Sewing the Renfrew Top: What Would You Like to See?

Next up: I’m making another Renfrew Top! A few of them, in fact. And since I’ll be sewing these tops with a camera nearby, is there anything you’d like to see demonstrated?

First, here’s the fabric I’ve picked:

Stripey knit, exact same as these tops, but in softer neutral colours. (From Télio.) I’ve worn the navy-and-white striped ones frequently but love the soft dusty rose and warm taupe of these fabrics even better.

I also have this knit fabric, perfect for making the Renfrew, if time permits.

Blogging lets me know just how long I’ve been sitting on fabric, so I know I’ve had the solid-coloured pieces for over a year. Time to sew them up! They’re both cotton/spandex knits, 95% cotton 5% spandex if I remember correctly.

I’m planning to sew at least one View B (the V-neck version) in stripes, and at least one View C (the cowl-neck version) in solids. What do you think?

Tell me, as I sew these Renfrews, what do you want to see in photo tutorials? I have a couple of ideas already, thanks to your comments and messages:

  • The V-neck Neckband
  • Thoughts on Stable Knits

These two have to be the top questions I get asked when it comes to the Renfrew Top. What’s a stable knit, and how do I sew the V-neck band? I thought ‘stable knit’ would be more specific than just ‘knit fabrics,’ knowing that super-stretchy fabrics won’t work as well with the self-fabric bands, but it seems to be confusing. So we’ll talk about that!

Also the V-neck for View B causes some confusion. It’s not hard, but it is certainly a step that makes more sense with fabric in hand as you’re actually sewing it up. Photos will help illustrate this part of the construction. Look for that, coming soon!

I know the Renfrew Top pattern has been out for a while now, so there’s a good chance that many of you have already sewn yours up and no longer need any tutorials. But for those of you who haven’t made it, is there anything you’re concerned about? Let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

Related blog posts about the Renfrew Top – get the pattern here:

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67 Responses to Sewing the Renfrew Top: What Would You Like to See?

  1. Jenny September 17, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    I just received my Renfrew pattern this weekend. I would LOVE to see a tutorial (especially for that V neckline. I always have trouble with that type of neckline in other patterns). I’ll take a look tonight at the pattern and instructions and see if I have any questions. Thanks so much!

    • Sewing Princess September 20, 2012 at 2:42 am #

      V-neck would be great. I also have troubles with binding the neck edge. Thanks Tasia for this

  2. Cindy September 17, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Binding the neck edge! I need all the help/advice I can get.

    Thanks!

  3. LLBB September 17, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    Some more info on attaching twill tape at the shoulders, and how it affects nearby seams. Also perhaps some info on where/and why topstitching is necessary would be interesting. Have fun sewing these up!!

    • Becky September 17, 2012 at 8:57 am #

      I second the twill tape suggestion. As a new sewer I appreciate any and all tutorialing – all tips are welcome and (probably) are new information for me. Thanks!!!

      • Nicole September 28, 2012 at 8:53 am #

        Ditto on the twill tape. Is it folded over or just placed on top?

  4. Rachel September 17, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    Fab looking tops! Any and all tips for handling stretch fabric gratefully received. I can’t seem to even cut the stuff out straight, let alone sew it coherently!

  5. Femke September 17, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    Details for making it with an overlock/coverlock, please. I don’t have a lot of experience with knits but want to put my coverlock to good use. I know the seam allowance should be less, but I don’t know which stitch is best where… It would be really helpful if you would talk about this. I know you put up a post with links, but I really could use info tailored to this specific pattern. Thank you!

  6. cidell September 17, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    Umm, I’d like to know how you sewed that perfect ‘v’

  7. shivani September 17, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    another vote for attaching the twill tape at the shoulders, and some tips on using the overlocker – for us complete knit novices, please!

  8. zilredloh September 17, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    Is it wierd that I want to see the cutting of the fabric & how to find the grainling with knits (solid ones)? This is what is holding me back from working up one of these fun tops.

    Thanks!

