It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Renfrew #1 and some Random Ramblings

I finally made up the Sewaholic Renfrew top that I've been wanting to make for, oh, since it was released a year ago.   Well, actually, I've made a practice top - a "wearable muslin", if you will, but I'll be diving into a "real" top asap!

Maybe I was in a reflective mood while sewing, but I have to say I learned a few lessons while making this top.

1.  Pay Attention.   OK, it may be unfair to say that I learned this while making this top, but I certainly had yet another lesson about paying attention!   In this case, it involved the fact that there are two (2) fronts in this pattern.  One of the fronts is for 2 of the views.  The other is for the 3rd view.  I had a 2 in 1 shot of selecting the correct piece.   The odds were in my favor.  I still lost. 

2.  Almost anything can be salvaged if you're determined enough.  In this case, I just did a little patching.  Knowing it was a practice piece, I didn't even bother matching the fabric pattern.  

3.  It's usually very prudent to use the fabric that the pattern-maker recommends.  Especially if it's an Indy pattern maker who knows whereof she speaks.  Although I did know going in that a flimsy, 4-way stretch fabric was not going to behave like a stable knit (the recommended fabric), and would probably definitely not be a good final choice, this was, after all, just a practice piece.

4.  Even practice pieces deserve respect.  Just because I don't think it's really going to very wearable does not mean I should do a shoddy job.  'Nuff said, ok?

5.  Notes about the Renfrew pattern:

  • The sleeves are completely symmetrical (!?)   This surprised me, especially since, in all of the 44 reviews at Pattern Review, I only saw one other person (clothing engineer) who bothered to mention this as an issue.  Nearly everyone who has made up this pattern gives it a rave review.  Maybe people really like not having to pay attention to which part of the sleeve is front & which is back?   I did cut my practice piece sleeves as drafted.  I will re-draft them for future Renfrews!
  • My own body consists of narrow shoulders, wider waist & even wider hips, and I adjust patterns accordingly.   Sewaholic patterns are designed for the pear shaped woman, and the finished garment measurements for bust, waist & hips were perfect for me!      I left the shoulder width alone (although I did adjust for forward & sloping shoulders), but as it turns out, my shoulders are still narrower than the pattern's, so I need to make that adjustment as well.  The bust, waist & hips of the finished piece were perfect as drafted - how nice is that?! (although that's such an easy adjustment on most patterns, so that alone wouldn't justify buying a Sewaholic top)
  • Sleeve issues aside, the pattern is drafted perfectly!   The instructions are clear and easy (there was one mistake in the cowl instructions; apparently this has been corrected in future editions - the first instruction for the cowl in my pattern said to sew the 2 cowl pieces wrong sides together, but the illustration showed right sides being sewn together.  Luckily, I followed the illustration, but I did get confused when I read the words, and had to check the Sewaholic blog to make sure where the error was.
  • Tasia (Ms. Sewaholic)'s blog is a detailed wealth of information!  She is a cutie, and very generous in answering questions and sharing her experiences :)
  • The sleeves and torso of this pattern are long!  I shortened the sleeves by nearly 2", and will do the same on the torso for my next Renfrew.
  • Love love love the bands at the end of the sleeves and the torso.  It's a nice way to finish it. :)
  • Easy easy easy top.   Instant Gratification.   And I love instant gratification ;-)
  • A number of reviewers mentioned the width at the bottom of the sleeves - the band is definitely wide!  I narrowed the band by over 1".  There's still enough width (in this fabric anyway) to push the sleeves up, but I don't like sleeves that dangle down over my hands.
  • If you make the cowl top AND the long sleeves, this top is a fabric hog!  There isn't a fabric calculation on the envelope for this particular combo.   Sadly, my lack of fabric records means I don't know how much I started with, but I did have to piece together the waist/hip band in two pieces, instead of one.  The cowl is 2-sided (very nice!) but you could cut it as a single if necessary.
  • Based on most of the Sewaholic patterns, I'm not really her demographic, but the bottom line for this one is a big thumbs up!  The neckline and sleeve length variations, along with the finishing bands, make this one a very good TNT candidate. :)

On to the finished piece.  It is, indeed, wearable.  But I don't know that it will get a lot of wear.  By me, anyway.  No really my colors, nor my style of fabric.  I'm not willing to show my face and prove that this color combo isn't a great one for me, at least not today.  Bad hair day, no know the story....

The bands on the sleeve and at the bottom
make it really easy to adjust the length 

while wearing it, and have it stay in place.
This is a feature I really like!
Onward to more lessons learned/random ramblings:

6.  Even though flimsy rayon/lycra fabric comes in some glorious colors and patterns, and even though it feels good next to the skin, I really don't enjoy working with it.

7.  It also isn't very durable.  And I can be very hard on my clothes.

8.  There are lots of other choices of fabulous fabric.

9.  Life is too short to work with fabrics that are less than fabulous, so I'm going to use up the flimsy knits in stash that have some redeeming quality, and I will need a VERY good reason to acquire any more!

