December 4, 2014

sewing | Renfrew top pt. 1

No matter how much I adore delicate vintage blouses, modern tshirts will always have a place in my wardrobe. I hesitated to even blog about this, because there is so much written already about Tasia's Renfrew tshirt pattern. (Which I've had *cough* in my stash since it was initially released. Took me long enough to sew it!) I'm in the middle of trying to perfect this pattern into a tried-and-true (TNT) piece; something I can just pull out and whip up without too much fiddling. I'm a bit obsessed with it right now. Plus I just had a horrible fabric-bomb project (the plaid was horribly off grain. Teaches me not to buy enticing plaids off the clearance table... lol), and I needed something that wasn't going to be a spectacular fail.

Be prepared for me to ramble a bit in this post, as I'm going to delve into some fitting and construction stuff (mostly for my own reference).

Initially I cut out a size 4, grading out to a 6 at the bust and hips. I don't like my tees super tight, so I wanted a more relaxed silhouette. I also omitted the sleeve and hip bands. The sleeve is the long pattern piece, but I forgot to lengthen it to account for leaving off the band! So it's a weird length on my first shirt. Because I am a genius and black photographs so well (note sarcasm! haha), here is my first wearable muslin of the Renfrew (as best as one can make out... it was difficult to get good shots between crummy lighting and a toddler intent on playing with the camera tripod):

Version 1 Renfrew



Fitting observations
  • Reduce to a size 4 through the front bust. It's hard to see in the pictures, but there is some definite excess fabric in the front. I'm leaving the back a 6 though for now; I tend to have a wide back. 
  • Grade down to a 2 through the waist; hard to tell in the pictures, but there is a lot of fabric through the waist. I wanted this to be relaxed, but not baggy!
  • Play around with shortening the length about 1". I'm splitting hairs here, but when I was folding up the hem after I finished this, I think I might like it a bit shorter.
  • I think I may need a swayback adjustment, but I opted to make up v. 2 before doing that; just in case it was also an issue with excess fabric at the waist.
Version 2 Renfrew
Gloomy day = crummy lighting! Apologies!


  • A sway back adjustment is needed after seeing the problem crop up in two different weight knits!
  • The sleeve head needs tweaking; I'm thinking a forward-tilt shoulder adjustment. I played with it a bit when I was cutting out this version, and I feel like it needs a bit more. I usually move the shoulder seam forward on all the tops/dresses I make anyway, but the sleeve cap isn't quite to my liking yet for a TNT pattern.
  • Not sure why the sleeves are twisting at the elbows; I know there is an adjustment for this and thinking I need to try it (for inward facing elbows, I believe).
  • I'm on the fence about the longer vs. shorter length--thoughts?

This striped Renfrew is the second version. I used a beautiful bamboo knit I picked up at Finch Sewing Studio earlier this month (ahhhhh! I could live in that shop! So many beautiful sewing supplies!). It's interesting to see how different knits behave: the first was much more forgiving and drapey, while this one has some body and doesn't hide any fitting issues, I would definitely appreciate if anyone had any critique to offer regarding fit; I do like how this second tshirt turned out (and have worn it a handful of times already!)--but the shoulder/sleeve area (and obviously the sway back issue) are bothering me. It's very similar to how all RTW tshirts fit me, but not quite there for a TNT pattern. ;-)

Technical notes: I used a stretch stitch on my Kenmore. Worked beautifully! I like how it looks over zig zag-ing, which is what I've used on knit seams prior.Though I don't need to (knit doesn't fray), I graded/finished the seams on my serger. Gives the insides a more professional finish. The hems were all done with a twin needle; I also hemmed the sleeves before I sewed the side seams. For fitting insight, I referenced the usual suspects: Fit for Real People and Fast Fit.


One little addition was something I spotted on an Anthropologie top recently: a small length of lace sewn to the CB neckline. It's caught down in the topstitching from the right side as it's sewn. Its just a little inside detail that I like and just makes me smile. I need to get some new tags made up for myself too--I really love sewing those in my handmades!

