I met a friend today for lunch at the fabulous, newly opened, café at Harlech Castle. They proudly boast of having the best views in the whole of North Wales and I quite agree. You can see all the way over to the Snowdonia mountain range and indeed Snowdon itself and closer to home there is the beautiful Harlech beach and the sea.
For lunch I enjoyed the most delicious Welsh Rarebit (cheese on toast) made with locally brewed Purple Moose beer on top of freshly baked sour dough bread. Oh my goodness – it was so delicious I didn’t want to finish it.
I wore my new royal blue Renfrew top as, despite the blue skies, it was decidedly chilly on the walk down. I am really starting to yearn for warmer weather and to be able to feel the sun on my skin. At least the daffodils are now coming out into bloom so everything is starting to feel more cheery – it is amazing how much those bright yellow flowers can lift your mood.
I’ve made two previous versions of the Renfrew pattern, one with a standard scoop neck, here and one with a cowl neck here . I have to say, I am just in love with the cowl neck version of this pattern and I always get positive comments when I wear my earlier red version.
The Renfrew pattern is by Sewaholic, here is a link: http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com/renfrew-top/
You can either download it in pdf format or purchase the printed paper pattern in many independent fabric stores. I bought mine from Guthrie and Ghani: http://www.guthrie-ghani.co.uk/shop/sewing-patterns/sewaholic-patterns/sewaholic-renfrew-top-pattern
I purchased both the royal blue and grey cotton spandex knit fabric from Girl Charlee. I have to say that the quality of both fabrics is second to none; they are soft and warm to the touch but have a good amount of body – absolutely perfect for the Renfrew.
The fabric is 95% cotton, 5% spandex and has a good amount of stretch in both directions, 60% horizontal and 40% vertical
I bought 2m of each at £8.95 per meter. After washing and tumble drying (I know I shouldn’t but I do anyway) the fabric shrank to 1.85 m so just a word of warning if you are a tumble drier addict like myself, make sure you buy a bit extra than you need to account for possible shrinkage.
The pattern is designed for US sizes 0 – 16 (UK size 4 – 20). Looking at the sizes on the back of the pattern, the largest size gives a bust measurement of 41” with a finished measurement of 43”. My FB measurement is 45”
The waist measurements on the pattern are given at 35” with a finished measurement of 39” – my waist is 41”.
And the hip measurements on the pattern are 47” with a finished measurement of 45” – nowhere near my size 52” hips!
So looking at the finished measurements it was a no brainer that I would have to grade the pattern up to have a chance of it fitting me. Luckily I had done the hard work of grading for my previous two versions so I was able to use the same pattern. I stuck with the size 20 around the shoulders but graded up to a 22 at the waist and 24 at the hip.
I stuck to the same alterations as my previous versions which to summarise are:
- I added in a traditional 1.5” FBA and dart. There is no need to do it this way with knits and indeed, Jenny at Cashmerette has a great tutorial showing you how to do a FBA on the Renfrew without a dart. I just find that for me, the dart gives me more room and avoids the stretched horizontal lines that you often see over the chest area.
- 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″
The finished tops
I love the fabric, these tops feel warm and cosy, especially when teamed up with a nice chunky cardigan. I can see the grey top becoming a wardrobe staple as it works so well with many of the clothes I wear everyday – which do seem to have a theme of mainly black.
I’m really taken with the cowl neck, especially at this time of the year. It is so easy to attach to the neckline although the pattern instructions can be a tad confusing the first time you make it. However there is a brilliant tutorial on the Sewaholic site that breaks it down into easy stages and makes it a breeze: http://sewaholic.net/renfrew-top-that-tricky-cowl-collar/
Things that didn’t go well or things I would change next time
Looking at the photos even though I graded the pattern up around the hips to a 24, I don’t think I went far enough. I normally get away with a size 22 with most pattern ranges including the big 4 and independent, but for me, the Renfrew seems to run small. Despite the extra room I feel that it clings around the tummy area highlighting the lumps and bumps that I’d rather hide away. Consequently I won’t wear either of these tops on their own, I always team them with a cardigan to help draw the eye away from my tummy / derriere. I also wonder if these tops show my lumps more than my previous two versions of the Renfrew as they are solid colours, there is no pattern to distract the eye.
So overall my verdict is that I will definitely get wear out of both tops but they will probably always take back stage, being covered by a cardigan or jumper rather than being the star of the show. But then again, not everything I make needs to scream out ‘look at me’.
Cost to make each top
2 m of fabric at £8.95 per meter – £18.90
1 reel of gutterman thread – £1.70
10 cm clear elastic for the shoulder seams – 10p
Fusible washable tape to hold the hems whilst sewing – 30p
Overall cost of each top: £21.00