A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Mixed-print Sewaholic Renfrew

So, not only am I late to the Renfrew party, but it appears I actually had no idea what kind of party it was.  All the Renfrews I had seen on Flickr looked awesome and effortless, but I hadn't done much more research beyond that when I ordered the pattern a few months back.  After it arrived, I did a little Googling and learned that Sewaholic patterns designed for the pear-shaped (which I am not - at least, not as pear-shaped as the woman for which this pattern was designed).  I also found many, many bloggers who had to do multiple test-runs before getting the top to fit them properly.  I wasn't expecting this (because I am dumb) so the pattern sat around for awhile.

Renfrew, looking unspoilt for a brief few minutes before my kids wake up and
embellish it with their snot tears fingerprints love.

This week I finally cut into my Renfrew pattern.  The size chart would have me cut between a 14 and a 16 if I were going by bust size, but all my selfish sewing the last few months has taught me NOT to do that.  I am always happier with the fit through the shoulders if I use my high bust and then adjust the pattern pieces to make room for the girls below the armscye.

So, after reading a million and one blog posts about it, I decided to cut a 10 in the shoulders, widening to a 14 at the bottom of the armscye (to make extra room for the bust), then grading to a 12 at the waist.  (My measurements are 39.5-31.5-41.5).  My hip measurement coincides with the Sewaholic size 10, however, the finished measurement of the hem is less than the hip measurement for the same size.  I believe this is because the pattern is drafted to hit higher than the hip, but I felt like I could use a little extra room.  So I kept the size 12 all the way down.

The pattern calls for "stable knits."  I wasn't sure what that meant.  But I did have 1.5 yards of a French terry I had bought on a whim from fabric.com awhile back, and I thought it would make a cute cowl-necked top.  1.5 yards wasn't quite enough for view C, though, so I dug through the stash and found a striped mystery knit for one of the cowl pieces. Originally I had planned to hide it on the underside of the cowl, but on an impulse I decided to have it be the part of the cowl that shows.  The plaid print would have been a little much on the cowl too, I think.

(I should mention that I did not realize there was an errata until I'd already serged the two cowl wrong-sides together as instructed in the printed pattern.  I didn't feel like unpicking the overlock so I left it.  But actually, you can't really see the serged edge when I wear the top anyway.)

I ended up sewing the sides up with a 3/8" seam allowance instead of the prescribed 5/8" allowance; and I'm glad I did.  This French terry has almost no stretch so I needed a little more wiggle room.

Once I got the pattern traced, this sewed up FAST.  I was finished in the time it took my girls to watch two episodes of Sofia the First (on Youtube, no commercials in between).

Pattern matching?  Ha.  My official excuse is that I was working with limited fabric.

After some overnight consideration, I have concluded that I like the top.  It is comfy to wear and I like the pattern mix.  I think it could use just a hair more length.  I also think that a wider and lower neckline (and slightly longer/drapier cowl) would be a little more flattering on me. I want to try again, but my next attempt will be with a stretchier knit, so I know I will have to start from scratch on the sizing (and I really don't want to ... maybe I'll just make another Plantain and add a cowl to that!).

I should note that my husband, he of the silver tongue, proclaimed it "cute." Hopefully that means it will get more wear than my last Washi dress, which I put on the other day only to take off and change into something that looked less Amish.


  1. The top is adorable. I haven't heard of this pattern. I love the fabrics you used.

  2. It looks so good! I love your choice of fabrics. Totally "cute." :-) I haven't tried the Renfrew, but in general I find t-shirts to be pretty forgiving of a large bust. I want to try it, mostly because I love the cowl neck so much.

  3. I love your plaid windowpane fabric and the contrast is really nice. Great job!

  4. I have been wanting to try this, but have a similiar sizing issue. Maybe I should just go with the plantain instead? Except I have sizing issues there too! My measurements in the bust have me busting out of the largest size (which I don't understand because I've seen photos of women with bigger chests than me wearing it), and swimming in the hip area. I'll figure out women's sewing someday!

    1. I think it's worth a shot - especially with a really stretchy knit, you might be ok with the largest chest size. But the Plantain is free ... so there's that!

  5. Your top looks great! I just got this pattern & started the same version of the top. I have some fit adjustments to make in the arms. I think I'll try your suggestion of cutting it larger at the bottom of the arms.

    1. Thanks! I hope you are able to get a good fit on yours!


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