So now I have two wearable renditions of Renfrew, and am going to work on correcting the pattern for version 3. I've got a few knits I picked up on super sale (60% off!) at JoAnn's right before the Thanksgiving holiday last week, so might use one of those. Once I get the pattern just right I have plans to hack the pattern into some other tshirt styles I'd like in my wardrobe. But for now, I need to focus on the four pairs of socks I'm knitting for family members for Christmas... Yes--four pairs of socks to finish before the week of Christmas. My sanity may be questioned! lol.

Hope everyone is having a lovely first week of December! 

16 comments :

  1. I've got Renfrew in my queue too, but it's going to have to wait until this summer after baby #2 gets here. I love the little lace detailing at the back! Such a nice touch. Good luck with your socks! I'm about to finish up a sweater I've been working on for my husband, and then I'll be casting on for my first pair of socks!

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    1. Ironically, I was working on a Renfew before I found out I was pregnant with Miss A.! ;) lol. Have fun knitting your first pair of socks--I will warn you it's like falling down the rabbit hole! In the most pleasant way of course; they are so addictive. ;) I'm actually making a little list of methods/patterns I've used to learn to knit socks that should be up next week. ;)

      - Casey

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  2. Renfrew is sitting waiting to be made into a muslin as I type. I've got a few changes I want to make to the pattern before I cut and crossing fingers I hope it works and I'm close. But I have a feeling I'll be making quite a few before I'm happy. Love to find other peoples notes on things that I want to sew so thanks for the insight. FOUR pairs!!! I'll be happy if I get the one pair made.:)

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    1. I love how simple the Renfew is to adjust--in all honesty aside from the sway back issues, I think it could have been a "good enough" straight out of the envelope (and I've seen that for a lot of other people who have made it up!)--it's such a well drafted pattern! Good luck sewing up your test version! :)

      I think I'm completely crazy to knit four pairs... and I got distracted yesterday evening browsing Ravelry and looking at mittens patterns! haha! No... I need to make the socks first; mittens for me can wait. ;) lol.

      - Casey

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  3. Thank you so much for posting this Casey! You are so meticulous when it comes to fit, and that is somewhat of an inspiration to me. I have yet to find a TNT knit pattern, but you may have convinced me to try the Renfrew!

    Blessings,

    Brigid
    the Middle Sister and Singer

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    1. I think you will love it! Aside from the sway back issue, I think this could have been a pretty good fit straight out of the envelope for me! I'm just fiddling with the sleeves/shoulders for the sake of my own curiosity with getting a pattern to fit really well (and learn a bit more about pattern adjustments). ;) But it's a very well drafted pattern, and I think makes a great "base"! :)

      - Casey

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  4. Your Renfrews look wonderful! Renfrew is definitely my TNT t-shirt pattern - it's easy, it's quick, and it fits great!

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    1. I love how quick the Renfew sews up! I literally have been able to cut it out/begin sewing during naptime, and finish it after Miss A. goes to bed (which isn't terribly early). Just the sort of project I need sometimes. ;)

      - Casey

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  5. I've been trying to perfect the fit on a TNT Tshirt parttern too. I purchased the Tilton Sisters Tshirt Craftsy Class which I highly recommend so many great tips. Good luck with the knitting. I have a few table runners to make up!!!!

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    1. Oh! I might have to look into that class! Thanks for the tip! :) Best of luck with your projects too! ;)

      - Casey

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  6. Regardless of the fitting tweaks you plan to make, I think it still turned out great. Still need to make mine.

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  7. I had the Renfrew top in my queue for ages (love Tasia's patterns)... then I found out I was pregnant with baby no 2 and was in desperate need of maternity clothes so I used the Renfrew top and So Zo's tutorial to make maternity tops (http://sozowhatdoyouknow.blogspot.com/2012/07/maternity-tops.html) They were my go to maternity tops!! Still have to make a post baby version though :-) Looking forward to reading about your version 3

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    1. I kept eying the maternity hacks for the Renfew when I was pregnant, but never did sew it up! :p I'm hoping that now I will hopefully have a tailored-to-me version of the pattern, if/when I ever have need for maternity tops again, I can just pull it out and alter away! ;)

      - Casey

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  8. Just glad to see you posting-- especially about sewing!

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