Pattern Review

Renfrew — close but no cigar

I always expected that Sewaholic patterns would be the most problematic for me of the independent women’s patterns. After all, they are specifically designed for pear-shaped women, and I am much more of an hourglass.

I actually resisted buying any Sewaholic patterns for a long time, but finally all the gushing on various sewing blogs got the better of me and I broke down. I currently own several Sewaholic patterns, but Renfrew is the first one I dove into.

Creative Counselor: Renfrew
My first Renfrew — the muslin.

I didn’t have as many problems as I expected, given the pattern is drafted for a completely different body type. I anticipated that as I was tracing my pattern and graded accordingly. I went according to my body measurements, and cut a size 10 at the bust, an 8 at the waist, and a 6 at the hip.

The grading worked really nicely and the proportions seem pretty good. The only problem: the whole thing is about 2 sizes too big!

I don’t know if my measurements are off and I chose the wrong sizes (though I kind of doubt that), or if the pattern just runs a little big. But this top is distinctly too big for me.

Creative Counselor: Renfrew fit issues
Too big! The collar slips off my shoulder, extra fabric gaps at the underarms and the sleeves hang.

Other than that, I actually like the pattern. It’s a great basic tee and definitely has the potential to become a wardrobe staple. The cut is really nice after I adjusted the proportions for my body type. The construction is really straightforward and it actually goes together really fast. I love the bands at the sleeve and waist because it makes finishing so much easier. With a tighter knit top like this, my hems have a tendency to break when hemmed with a double needle. A coverstitch machine would cure those woes, but alas I am not made of money!

Creative Counselor: Renfrew back
Back view

I’m working on a second Renfrew, and I cut this one based on the finished measurements rather than my body measurements, so it will be a full two sizes smaller — 6 at the bust, 4 at the waist and 2 at the hip. Hoping for a better fit on that one. If not, I’ll just keep tweaking. I suspect that Renfrew will be worth it in the end!

And in case anyone’s wondering why I’m making knit tops when I recently revealed that I own 135 knit tops, I assure you that two of the many knit tops in my wardrobe went into the Goodwill bin. These ones, in fact:

Creative Counselor: Trading up
A white t-shirt with stained sleeves and a gray top that’s too short after years of washing.

Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew

Size: 10 (bust), 8 (waist), 6 (hip)

Fabric: 100% cotton interlock by Michael Miller that has been sitting in my stash for about 18 months. I anticipated having some fit issues with this top so while I like the fabric, I didn’t want to cut into something I loved on my first attempt.

Physical Pattern: Just okay. The pattern pieces are on tissue paper, which I generally find difficult to work with. Mostly because I trace my pattern pieces, and it’s hard to see the lines when tracing from tissue paper. Also, the instructions are on folded newsprint rather than in a booklet like Colette and Megan Nielsen patterns. The pattern envelope is slimmer that way, but I prefer to work with a booklet rather than folding newsprint. The envelope art is well done, though.

Modifications: As explained above, I graded from a 10 to an 8 to a 6 to account for my different body shape. Other than that, I didn’t make any modifications. I chose to make View A (scoop neck) with the View C sleeves (3/4 length).

Fit: Grading the pattern worked well to get the proportions right for me, but overall the top is too big. Particularly the sleeves — they kind of look like wings! I’m hoping that going down 2 sizes will correct all that.


  • The shape is pretty flattering, and the shirt hits at a good place on the hip.
  • I love the bands at the sleeves and hem — so much easier for finishing a knit top!
  • The construction was very quick and straightforward. The whole top probably took me about 2 hours of sewing time, and that included finishing all the seams with a zigzag stitch.
  • Stabilizing the shoulders with twill tape is a great tip. I hate it when t-shirts get all stretched out!


  • The pattern does take some more effort to fit for the non-pears among us.
  • The quality of the paper pattern itself is fine, but just doesn’t compare to some of the other independent paper patterns out there.
  • It seems that this pattern might run a little big. I’m curious to know if anyone else found that about Renfrew or if this was due to user error on my part.

Overall grade: B. I think it’s a good pattern and would probably give it a higher grade if I was one of the pear-shaped women for whom the pattern was designed. But it doesn’t fit me right straight out of the envelope, and seems to run a tad big for my taste.

0 thoughts on “Renfrew — close but no cigar

  1. I think it looks great! Love the fabric on you. I’ve started looking at finished garment size to chose a size instead of measurements. Mostly bc my kids are never around when I need a measurement but their clothes are. It also gives you an idea of style for how the garment will fit (lose or snug) and allow you to decide how you want to alter it to your desires!

    1. Thanks! I agree that the top doesn’t look that big in the pictures. The extra arm fabric is obvious but the most annoying thing is that it slips off my shoulder because the neckline is too big. Two sizes down may have been a bit much but if so ill just keep tweaking.

      Using finished measurements for the kids is a good idea. Though I. Usually sewing at night after they’re in bed, and the clothes are in their rooms :/ Oh well, they’re deep sleepers!

  2. Cute top! I have made a few of these and not found them to run big. I’m curious to see if you find that using different fabrics affects the end result as far as size. Good luck on your next version and let us know!

    1. Thanks! My next one, which is two sizes smaller, was much more successful. I will post soon 🙂 Maybe I just like my t-shirts to fit smaller than most women, I don’t know.

  3. I’ve just bought my first sewaholic patterns and would say I’m a bit of an hourglass too. I wonder if I’ll have the same problems. Answer: almost certainly! I’ve just bought a French curve so will be doing a lot of grading too!

    1. Good luck! My second Renfrew turned out much better but I am a little nervous about trying the other Sewaholic patterns I have. I will definitely be making muslins!

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