    • LM September 17, 2012 at 8:12 am #

      Same here! the cutting of the fabric would be awesome, but so would be all the other things the others have identified. i had this pattern since it first came out and did nothing with it because of the many unknowns. thank you for revisiting it and for offering to help out!

      • Tasia September 17, 2012 at 9:58 am #

        Thanks for the suggestion, Liz and LM! I have a post planned to show the cutting of knit fabric and tips to keep it on grain. I hope you’ll find it useful!

        • zilredloh September 18, 2012 at 11:39 am #

          Thanks Tasia! I’m hoping once I get past this hurdle, the stitching won’t be as complicated. :)

  9. Thea September 17, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    Oooh, awesome, I just bought some fabric for my renfrews last Friday! I hope I don’t find they’re the wrong ones, now ;-) I was wondering if it’s worth getting a twin needle, or if that’s unneccessary? The internet seems divided. Thanks!

    • Tasia September 17, 2012 at 8:11 am #

      Hi Thea! A twin needle isn’t necessary for this pattern, you’re fine with a regular one!

      • Thea September 17, 2012 at 10:56 am #

        Excellent, thanks! I think I got confused about it when reading the resoures on sewing with knits – a lot of them seem to talk about twin needles, and it made my mind boggle.

        • Tasia September 17, 2012 at 11:01 am #

          Because of the way the Renfrew Top is sewn and how the edges are finished with bands, not hems, you don’t need to worry about a twin needle. Your hem stitching won’t be visible, except for the topstitching around the neck. The resources are talking about sewing knit patterns that have you turn under the edge and topstitch it to form the hem. In that case, a twin needle would give you that nice, two-rows-of-stitching look that also stretches. Glad I was able to clarify!

    • Lucy September 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      I think it’s worth getting a twin needle! I used one and it looks really, really nice. I didn’t want to use the zigzag stitch as per the instructions because I think zigzag is a route to having something look homemade (I really struggle to get the tension right for zigzagging on my machine) but the twin gives you the zigzag with all its give on the inside, and a beautiful professional finish on the outside.

      Tip: you don’t always need to buy two rolls of thread. Just wind a second bobbin and use that :-) I wouldn’t have thought of that if I hadn’t been told, so I thought I’d pass it on.

      • Tasia September 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

        Good point! I forgot about if you didn’t like the zigzag stitching. I like the look of zigzag, especially if you use a fairly small zigzag stitch, but I remember people mentioned not liking it and wanting to straight stitch or twin-needle instead. Thanks Lucy for jumping in with a second opinion!

  10. Elizabeth September 17, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    Another vote for the twill tape – I’ve never seen it in a pattern before. And since this is my first time with knits I’d be game for any beginner tips.

  11. Christy @ a.Amelia handmade September 17, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    I just got my pattern last week, and my fabrics are arriving today. I can use any help you can give! I also misunderstood “stable knits.”. I thout that meant they didn’t stretch at all. If you could also share some online places to buy knots, that would be nice. I don’t have a fabric store anywhere nearby, so I have to order online. I tried fabric.com, but had several issues with them.

  12. Margaret September 17, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    Please talk about how to choose knits. I think many of my difficulties are due to poor fabric choices (not necessarily bad fabric, just inappropriate), so please share your experience!

    Also: rib knits. The heavier weight is great for cooler months, and they seem to have a nicer drape.

  13. Jeannie September 17, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    Yes, I’d love to see the v neck, and also how the cowl neck is done. I have the pattern and want to sew a couple of tops, so this is exciting! Thanks.

  14. Janette September 17, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    I’ve had the pattern a couple months and am dying to try it. However, I am very nervous about what to buy when looking at knits. My local fabric store doesn’t help to look at the differences and descriptions because they stock so little. Could you do a primer on what types of knits are what? Stable? ITY? 4 way? 2way?

    And, what types of knits (and how are they described by fabric sites) are recommended for different types of clothes?

    When do we add twill tape or elastic to shoulders and necklines (and how?

    Thanks for asking!! Can’t wait to try one!

