Cowl neck Renfrew in shades of red

Hello Lovelies

Gosh we have been battling the weather here in North Wales.  We have had non stop winds of up to 60 mph and driving rain – uggh.  It gets a bit scary when I’m sewing as I have taken over the two attic rooms and so I am literally just underneath the roof.  The wind keeps lifting the roof tiles then dropping them back down again with a clatter.  This time last year I was up there in similar conditions and could hear the tiles falling down from the roof and smashing to the ground.  I’ll take rain over wind any day thank you very much.

Anyway, onto happier topics.  Here is my second Sewaholic Renfrew top, this time made with the cowl neck version C.


P.S. this photo wasn’t taken today, although I’m sure you have probably already worked that out after my impromptu weather report!


I purchased this fabric from a small local shop in Porthmadog called Siop Anna.  Unfortunately they don’t have a website so I can’t link it to you.  The fabric was unusually wide, 170cm and I bought 2m at £8.00 a metre.  I’m not sure of the composition, it wasn’t stated on the bolt (or at least I couldn’t find the details and I forgot to ask) but it has an incredible 100% 4 way stretch and a great rebound.  It feels like some type of rayon/spandex mix and is extremely lightweight but at the same time it hangs beautifully.


I used the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern, version C with the cowl neck for my top.


I decided to stick with the same alterations and sizing that I used on my previous Renfrew top here as I felt that they worked well for me last time.  This is a recap of what I did:

  • I graded the pattern up to a size 18 at the shoulders, 18/20 at the bust and 20/22 at the waist/hip area
  • I added in a traditional FBA and dart (bit of an odd choice for a knit but it works for me and gets rid of the stretched look over my girls).
  • I shortened the sleeves by 1.5″
  • I chose not to use the attachable cuff or waistband sections.  With the grading up I had done I would have struggled to get the waistband to fit me properly and as I had already shortened the sleeves I didn’t want to then add on extra length in the arms.
  • I lengthened the bodice front and back by 1″ to compensate for not using the waistband
  • I narrowed the shoulders by 3/4″
  • I did a forward shoulder adjustment of 0.5″


I pre-washed and tumble dried the fabric just to make sure that it wasn’t going to shrink after making my top.  It was just as well that I did this as the edges curled and shrank quite badly after being tumble dried – eek please don’t comment that I’m not supposed to tumble dry knits. I know the advice is to dry them flat but in reality everything I own has to be capable of being bunged into the washer and then the tumble drier.  My solution to the curled shrunk edges was just to cut them off parallel to what would have been the original selvage.

I do wonder if I should have washed and dried the fabric for a second time just to be sure but come on, how many of us have the patience to do that?  It takes all my willpower to do just one pre-wash in the first place.  Don’t you find that it is sod’s law that the fabric you want to use on the spur of the moment is always the one piece that you haven’t pre-washed?



  • I used a new 10/70 ballpoint needle in my sewing machine.  I generally use a 12/80 for knits but as this particular fabric was so lightweight that I figured it wouldn’t hurt to work with a smaller gauge needle.
  • I used my sewing machine for the seams and then overlocked the raw edges to finish off the seams.
  • I used a walking foot on my sewing machine to lesson the movement of the fabric – being so lightweight, it wanted to slippy slide everywhere. Gosh that thing sure is noisy but it does work well and managed to hold most of the seams steady without too much slippage.
  • I used a zig zag stitch set to 2.0 length and 1.4 width for any seam that needed to have stretch.  However for the side seams I used a straight stitch set to length 2.5.  The fabric had such a huge amount of stretch that I didn’t want to zig zag it and give it any more room for movement.
  • I used clear elastic in the shoulder seams to help prevent them from stretching whilst being stored on a hanger and also when worn.
  • I used washable fusible tape to secure the hems to hold them in place before stitching

I was a little nervous about sewing the cowl neck as I’ve never made one before but I followed the Sewaholic tutorial and it was unbelievably simple once i got my head around it.  The only slight problem I had with the tutorial was that because the fabric used in the shots didn’t have a clear front/back it took me longer than it really should have to be 100% sure that I was sewing everything correctly.  However, once I got on and tried the instructions it really was straightforward and the cowl neck collar fitted perfectly onto the neckline of the bodice. I don’t know why I was ever worried in the first place.

Things that didn’t go well or things I would change next time

Do you know what? For the first time ever, I think I am 100% happy with something I’ve made.  Perhaps the only small change I might make is to lengthen the bodice a little more, perhaps another inch.  But to be honest, it doesn’t bother me enough to worry about it.


The finished top

I love it, really really love it.  It is so comfortable to wear.  I feel that it fits me well and I feel good in it (something I could never have said about RTW garments).  The cowl neck is beautifully drafted.  I don’t like necklines that are too high up around my neck, this one hangs beautifully, adds interest to the top and gives an extra layer of warmth around my neck.  I am definitely going to make this version again in the near future.

Cost to make:

Fabric: £8.00 per meter – I used 2 metres = £16.00

1 reel of gutterman thread – £1.60

10cm of clear elastic for the shoulder seams – 10p

Unsure of how much fusible washable tape I used, lets say 30p

Overall Cost = £18.00


One thought on “Cowl neck Renfrew in shades of red

  1. Pingback: Two Renfrews | Sewn From The Heart

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