing.

Once it is back in the casing, just stitch the seam back up.

I don’t generally restitch the understitching, because it really doesn’t need it.

But you could if you wanted to.

Another problem you might have with boning is that it may be cutting into your skin at the top of your dress.

That means the boning is too long.

Just open up the dress as I explained above.

If the boning has a piece of fabric over the end, remove that first.

Then, just use a regular pair of scissors and trim off the end.

I usually take off 1/4″ -1/2″ .

Put the fabric back on the tip of the boning (or if you didn’t have a piece of ribbon or fabric on there in the first place, you may want to put a piece on now) and stitch it in place so it won’t slip around.

Put the boning back in and restitch the dress closed, if applicable.

That should fit alot better and keep her (or you) comfortable.

There may be other configurations with your particular dress but, hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be able to figure yours out.

If not, shoot me an e-mail at The SewingGarden@gmail.com and I’ll walk you through it.

 

 

 

 

How To Alter Tulle or Netting on Your Dress

This dress had two layers of satin and two outer layers of netting:

so I folded up the amount needed and pinned it in place:

as you can see, the amount that needs to be taken up is not even all the way around:

So, I couldn’t  just cut off 2 inches.

I had to find a way to mark the new line.

If your netting (or tulle) is made of polyester, you can just use the iron and press the folded edge like this:

However, if the content is acrylic or acetate or some other heat sensitive fiber, I wouldn’t iron on it.

In fact, always test the iron on a section of the netting that you’ll cut off anyway to make sure your iron is set at the right temp before going on.

If you have a heat sensitive netting, I would hand baste a long running stitch to mark the line.

Once you have marked the line, slowly and carefully, cut the edge with a sharp pair of scissors:

On this hem, I decided to keep the hem folded because I was concerned that if I opened it up, the two pieces might move apart and then it would have been difficult to get it lined up again exactly where I had it.

If you are a little uneasy about this, just practice on a scrap first.

Just as I was getting ready to cut the netting, I got an e-mail from Christy.

You remember Christy. She owns an alteration shop in North Carolina.

She gave us the great tip on using rings when making a French Bustle.

Well, she told me that she now cuts her netting with her serger!

Yeah!

Just take the thread out of the serger and use the blade to cut the tulle:

She said it may dull the blade a little, but a new blade is worth the time it saves her from having to use scissors.

Give it a try.

(Of course, you’ll want to test it on a scrap first.)

Whether you use the serger or scissors, your hem will be just as straight as the satin hem below it:

If you are creating a gown from scratch, you can always use the rolled hem foot on your serger to stitch a decorative edge to the netting if you wish.

I have done that when making bridal veils and it is very pretty.

You can experiment with the tension, stitch width and stitch length to get just the right look.

Have fun with it.

Thanks Christy!