Sewaholic Renfrew

I have lots of upcoming sewing plans to share with you, but I'm pleased to share another FO!

I had planned to start work on a Sewaholic Gabriola skirt and was pressing my fabric on Saturday morning all ready for the postman to bring me the parcel containing thread and zips etc.

Except he then didn't turn up. Boo. That dented my mood slightly and I puzzled for a while over what I could then make before Sunday night with things I had ready. I settled on trying to make a Renfew top, another Sewaholic pattern.

I decided to use some knit fabric I bought from Top Stitch that I think is a double knit, as it shows knit stitches on both sides. It's certainly a stable knit – a nice thick fabric but also very comfortable and snuggly.

The Renfrew is drafted for a B cup and being several sizes larger than that, I knew I'd need to make a few changes to ensure a good fit. It seems that often people don't worry about things like a full bust adjustment in knit fabric as it's stretchy, but I know from my ready to wear tops that they could do with more room up top if I want them to still fit my waist and hips.

Unfortunately all of the FBA tutorials I looked at for knits (that don't include darts) use methods that end up adding extra room all down the front of the top – meaning the waist and hips are larger than what the pattern originally calls for. I didn't need this extra room so puzzled for a while over what to do.

I thought about cutting a size smaller and then using the FBA to add the extra room I'd need at the waist and hips but honestly this seemed like too much work for a first try. In the end, I went for what's called a Cheater FBA – this lets you add a bit more room around the bottom of the armhole, while then drafting back down to your regular waist size. I hoped it would work well in a knit.

So, what I did:

  • Cut a 12 at the shoulders, based on my high bust measurement of 37.5″
  • Went out to a 16 at the armholes on the front
  • Went out to a 14 at the armholes at the back
  • Graded back down to a 14 in the waist and hips
  • Followed the sleeve cap shaping of a size 12, but then continued out to a 14 and 16 on each side to make sure the sleeves fit in my larger armholes

Hopefully the earlier link will explain visually some of the changes I made. If not and it would help, I could take some pictures of the changes I made when I traced the pattern out.

So, what did I end up with?

I cut out View B, which gave me the V-neck, with the three quarter sleeves from View C. I think it looks ok!

It looks like the cheater FBA has given me enough room up top, although there's still a bit of pulling, which is to be expected with my chest being what it is. But it still fits my waist and hips well and shows off a bit of a figure!

At the back there is some bagginess going on at my back waist – does this show the need for a sway back adjustment? There's also a bit of gaping at the back neckline depending on how I stand – I could take this out with a dart if it wasn't a knit fabric… I'll have to think about how I fix it on the next top.

I have been converted to the way of the twin needle – it was really easy and gives a lovely professional finish. I did have a few places where the thread looped between stitches, despite dialling down the tension. Not too sure why this happened, but will see if I can fix it next time.

My V also went a bit wonky. My own fault for attempting probably the trickiest neckline on my first go! Ironically, the side you can't see looks straight, so that's a massive grrrr. It was tricky to make the neckline not bunch up and I had to unpick it and do it a second time to make it look better. Still not perfect, but for a first attempt I'm happy with it.

At least my sleeve insertion looks better and was a good deal easier too!

Where I did manage to screw up was attaching the waistband and cuffs. I could swear that the seam and waistband were aligned when I pinned it together! (I also had to unpick it once as I started sewing it to the wrong side of the garment.)

By the time I got to the second cuff it looked better. Third time lucky and all!

Speaking of sleeves I do wish they were a little longer. They're just a teeny bit too short, as when I try and pull the cuffs to where I think they should sit, I pull the armhole out of alignment and have to wriggle myself back into position. Next time I might lengthen the sleeve a touch.

So there we have it! I can recommend this pattern to anyone who hasn't used knits before – I used just a straight stitch (plus an overcast stitch to finish the edges, although I could have just pinked them) – even for the topstitching with the twin needle. Using a stable knit also made it feel a lot like using normal fabric. I can't believe it's only my third ever garment (not counting a pair of boxers I made for Trev the other day out of leftover Negroni fabric – then it'd be four!)

My next one will be from a stretchier fabric which will be more of a challenge. I'll have to read up whether I size down in stretchy fabric or what. I also want to look at investing in a mat and rotary cutter as that will make cutting out fabric, particularly knit fabric easier and quicker. I do worry about stretching it out of shape, so the less I have to handle it the better.

Hopefully soon I'll have a lovely new maxi skirt to share with you all!


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