19 November 2017

Tutorial: Greenland gores (with M-shaped tops)

I've been working on my Herjofsnes challenge dress (finally!) and have been inserting the centre-front and centre-back gores. Now, this means doing those lovely gores that the Greenland garments are so famous for, with their interesting M-shaped tops. I've seen a tutorial or two, but none that really made sense to me, so I invented my own method. Here's how to do it.

The first question is: where to put your gore? On the Greenland garments, gores with an M-shaped top are inserted into the centre-front and centre-back. Their tops reach approximately between waist and the base of the sternum on the wearer. However, gores with M-shaped tops are not used at the sides - this is because nearly all of the Greenland garments that have side gores have ones that reach the armscye. However, hypothetically this method will work on waist-height side gores, too.

This entire tutorial works with the garment right-side out.

The first thing you need to do is mark the centre line of your panel and the planned height of your gore. I tend to mark the centre line before assembly and the height of the gore when draping the rest of the torso.

Once you've done that, mark a small grid at the planned height of your gore, like this:

On this diagram, the blue line (CD) is the planned height of your gore and the red line (EF) is the planned bottom of the M-shaped bit. The distance between AB, CD and EF are all 1" (1/2" on either side of the centre line). The distance between AC, CE, BD and DF are all 1/2". You can mark this with pins, chalk and/or tailor's tacks. Personally, I like chalk supplemented with tailors tacks. Once marked, it should look something like this:

Next, very carefully cut up the centre line until you reach the bottom-most horizontal line you've just marked (point G on the diagram above and below). You're then going to make two diagonal cuts, following this diagram:

First, cut the diagonal line GC. Then, cut the diagonal line GD. Finally, cut the the tip off the triangle you've just made. It should end up looking something like this:

Now, take the gore you're going to insert (it must be an isosceles triangle with the tip chopped off - the endwhere the tip was chopped off should be 1" across). Working with the garment right-side out, lay the gore inside the garment so that its 1" long tip is directly on the inside of the marked line AB (the top of your marked grid). Pin it firmly in place.

Next, carefully fold the seam allowances of the long centre-line cut underneath and pin them to the gore below. You will need to gently taper these seam allowances from their existing 1/2+" to whatever you're most comfortable working with. It should look something like this:


(This is why, as per the cutting diagrams in Medieval Garments Reconstructed, the original Greenland garments have the top of the slit a bit wider than a single cut-line and gradually tapering down. Once you trim the seam allowances from doing the gore insertion this way, this is exactly what you'll end up with!)

Next, sew down these seams, either working from the right side (as on the original Greenland garments) or using a seam method you're comfortable with. Leave about 1" at the top and the entire M-shape bit alone for the time being.

Once you've done at least 6" of seam on either side (and, if you wish, felled those seams), you can tackle the M-shape at the top of the gore. For this, you have to work from the right side and you'll probably have to use a stab stitch. Carefully use your needle or a pin to force the raw edge underneath as you go along, giving you a very narrow single-turned hem, stitched onto the gore below. When you're working, it'll look something like this:

Alternatively, if sewing from the right side seems too daunting, you can fold the entire little flap to the underside and sew a horizontal seam across this fold from the wrong side. This won't give you a true reproduction of the M-shaped Greenland gores. However, it does work very well and avoids the puckering you get from trying to insert a gore into a slit via the more commonly espoused methods.

Once you're done with the top of the gore, you can sew the long seams down to the hem of the garment. Then, unpick any tailor's tacks, brush off the chalk and admire your handiwork. Depending on the fabric the overall effect may be fairly subtle, but you can take pride in the fact that a) you've learnt a new documentably authentic technique and b) once you've learnt it, this is a really easy way to insert a gore into a slit without risking any unsightly puckering or pulling at the top of the gore.

Happy sewing! Let me know if you end up using this tutorial on one of your projects. :)

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