Yes it’s true, Sewaholicism is catching. I am currently suffering from a new strain called Renfrew-itis

Sewaholic Renfrew - View C

hmmmmmm, now let me think… how much do I love Sewaholic Renfrew View C….? Lots! This was just after I had sewn on the bands and came racing downstairs with it on, hugely excited and thinking it was the best thing EVER. I even wore it out to the supermarket before I machine neatened all the seams. Naughty!

Of course being me I just had to try out another view of the pattern – you know… just in case… so I made this one…

Sewaholic Renfrew View B

I’ve never stitched a knit fabric in my life. Ever. I know lots of people say “you don’t need a pattern – just trace around your favourite t-shirt.”Absolutely, except I had no idea how to attach the self-fabric bands or neck edge. I wanted some instructions and just the proportion of bands to body/sleeve. My mother is a great stitcher but she is a pattern lady and she sewed knits for me in the 80s that had ribbing, so I was short on advice. When it comes to knits I cheerfully admit I’m stooopid. However, thanks to Sewaholic I’m feeling a little smarter on that front. I don’t think I need to trace anything, Renfrew and me are BFF xoxox.

The downside is that I really wish I had an overlocker/serger so I could power through these Renfrews even faster! View B took me about an hour. View C a little longer as the sleeves are longer and the cowl is quite large.

ELH (ever lovin’ husband) likes View C best – and so do I. I have a cowl neck obssession, they are not always in the shops and now I can make them – in every colour!! I really adore this one as there is no possibility of any sneak peek when you lean forward. Rockin’! I like this View B too, it’s very practical.

ELH says View B is ‘nice but just looks like a t-shirt you would buy’. Exactly, it’s just a t-shirt – I love that! I could fly under the radar with this one and all of my friends are going to think this is RTW! Ha! Trickster Deluxe!

I still have no idea which stitch would be best to use on stretch fabric on my machine.

Suggestions anyone?

stitches on my Bernina sewing machine

stitches on my Bernina sewing machine – which one works best for knits?? My instruction manual was not the most helpful document in the world…

My other major triumph is I managed to get both of these shirts out of less than 2 metres. I’m a Sewaholic Size 0. It was a bit of a squish but I managed.

This is a nothin’ fancy mauve knit. I looked everywhere for stripes and could not find anything I liked. The only stripes I found were either poo-tones or a wide black-and-white stripe which I also thought would look too harsh against my skin. Finally I found this, I asked for 1.5 metres and when they unrolled it there was an extra 20cm or so. Usually they ask if you want it (making you pay for it of course) or they chop off the paltry amount for the remanents bin – which is just ridiculous. However I struck it lucky with a tired and cranky shop assistant who just shrugged and gave it all to me for the price of 1.5m. I nearly fainted. I quickly recovered, paid and ran for my life! I’ve never been so happy to be served by a surly shop assistant.

Sewaholic Renfrew - View B on the tiny wife!

Sewaholic Renfrew – View B on the tiny wife! This apparently how I look from my husband’s height. The other photos he crouches down from his 6 foot 5 height to my 5 foot 4 which makes me look normal (or him not so freaky tall…)

After another late winter’s night out I came home pulled on my Tardis Skirt (Vogue 1247) over my leggings for these photos. I swear this skirt just sighs when I pick it up – “she’s going to wear me again! Doesn’t she own anything else!?’ I love this skirt, it’s not ‘cake’ as Sewaholic’s Tasia described the more sensible everyday sewing projects – this is bread! I think Renfrew is headed for bread status too.Sewaholic Cambie View C

I find the fit a little baggy around the middle – I’m used to wearing quite fitted t-shirts but I love this shape with my skinny jeans, it provides a nice balanced shape.

I’ve got some ‘smile’ lines radiating out from over my armholes. I’m not sure what makes armholes smile, my fitting book doesn’t explain that (perhaps they are happy because they don’t stink?). I’ll have to check my RTW t-shirts and see if they do this – and indeed if it’s just my posture in these I’m totally exhausted pictures. Either way it’s not a significant eyesore so me to be tossing it in the disaster pile.

I bought this pattern from Sew Squirrel. I’m trying not to buy the Minoru jacket pattern. I’ve been strong so far. Maybe next winter (I keep telling myself winter 2012 is nearly over!! Wishful thinking…)

Sorry for the less than inspiring backdrop for the pictures but ELH is away fishing for four days and I could not wait that long!

