Sunday, March 4, 2012

Renfrews, Renfrews, Renfrews!

Folks, I have a new favorite pattern.  And it's not a 1950s dress or a even a full, flouncy skirt (though I do love those things!)     I'd ask you to guess, but you already read the post title.  Yes, it's the new Sewaholic Renfrew.  I've already made it four times, and I could make a million more.

Typically I wear a lot of sleeveless knit tops (usually under cardigans or hoodies) because finding a knit top with sleeves that fit can be a bit of a challenge.  I don't think I truly understood the problem, though, until I tried on my first Renfrew.  The sleeves fit.  The armholes are the right size, and in the right place.  When I raise my arm, the shirt doesn't hike up to my ribcage.  It's awesome.

My first attempt was the cowl-necked version (with short sleeves ... maybe a bit strange!)  It's not perfect, because the fabric I chose was not quite drape-y enough for the cowl, and because I second-guessed the pattern and made it longer and a little wider at the bottom -- I always have problems with shirts being too short and/or riding up.  (And, when do you not have to adjust a pattern, right??) After I had it together, I realized my mistake and took out the two inches I added to the length, but the bottom band's still a bit loose.

Yeah, I still hate photographing myself ... but it's a lot easier to see what a garment looks like on its intended wearer, so I did my best!  Incidentally, the jeans shown here are my favorites ... Gap wide-legs circa 2008.  They're about to wear through in the seat, so I have to savor their last few outings!

I made a scoop-neck next, with the 3/4 sleeves. I used a lovely remnant I got from JoAnn's a couple of years ago:  there was just enough to squeeze this project out.  This time I made the size 4 straight out of the envelope, with the only change being making the scoop a hair less deep in front.  (I should have shortened the neckband slightly as well, but it was such a minor change it was okay.)  This time around, it came out pretty much perfect!  The instructions are very easy to follow, and I was able to sew the seams on my sewing machine.  I chose to finish the seam allowances with the serger, because apparently if I can find a way to make a project take longer, I will do it.  Even so, I can finish one of these tops from cutting out to final stitch in under 2 and a half hours, which is lightning fast for yours truly.  A few minor things I did differently than the instructions were using fusible stay tape to stabilize the shoulder seams instead of twill tape, and sewing down the shoulder seams in the same way that the instructions have you do for the neck seam.

My third Renfrew is also a 3/4 sleeve scoop-neck, but this time the material used was extra recruiting t-shirts from my job.   I love me a good floppy t-shirt for sleeping in or relaxing on the weekend, but at work it makes me feel like a slob, and sometimes we wear these shirts when we're representin' for the company.  I took the front and back of the top from one shirt, the sleeves from another, and the neck and waist band from a third, so it was a bit wasteful of shirts, but I think the final result was worth it!

Renfrew number four is a cowl-neck with 3/4 sleeves, made from a lightweight striped rayon knit ordered from last week specifically for this purpose.   Wow have I not mastered getting stripes straight:  the sad thing is, I did try!  The bottom band looks the worst, but that's partly because I sewed it on wrong the first time and had to pick it off and re-do.  I don't feel too bad about it, as this was clearance fabric and I don't expect it to be super durable anyhow.  It arrived with a rip and a hole in   it already, in fact.  Like it was trying to warn me or something.  Anyhow, this lightweight fabric was just the thing for the cowl neck, and it drapes very nicely.

I see a fleet of scoop-neck Renfrews in my future, plus several more cowl-necks.  I'm not a big v-neck wearer, and with it being effectively Spring already here on the Gulf Coast, I may not do a long-sleeve version anytime soon.   I love thinking of all the variations one could do:  like using a contrasting color for the neck, arm and waist band, and I've thought about a cowl-neck version where the neck part is made from a drape-y knit while the body's made from a sturdier cotton knit -- kind of a shirt-under a shirt look.  I'd love to see a tie-neck version or (ooh, ooh!) a hooded version.  Not sure I have the drafting skillz for those, but who knows, I may try it one day!  But for now, I'm going to let the Renfrew pattern cool off for a bit and move onto something else.


  1. Ooh very nice selection! I have the Renfrew pattern but I haven't made it up yet :) I'm looking forward to it- hope it fits as nicely as yours! :)

  2. Seeing how successful you are with the Renfrew makes me want to get it! I love the one you made with the shirts from work!

  3. Yay Andrea, what a great selection of Renfrew's! They're all brilliant in my humble opinion and I especially love what you did with your work tops...genius! I've got my next two cut out and ready to go and I have another two in mind as well. I love the scoop neck version the best I think, but we'll see what it looks like on me!

  4. Wow, you've been busy! They're all lovely and the fit is great - I think the floral one and the stripy one are my faves. I like the 3/4 sleeves on you too. x

  5. woah busy. They all look fabulous.

  6. Thanks, y'all! I made these over two weekends, and as they take less than three hours each, they are as close to an instant gratification project as I can get. I think that three of the four will get lots of wearing, too.

  7. Fabulous! I love all your Renfrews, but I especially love that you made your work t-shirts into something more flattering! I bought this pattern a couple weeks ago, and after seeing yours I'm even more excited to get started on it!