Renfrew dresses!

I’m really into the idea of getting the most out of a pattern. I love a good pattern hack, and I love customizing my patterns to fit my style and to get extra mileage out of my investment. I know I’m not alone in this!

I’ve spotted some really lovely Renfrew “dresses” in our Sewaholic Flickr pool. It’s a really easy to transform the Renfrew top into a dress, and there are a few ways you can do it. You can just lengthen the pattern pieces for a more fitted style, or you can cut off the pattern at the waist, and add an a-line skirt, or even a circle or half circle skirt for an elegant yet relaxed fit. Even a gathered skirt would be really cute!

After admiring these dresses and feeling so inspired, I thought I would share them with you!


This lovely dress is from Shannon of Orange Cloud Handmade. Here’s a tidbit from her blog post:

I put on an existing Renfrew, stuck a pin in at my natural waist, and then compared it to the pattern. That happened to be right on the lower line of the lengthen/shorten section, so, as Dan Savage would say, yahtzee! It’s already marked on both pattern pieces — couldn’t be simpler. I knew I wanted a half circle skirt for an optimum twirliness-bulk ratio, so rather than reinvent the wheel here, I went with one that I already had at hand and on my trusty Swedish tracing paper — the skirt from Tiramisu. I measured, and the waists were pretty close, with the Renfrew being a little roomier, so I went for it.

I love the stripes! And would you look at that expert stripe matching. So good! You can read all about the project here.


This striking floral number is from Lelie of A Bouquet of Buttons. Lelie added a waistband and a simple skirt. I am in love with this floral print fabric! I would personally have been too chicken to do full length sleeves in such a strong print. But seeing it here makes me rethink that! It really looks great! You can read her full blog post here. And check out her first Renfrew dress, it’s red with a pleated skirt. Love!


And look at this one from Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow.  A bit about her dress:

Inspired by the the lovely Andrea’s tank dress, of course, but more winter-appropriate! The black and white fabric of the main body is a scrap of double-knit that I got in the remnant bin for $3.60, and the sleeves and neck-binding are from a little piece of bamboo knit that has been in my stash for years. I thought the light-weight sleeves would fit better under a cardigan… plus, I thought a dress entirely out of a graphic print might be a bit much!

I love the contrasting sleeves and the black and white print. The belt gives some great waist definition and is really flattering. And thanks for all of your kind words Gillian! Read her full post here.

So what do you guys think? Feeling inspired to make a Renfrew dress? I know I am! We’re looking forward to featuring more projects in the future made by you! If you want to share something you’ve made, please do e-mail us at info[at]sewaholic[dot]net with a photo or link.

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26 Responses to Renfrew dresses!

  1. Lelie // A Bouquet of Buttons February 7, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    Wow! Thank you so much for featuring my dress. Renfrew top is a super lovely and versatile pattern! What an honour to be featured on your blog! The perfect end of the week :)

    • Caroline Amanda February 13, 2014 at 12:04 am #

      Hi Lelie! Well thank you so much for making such a lovely dress! It was our pleasure to show it. Very inspiring!

  2. Emily February 7, 2014 at 7:02 am #

    ooo, thanks for all the ideas!! I made my own Renfrew dress back in the fall using a slightly gathered quarter-ish circle skirt (here: and it’s one of my favorite dresses!! The Renfrew is definitely one of my all-time favorites!

    • Sheryl February 7, 2014 at 11:53 am #

      Cute polka dots. GOOD job!

      • Emily February 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

        Thanks!! After all the drama of drafting the skirt, it’s one of my favorite dresses!

    • Caroline Amanda February 13, 2014 at 12:06 am #

      Hi Emily! I love your polka dot dress! Despite your set back, the end result it really lovely and flattering! :)

  3. Shelley February 7, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    What a timely post! I literally just made my first Renfrew dress last night and am wearing it now. It’s so fresh I don’t even have pictures of it yet, but I know it’s going to be a winter staple. I made it with the cowl neck and long sleeves, and it’s incredibly scrumptious. Thanks for such a versatile pattern.

    • Caroline Amanda February 13, 2014 at 12:07 am #

      Awesome Shelley! I would love a cowl neck version, must be so cozy and comfy!

  4. maddie February 7, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Yep, that’s for damn sure. Everyone loves a good pattern hack. I’m loving Shannon’s version and her blog!

    • Caroline Amanda February 13, 2014 at 12:07 am #

      Thanks Maddie!

  5. Jessica February 7, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Lovely! I’ve made 3 Renfrew shift dresses/tunics and love each one of them (ha, I might’ve made more dresses than tees from the pattern) These are wonderful variations.

    • Caroline Amanda February 13, 2014 at 12:07 am #

      Awesome, thanks Jessica!

  6. Shannon February 7, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Thanks for including my dress! I love this thing, I wear it all the time (though with layers this time of year)!

    The one thing I’d do differently next time (and there will definitely be a next time) is to trim down the armholes a bit, maybe by an inch or so. The shoulders are a bit wide-looking.

    Cheers for Renfrew!

    • Caroline Amanda February 13, 2014 at 12:08 am #

      No problem Shannon! I love your dress :)

  7. Jo February 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    I’m inspired to make a Renfrew dress for sure, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet! I have modded the renfrew pattern in many ways and I compiled a list of mine and other people’s creations on my blog too:
    I love getting value out of patterns, so things like this are always great to see :)

    • Toffle February 7, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

      What a gret resource! Thanks for the effort!

    • Caroline Amanda February 13, 2014 at 12:08 am #

      Awesome Jo, I love your list! Thank you so much!

  8. Lucy February 7, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Haha, funny. I thought of this all by myself the other day and have been meaning to give it a go.

    So many possibilities!

    I’m also planning on using it as the base for a Kate Middleton-esque shift but I want to try an easier fit first – I turned the Alma into a shift as well, but that needs work because it’s tight across my legs when I sit down. It worked in theory though!

    • Caroline Amanda February 13, 2014 at 12:09 am #

      Oh yes an Alma dress would be so nice too, wouldn’t it! You’ll have to share your version with us once you perfect it :)

  9. Nikki February 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    I’m definitely inspired now, these are great. A knit dress with thick tights and boots for the winter is just great for chillin’ in. Even though I’ve only made one Renfrew and not blogged about it, it went together so fast, that I’m planning plenty more. I MUST save this page and keep checking the Flickr pool.

    • Caroline Amanda February 13, 2014 at 12:10 am #

      Thanks Nikki!

  10. Gillian February 9, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    Thanks for the mention! As it happens, I just blogged an update on that dress this past week – I’ve changed the neckline and made the dress much shorter, and now I’m getting a lot more wear out of it!

    • Caroline Amanda February 13, 2014 at 12:11 am #

      Gillian your shorter version is so cute! Thanks for updating me :)


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