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Armpit gussets on Norfolk jackets


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#1 Svenn

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 04:41 PM

I recently came upon an article detailing among other things how gussets in the armpit area were used in Norfolk jackets for high mobility, including a reference on the Fedora Lounge about their use on the Burberry jacket of mountain-climber George Mallory (died on Mt. Everest). http://www.threadsma...8/cut-on-gusset

The gusset shown as an example in the article (below) seems to spring out of a very low armhole however... I'm wondering, do or did tailors ever combine a very high, fitted armscye with a gusset to achieve high mobility? If so, am I incorrect that there might be a problem of the gusset 'bagging out' of the armpit area it's supposed to stay concealed in? With regards to that, I saw a Phitwell jacket made by Dege on the londonlounge that has pleats on the back which spring shut with concealed elastic cords (see: http://www.thelondon...php?f=36&t=6309 )... would such mechanics be possible in an armpit gusset? Or is there a better solution?

btw, are there any tailors who make Norfolk or shooting jackets anymore besides Dege?

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#2 Terri

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 12:20 AM

The gusset shown as an example in the article (below) seems to spring out of a very low armhole however... I'm wondering, do or did tailors ever combine a very high, fitted armscye with a gusset to achieve high mobility? If so, am I incorrect that there might be a problem of the gusset 'bagging out' of the armpit area it's supposed to stay concealed in?


Yes it is possible to cut high armholes with gussets- we do it all the time for theatre. I doubt though if many "regular" tailors do. The low armhole and gusset could be that it was easier to alter the sleeve pattern to make it work rather than change both the body pattern (armhole) and the sleeve pattern too.

In terms of movement and sleeves you have to determine if you need forward reaching movement or raising your arms above the head movement. They require different manipulations.

Reaching forward requies a longer hindarm and that is usually accomplished with a sleeve that has a shallower sleeve cap height and is therefore wider in the upper arm as well. This can be done and doesn't have to look messy- I think it gets messy when the shoulders aren't fit properly, along with an excess of back width, and the extra length in the back of the sleeve all combined.

Reaching upwards requires more length at the front and front underarm area with little extra length added at the back. If done correctly this kind of a gusset is barely noticable when the arm is at rest. The width of the sleeve is not noticeably changed.

The expansion gussets were common in sporting jackets but a system of elastic cords and such, sounds like a contrivance to me. Why not use an inside lycra panel instead? It begs the question as to whether the jacket is actually for a sport or just to look like it.

I have my doubts about finding many regular tailors who would make these garments. Even the guy at London Lounge site seemed to have run into a roadblock suggesting his jacket have a half belt- well I think it would have been actually easier to construct if the jacket had a back waist seam and then a belt would have been appropriate.
It would be a lot of work for a tailor who isn't familiar with cutting the variety of those historical styles and perhaps doesn't have a source for references, and more expensive for the customer too.
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#3 jukes

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 05:52 AM

Most of the tailors on the row should be able to make traditional shooting jackets.

#4 Sator

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 10:32 AM

This is also known as a pivot sleeve. I think I have also seen it called a golfing sleeve. This comes from The Climax System (Minister's Gazette, London) circa 1914:

Posted Image

The example in the photo is a pivot sleeve added to a half kimono sleeve.

#5 Nishijin

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 01:20 AM

Most of the tailors on the row should be able to make traditional shooting jackets.


I agree. There was a time when explorers came to the row to have made coats to climb the Himalaya, cross the Antartica or hunt in the jungle. Tailors knew to make garments for them. Today, tailors very unually do anything but business suits. That's sad. But it does not mean a cutter who knows his job is not able to do other things. I hope cutters on the row are able to make shooting jackets, or it would be very very bad news for tailoring.

Still, Svenn, I do think it's nice to see you search for this kind of things. But maybe you should also come to visit your tailor explaining what you need to do in the garment, and let him offer solutions.
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#6 Der Zuschneider

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 01:30 PM

It is possible to cut a normal arm scye and deepen the armhole and 2/3 of the deepened Armohle will be attached as a gusset to the sleeve.
For women kimono's the tailors did it often as I see in the pattern of the 60thies. For my oppinion it is not apealing for men. It looks sloppy.
For dancers on stage they will need that only.
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#7 jukes

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 02:02 AM

It is possible to cut a normal arm scye and deepen the armhole and 2/3 of the deepened Armohle will be attached as a gusset to the sleeve.
For women kimono's the tailors did it often as I see in the pattern of the 60thies. For my oppinion it is not apealing for men. It looks sloppy.
For dancers on stage they will need that only.


DZ Shooting jackets need sleeves that will not restrict the wearer when the rifle (or gun) is held to the shoulder, when firing.

#8 Svenn

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 03:28 AM

Reaching forward requies a longer hindarm and that is usually accomplished with a sleeve that has a shallower sleeve cap height and is therefore wider in the upper arm as well. This can be done and doesn't have to look messy- I think it gets messy when the shoulders aren't fit properly, along with an excess of back width, and the extra length in the back of the sleeve all combined.

Reaching upwards requires more length at the front and front underarm area with little extra length added at the back. If done correctly this kind of a gusset is barely noticable when the arm is at rest. The width of the sleeve is not noticeably changed.


