Saturday, 18 February 2012

Stripey Renfrew Top

I've finished my first Renfrew top from  Sewaholic Patterns. After the epic that was my Macaron dress it was nice to have something straightforward to sew. A bit of a cliché but so true especially if you end up with something you know you'll wear all the time.

Here are the pictures:

I've sewn with jersey and knits before. I'm always surprised to hear so many say they hate or are scared of sewing with knits. They are one of my favourite fabrics and the finished makes some of my most-worn and professional-looking garments. I've loved seeing all the finished versions and Tasia's done a great job of producing a pattern that will encourage people to try knits.

I made a muslin in a size 12 leaving off the cuff and lower band. It was too big for the look I was going for. I like my jersey tops to be more fitted on top. I ended up shaving around 1 cm off the sides but the arms and shoulders were left as they were. Easy alterations so I made up new front and back pattern pieces with these adjustments.

I knew I didn't want to sew the lower band. Looking at Tasia's made-up version of view A and some of the ones I have seen, she maybe had in mind a garment to wear with jeans, trousers and leggings. I don't wear these things much. I have loads of hand sewn skirts and I need top halves to wear with them! I wasn't fussed about having something long or the band. My skirts fall at the waist so all I need is something that can be worn with them. I didn't need the extra length or the band to add bulk. I didn't lengthen the pattern at all and missed off the band. I hemmed it by turning under twice by around 1.5 cm each time (around 3 cm in total). I sewed it in place with a double row of stitches. I don't have a twin needle so I just do 2 rows of stitches.

I used the stretch stitch on the machine. I know this isn't necessary and a lot of people use an ordinary straight stitch or a narrow zig zag stitch. I've always used the stretch stitch for knits so it's just something I do now. I like the extra reinforcement it gives. Just don't make a mistake as it takes forever to unpick!

I used Vilene bias tape at the shoulder seams instead of the twill tape that Tasia uses in the pattern instructions. You just iron on the strip on the wrong side of the shoulders where you will sew (rough side facing down). It's like iron on interfacing just not as stiff. Here is a picture:

I got this fabric from Rolls and Rem in Lewisham on a recent fabric excursion to London. We got up early to go to a car boot sale one Saturday to find nothing there because it was held on a Sunday! My chap asked what I wanted to do and I said I'd like to go to Rolls and Rem in Lewisham so he kindly volunteered to drive. It's around 2 ½ hours away!

I had a go and matching stripes and it sort of worked. They match perfectly at the side. I tried to do this where the shoulders join the sleeves. I used as a marker a stripe at the lower part of the shoulder. This means that the stripes match at the bottom of this area but not at the top. I think it's impossible to match all the stripes without altering the sleeve pattern piece, which would give you a different type of sleeve. I've been scanning the stripey versions I've seen and this seems to be the same. I've noticed that others have the stripes matching well at the top of the sleeve rather than the bottom, the opposite of mine. It's not noticeable anyway and I'm certainly not stressing about it.

I haven't done this type of neckband before. I thought it may be a bit flimsy because the band is effectively one fold of fabric. It has turned out fine. I wouldn't mind a bit of extra re-inforcement in the band itself. Maybe you can cut the neck band one finished width wider to give three layers of fabric. This would add more bulk at the seam though. Not sure but not a major problem.

I used a different top-stitch to Tasia. She top-stitched under the neck band with a zig zag stitch. This stitch is vital to secure the neck band seam. I remembered this stitch from my sewing machine manual:

It's a decorative flatlock stitch. It's like a zig zag stich between two rows of straight stitches. After doing a test I went ahead with it. I'm pleased with the finish. Here is a close up but I'm not sure if you can see it very well:

On my machine you can't alter the length or width of this stitch which is a shame. I would like to see what it looks like with a bigger stitch, making more of a feature of it.

Like many others I am really pleased with the finished version and I'm already on my second one!

Happy sewing.


  1. This is lovely! The neckband looks particularly nice with the stripe detail! Great job!

  2. Thank you! I was pleased with that bit. The stripes on one section of the fabric weren't straight but luckily this hasn't noticed anywhere.

  3. I agree, the neckline looks fantastic! I love that stitch you used. I'm going to check & see if I have something similar! Great job, love it!

    1. Thanks Sarah! It's great to get some use out of those other stitches. That stitch second from right on my picture may produce a good effect as well thinking about it. The advantage of that one on my machine is that I can change the size!

  4. It turned out great! I just bought the pattern so your tips will come in handy! thanks.

    1. Thanks! It's a great pattern - can't wait to see your version!