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Pattern Review: Sewaholic Renfrew Knit Top — Wearable Muslin

2013 September 23
by elizabeth_admin

I’m finally writing up my review of Sewaholic’s Renfrew Top.  I meant to get to it right away last winter after my two muslins, but time and life got in the way.  Before I get to the actual pattern review, I want to recap where I left off last late winter.  I started with an out of the envelope sz 10.  I used a beefy t-shirt knit.  The arms were a little tight on the biceps and too loose at the wrists.  The bust was a little tight with drag lines to the side seams at the armpit.  In the same fabric, I then tried a sz 10 with a cheater FBA and a sz 12 sleeve tapering to a sz 8 wrist on the sleeve.  The wrist was still too big, but the bicep felt pretty good.  The cheater FBA did not seem to make an appreciable difference.  And that pretty much sums up the first two muslins.  My one caveat about fitted knit tops, which the Renfrew is, is that you can’t really muslin knit tops.  Every knit is different.  Kind of frustrating really.  I think the best tip, which I heard about from Myrna, is to drape your knit of choice on your bust and hip from side seam to side seam with the ease you like and compare the width to the corresponding size on the pattern sheet.  Ok, on to the review!



Pattern Description:  The Renfrew Top is a fitted knit top with sleeve and neckline variations. View A has long sleeves and a scoop neckline. View B has short sleeves and a deep V neckline. View C has a dramatic cowl neckline and three-quarter length sleeves.  I made View A.

Pattern Sizing:  I made a sz 10 with a vertical FBA as described by Shams.  I eased in the extra ¾ inch I added to the front pattern piece at the bust level on the side seams.  The size 10 was great for my shoulders/neckline and just about everywhere else.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it?  Yes, except for my neckline, which I bound with my coverstitch machine and left off the hem bands.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  They were fantastic!  Especially for beginners.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?


  • Great draft for a simple fitted knit top
  • Love the variations
  • Love that you don’t have to have a serger


  • NONE!

 Fabric Used:  Beefy striped knit from Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley from Jack’s and my summer vacation this year.  It’s so beefy it behaves like a double knit.  Perfect for fall weather.  I wanted to replace a striped knit top I had bought from Uniglo a year and half ago in NYC.  It was my favorite, go-to top for the fall and winter last year.  But it’s showing a lot of wear.  I’m so glad I have a suitable replacement now.

Pattern changes or design changes made:  As I mentioned earlier, I did a vertical FBA.  I eliminated the bands at the wrists and hem.  I coverstitched my hems (adding 1.5 inches to the bottom of the pattern to make up for the eliminated hem band.  I also coverstitched a binding on the neckline, but in retrospect should have just done the Sewaholic neckline treatment since I botched one of the shoulder seams.  I now must wear my hair down whenever I wear this shirt to hide the shoulder seam join.  *hanging head*  I also had to shorten the sleeves for my arm by about a ½ inch.

Any problems encountered during construction?  Of course there were.  As always, user error reigned supreme.  The shoulder seam, the stripe matching (NOT!), and last but not least, cutting out two backs instead of one back and one front.  Silly me.

Which sewing machines were used in construction:  I used my Brother 1034 D serger  for the basic construction of the top and my Brother coverstitch for the neck binding and hems.  It was kind of a pain to switch between the two as I only had enough thread for one machine to be in use at a time.  If I had used the Sewaholic’s neckband, I wouldn’t have had that problem.  *sigh*

Time to complete construction:  About 3.5 hours, but I wasn’t really watching the clock and I was watching TV as I sewed, so I was probably slower than usual.

How was working with stripes?  I have to admit that I didn’t make a herculean effort to match stripes, and it shows.  I gotta tell you people, I am just no good at pattern/stripe matching.  In fact, I kinda suck at it.  It almost makes me want to sew only prints or solids.  I can pretty much guarantee that something if not most things will not match ever if I have to have them match.  I have read numerous tutorials for matching plaids, stripes, florals, etc.  Ad nauseum in fact.  I just can’t wrap my head around it.  I must have a serious mental defect.    The lack of stripe matching and the crazy shoulder seam join on the left side is why this top is just a wearable muslin.

Will you sew this again or recommend this pattern?  I am definitely making this over and over again.  It’s a great t-shirt block.   Love it!  It’s a great top for beginners and experts alike.  You don’t have to have a serger or a coverstitch machine either.  That’s the genius of this design.  With the hem bands and how the neckline is finished, all you need is a zigzag stitch.  Yeah! 

Conclusion:  Great basic knit top pattern.  It will definitely be a workhorse pattern for me and my wardrobe.







I wore my new top to Draping Class today.  It was super comfortable.  As you can see above, I still have drag lines at the bust, but since I don’t want to dart a knit top, I think I will live with it.  I live with it in RTW anyway.  There’s also sway back pooling in the back, but I again, I don’t want to add a center back seam in a simple knit top.  I can live with that too.  And boy, do I have a lot to share with you from my draping class!

Until next time…

6 Responses leave one →
  1. September 23, 2013

    Looks great, this is one of my favorite patterns but I was with you, took a bit to get the sizing right.

  2. September 23, 2013

    I need to get back to fitting the Renfrew this fall. I have some luscious sweater knit from Stone Mtn to sew up. I have an idea about fitting the swayback better….dependent on how stretchy the knit is. Thanks for the link to the vertical FBA…I’m an A cup but might need it to fit into this pattern!

    This idea of holding the knit up to your body is interesting too. I read about that on another sewing blog and didn’t quite get it, but I think I understand what you’re saying. I might have to try that!

  3. TinaLou permalink
    September 24, 2013

    Love your new Renfrew – and thanks for a great review too! I have to remember to judge knits by wrapping them around my fullest part and going from there too; you explain that very well. I have earned from your earlier posts to not make a final determination of muslin success or failure until subjecting one’s garment to the ‘wear-it-for-a-day-and-then-see-how-you-feel’ test. Oh, I have just successfully removed swayback wrinkling from my Tonic tee without using a center back seam, which I learned from Lynda Maynard’s Craftsy class. I think I can post the pictorial sequence on Pinterest and send you the link – let me give that a try in the next several days. I’m off to check out the vertical FBA link – you’ve piqued my interest!

  4. September 25, 2013

    So cute. Really great job. I’m terrified of knits. I don’t even know where to start.

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      September 25, 2013

      I think the Renfrew is a great place to start with knits. Try it!!!

  5. September 25, 2013

    It’s lovely. You did a great job of reviewing it as well.

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