Archive for the ‘Threads Magazine’ Category


July 24, 2007

One of the problems that I have with both ready to wear clothing and patterns is that the arm openings are often too tight for me. This makes sense — clothing is typically cut for people who are smaller and shorter than me. I had read about a technique of inserting a gusset — a diamond shaped piece of fabric — into the armpit to allow for more room in this part of the garment, but the technique never made any sense to me.

As I was visualizing the problem, the diamond shape gusset simply wouldn’t fit into the space made when the seams at the armpit are opened up. If you open all the seams at the armpit, the shape you get resembles a cross, not a diamond — shown in red below.


If you clip the cross to make it into a diamond, you get the right shape, but the amount of fabric that you would add would be the same as you had clipped out. So the overall size of the garment would stay exactly the same.

The solution to this problem came to me this morning in the shower. Archimedes would have been proud. I had been thinking about opening all of the seams at the underarm. Then I started thinking about how you insert more space at, say, the hipline on a shirt. You open the seam, and you insert a triangle shape with the apex at the waist. A diamond, is of course, two triangles abutting each other. And the solution to this problem is to insert two abutting triangles into a seam — but only into one seam.

To properly insert a diamond gusset at the armpit, you only need to open the side seam. The piece then fits, thusly:


Unlike Archie, who was probably playing with his bathwater when he discovered the volume displacement principle, I don’t have a set of pattern-shaped pieces in my bathtub. Maybe there’s a market failure there? Floating visualization tools for patternmakers?