Monday, 25 August 2014

A tale of two Renfrews and a girl afeared of knit fabrics

About this time last year, I made my second ever make from a knit fabric - Cake patterns Tiramisu dress. I don't consider this dress my most successful make, but I decided I had to get over this panic/nightmare/nervousness/uneasiness/stage fright about making things from knits. So not long after I decided I'd make a Renfrew. OK to lots of you, this isn't much, but I really had to get over my knit fabric hang ups and get going. It was the best thing I ever did and this pattern was the perfect antidote.

I got into a positive frame of mind, checked up the Sewaholic Renfrew sewalong and also checked out Dixie DIY's Never Fear Knits series. Now I don't have an overlocker - I'm saving for that one and having just had a promotion at work, it finally seems closer! Anyway, I checked out all I could about sewing knits on a standard machine. Kitting myself out with a new pack of knit needles, a twin needle and testing narrow zig-zag stitching to see how the seam would finish up.

I bought this purple merino from what was Global Fabrics (now The Fabric Store) in June 2012. Merino is beautiful fabric and I'd not really come across it in the UK. I was determined I needed some in my life!

I decided to make the scoop neck version with 3/4 sleeves. I'm a great one for pushing my sleeves up and so 3/4 sleeves seemed a perfect idea.

This purple merino was beautiful to sew with, I didn't need to worry about matching stripes and the pattern is fantastic. Tasia's instructions are easy to follow and are perfect for a nervous knit fabric sewer.

I knew enough about knits to be brave enough and actually make this a size smaller than recommended so that it would be fitted and not baggy, ie with negative ease. I think I cut somewhere between a 10 and 12, so that the finished measurements would be my actual bust size.

The pattern actually doesn't require you to use a double needle, since the sleeves and the bottom hem both have bands and make the finishing really simple and easy. I think I did actually use the double needle around the neck to ensure the neck band lie flat.

I stitched the seams using a narrow zig-zag stitch and finished them using a wider zig-zag. I also had to loosen my needle tension. I've used these settings for a lot of knit projects I've made since. For anyone who is interested and it helps, the stitch length is set at 3, the width at 0.5 and the tension around 3-4. I certainly recommend using a scrap to test with first.

I have to say, there's not really much else to say about this and so...

The details
Fabric:  Purple merino wool from The Fabric Store, June 2012.
Notions:   Interfacing for the shoulder seams and thread.
Pattern:  Sewaholic Renfrew, scoop neck with 3/4 sleeves
First worn:  I don't rightly remember, but sometime in August 2013!
Worn here with:  A RTW skirt from Zara (old from the UK), purple tights and black boots from Overland. Kat doing the honours with my big girls' camera in Newtown this last weekend when it was cold and drizzling!
Changes made:  None, unless you count cutting a size smaller in order for the top to have negative ease?
Another one?  Oh yes, this pattern is going to become a staple methinks... In actual fact I've already made another...

Yep, I made another Renfrew earlier this year. This cream merino is very fine and thin. I got this from the Fabric Warehouse pop-up shop in I think October 2013. I thought I'd make this one with short sleeves and try out my double needle at the same time. I lengthened the sleeves slightly and finished the sleeves using my double needle rather than use the band. It's worked out brilliantly, but the fabric is actually quite stretchy and it constantly needs washing to retain it's shape.

The details
Fabric:  Cream merino from the Fabric Warehouse pop-up shop October 2013..
Notions:   Interfacing for the shoulder seams and thread.
Pattern:  Sewaholic Renfrew, scoop neck with short sleeves
First worn:  I don't rightly remember, but sometime in February 2014
Worn here with:  A RTW skirt from Marks and Spencer (old from the UK), black tights and my black Everybody shoes (from Edinburgh). Thanks to Kat again for taking the photos just down from Mt Vic.
Changes made:  I removed the band from the sleeves and finished them using a twin needle.

And here's one of the photos which didn't quite make the grade from this last weekend...


  1. Nicely done! I've been playing with knit fabric recently and while its not been completely plain sailing - it has been easier than I expected (or had built up in my head anyway!)

    1. It is a whole lot easier than expected when you just relax and don't panic. I've even used some viscose knit recently and that was a pig to sew with!

  2. One word, say it with me now: Overlocker ;)