Sleeve Gusset Basics or “What’s good for the gusset is good for the gander.”

The number one question I get with my kits is “How the heck are gussets attached to sleeves?”  I’ve probably gone through this over the phone and email around three dozen times, which makes it pretty obvious that it is a subject that needs further explanation.  

This is understandable.  With the gusset you are going from what is essentially a two-dimensional construction project (sewing rectangles to each other) to a three dimensional one when you’re jamming a square into the end of one of the seams to give yourself more fabric.  Over the years I’ve developed a little trick to helping people visualize this assembly step, and after literally a half decade of putting off writing an article outlining this process I’ve finally sat down to (hopefully) clear things up once and for all.


Step 1: Know your pieces.  Here we have a sleeve made from natural canton flannel, a cuff made from cotton shirting, and a gusset made from dark brown jean cloth.


Step 2:  We’ve attached the cuff to the end of the sleeve, pressed, and closed it.  Now we’re ready to attach the gusset.


Step 3:  First we’ll begin by folding the sleeve up from the bottom, right sides together, so that the corners at the top left line up with each other.


Step 4:  Fold down the TOP LAYER ONLY at a 45 degree angle until the folded back portion is the size of 1/2 of the gusset piece.


Step 5: Lay the gusset piece on top of this folded back portion (see the fold running diagonally under the gusset?) and pin the sleeve to itself along the top edge up to where the gusset starts, the gusset to the sleeve along the top edge for the rest of the length, AND the gusset to the sleeve along the edge that is now at a right angle to the top edge.  (This is when I usually get an “ohhhhhh!” over the phone…I live for that moment!)


Step 6:  Stitch the sleeve seam, and then the two edges of the gusset we pinned (top edge, and edge that comes off at 90 degrees.  We used big yarn for this part so the stitching would be a little more visible. 

That’s it!  You’re pretty much done attaching the gusset!


Here I’ve folded up the portion of the sleeve that was previously at a right angle to the top edge.


Here I’ve rotated the sleeve so the seam is on top, to show how the gusset “split” the seam in sort of a “Y” shape.


I flipped the left part of the sleeve over so you can get a peek at what will be the outside of the gusset portion of the sleeve.  Notice how it splits the seam like a “Y”.


I turned the sleeve right-side-out, pressed it, and then laid it flat.  Notice that the gusset is now folded diagonally, and see how much extra room it adds to the part of the sleeve you will attach to the body.


That’s it!  I hope this helps!