Emma called me to the bower to show me how nicely her gussets and felled seams turned out on her chemise sewing project. I had to ask her for definitions of them both. After I saw them, I did a little research on my own and ended up reading about armor.<
Then I found the word "gusset" in this quote from Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native:
Gorget, gusset, basinet, cuirass, gauntlet, sleeve, all alike in the view of these feminine eyes were practicable spaces whereon to sew scraps of fluttering colour.
I think I want to be a research librarian when I grow up.
In the meanwhile, I'm going to repeat "scraps of fluttering colour" to myself at least once a day. As Anne of Green Gables would say, there's a lot of "scope for the imagination" there.
Back to the gusset. My old Webster's dictionary says that in the Hardy quote, a gusset is a piece of chain mail or a metal plate protecting the opening of a joint in a suit of armor. The Middle English form of the word was guschet, the Old French, gousset. In the chemise that Emma is working on, it is a diamond-shaped piece of fabric inserted under the arm to make the rectangular sleeve pieces fit better. The gusset makes it roomier and stronger.
I really like the word, "chemise". It sounds elegant. However, I thought that it meant the same thing as what I normally call a "slip". I referred back to the Webster's and found that it is not so. A "slip" does not have sleeves.
The left side shows what the gusset seams look like before being felled. The right side felled seams are pinned, ready to sew. A neckline drawstring will gather the fabric and make it adjustable to fit different dress necklines.
The felled seam is accomplished by turning under and sewing down flat the raw edge of the seam, making it 1/4" wide. This is done to keep the fabric from fraying, adding to the durability. The pattern notes say that the chemise should last three years and that a lady's wardrobe should include at least three of these essential undergarments.