Bronte Top Sew-A-Long - Basting Shoulders & Inserting Sleeves

Thursday, July 10, 2014

For this section of my Bronte construction, I like to do each step to both sides of my top at the same time (er, because there are two sleeves, you need to do each step twice...) For the sake of this photo tutorial however, I haven't, but feel free to do them either at the same time, or separately, it's completely up to you.

If there is a difficult section of making your Bronte top, inserting the sleeves is probably it. Not that it's hard at all, but it can be a bit fiddly if you've never inserted a sleeve flat before, so remember to just take your time.

1. With right sides facing up, place the back bodice shoulder section over the top of the front bodice, lining up the tip of the front binding with the single notch in the back armhole.  Pin in place.

Note - the single notch is marked on the photo below with a black line to make it easier to see.

2. The tip of the back neckline binding needs to be gently manoeuvred into place to line up along the raw edge of the front bodice arm hole. Do this without stretching your binding and pin in place.

3. To ensure my neckline stays nice and flat during the sewing process, I like to pin my under lap to my over lap along the binding lines, making a sort of triangle. Doing this will ensure that your neckline doesn't move at all when it comes time to put in your sleeve.

4. Baste your front and back pieces together along the armhole, stitching 3mm (1/8inch) in from the raw edge.

5. When doing the short sleeve hem, I like to do this before I insert the sleeve, however you are more than welcome to hem your sleeve after you've inserted it (as is done for the long sleeve version).

So, if you want to hem it first, turn your sleeve up and press it (twice) and stitch in place.

6. Both long and short sleeves for Bronte are inserted flat. Make sure you line up the single and double notches to make sure your sleeve is going in the right way around.

7. Right sides together, place your sleeve in the corner of the front bodice, lining up all raw edges and notches. Pin in place, and continue around the sleeve head.

Note - this is where it can get tricky! Remember, you don't need to keep your bodice flat when pinning, I find it easiest to almost scrunch my bodice up as I'm pinning around. Also, use as many pins as you like, ain't no judging round these parts...

8. Stitch your sleeve in place along the arm hole starting from one end and working your way to the other.

9. Trim out your excess seam allowance along your sleeve seam.

10. If you've only worked on one side of your Bronte top, then repeat the process above for the other side. Before you know it, you've almost got your very first Bronte top - easier that you thought huh?

5 comments on "Bronte Top Sew-A-Long - Basting Shoulders & Inserting Sleeves"
  1. Jen, just a note to say I really like the sew along. I am just coming back to sewing after a long hiatus and appreciate the reminder of all these skills. And your photos are so great! Can't wait to begin your pattern.

    1. Hi Cherie - I'm so glad you're finding these posts useful! As soon as you start sewing again, your muscle memory will kick in and I think you'll be surprised at how much you actually remember :)

  2. Hi,
    I just made my first Bronte Top and while I am quite happy with the overall fit, I have some problems with my back neckline puckering because of excess fabric.I have the suspicion that my shoulders are to narrow for the pattern. But since I am only a beginner sewist I don't really know if that is true. Could you please have a look at my photo and tell me whether I am right or not? If so, How can I alter my back bodice pattern piece without having to alter the sleeves as well?

    1. Hey Susie!! I've been meaning to do a broad shoulder adjustment tutorial for Bronte for a wee while now, and the narrow shoulder adjustment is the same, just opposite. I have done one for someone else that I just emailed to her - I can email that to you as well if you'd like?

      You can email me at


    2. I just checked out your picture, and it's definitely too wide in the shoulders for you, happy to send you the adjustment stuff :)


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