Tuesday, May 8, 2012

renfrew tank dress

Tasia claims her Sewaholic Renfrew pattern can be made 9 different ways. Well, I have good news for y'allllll: it's actually 12 ways if you make them sleeveless! And 24 total ways if you lengthen them all into dresses! Please check my math.

I won this pattern in Kirsty's giveaway a couple weeks ago. (Yeeaaa winning!) As I was walking up to my apartment after work last Friday, I spotted the little yellow envelope with that distinct Sewaholic font sticking out of my mailbox, and I practically sprinted up the porch steps to tear into it. I've had my fabric ready since, like, the day after I got Kirsty's e-mail so I was eager to whip this one up.

I have to admit I was not thrilled by this pattern when it was first released. I don't wear casual knit tees that often --usually only when I exercise sleep-- so I thought I'd skip out on paying the high price for a pattern that wasn't really my style. Peer pressure got to me, though, so after I witnessed every other blogger fainting and fawning in massive groovy love heaps all over the Renfrew, I thought I should at least try it out and see what I could do to manipulate it in my typical way.

Which means, o' course, make it a dress. Don't you know me at all by now?

And I quite like it! It was so quick and easy, just like you all said, especially without sleeves. I started and finished it on Derby day, which seemed fast considering a large chunk of that day was actually spent at a cookout betting on horses and eating junk food. With a major mint julep hangover from Oaks night before.

Can we talk fabric for a not-so-quick sec? I bought this striped cotton jersey from Girl Charlee, an online shop I found by Googling "knit print fabric." Have you shopped there? They have a pretty good selection of knits, much of which is not just for kiddos. You know what I mean by kiddo knits -- little smiling monkeys or lavender hearts or stuff like this (from a different shop):


? Yeah, so this place certainly has fabric you could make baby leggings out of, but I enjoyed eyeing some of their more classy florals, stripes, geometric prints and ikats. (OK, I do realize a 6-year-old would happily wear this fabric I bought for myself, but let's not get into it). This particular jersey was only $5.25 a yard, and it was actually printed on-grain. Hold the phone, hold it! Oh yeah, and I ordered the fabric on a Friday, they shipped it that afternoon and the box was on my door stoop that following Monday. WILD.

Sorry for the crazed review about an online store, but as someone who enjoys sewing with knits but can never find any I like, I thought I'd share the tidbit with any Renfrew fans out there.

I made a size 4 for the top part then fanned it out to a more generous A-line starting at the waist. I prefer my dresses to be at-or-below knee length when it's too hot to wear tights, for modesty reasons but also because I hate when my legs stick to chairs or leather car seats in 90-degree heat. This dress is about 40 inches from shoulder raw edge to hem raw edge. Ehh, yeah, that sure was a lot of stripes to match at the side seams.

This self-hug shoulder kiss is truly the best pose I have for showing you the side seam. I promise the seam hangs straight & vertical IRL. I think.

To bind the armholes for my sleeveless version, I used the same pattern piece as the neckline but shortened it to the circumference of the armhole. They were attached in the same way as the neck band. I should have shortened them a tiny bit more so they would fit more snugly and reduce some of the gaping.

To hem the bottom, I stuck a long strip of 1/4" Steam-a-Seam to the raw edge, folded the hem under, ironed it to make the permanent bond, then secured it with a zig zag stitch. Can't recommend S-a-S enough, especially if you're looking to make a Renfrew without that bottom band. It helps stabilize the knit fabric so it doesn't stretch out and wonkify under the sewing machine's presser foot. I was afraid the fused part would take away the stretch of the fabric, but I found that's not the case. Seems like it could work well for unbound armholes and necklines, too.

I'm pumped that I won this pattern and was able to make a casual dress that I know I'll wear often once the Louisville humidity sets in. THANKS SO MUCH KIRSTY! Generous seamsters make the world go 'round / make my summer wardrobe more rad.

How many Renfrew tops have you made yourself? Dare to try a dress?