Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Renfrew Top

All the things I seem to be posting are firsts!  I guess that's part of being a beginner :)  So here we have my first knit top, and my first Sewaholic pattern!  Oh, and my first "wearable muslin".

On the envelope I was size 2 for bust and hips, and size 4 for waist.  I just made a straight size 2, since I'm a crazy rebel, plus I like a fitted waist.

The pattern is for "stable knits", but the man at the fabric recommended a knit with spandex in it.  I think this knit has slightly more stretch, but apparently spandex knits have better recovery.  Or something.

I've heard lots of bloggers say how easy it is, but never mind- I managed to find plenty of challenges for myself.   I didn't even know what the right side was at first (it's the one with the vertical ribs btw, lol), and I got all freaked out about cutting it out!

Then, after reading Lauren's advice about cutting off more of the neckband since my fabric was a bit extra stretchy, I haphazardly hacked off an inch and a half  (3.8cm), and then realised the markings I was supposed to match up weren't right anymore... Hmm.  So I decided I'd just wing it, stretching it to fit and it'd magically work out.  It didn't...

So puckered!
Then I tried doing maths, which is always annoying.  In the end I sort of figured it out.  It still ended up a teeny bit puckered in places.  But you know what?  After I did the zig zag on top it seemed to fix itself!  So that was nice!  After all that though, I don't even know if I needed to hack any off. 
I figured out the original pattern's neckband is 12% shorter, so it IS a bit shorter already.  But then again, if Lauren queen of knits says so, it must be so!  But then again, other bloggers have made nice Renfrews without this rigamarole!  So basically, what I'm trying to say is.... I overthink things.  A lot :)

Here are some thoughts on the project:
-I found the internet recommended to use a stitch length of 3 and a width of 0.5.  I always heard you use a zig zag to sew knits but it's so narrow, you can barely tell it is one!  It works though!

-I used a stitch length of 2 and a width of 2 for the zig zag topstitching.

-Not having to finish the seams was weird!  Yet liberating :)  I still wonder if maybe I should have done something to them though?  (I don't have an overlocker).  I trimmed them but I don't even think I needed to do that, for most of them.

-Some of the bits were a bit bulky due to lots of layers. 

-Ooh, the fiddly little cuffs were hard to put in!  Having to stretch them while you sew, and they don't even fit around the machine's arm!

-I was expecting the pattern to be really in-depth because of Tasia's really awesome sewalongs (I was disappointed when she said she wasn't doing one for Renfrew), but the pattern instructions were quite simple.  I guess if I succeeded then they were enough!

The back- hmm does that look like a sway back?
Overall I'm pretty happy with how this turned out!  Once I got on track, it was satisfyingly fast!  And my husband said it "blew his mind" cos it looked like a shirt you could buy!  Heh heh :)  There are a few fitting issues I'll try to work on before my next one, but that's a post for another day.

I got lots of awkward pictures taken by my husband.  I'm very shy about posing in front of a camera, so most of them turned out pretty bad!  I had to put this one on because it made me laugh.  I was trying to run away from the camera!


  1. This looks so great! I bought this pattern about a month ago but haven't tried it out yet. I have no idea what "stable knit" means. Really, what does that mean? I'm not letting myself buy any fabric for making it though until I finish up some of the stuff I've got lying around here!

    I love your husband's comment! Aren't boys funny?

    1. Hi Gail! Thanks for your comment :)

      Based on what the guy at the fabric store told me, a 'stable knit' doesn't have any spandex to give it extra stretch, its stretch all comes from the knit nature of the fabric.

      He didn't seem to like them though, he said to use a regular stretch knit. And it worked, so hey that's good! He said knits with spandex are better cos they recover better, ie. ping back into place after they're stretched..

    2. I didn't notice until I was making my third Renfrew that there is a little marking on the bottom/back of the pattern where it says your fabric should stretch from here to here. That said, all 4 that I've made have been stretchier than the recommended amount.

      Your version looks great, Jo. Half of fitting in knits are the unique properties of the knit, so I wouldn't over think the fit too much.

  2. you must be so pleased, it looks great. I'm a real fan of jersey. You look great!

  3. Your top looks lovely. I love sewing knits.

  4. This looks great! Nice work! My Renfrew was my first knit project, too-- I was way scared to dive in, but I ended up with good results (thanks, Tasia!). My husband said the same thing-- "Hey, that looks like a real shirt!" It's pretty funny that he was impressed by what was probably the simplest thing I've ever made. Sheesh... boys!

  5. Jo, it looks great! Knits are so forgiving with fit! I agree with the salesperson at the fabric store-spandex is a good thing in knits-the recovery is better and the fabric usually drapes nicely too!

  6. It looks great!! How did you do with the sleeves? I struggled my first time. I awarded you the Liebster Blog award. Check out my latest post to read all about it.

    1. Hi, I remember the sleeves as being okay, apart from the bulky seams at the shoulder. The cuffs were definitely the hardest part!

      Thank you for the blog award! (I confess I have been given a few of these but am not sure quite what to do with them, lol)

      And thank you everyone else for your comments too :) I want to reply to everyone, but.. it doesn't seem to give a notification, so they probably won't get them? (Can anyone confirm this? lol)

  7. Ooh, welcome to the Renfrew pattern! I've made it up a couple times, and it's a dream once you get the "working with knits" problems ironed out. Yours really does look ready-to-wear (or better)! Isn't the idea that you can now make your own knit tops liberating?

    I would love to see your alteration process: I suspect I need a narrow shoulder and swayback adjustment for this pattern, but I'm rather frightened: altering knits sounds scary!

  8. It looks fab! You chose a great color.

    I still haven't worked with knit or make a Sewaholic pattern. These two will be a first for me with Renfrew, too.

  9. This looks great and thanks for the review! I just bought this pattern and am looking forward to trying it.


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