McCall’s 3326 technical details – underarm gussets

This is one of the final posts on my sewing project with Elise from Punga Road Studio. You’ve seen the finished dress, now I’ll be going into some of the technical details, the first part covers some of the inner details and documents working with the underarm gussets. The second post covers the beading around the collar.

buttons and facings

Bringing it all together, how sweet are those buttons?

binding notions and fabric


hong kong heam finish

Lovely Hong Kong seams, this is how Elise finished the hem. I do love this finish, and have used it on heavier fabrics, it works really well with this dress too, it gives just a touch more weight to the hem, and hangs nicely with it. If you need a little info on bias bound seams and Hong Kong seams (and what the difference is..) follow this link to a pdf with the deets.

Hong Kong seams are simple, if you have worked with bias binding, you can easily achieve this finish.  They do require a little extra work, the raw edge of the fabric is enclosed in a strip of bias binding, it helps to keep the seam stable, and looks so classy!

Elise made a strip of bias with the lining fabric, and used it to finish the sleeve and skirt hem. This was a good choice, I have attempted to work with pre made bias binding to find it was not the best match, either two heavy for the garment fabric, or I was pressing open the strip and re-folding it anyway, so keep that in mind when planning your seam or hem finish.

skirt vent tack

This is the vent, with a tack in place attached to the lining only.

dress parts laid out

So, here are some images of how Elise put it all together… the bodice pieces all set with the gusset where it will be inserted.

bodice back gusset and front

Elise did all the preparation, including stay stitching, sewing and pressing darts, and stitching small squares of silk organza in the corners of the bodice back and front at the stress points, the points of the gusset, like this:

organza at the gusset

I have read of using silk organza as a seam stabiliser before, but would not have thought of using it with gussets.

organza at the gusset again

Clipping the organza, nice and close, then folding it to the wrong side of the fabric.

clipping organza in gusset

And pinning.

pinned gusset both sides

Using the organza to pull back the fabric and hold it in place. Clever.

sewing in gusset with organza2

At the corner, Elise took it one stitch at a time to negotiate the intersection (making it look oh so easy).

sewing in gusset with organza

Pivot and back again…Front.

sewing in gusset front

And back.

sewing in gusset underside

Then close the bodice side seam, done.


And it works !

Opening the sewn gusset


Sewnin gusset

And inside, the three way join.

gusset join

And finally press. Perfect.

pressed gusset

It was inspiring to see it all come together with ease. Elise has a common sense approach and made it all clear at each stage, taking time to go over the assembly, before we pinned and sewed, her confidence (and pleasure!) is infectious. I can see how taking the time we did in initial fitting, laying up and preparation pays off. The actual assembly of the finished dress was very straightforward with minimal fitting adjustment required.

Having picked up most of my technical sewing skills from pouring over sewing books and online tutorials, and working mostly by myself, this was a real pleasure. My confidence is up, I could ask questions as we went along, and go over anything that was unclear, just being in a place where sewing is going on with enthusiasm was great. I have hit road blocks in the past, when it comes to an unknown technique, or issues due to wrong fabric choice, or a lack of understanding in achieving a good fit, so it was really helpful to go over ideas with someone with that much more knowledge and experience than myself, and discover we have similar tastes in vintage patterns.

I would recommend picking up a sewing project and booking in with Elise, maybe you know the basics of home sewing but would like to try a vintage dress pattern, a sweet vintage blouse or skirt? Maybe even something more advanced, like a fabulous vintage suit pattern? Go on, you’ll love it! Here’s the link, Punga Road Studio and take a look at the facebook page too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s