I'm sure you've all read about the latest Sewaholic pattern to be released - The Renfrew Top. I'm more excited than most because I was one of the lucky pattern testers, hooray! It's wonderful to see it in its published state and I can guarantee you won't be disappointed.
The Renfrew is a casual top with three necklines (scooped, V or cowl) and three sleeve choices (long, short or three quarter) which makes it a great pattern for mixing and matching. I chose to sew the long sleeved, scoop necked version and it also marked my joint first experience of sewing with a knit fabric (I made it at the same time as my Homage to Joan dress.)
In her pre-sew guidelines, Tasia advised us to choose a stable knit with less than 5% spandex. As Karen pointed out in her post on the Renfrew (cowl necked, three quarter sleeves and gorgeous - read all about it here), it's difficult to know how much spandex is in a knit or jersey fabric just by looking at it, and very few fabrics in shops or markets have the stretch content listed. Because I wanted to do well for teacher/Tasia, I bought my fabric online from Calico Laine (double knit in 'petrol'), which helpfully lists the spandex content. Ditto Fabrics has a good choice too.
So how was it for me? Well I've only sewn with a Sewaholic pattern once before - the Pendrell blouse - but I liked it so much I made it three times. The Renfrew is just as well drafted, and the instructions are super clear and easy. Everything makes sense and the cuffs and waistband sections are a lovely touch that gives the top a professional finish. Because I was still too much of a scaredy cat at this point, I chickened out of using my overlocker and sewed it on a normal sewing machine. I told myself Tasia needed valuable feedback from non overlocker users.... For those of you without overlockers out there, you'll be pleased to know that it sews up like a dream. I used a simple straight stitch throughout and a quick zigzag on the neckline.
And very satisfying and quick to sew together it was too, it only took a couple of hours from start to finish. Size-wise I cut a Sewaholic size 10 and made the same small hip adjustment I made to my Pendrell blouse. The fit is good - snug without being too clingy.
Double knit is quite a thick fabric and with the cuffs and waistband, I initially thought the finished top looked a bit sweat-shirty. I was also worried that the style was too casual. Sometimes though, initial thoughts turn out to be wrong. The double knit is flattering without clinging to every lump and bump like some knit fabrics do and it's SSOO cosy and warm. This is a perfect top for layering and it seems to blend in with whatever you're wearing, be that jeans or a skirt.
I really enjoyed being a pattern tester for Tasia - she's a great woman to work with. She's also very talented - what appears to be a plain, simple top has turned out to have far more oomph to it than I first imagined. Tasia asked us to sew up the version we'd chosen exactly as written and that's what I did. But the Renfrew is the perfect blank canvas for adding your own personal touch. I've already got my next version lined up, in black and white stripes with a few tweaks. Next time though, I'm going to try sewing the whole thing using my overlocker! Have a lovely weekend. x