10.  I refuse to buy another sewing machine (even a well-priced Featherweight) until I sell some of the ones I already have.  I know, that has nothing to do with this pattern, but the issue arose while working on it, and I was tempted, and I survived the temptation.   And I was relieved.  :)

11.   Cheesecake is tasty.

Have you decided that there are fabrics you are no longer willing to work with?  What are your least favorite fabrics, and which are your favorites?

Meanwhile, I have interviewed and hired a combination of fabrics for my next Renfrew, so I'm up to the sewing attic to work on that!

P.S.  It occurs to me that I now qualify as an official member of Pretty Grievances' Jungle January!
Jungle January!

Happy Sewing, all!  :)


Nursebennett said...

Wow! I can't imagine not wearing it, as it's lovely! It fits you beautifully.

RhondaBuss said...

You qualify big time!! Your top is great!

prttynpnk said...

How about a lovely deep purple or burgundy something to work with this? Wear it like a neutral with one of your fav colors. This kitty deserves to be paraded!

Karla said...

Ya know...I kind of like the slightly wide shoulders. Since I have spent my life dealing with a timeless, classic shape (you've seen the Egyptian pyramids, haven't you?) I never pass up an opportunity to balance out my bottom with a little width on top, even if I have to cheat and add 1/4" shoulder pads. I think your top is super-flattering!

Carole Mellin said...

I think your top is really lovely and you should wear it with pride.

Dixie said...

Hey Jungle Jilly, that's quite a fetching top you've made. I'm partial to animal prints and I really like this one. But I understand the fabric might not actually feel so great. The top looks great, though. I really like it against your skin. So channel your inner jaguar or zebra and wear it!

Jilly Be said...

I will wear it....perhaps more than I thought....we'll see...... And thank you! :)

glorm said...

Number 11. Yum.

Jilly Be said...

Actually I donned a burgundy hat when I went to the store (hiding my hair, you know) and it was a good match - so you nailed it!

Jilly Be said...

The width on this piece isn't that bad, but I do prefer a LITTLE bit narrower. I keep thinking of shoulder pads, but don't know about using them with knits.... at least not the flimsy ones that show EVERYthing lol!

Jilly Be said...

Thank you Rhonda :)

Jilly Be said...

Thanks - I'll give it a shot.... :)

Jilly Be said...

The fabric actually feels very nice - it's SEWING with it that I don't enjoy. And the fact that flimsy knits like this tend to age very quickly.

Jilly Be said...


Seraphinalina said...

Welcome to the addiction that is Renfrew. The cowl is a total fabric hog and yet it's the version I keep making. One day I'll do the v neck. Your verison is great, wear it while it lasts!

twotoast said...

Great review . . . and I love your Renfrew!!

I also interview/audition fabrics and am slowly moving towards only using fabrics that I love. I am also discovering that there is a difference between fabrics uncut and how it looks made up - who knew?!

pdiddly said...

I too like the top and think you should wear it.

Karin said...

It looks good! I think you should wear it too! Maybe the sleeves are drafted symmetrical front/back because it is a knit? Knits are generous and don't really need the same ease and careful drafting, I think.

House of Pinheiro said...

Thanks for highlighting the sleeves are symmetrically drafted ...

House of Pinheiro said...

Forgot to say its looking great x

puu said...

i noticed the symmetrical sleeves as well, and even though it has given me a smidge of trouble, especially when i used stay tape to stabilize a cap, i am usually too grateful to not have to be paying attention to which sleeve is which by that point :-)

as it happens i do not have a t-shirt pattern where the sleeves are marked and matched for front vs back. maybe the drafters i bought them from (sewaholic and my other love, alabama chanin) figured that since it was a knit it wasn't worth confusing the issue??

Lynn said...

It is hard for me to sew with thin, flimsy knits, too. This pattern is good for them because of the bands. Although you don't love it, I think you look great!

Martha said...

I like others think this looks fabulous on you. But I definitely share your views on rayon/lycra. I've been sucked in before and there are way too many of them in my stash. Whenever I sew with them, I remember why they sit so long in the stash. But then I am blinded the next time I see them on display in a fabric store. Anyway, your top is very cute.

Louisa said...

I think your neckline rescue worked out really well! And I hear you with the shoulder issues. I hate shoulder pads though I'm sure they would be helpful if I let 'em. Sewing issues aside, I think that your top looks great! And I'm not even a fan of animal prints. ;)

Anonymous said...

Love your top and the print is fantastic!

Judi Pinkham said...

1. You say it's not your color combo, but I think it's major cute on you...even viewed as a "headless woman"...and the print is so "in"!!!
2. Belated Happy Blogiversary!
3. Habit shifting.:) You have been my inspiration...I'm doing it week-by-week. This week it was to keep my sewing tools/supplies where they belong...saves frustration...I succeeded at that. Beginning Sunday it's a bigger habit finish what I start. I have several UFO's...I've given myself until the 1st to get those done.
4. I admit to being a fabric addict also. To be able to 'shop' at home, to plan, to be inspired by sewing bloggers, to have pure joy in sewing and knowing we have the fabric to do so...we are just plan blest!!!

Judi Pinkham said...

That should be "just plain blest". Can't type today...better go sew instead. :)