Thank you for this detailed explanation! I'm slightly confused what a 'shallower sleeve cap height' means, do you mean, generally speaking, the armhole is changed from being a circle to a horizontal ellipse, i.e. to get the 'wider upper arm'? Do most skilled tailors do this even if not for theater?

Regarding the 'upward reaching' gusset, I don't quite understand how it or gussets in general work. In my mind, if you sew on an extra piece of fabric into the armpit, wouldn't it just behave as if it were extra fabric on the sleeve... in other words, wouldn't the gusset just collapse out and form excess drape all over the sleeve? I don't see how you could have a completely clean, drapeless arm, with all the drape absorbed and reserved in the gusset, without other effects showing up on the nearby sleeve, like in the pics below. I hope this question makes sense :hmm:

Posted Image


Anyway, maybe I'll IM you about it Terri but if I wanted to get any of these alterations and my tailor was unwilling or unable to incorporate them, couldn't I just send the finished garment to a person such as yourself to get them done?


"While it is very doubtful whether greater freedom is allowed for the movement of the arms when a portion of the underside sleeve joins the back and forepart..."


Well that's interesting Sator, is he really saying these gussets are useless?

#9 Kerry

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 06:00 AM

For the full post explaining this sleeve, pleas see this link.

I can go into a long winded explanation about it but essentially it is the tightness across the cap of the sleeve you would most want to avoid. You are changing the shape of the head of the sleeve from a vertical 0 to a horizontal <>, whilst setting it in the original armhole. This can only be successfully achieved with a close fitting armhole. The deeper the hole the more your sleeve is joined to your waistline and will draw the body up.

As you will read, this was an extreme example of a dancers sleeve as the dancer was being harshly critiqued for raising his shoulders in rehearsal. I must also point out that I did not make the jacket (cheap and nasty purchase) but only re cut the sleeves under instruction from the Producers and Designer. His sleeve is so extreme as I had to compensate for a deeper than ideal armhole to begin with.

I hope that helps.

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#10 Sator

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 09:19 AM

BTW the term gusset is misleading here, as this implies that there is an extra sewn on extension. The deepened scye of the pivot sleeve is grown on, not sewn on.

#11 Sator

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 09:33 AM

To determine if pivot sleeves improve range of movement I suggest you cut two trial garments. One with a conventional cut and another with pivot sleeves. You should keep all other factors constant. Report back with your findings

#12 Nishijin

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 07:59 PM

To determine if pivot sleeves improve range of movement I suggest you cut two trial garments. One with a conventional cut and another with pivot sleeves. You should keep all other factors constant. Report back with your findings

:good:

I would also suggest that the conventional one should have a well-cut armscye, to be sure that the pivot really adds mobility and confort, and is not a way to "save" an approximative armscye.
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#13 Svenn

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 01:24 AM

:good:

I would also suggest that the conventional one should have a well-cut armscye, to be sure that the pivot really adds mobility and confort, and is not a way to "save" an approximative armscye.


I wish I had the skills to do that experiment :), but that's interesting- maybe gussets are only effective in making a an otherwise overly-large armsyce smaller, which could have been achieved sans gusset if tailored well originally. Would you agree with that Terri and Theaterical Tailor?

#14 Schneidergott

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 01:48 AM

Just a thought:

Instead of cutting a gusset, why not set a piece of the same fabric into the armhole?
If you are cutting a new and wider sleeve anyway...

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#15 Svenn

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 07:14 AM

Just a thought:

Instead of cutting a gusset, why not set a piece of the same fabric into the armhole?
If you are cutting a new and wider sleeve anyway...


You mean what Sator called a 'grown on' extension? (just extra area added onto the new sleeve pattern, thus without seams)? I think that's what Nishijin meant... that a gusset just saves a jacket with a prexisting low armhole, whereas when drafting a new jacket a gusset's purpose can be incorporated to the pattern by just adding area, no actual gusset being necessary. Though that begs the question as to why Norfolk jackets have gussets at all.

#16 Sator

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 08:19 AM

Definition of a gusset:

(Clothing, Personal Arts & Crafts / Knitting & Sewing) an inset piece of material used esp to strengthen or enlarge a garment.

A triangular insert, as in the seam of a garment, for added strength or expansion.


That is, it is an added inset that is separately sewn on or "cut on". Norfolk jackets do not have any such inset in the sleeves, or for that matter anywhere else. Nor do Norfolks necessarily have a pivot sleeve.

The author of the Threads article further incorrectly uses the term "cut on" to mean "grown on".

#17 Terri

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 01:33 PM

Technically the definition of gusset would be a separate piece that is sewn in and that is done if/when the movement is restricted in an already existing or finished jacket, as TT has already mentioned.

The "gussets" that I mentioned are grown-on, not sewn in, so in other words they are just a different shaping of the sleeve pattern itself.

IMHO, I think that a cutter would have to be able to work outside of the standard modern suit shapes with the low armholes and narrow high crowned sleeves in order to cut a successful shooting coat with all the mobility that seems to be asked for. I don't think using the modern jacket or sleeve shapes will give the best results.
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#18 jukes

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 04:25 PM

Cutting a one piece shirt sleeve with a shallow crown, works well for clients requiring a wide range of movement, especially dancers.




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