Pumpkin Renfrew

I finally got around to making a second Renfrew top! I actually made this back in November, but I haven’t had a chance to take photos until today.

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I made this top primarily because I found this orange knit at my local fabric store and fell in love with the color. And then I had to figure out something to make with it.

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The fit of this one is much better than the fit of my first Renfrew. For this one, I cut a size smaller than I did last time, and graded down an additional size at the hip (which makes sense, since Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear-shaped women). I also took in the side seams right at the underarm, and narrowed and shortened the sleeves. I think the fit is pretty spot-on, now. (It’s a little clingy, but I think that’s mainly down to the fabric being a little flimsy, not the fit being too snug. It doesn’t really bother me.) I even remembered to write down the changes I made on the pattern pieces, so it should be pretty easy to recreate them next time!

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I ended up wearing this for Thanksgiving this year — the color seemed appropriately autumnal.

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I made this all on my sewing machine, since my serger is still at my parents’ place. It worked just fine — I just used a narrow zig-zag to sew the seams, and finished the seam allowances with a wider zig-zag. I love that the Renfrew is finished with a hem band and cuffs, so you don’t have to worry about hemming a flimsy knit!

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That’s it for now! I’ll be back soon with a year-in-review post — I really want to participate in Gillian’s “Top 5 of 2014” series before it’s too late.

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Happy New Year! :)

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Cranberry Renfrew

I made my first Sewaholic Renfrew top! I can see why everyone raves about this pattern so much; it really is pretty excellent.

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I’m so pleased with how this turned out. It’s super cozy, and it looks quite nice too!

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This pattern is very well drafted and went together very easily. I made view C, with the cowl neck and 3/4 length sleeves. Tasia’s instructions are, once again, fabulous, and give the shirt a very neat and professional finish. I especially love that you can easily make this top using either a regular sewing machine or a serger (or a combination of the two). I made the whole thing with my sewing machine.

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I finally learned how to use my machine’s overcasting stitch to finish my seam allowances. I think it looks pretty good!

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Mainly for my own information, since I will inevitably forget this and have to look it up when I go to make my next Renfrew (and there WILL be a next Renfrew, this pattern is THAT good), I sewed the seams with a regular zigzag stitch with length 1 and width 2, and finished the seam allowances with the overcasting stitch using whatever the automatic length and width are for that stitch on my machine.

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The pattern calls for twill tape to stabilize the shoulder seams, but I didn’t have any on hand. I used some sturdy ribbon I happened to have in my stash instead, and it worked perfectly. I kind of like having this secret bit of green on the inside, too. :)

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I cut a straight size 10 based on my upper bust measurement, and it fits pretty well! I didn’t even take in the hips, except for sewing the bottom hem band with quite generous seam allowances to tighten it up just a little. The fit from the waist down did turn out slightly more relaxed and slouchy than I was envisioning, but I don’t actually mind–it’s definitely comfy, and I think it looks okay. I think I might try a size 8 next time though (maybe even grading down to a 6 below the waist), especially if I make a non-cowl-necked version where neckline gaping might be an issue… We’ll see.

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The only substantial adjustment I made was to tighten the cuffs quite a bit. I don’t know if I just have skinny arms or what, but they were kind of ridiculously loose on me as drafted. Taking them in was super easy though, so no big deal.

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I love this fabric too. It’s from Stone Mountain and Daughter, and it’s a lovely, warm, cranberry red color. It’s super soft, too. I don’t actually remember the fiber content, but I have a feeling it might be bamboo or something–it feels softer and smoother than cotton.

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Overall I’m really happy with this make. I see many more Renfrews in my future! Must get my hands on some more cozy knits… :)

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Oh, also: I finally got around to making an account on Bloglovin’ and claiming my blog over there… So now you can follow me over there if you want to!

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Blue Cotton Cambie

I’m a bit late to this party, since it seems everyone in the sewing blogosphere has already made the Cambie Dress from Sewaholic Patterns… But better late than never!

