Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cowl-necks for winter

For the third winter in a  row, I sewed up a few Renfrews.  I've sewn the pattern 10 times before, and yet I still managed to ruin a cut of fabric by sewing a shirt that was too tight.  I blame my lack of methodical pattern notes.

Anyway, after I ruined the first shirt, I went back and looked at the blog post I wrote about the three v-neck tees I sewed from the pattern this summer.  After that, I was able to sew two wearable long-sleeved cowl necks for this winter.

My first top took out the remainder of the ponte I used to make my first Mabel skirt.   I retraced the pattern from the original tissue, using the 10 shoulder graded to 3/8" beyond the 16 line at the bottom of the armscye.  I also lowered the neckline to the lowest cutting line on the pattern.  I cut a size 16 cowl and size 16 sleeve, but narrowed the sleeve 1/2" on either side of the wrist tapering to nothing at the top of the sleeve.  I also used a slanted 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment, where I adjusted the outer shoulder by 1/2" and left the inner shoulder the same.

There are still some problems with this pattern for me.  I had noted before that there is too much fabric under the armpit for me but I haven't really taken the time to fix that problem.  I also noticed that the neckline seems a bit wide; sometimes the cowl does not cover the seam.  I'd like to narrow the neckline a little to deal with that issue in the future.

After I sewed the ponte version, I dug through the stash and found this rayon/lycra knit.  I sewed it the same way as the ponte version, except this time I sewed all the seam allowances except for the shoulder at 1/4" instead of 5/8". I also did a consistent 1/2" forward shoulder all the way across the shoulder.

I like the rayon version better because of its glorious drape, but I still have the underarm fabric pooling, which you can see quite well in the first photo of the striped top.  The sleeves on both tops also twist a little.  I think the sleeve on this pattern is symmetrical, and some reading I've done recently leads me to believe that this is the problem.  I'm not sure what I would do to fix it though.

Finally, the next two photos show that grading out under the armscye really isn't a sufficient fix for my bust.  I'd like to do a proper dartless FBA before I make this pattern again.

Quibbling aside, these tops have gotten a ton of wear since I made them.  I'm still wearing the ones from last winter as well (except the one, my favorite, that sadly got lost in our move).  I'll definitely make more in the future, hopefully incorporating the modifications I've noted in this post.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!


  1. Pick up the shoulder by 1/2” (draw a line from neckline to half inch below current shoulder line and snip extra off) and then lower the armhole with your French curve 1/2” by the side seam and true up. . Sleeve can remain the same. Help with the pooling.

  2. Yes, the Renfrew seems to have that extra fabric around the bust for a lot of people. For whatever reason, I don't seem to have this problem with the Lark tee, so I actually bought the extra cowl piece and I mean to try that soon! Nevertheless, I love this type of top, and minor imperfections aside, I know you'll get a ton of wear out of them!


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