  15. Kate September 17, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Another vote for the v neck! The one in your picture is just utter perfection. Months of extensive internet trawling has not resulted in a tutorial or advice that could aid me to create such a beauty!

  16. fangaroni September 17, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    Another vote for the twill tape application – when I’ve added it to the shoulder seam, it made that area more bulky and bumpy, i had better results adding unbulky stay tape. is twill tape only for thicker knits?

  17. Sam September 17, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    A tutorial on the V neckline would be great.

    I really love that taupe stripe fabric.

  18. Sassy T September 17, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    I would love to see a tute, it may help me gain more confidence as a beginner to attempt knits. Especially anything to do with stripes, how you match etc. It would be nice to see it actually in practice.

  19. Tasia September 17, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Thanks for all the great suggestions! Many of these – fabric choice, sewing the v-neck, sewing the neckline binding – are ones I planned to cover, and others are things I might not have considered, like when to topstitch and what the twill tape is all about. I’ll start putting together posts over the next few weeks to help out on some of these topics. I hope these upcoming posts help you guys with your Renfrew sewing, as Fall is the perfect time to make a bunch of new knit tops!

  20. erin September 17, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    I would like to see how you attach the sleeve bands and the bottom band too if you wouldn’t mind. I’m a visual learner, so any extra pictures would help a LOT. Thanks :)

  21. colleen September 17, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    I, too, would like some advice about the v-neck. I’ve made three Renfrews now that have turned out pretty cool! But, I just made one out of some heavier knit interlock and I feel as though I’m in a straightjacket. It could be that it’s heavy and it’s not that cold yet or it could be the long sleeves. I just bought some thinner, lovely knit to try the long sleeves again. This is SUCH a great pattern and I need to copy it onto tracing paper because I’m using it so so so much!

  22. Dee September 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    My first version of the Renfrew top is the scoop neck which fits perfectly through the bust but the neckline is too wide and gaps. I am petite, is it advisable to redraw the neckline in some way to make it a little narrower? Petite adjustments seem to be more of an experiment than math!

    • Tasia September 17, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      I would say, for something like this because there are so many variables involved, it is going to be an experiment more than anything! The fabric is going to play a major role in how the neckline stretches and fits or gaps. Everyone’s body is so different as well, and I’m not experienced in sewing for petites. As we talk about different parts of the sewing process, I’m hoping that people who have made the Renfrew may leave comments on what worked for them.
      You know, if I see anyone’s finished Renfrew project out there that made good notes and detailed their adjustments I’ll be sure to share! (Or if anyone saw anything they’d recommend. Let’s help each other if we can!)

      • LLBB September 17, 2012 at 11:46 am #

        Hi Dee, I think one easy experiment to try and fix this might be to make the band shorter– good luck!!

  23. Tina September 17, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Thanks Tasia for all your help with sewing with knits. I am new to your blog….actually new to blogging in general. I just ordered your Renfrew pattern and an eager to get it started, but reluctant. I read over some of the other’s blogs/requests and have to agree with what they are asking for, and then some. I would love an actual step by step tutorial which includes from choosing fabric (I’m inclined to just use the stripped ones you chose from Telio since I like the colors. Tell me how to find those exact stripes on their website) to finishing touches with everything in between and lots of pictures! I have not sewn with knits much at all so am a bit fearful. I did read all your helpful links on sewing with knits and feel a little more confident than before I read the links. Thanks for putting that all together. Yes, lots of step by step, lots of pictures, and we can follow along. Kind of like an online sewing class :) I know this will mean more time on your part, but you will be blessing so many.

  24. susanna September 17, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Great! Was just thinking earlier today that it was about time I made some! Have not read the pattern yet spo do not know if I have any questions just yet!

  25. Tasia September 17, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    I should clarify, it’s not quite an online class here on the Renfrew. More of a sharing of techniques and demonstrations of the sewing steps that are more challenging, and some ‘here’s what I did’ sewing posts and ideas. Less of a complete Renfrew Sew-Along, with every single sewing step outlined and photographed.