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This dress has been in my sewing queue since June, when I found this lovely yarn-dyed blue-and-brown cotton in a fabric shop while on vacation in Oregon.

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Isn’t it pretty? The two colors of thread it’s woven from almost make it look iridescent.

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I knew I wanted to make a fairly simple dress with it–I wanted something versatile, and I wanted to let this fabric be the star of the show. I’d also been wanting to try out the Cambie, since everyone else who’d tried it seemed to love it. It seemed like a perfect match! I settled on view A, with the a-line skirt.

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Since Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear-shaped women, and I am decidedly not pear-shaped, I knew I would have to take in the hips quite a bit. I did this by simply grading from a size 10 at the waist to a size 6 at the hips. Adjusting the pockets to account for this required a bit of thought, but wasn’t too hard.

After tracing the pattern and adjusting the hips, I made a full muslin (something I almost never do — sshhh, don’t tell!). This turned out to be a very good thing, because I definitely needed to do some tweaking. I took in the shoulder seams by a good 5/8 inch. I also curved the shoulder seams a little bit more so they would lie flat over my somewhat-rounded shoulders.

The actual sewing went quite smoothly. Tasia’s instructions are great! The only tricky part was putting in the invisible zipper, as I discovered that I don’t actually have an invisible zipper foot for my machine. I ended up inserting it very slowly and carefully with a regular zipper foot. It mostly worked, but it isn’t perfectly invisible.

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Ah well. I’m over it. If anybody else is bothered by the less-than-perfect zipper, that is their problem. (I did ask for a proper invisible zipper foot for Christmas, though, so hopefully I will never have this issue again!)

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Once the dress was mostly constructed, though, I tried it on and found that the top of the bodice was gaping a bit. I hadn’t noticed this on the muslin at all, likely because I didn’t put a lining in the muslin bodice and so it was difficult to tell how it was going to behave in the finished dress.

I debated the possible solutions to this issue, and finally decided to just take in the side seams of the bodice a little bit and hope for the best–by that point, doing anything else would have required more backtracking than I was willing to do. I ended up taking in the front bodice piece by about 1/2″ at the top of the side seam, tapering to nothing at the waistband. I only took in the front bodice piece, not the back, if that makes sense, so the total loss of circumference was just 1″. I think it helped, although it was not the most elegant solution.

I have to say that I’m puzzled about how others have avoided the “gaping bodice” problem with this pattern, since there’s no horizontal bust dart to bring the top of the bodice (above the bust) inwards. Maybe this is less of an issue for those with smaller busts? Thoughts?

If I make another Cambie (and I very well might–it’s a very nice pattern over all!), I think I will convert the bodice to have princess seams instead of darts, like this version from Crafting a Rainbow (found via Pinterest). That will make it much easier to shape the bust to eliminate gaping.

Here’s some inside shots. One thing I really like about this pattern is that the inside turns out just as clean and neat as the outside!

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The bodice is lined with cotton batiste and the skirt is lined with rayon bemberg lining–I wanted the bodice to be nice and breathable, but I wanted to make sure the skirt wouldn’t stick to tights. I also added a self-fabric facing on the bodice, just in case the lining peaked out a little bit (I borrowed that idea from Gertie’s cambie dress).

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There are several other things about this pattern that I really like too! The sleeves/straps are genius: they give the impression of a sleeveless dress, but offer enough coverage that you don’t have to worry about your bra straps showing. The skirt portion is also really flattering, and I love the pocket construction method Tasia uses. I may well be adapting that method for adding pockets to other patterns in the future.

Despite it’s imperfections, I’m still pretty pleased with how this turned out and hope to get a lot of wear out of it. :)

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P.S. I impulse-bought a couple yards of this beautiful wool about a month ago at Stone Mountain and Daughter–what should I do with it? I’m thinking pencil skirt, but I am open to suggestions. Relatedly, what’s your absolute favorite pencil skirt pattern?

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