Monday, July 24, 2017

FO: Striped Renfrew Hack

Back in my Outfit Along Planning post, I mentioned how I wanted to make a boat neck Lark Tee out of a black and white striped knit in my stash. After my wearble muslin of the Lark turned out to be a looser fit then I originally hoped, I had a choice to make. Do I do more work to that pattern in hopes of eventually getting a shirt I like, or do I decide not to reinvent the wheel and just use a similar pattern that I already know fits me well? Can you tell where I'm going with this? Since I would have to alter the Lark neckline anyway to sit how I like, I might as well just do that same alteration to a well fitting pattern (so said my logic, anyway). So I grabbed my trusty Renfrew pattern and got to work.
This is the Renfrew by Sewaholic patterns, but with an altered neck. I used my standard size 16 top, but I tried drafting a slash neckline by following this tutorial by Heather B on Pattern Review. I understood it in theory, but I when it came time to draft the changes I just couldn't see adding extra ease to the bust and neckline. I have a hollow chest and always have to remove excess fabric from this area, so I decided to just use that ease I would normally have removed and call it good. Yeah... I shouldn't have done that. I did the drafting, spent all the time cutting out and stripe matching my lovely knit here, and sewed the neckline first as I usually do when making knit tops. I could barely get my head in the whole. Whoops! I mean, I could squeeze it in, but the tight side neckline plus how high up it came on my neck made the neckline look so closed up that I felt ridiculous. At this point I had nothing to lose, so I just marked where I wanted the neckline to hit, drew the scoop by hand, added 1/2" seam allowance and chopped off the unfortunate slash neck issue. I measured around my new neck hole (25") and cut out a neckband that was 21" long. I applied the neckband in the usual way (right sides together, lightning bolt stitch 1/2" seam allowance, trim down excess), then instead of the methods I usually go with (from the Renfrew or the Plantain by Deer + Doe) I folded the other side of the band in half and then folded it down into the shirt. I top stitched this with a twin needle and used woolly nylon thread in the bobbin. I absolutely LOVE this neckline! You would think it would be bulky with 3 layers of fabric folded right there, but the top stitching really flattens things out. I really dislike not having a neckband on a knit shirt (like on my Lark Tee - that neckline is just folded down and stitched), and having a traditional neckband out on display around a boat neck would just look silly, so having it tucked under like this makes it a little more classy. I highly recommend it :) This was an extremely easy change to make, and the resulting neckline is the perfect size for me. All ready to wear boat neck tops show my bra and garments. ALL.OF.THEM. But this one covers everything up very nicely. I'm hooked, folks!
After my neckline hack, I sewed this up just like you're supposed to. This is my first time using the 3/4 sleeve and it turned out to be the perfect length. I did tighten up the sleeve hem area since I originally planned this to be worn under a cardigan so I wanted the sleeve hems to stay in place. I was very careful with my stripe matching, and this really paid off. I know you can't see it because I forgot to take a picture, but my side seams are matched beautifully. Also check out my stripe matching on the sleeve in that first photo. Oh yeah! lol I'm not very good at pattern matching yet and it always feels like a tedious chore, so I'm pretty thrilled when it turns out how I hoped.
Another fantastic benefit of having a living person take your blog photos - they can smooth out the back of your shirt and get all your stripe lined up. Thanks, babe! You can also see my stripe matching across the upper back at the sleeves. I'm pretty proud of that, I must say. I also made sure to hem this along one stripe. Usually my hems would be slightly curved, but I wanted to keep everything level for aesthetics. I'm pleased with the result. My fabric came from Walmart of all places! After reading on Lauren's Blog that she found some decent knits there on the cheap I couldn't resist checking it out myself. I came away with 3 fabrics including 3 yards of this one. It's 80% polyester, 17% rayon, 3% spandex, which would normally put me off but this had a nice medium weight to it. I find that thinner poly knits cling in unflattering ways on me so I avoid them, but this is super springy and is thick enough to hide bumps but not so think you can't wear it in Florida. Also the stripes are yarn dyed, so everything was wonderfully on grain. I'm really surprised at how much I like this fabric :) The recovery is fantastic, and even though it's a snug fit I don't feel self conscious. Also in spite of it being a horizontal stripe, I think this shirt is quite flattering because it hugs my narrowest areas.
With all my on-the-fly neckline slicing, I did end up with the stripes slightly uneven at the center front of all places. Thankfully I was able to fudge that area when I top stitched the neckband and I couldn't be happier with how that turned out. Let's all just take a minute to appreciate that neckline. Horizontal just at the base of the neck, no bra show on the sides, discreetly top stitched. *Ah* It's a beautiful thing. I seriously want to sew a million shirts with this neckline now. Prepare yourselves.
So the unfortunate part of this shirt is that I did not like it with my other pieces for the Outfit Along (womp womp). After finishing this top I excitedly put on my skirt and sweater only to just not feel right with everything together. Maybe if this shirt was a scoop neck it wouldn't be so bad to me, but mostly I think it's that the bold stripe looks odd against the girly lace pattern in the sweater. Also the V neckline on the sweater goes so deep that it just feels like too much stripe on display. Maybe if it was a scoop neck I wouldn't be so put off by the combination, but as it is now I just don't see me wearing all 3 pieces together. I do love this top with the skirt though, so that's a partial win :) Thankfully I had other knits in my stash that matched the sweater style better, so the Outfit Along entry was saved. So this shirt is a nice bonus to the challenge :)  I love this shirt and I still have plenty of this fabric left for future projects. Hooray!

Fabric: 1.1 yards of black and white stripe poly rayon knit - $4.00
Pattern: Renfrew by Sewaholic
Notions: black thread - $0.50, woolly nylon thread - $0.10
Time: 4 hours
Total Cost: $ 4.60

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