The Renfrew that didn’t work

After so many successful Renfrews, I was bitterly disappointed with this one, a mixed ponte.  It possibly was doomed from the start, and I never wanted to admit it.

The fabric was a last minute grab from the Remnants table at Tessuti.  It’s a beautiful ponte, and very much a stable knit.  So stable that it doesn’t stretch and give like I need it to.  The Renfrew pattern is fine for larger busts with grading, but I found this was so stable I needed to have done a FBA so it would sit properly around the armscye.

The purple had a fault running down the grain, which I didn’t notice but until after I greedily cut out my pattern, and the fault ran through both sleeves and the waistband.  What to do?  Mix up the colours of course *slaps head*.   This would have worked better if the neck line was also in black.  But it’s not.  Because I bought just enough black ponte to eek out sleeves and a waistband, and did not have enough for the neckline.

I also lengthened the waist, which works with a more stretchy knit, but this just shows that a swayback adjustment is probably in order.  Especially with the back lengthened to cover le bum.

Now what to do with it?  It’s my most expensive Renfrew made, and I detest it.  So far I’ve come up with two ideas, one being to cut it up and try and salvage the fabric for something for the baby, and the other idea is to try and fix it somehow?  The mixed colours work when I lift my arms like a raglan top.  Maybe if I trim out the excess around the tummy a little it might be ok?

OR….could I trim it at the waist and add a black skirt?  What do you think?


Renfrew V2 – another confirmed case of Renfrew-itis

**disclaimer – I do sell Sewaholic patterns, so I’m not blogging to sell her patterns, but I sell her patterns (and blog about them) because I really love them)**

SewbusyLizzy diagnosed herself with a severe case of Renfrew-itis, and it seems so be striking down sewers around the world.  (I suspect there are a few Melbourne cases with both Thornberry and SewBrunswick both up to large numbers…at last count I thought I saw Renfrew number 6 at SewBrunswick?

This really is my favourite pattern, I’ve worn my pink one as soon as it comes out of the wash, and having undertaken the Seamless pledge (no buying new clothes for a whole year) this is going to be a staple.  At the moment view C the cowl neck is my favourite, as it’s nice and warm in winter.  For real warmth I should make the long sleeve version, but inevitably long sleeves always get pushed up to my elbows anyway so might as well save on some fabric.

Please let me present, Renfrew number 2, the matched stripe stretchy version.

This one was quite difficult to get a decent photo of, as soon as we began taking photos I was attacked by a wild pack of dogs.  Or two overly affectionate Pointers.

We ended up with more photos of me patting the overly enthused dogs.

This pattern was pretty easy to cut out to make the stripes match which was unexpected, as long as you think long and hard about the seams lines, instead of the pattern lines you should be able to match up the stripes with a bit of thinking prior to cutting.


AS this knit was much stretchier than my first Renfrew (an interlock knit),  strangely enough it was loose.  Fancy that.  I lengthened the torso of the pattern by an inch, which wasn’t necessary in this fabric as lacks the recovery to ride up at all.  The lengthening just makes it look loose around the torso.  The other (now obvious) but disappointing thing was the cowl neck which drapes beautifully in a firm knit is droopy in this fabric.  In saying all the above, this renfrew is still completely wearable and gets quite the workout in my wardrobe rotation.


This was a pretty cheap cut, $7 a metre from Darn Cheap fabrics in Heidelberg, and it may pill.  So far it’s gone through the wash a couple of times and it’s still ok, but the large vertical stripes look faintly fluffy.  I won’t be too upset if it has a short life span, as the fit and collar could have been a little better.


To sew this, I used my normal singer sewing machine with a zig zag stitch medium stitch width and about 1.5 stitch length from memory.  The other adjustments was the use of a ball point needle and adjusting my presserfoot to 0 pressure.  Sewed like a dream!   To match the stripes I cut the corner of the front at the same point as the corner of the back (where the seams would match under the arm).  Really, once the grainline of the pattern pieces were straight, I checked the stripes of all the pieces to make sure the sleeves were sitting on the same ‘part’ of the pattern.  It’s hard to explain, but if you get a cheap stripy material with a changing patttern it’s easier to work it out looking at the fabric and the pattern pieces as you go.

Future lessons

I will use stretchy knits like this for a Renfrew again, but I’ll cut a much smaller size in the sleeves and from the bust down and make the round neck version.  My tip, if you are using a stretchier knit cut at least one size down.

So what makes this a case of Renfrew-itis?

How about the four Renfrews here?  Two are cut out (the purple and the stripes) and the black is laid out for cutting, and the blue earmarked for another!  I might divert it and make something else however, 6 Renfrews might be a little excessive?
I’m cutting all my knits in one go before borrowing my mothers serger, so I’ve been listening to the Stuff you missed in History podcast while laying out all this fabric.  Learning and sewing, it’s a beautiful thing.  My local library lets users borrow audio books straight to your Iphones so I’ve even been listening to some fiction.  Brilliant!


Thanks for the suggestions – a glass of wine was indeed had and everything is back in order – so here is the Heidi and Finn Hoodie version 3 – (a.k.a. the baby dinosaur!).  I’d have liked to model this on the baby, however as I’ve run out of black thread the front is pinned together, which is high risk for babies.  The baby isn’t mobile anyway, so “action shots” consist of variations of sitting.  And by variations I mean changes in flooring.  The sitting is pretty standardised.  Here we go!

