Bathing Suit Sewing: Sewing The Gusset

Hi there!

Since Summer is now in full swing, I thought folks might start sewing their swimsuits from the 1940’s Bathing Beauty Swimsuit pattern.

This pattern is based on an original period 1940’s sewing pattern and retains the period shape and construction.

The pattern is pretty straight forward and not terribly difficult to make, but there were just a couple of techniques that you might need help with.  In my opinion, the under shorts are possibly the hardest part of the pattern.  This is not because shorts are hard to make, but because, like many undergarments or swimsuits of the era, the close fit was dependent on a gusset.

Of special note:  The shorts of the original pattern called for something of stretch fabric, like Jersey.  This meant it would be fitted closer to your body so you could swim without being scandelous.  In my sample, however, I opted to sew it in the same fashion fabric.  I don’t plan on wearing this swimming, but wanted to wear it as a romper.  But, it needs to be said, the hips did fit tightly, and I fit exactly in the original size specifications.  If you also want to use non-stretch fabrics, you may need alterations to the pattern.

Another note:  I used the wrong side of the fabric as the right side.  This may be confusing in photos, so make sure you read the descriptions that go along with the pictures to see what’s going on.


Firstly you should have done your side seams and your center front and center back seams.  I’m not showing these steps because they’re just standard sewing technique.  However, the photo above will show you that at both center front and center back you will need to stop your stitching at the dot and backstitch.  This is because we’re going to attach our gusset to where the dot is.


Next, hem the bottom of the shorts the amount indicated by the pattern. Here you see what the center front and center back will look like after hemmed.


Now we start the gusset.  Put RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER (remember, I’m using the wrong side of the fabric as the right side), and stitch between the dots on both of the sides.  Turn right side out and press.  It should now look like it does at the right of the image above.


Now we’re going to pin the first side of the gusset to attach it.  Use only ONE thickness of the gusset, and pin, right sides together.


Make sure you match at the bottom like this…

IMG_6087…and at the top like this. You will end your stitching at the dot.


Now stitch, making sure you go all the way from the hem to the dot.  Back stitch to re-enforce.


Now do the same to the other side.


After one side is finished it should look like this. Notice that the guessed lining is folded back, since you attached only ONE thickness of the gusset to the center front or center back.


Do the same steps to attach the other side of the gusset.  You can see in the image above that both sides of the gusset are now attached- one to center front, one to center back.


Now turn under your seam allowance of the gusset lining and press.  I find it’s easiest for me if I stay stitch before pressing, since this is nearly on the bias.


Pin the gusset lining to place over the gusset where you just attached it.  This encases the seam allowance.  If you need to trim your point or tuck it under to make sure it doesn’t stick out at the top of the point make sure you do that before stitching.  Pin the gusset lining to center front, then pin the gusset lining to center back.


Now topstitch it down in one continuous stitch.  This is what it should look like from the inside.


And this is what it looks like from the outside.

Congrats!  You’ve sewn a gusset in shorts!

Next time we do a tutorial I’ll show you how to attach the godet insets to the skirt.

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