    If anyone is feeling like they need a full-on class to make the Renfrew, you might want to check out local sewing lounges and places that offer classes to better help you. I know that Modern Domestic in Portland was teaching the Renfrew at one point, and I think (could be wrong) that many other sewing shops offer lessons on sewing knits, or perhaps private sewing lessons. That way you’ll be sure to get the instruction you need! I’m sharing what I know but I’m by no means an expert on sewing with knits.

    • Tina September 17, 2012 at 11:12 am #

      I totally understand. How about the way to find the fabric from Telio. I went to their website, but had a hard time navigating around…no link for “knits.”

      • Tasia September 17, 2012 at 11:21 am #

        Oh sure! Telio is actually a wholesale company, selling to retail stores. They’ve mentioned that if anyone likes something I post about, to email them:

        Télio May 28, 2012 at 7:58 am # Edit

        Hi everyone!

        Hope you enjoy Tasia’s blog as much as we do here at Télio!

        If you wish to find some of our featured fabrics in fabrics stores in your area just contact us at generalinfo at telio.com , we’ll be more than happy to answer any of your questions.

        I’ve also seen that stripy knit and similar ones at Hart’s Fabric (online store) and they have it at Fabricana, my local store in Richmond BC (both colours I believe!) Fabricana doesn’t have an online store but I believe they do mail order, could be wrong though..

    • Lilly September 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      I took a Renfrew class in Seattle at Made Sewing Studio. I loved it. I was able to complete the top in the class in 5 hours. It was my first time sewing knits and I was surprised at how quickly it went together. I already have fabric to make a bunch more! I might experiment with making the arm and waist bands longer/wider to change the look a little. The neck was a little gapey which made the shoulders look a little too wide, but it wasn’t bad, totally wearable and something I’ll just adjust next time. I blogged about it here: http://www.rakeandmake.com/?p=1834

  26. Rachel September 17, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    I’m would also like to see something about sewing this up with a serger. Cutting would also be nice, although I think my biggest problem when I made this top was just a poor quality knit.

  27. Sue September 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Choosing suitable knit fabric and how to cut it out, is what I need to get started on the Renfrew pattern that I bought when it first came out! I have bought 2 solid knits to make a short and a long sleeved version!

  28. K-Sue September 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Funny, I had no trouble with the V, but cannot figure out the cowl. I put away all sewing about 6 weeks ago (including a black cowl waiting for assembly) because of the need to use the space in my house, and now if you will be posting about Renfrew, it’s time to pull out the sewing baskets!

  29. Mary September 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Hi Tasia! This is very exciting — I’ve made a couple of Renfrews, but they were my very first attempts at sewing knits or making a garment with sleeves EVER, so they’re a little… wonky. I’m eager to try again!

    I would love to have a sense of how to alter the shape just a little. I love knit tops that come up close right under my armpits, about as far from dolman-sleeved as one can get. I’ve tried to work out how to alter the pattern but I have no idea what to do about the sleeves to make sure it all fits together. That might be more involved/individualized than you want to go, but if it’s pretty easy for you to talk about I would love your advice!

    I ironed my Renfrew pieces to fusible interfacing, btw, because I anticipate using them lots and lots and I wanted to make sure I didn’t wreck them. Thought someone else might find that useful.

  30. Susanne September 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    I would appreciate if you could say a word on how you put the sleeves in since that’s done before sewing the side seams. I had some puckers at the shoulder and was wondering if there’s anything special to it? Or maybe it was due to the poorer quality of my knit since no one else seems to have a problem here?
    I’ve made 2 Renfrews so far and I’m planning on making more soon!

  31. Suzanne September 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    I’ve bought the pattern but have some trepidation about making the Renfrew, mostly the neckline/neckband. I am a beginning sew and have access to a serger and a coverstitch, and some detailed photos about how best to use these would be helpful.

  32. Sophie September 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    I love the Renfrew, but would really like to make it as a boat neck! Any tips advice?

