Sunday, 25 January 2015

Completed: Cowl Neck Renfrew Top

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to make Sewaholic’s Renfrew Top! I’ve seen countless versions of this top on various blogs, and I’ve been really happy with all the other Sewaholic patterns that I've tried! When I went to the Sewtionary launch party during the summer, there was 25% off all Sewaholic patterns if you were wearing something made from one. I wore my refashioned muumuu Pendrell blouse and my denim Hollyburn skirt, and picked up the Renfrew pattern!

The pattern calls for a medium-weight knit, so I chose this royal blue organic cotton and bamboo double knit that I bought at Dressew (of all places! It really wasn’t where I was expecting to find organic cotton). Compared to Montreal, it was a little pricey at $15 a metre, but I got this top out of under 1.5 metres, so I’m not complaining.

I chose view C, the cowl neck variation, with the long sleeves from view A. I cut a straight size 0, which usually fits me pretty well in Sewaholic patterns.

From cutting to hemming, I finished this top in an evening! The instructions were well-written but brief, as is usual for Sewaholic patterns. I didn’t follow the instructions too closely, since I’m pretty familiar with how to put together a knit top, although I did noticed that the instructions say to sew the cowl with the wrong sides together. The picture, however, shows it with the right sides together, which is the correct way. It’s not a new pattern so I was a little surprised to find a mistake in the instructions, but I might have just bought an older version that hadn’t been corrected yet.

I wasn’t sure if I had any ¼” twill tape to reinforce the shoulders, so instead I used ¼” clear elastic, which I bought lots of for Moneta dresses but don’t use anymore since I prefer the 3/8” stuff.

I sewed all the seams on my serger, and my regular machine seems to have recovered and did a nice job on the topstitching around the cowl. I used a straight stitch rather than the recommended zigzag, because I find that it actually had enough stretch when it’s topstitching a seam that’s already been serged – I used a straight stitch for all the topstitching on my Bronte tops and haven’t had any problems with broken stitches.

Since I tuck in most of my tops, I wanted a less bulky finish at the bottom, so I hemmed it instead of using the band. I didn’t add any length; I simply omitted the band and the length was perfect. I finished the edge with my serger, turned up 1”, pressed with Stich Witchery, and hemmed with a twin needle. Unfortunately, I didn’t use a walking foot so my hem is a little ripply, but since this will usually be tucked in, I’m not too concerned.

I originally hemmed the sleeves this way as well, but I found that they were just a touch too short, and a little too wide, so I cut off the hem and added the cuffs a couple days later. I like them better, I think!

The fit on this is pretty good, but not perfect. I need to take in the shoulder seams about ½”, maybe more, and if I make a version without the cowl, I’ll need to take in the neckline a little since it’s pretty wide. I’ve seen some people recommend making it a size down since the fit is roomy, but I was already making the smallest size and I didn’t really want to size it down. I think I’m reasonably happy with the fit, though! It’s really comfortable and still looks good tucked it – I actually prefer my shirts to be a little blousy at the waist, otherwise they ride up and get wrinkly.

If I wear it untucked, though, there's some pooling of fabric at the lower back. I might look into doing a swayback adjustment for next time.

I will definitely be making this again! I can see why it's such a popular pattern - it goes together so quickly, and I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of it. I just wish I had enough of the wool I bought it Montreal to make a wool cowl neck version, but the cowl takes up a fair bit of fabric, so I don’t think I do. I’m also planning a Renfrew-Moneta hack to make a cowl neck dress - I just love the cowl neck!

Top: Me-made (Sewaholic Renfrew)

Skirt: Not sure of the brand, refashioned from a dress to a skirt
Belt: Bought at a craft market
Tights: Smartwool
Boots: Steve Madden


  1. It's beautiful, it fits you really well!

  2. This is a great pattern, and your version is classy and it will go with everything!

    1. Yes, it's a really great pattern. Thank you - I've already worn it tons so it definitely does!

  3. Great job! The cowl neck is lovely. The color looks very nice on you too.

  4. That's pretty! Love the color, and the cowl neck is awesome. It looks really comfortable too. =)

    1. Thanks - it sure is! That's one reason I love knits so much

  5. Lovely top, I haven't made a Renfrew, but seeing yours I will get round to it.

    1. Thank you! I would definitely recommend the pattern. I can see myself making lots more of these next time I have access to my sewing machine!