R is for Renfrew – A Pattern Review

For the 18th post in my Sew All 26 160 series, the letter R, I decided to sew the Renfrew top from Sewaholic Patterns. Sewaholic Patterns is the brainchild of Tasia, a pattern maker and sewing blogger based in Vancouver, Canada. Tasia specializes in designing patterns specifically to fit pear-shaped women, who would need to combine sizes in order to acheive a good fit with most commercial dress patterns.  The 15 Sewaholic Patterns are unique – they are drafted for a B cup bust, wider hips, more muscular thighs, and a height of 5’4″.

For my last birthday I was lucky enough to receive a Sewaholic gift certificate from my wonderful sister, Becky. I purchased several Sewaholic patterns during Tasia’s birthday sale and also saved part of the certificate for the new Sewaholic designs expected later this year. While my personal measurements more closely matched Tasia’s sizing before I started exercising regularly and stopped eating so many cupcakes modified my diet, it’s simple to size down at the  hips. I prefer Tasia’s B cup bust sizing, since this is a smaller (no pun intended) alteration for me than starting with a C cup drafted pattern.

Digging through the fabrics in my stash, I looked for stretch knits, a necessity for this pattern. I searched for a piece close in size to the yardage required in order to eliminate waste. But most of my stretch fabrics are large pieces intended for summer maxi-dresses. And the short-sleeved Renfrew top requires only a yard and a half of 60″ fabric. The first stash piece that met my criteria for no waste was a vintage polyester that is admittedly pretty horrible. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I bought this shiny polyester paisley print. I must have been drawn to it because it’s blue and purple, and I love purple. I guess it goes without saying that it was also super cheap. I do like to hoard have lots of inexpensive fabrics on hand becasue I prefer to test a new pattern for fit by making a (hopefully) wearable muslin before using my “good” fabric.

Based a Renfrew size recommendation on PatternReview.com review I cut a size 8 even though my bust measurement is a Sewaholic size 10. Cutting a size too small turned out to be a mistake. Although the size 8 fit, that was only because I sewed the side seams at 1/4″ instead of at 5/8″. As usual for me I had numerous problems in sewing this first attempt. I tried to make the V-neck version but couldn’t get the neckband to stretch enough to attach it without gathering the top to the neckline band. Not a good look. I abandoned this muslin as it would never be wearable.

I moved on to a second attempt at the Renfrew top, this time using the round neckline and the size 10. Luckily I had unearthed another thrift store stretch knit purchase that was exactly the right size piece. The size 10 fit well with just a 2″ reduction in the length of the top. In order to test for unsightly neckline gathers I basted the neck band to the top before sewing it. Using the round neckline the band fit perfectly, without any gathers. Success!


  1. The red one looks fantastic! I really like the wide band around the bottom. Neckbands on knits are always a struggle for me… I think how long it needs to be depends on both the neck length (the pattern) and the stretch/recovery of the knit you are using.


    • Thanks, Jamie! I’m not sure what went wrong with the V-neck band. My fabric had the right amount of stretch according to the pattern instructions. I didn’t see any complaints on PatternReview about the V band not being long enough, but then not many people choose to make the V-neck.


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