  33. Diane September 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Yes, Love to see this made up in varying types of knits and show how to calculate the neckband for the different stretch of the knit. I’ve made it in ponteroma knit, a sweatshirt knit and a cotton-lycra and they all look great and totally different. My method of neckband calc. is to pin it with a lot of tension and then subtract the extra fabric by recutting the sewn end of the neckband and sewing it up again. This works, but maybe a mathematical calc is quicker and I’d like to know.

  34. Amy September 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    I have never sewed with a knit befoe and indepth instructions would be helpful! I
    am not sure how to select the right knit for this, I got a bit overwhelmed by the choices and some just seemed way to thick.
    Thanks!!!!

  35. PerlenDiva September 18, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    All this talk about neckbands actually reminded me on a question about the Pendrell top. I know it’s off-topic ;-) I want to enlarge the neckline a bit and wondered whether there is a trick in calculating the correct lenght for the bias binding or whether I’ll just have to pin and see.
    Pretty stripes, btw.
    Constance

  36. Levone September 18, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    I would love a demonstration of the cowl neck construction. I have been sewing for years and I’m not new to knits, HOWEVER this part of making the top confused me greatly…I guess the easiest things stump me, LOL. Thanks for asking for suggestions!

  37. KLyons September 18, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    I’ve made two Renfrews and love them both. Your pattern gave me the courage I needed to try sewing with knits!! I have found them very intimidating until I tried your pattern. :) I was wondering if you had any thoughts/ideas on making this top sleeveless?

  38. aliza patell ratnayaka September 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Love the top. Have made a few and found ways to do the V neck but would love to see how you do it!.
    thanks!

  39. Sarah Connell September 18, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    Id love some posts about how to cut up striped fabric so it matches! I’ve been wanting to make a striped renfrew but I’m not sure how to cut so it will match up! And I’d love to see some ideas for creative ways to alter the neckline- ie Henley style with buttons or a collar. Can wait for the sewalong!

  40. Katherine September 19, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    As someone who’s never been confident with knit fabrics (aside from, you know, KNITTING them ;) ), it would be great to get tips and pointers for what kinds of fabrics and how to work with them, for sure!

  41. Summer September 21, 2012 at 4:06 am #

    Yay! TImely topic for me. Ordering Renfrew and fabric to make my first knit top! I’m making the cowl version…my favorite style. So excited! I am a beginner, so I am going to really appreciate the Renfrew posts!

  42. Claudia September 24, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    I bought the Renfrew on preorder and I haven’t even opened it yet! This is for many reasons, but one of them is because I wasn’t sure what “stable knit” meant. Thanks for doing more posts on the Renfrew top!

  43. Heather September 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    I made the Renfrew and it was a wadder. I had a lot of trouble with the “v” on the neck. In the end it was just too big on me and I need to sew a size or two smaller. I think that was the fault of my knit partially. I was one size in the bust and a larger size in the hips. I tried to grade out for that but it wasn’t very successful. I will give it another go and watch your blog for more tips,

  44. Rachel October 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    I just finished my first renfrew & I looove it :) great pattern, tasia. I used a medium weight knit (think lightweight sweatshirt fabric almost) & it has great drape without being heavy. I didn’t find the v-neck too bad to work BUT I used a walking foot & that made all the difference. Making sure I cut out perfectly (or as near to perfect haha) made a huge difference too – I pinned the selvedge edges & pinned the pattern a ton. I’m going to interface the pattern pieces as they won’t withstand the pinning over time!

    • Tasia October 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      That is awesome! Lightweight sweatshirt material sounds perfect in terms of weight, and so cosy too. So glad it worked out well! On the walking foot note, I’ve never used one but hear wonderful things about them. One day I’ll have to figure out how to get one for my machine and try it out.
      You’re totally right – cutting is the hardest part when it comes to working with knits, if you cut well the sewing is easy!

      • Tasia October 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

        ps. I recognized your website from your Ravelry name – was just checking out your gorgeous Acer cardigan yesterday! :)

  45. Alice November 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Hi, I have come to your blog from sewin in the rain. I have a problem with the scoop neck of the renfrew top gaping at the front. Any ideas on how I fix that problem. Thank you.

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