Monday, March 3, 2014

The Nelle Sew Along Series& Giveaway: Bias-Less Arms Holes

There are some patterns out there that you never get tired of sewing. The Nelle by Brownie-Goose is one of those for me and everyone contributing to this series. This blog series will cover tips, tricks, and over the top add-ons to this classic pattern. Be sure to stay tuned!

DAY ONE: Bias-Less Arm Holes by Lollipops & Paisley
DAY TWO: Perfect Bias Tape by ChasingMermaids
DAY THREE: Twirly Skirt Tutorial by Sewing Sunflowers
DAY FOUR: Ric Rac Details by Lemon drops and Lollipops
DAY FIVE: Buttons, Pockets, and Flowers, Oh My! by Lollipops & Paisley

Now you make think, why should I bother? Well, here's why, Mother Goose (AKA Amy) is going to offer an incentive to participate in the Sew Along! HAPPY DANCE! So there will be 3 ways to enter. First, just anyone who shares with the Brownie-Goose lovers group on Facebook will get a chance to win a free BG pattern, winner drawn via Secondly, we'll have a voting contest on the same FB group for fans choice award, prize is a free BG pattern. Lastly, we'll have an Instagram (because who doesn't love IG?) tag contest for a chance to win the third free BG pattern. Just use #nellesewalong to tag your finished project pics. Each finished project will get an entry and winner drawn via The Sew Along Blog Series will run 5 days and then we'll give everyone a week to plan projects, sew them, and then post finished pics in the various places. That means this giveaway will close Sunday night on the 16th. We'll leave voting open on the sewing group for 24hrs and then winners announced on the 18th. Please comment below with any questions!

Feel Free to use this button (grab the HTML at the side -----> ) to share on  your own blog or IG or FB or any other place you'd like to show you're joining the fun!

First up, is the the bias-less version of the Nelle. That's right, NO BIAS TAPE! So if you're one of those who have tried the Nelle but wound up with a hot mess on the arm holes, this tutorial is for you!

This version features a fully lined bodice. This fabric (Heather Ross's Crafty Chloe line) was on the thin side. I love the print, but I'm not a fan of see-through on the bodice. So we used the method below to do the bodice. Start by cutting FOUR bodice pieces and not two. I also added 2" to the length of the skirt piece. The sew the arm holes with fabric right sides together. Clip the curves, turn and press. You can do the side seams two different ways. You can follow the rest of the Nelle pattern or you can do them the way you do the side seams in Lazy Susan and have completely enclosed seams on the bodice. That's what I did on this one. I really like it, but I did have to seam the skirt piece first and gather in the round and attach it. That's not as fast as the Nelle version, or it isn't in my opinion. So choose which you want and keep going.

Next we prep are sleeves. I serge the edge, then I fold up the hem a quarter inch, or just a tad more than the serging. To apply the lace, I lay it under the starting edge and position as I sew. I use my topstitching stitching length (3.5 for me here, but sometimes I go up to 4) and go slowly. I don't like pins so I just keep positioning the lace as I round that gentle curve.

To keep straight, I line the edge of my sleeve up with the little edge at the back of my sewing foot. You can kind of sort of see that in the pic below. Follow the edge of the fabric up to the back of the sewing foot and you can see a 'line' on the foot.

I didn't add the second line of stitching that the pattern suggests because I didn't fold up my hem that much. You can add it if you want. Topstitiching always add such detail! I loved this dainty little sleeve as is, so I left it. 

Now on to joining those sleeves to the bodice. Since we're NOT using bias tape, we're going to do a kind of french seam method. Line up the sleeve and the bodice right sides together (shown in first pic), then make sure you move that sleeve over a tad leaving about an eighth or quarter inch of the bodice exposed on the side (shown in top right pic). This will keep your edge from fraying into the inner bodice. Next, we fold that sleeve over and you can sew on or press it down nicely. I did a finger pressing (yes, I just smooth it out with my finger, it works).  

Then, I use the center needle position, my topstitching stitch length and fold of the sleeve as my edge guide to stitch that sleeve in place. You can choose to continue that 1/8th inch topstitch all the way down to the bottom of the sleeve or not. I chose not to because I knew I still had to attach the other sleeve if you think ahead (I wasn't), you could do the first step in attaching the sleeves on all sides and then topstitch them all down nicely with no stops. So, if you do that, make sure you turn the bodice inside out to to make attaching the opposite sleeve easier, as shown below. 

Phew, that just leaves the neckline! Press down as stated in the pattern. Again, I used thin fabric, so I didn't have thicker layers to contend with. However, if you used heavier cottons (say Jennifer Paganelli stuff), you may want to cut your inner lining down about an inch shorter than the outer bodice. This should give you a good scrunch with the elastic but not let the inner lining get skipped when stitching the casing.

 I don't like drawing lines on my pretty fabric... so I use my project for sewing guides. I did my first stitch (the one you leave open on the bottom for the elastic) right on the top of the serging. I just following that all the way around (here's where you want your serged edge to be nice and straight!). Then I place the side of my sewing foot on that first stitching and sew a straight line all the way around (no opening for elastic this time). So even if my first line wasn't perfectly straight, the second line will match it! Be careful, you don't want to slide too close to that first line when you go over those arm seams. It makes it a pain getting that 1/4" elastic through. I'm speaking from experience here... 

Up on the blog tomorrow is Raedene of Chasing Mermaids with her method to apply perfect bias tape. You don't want to miss this one! 


  1. So excited about this sew along and all of the great tips, this will be my first Nelle and my first BG pattern to sew. Trying to get warmed up to make the Pepper for my little one for Easter. Thanks so much for organizing and sharing!

    1. Thank you so much! The Nelle would be adorable as an Easter dress as well if you used the twirly skirt tutorial for day three! Good luck with your Pepper! I still haven't made one of her yet! I'd love to see finished pics!

  2. And now I plan on running to Hancocks to see if they have any of this adorable fabric! Thanks for the tip that it is thin (most things from Hancocks I find are, so I rarely shop there!).