This is a combination of the Heidi and Finn hoodie and the dinosaur tutorial circling the interwebs (and it’s so awesome how could it not) from here, here and then here.  Adding the little scales was super easy, and used up some red felt that is usually just used for tongues on stuffed animals.  Toy tongues are tiny, so there was shedloads left just dying to be used up.  If you’re wondering how much felt I needed for this, it was about half an A4 sheet and it’s a size 0 hoodie.

The hoodie just needs topstitching along the seams and down the front and a button sewn in, however I’ve run out of black thread.  Seriously.  I ran out of neutral thread earlier this week, swapped projects, walked 2km in the rain with the baby to get more, and then get home to realise I need more of the black.  *sigh*  It wouldn’t be a problem except, as you may very well know it’s rude to go to a fabric store and not buy fabric.  TRAGEDY.

This being the third in the series of baby hoodies, I’ve finally jigged the fabric and the techniques to get the desired results.  It’s not quite RTW quality, but that’s more due to not having an overlocker and some of the internal seams not as pretty as I’d like.  Some of the seams look a little wobbly at the moment but they just need a press and to be topstitched and they’ll look great.    The fabric is a jersey with approx. 50% stretch from Darn Cheap Fabrics in Heidelberg, with the lining being an interlock with approx 25%, with the waistband and sleeve bands also being the jersey.  In theory it shouldn’t work very well mixing the two fabrics, but so far the interlock gives it a bit of stability and holds a nice shape.  It might not wash up very well depending on how slack the jersey may go in the wash.  The only reason I mixed the two was I had interlock offcuts, and I was curious.  The fourth hoodie (yes, there is a fourth planned – kiddo is going to childcare a few days a week soon) is jersey outer and inner.  The comparison between the two will be interesting.

The ways I’ve altered the assembly of the hoodie

Sewing the lining and outer together (with right sides facing), flipping it inside out then attaching the waistband makes for a very bulky seam, that then needs to be topstitched down.  Instead I sewed the side seams together, then flipped it inside out.  Then on the right side I topstitched down one seam, changed to a long basting stitch along the bottom (sewing the outer and the lining wrong sides together) then as I hit the corner changed back to topstitching up the other side seam.  Once the front is then topstitched creating the overlap of the front panels I added the waistband.

I also changed the waistband and armband widths.  When you look at a normal jumper with waistbands and armbands they are slightly smaller than the arms/torso of the jumper.  By cutting them 10% shorter and gently stretching the arm band as you sew it to the jumper this gives you the narrower bands around your wrist.  It’s funny how you never think about why jumpers have arm bands and waistbands until you sew one.  This only really works with knits with a reasonable amount of stretch.  It wouldn’t work with the fleece unless you used a co-ordinating rib knit.

Interfacing where the buttonhole will be, just for a little extra stability in the buttonhole.  I cut a small piece about 3″x1.5″ and applied it to the wrong side of the lining.

The topstitching was done with a twin needle, which if you haven’t tried one is actually super easy.  Or is on my sewing machine.  It gives a little stretch as the bobbin does a zigzag pattern on the underside, but best of all the double lines is a bit visually deceptive and your stitching looks straighter.  As you subconsciously compare a line of stitching to the closest parallel line the twin needle is a winner.

Is it wrong to want one of these for yourself?

Made by Rae baby tights

Is it possible to practise for a sewing plan?  Absolutely.  Reading Megan Nielsens’ design blog, this paragraph really struck home the futility of some of my endeavours.  Why not do it properly the first time?

I find it really frustrating when I come across home sewers who declare themselves to be “self taught”, and yet have no understanding of standard techniques. What they really mean is “I figured it out on my own”. Teaching yourself is a completely different thing to making up your own methods.

Years ago a friend Stevie and I did a beginners class with threadden in Melbourne and we practised techniques.   So in constructing my sewing plan, I’m going to try and make something using similar fabric or techniques for my daughter.  The idea is to use less fabric, and if it gets ruined, no matter and if it works R gets a new piece of kit.  Everyone’s a winner.

Introducing the Made By Rae baby tights.

Look at the cute baby bum!

The pattern wasn’t really designed for a 9mo baby, and so in sizing it up the key error of not making it wider occurred. Little known fact is babies DO actually get fatter.  R is in cloth nappies which added bulk at the back but not at the front.

This was a very stretchy knit jersey which wasn’t very tricky to sew.  Unlike all the advice in the books and interwebs I didn’t use a ballpoint needle (but will in the future I promise) but using the overlocking stitch it looked lovely.  Would still be nice to have an overlocker to finish the edges nicely but it’s not in the budget.  I clearly don’t do the budget.

Ahhh, sewing super stretchy fabric and doing an enclosed elastic waistband.  Not difficult, but done properly.  No half-assing.  Not related to the leggings, but also practised doing this finish on necklines on a faux t-shirt.  Different stitches, different widths and also rolled hems.  Another surprise practice technique was matching stripes as horizontal stripes have been a fashion fear around here.  One’s mother said they make you look fatter.  Rubbish.

Future learnings?
There is a reason socks have little heel bits.  These tights do not have those and bunch up around the ankles.  Cloth nappies create additional junk in baby trunks.  Remember to measure the baby while she’s awake rather than trying to creep in and measure her asleep.    Don’t be afraid to “waste fabric” practicing.  You waste more on being unhappy with a poorly made finished product.