Now I have to, have to, have to make my daughter’s confirmation dress. Fortunately it doesn’t have to be white – that’s first Holy Communion next year!


  1. My sewing machine has a switch that turns it onto stretch stitches (it’s part of the dial that sets stitch length). When on that setting, in converts 1 and 2 into stretch versions of straight and zig zag.

  2. When I bought my sewing machine the lady in the shop told me to use the stitch at nr. 13. It’s a zigzag but from the outside it looks like a straight stitch. When you use a zigzag sometimes it shows on the outside.. I don’t know how to say that in english but you can see it if you try both stitches. The shirts you made are lovely! I think renfrewitis is contaigous, I’ve made a few myself too. They are so easy to make and look so good 🙂

  3. Awesome shirts! You are so right about the joy of a secret camoflage RTW-looking shirt – something about the joy of being able to make something so simple! I’m teaching a friend hw to sew knits for the first time today, and of course, we’ll be making a Renfrew! I’m going to make one myself, and you’ve decided it for me: It’s got to be a cowl! 😛

  4. It does look fabulous. On the subject of RTW disguises, somebody commented recently that one top I’d made for my son looked just like something you could buy in the shop. (That was, I should add, what my son had asked for.) LOL

    • I used to get annoyed with my friends asking every time I turn up “did you make that??”. I felt they were implying I looked lame. Now I’m beginning to think as critical stitchers we need to be a little kinder to ourselves. Clearly it’s harder to pick a home stitched garment than we think!
      Plus my dresses are so much pretty these days.
      Thank you.

  5. I’m so pleased you wrote this post because I’ve been wondering about sewing knit fabric without an overlocker. You have inspired me (again!) and I’m really impressed not only by the Renfrew but by the sheer volume of things you’re making right now!! The confirmation dress will be great, it’s good to work with a bit of pressure!

    • LOL yes I am rather obsessive at the moment with my sewing!
      The Renfrew was great to sew on the machine, sewing knits is EASY I can see why people get addicted to it. I did a bit of Googling and eventually decided to use the very small zigzag – very short stitch length and short width. It turned out to be the right educated guess. Be warned that stitch is very thread hungry and VERY hard to unpick.
      I’m making an effort to sew ‘practical’ things as I could easily slip into frockaholicism.

  6. Great job on the renfrews. They look amazing. I have a magic knit stitch on my machine but I find it is too slow. I use a very narrow zig zag. It’s fast and finishes seams like a straight stitch. After successfully finishing my first knit with the Renfrew I have found myself so much more confident with knits. The Pendrell also comes up great as a knit…

      • I had to make some alterations that I really should get around to blogging about. For it to sit nice as a knit I had to make it a lot smaller than the size 0. I think you will need to do the same. But it comes up great 🙂

        • It’s it funny I used to read women’s magazines about how actresses ‘starved’ themselves to a size 0. ‘how dreadful!’ I thought. Then I bought Indie patterns and discovered I am a size 0! And I don’t even starve myself LOL

  7. Oh this is so cute! I love the cowl!
    Your pictures actually make you look a lot taller, I thought you were like 5’10. Funny to see your husbands view! 😀
    My instructions told me a stitch similar to your number 3 when I sewed a super hero costumer for my boyfriend – I had to sew lycra type fabric and didnt know about stretch stitching and it all just ripped. When I used the number 3 type stitch it didnt! I was so amazed! 🙂
    Also that you have “bread” items is amazing! I am now coming round to considering certain things bread, as I am hardly wearing shop bought stuff anymore! Just need to finally buy the thurlows and make some trousers and shorts … I may be clicking on “Buy” as we speak. 😛

    • LOL someone once referred to us as ‘the tall thin couple’. I’ve just gotten smarter over the years at ‘dressing tall’. I wish I was a tall lanky Aussie lass but it’s not the case…
      Here’s a confession: I’m 5 foot 4, have dark blonde curly hair and wear contacts! And in my passport photo my hair is red. LOL that will freak out customs next year when I fly into London!

      • haha! that is awesome! 😀
        ooo you are coming to london!! Are you visiting family in London?
        My confession would be that I am 5 foot 10, have something between dark blond and light brown hair even though my eyebrows are nearly black! 😛

    • I’ve cut out my short Thurlows (figured I would try the less fabric version to test the fit) but everything has been leapfrogging it in the queue for some reason. Frustrating!

      • yeah im in a lull. starting lots of things but not finishing anything. I wanted to make the pastille dress next, but the pattern wasnt in my book. Colette sorted it though and it should be in the post to me but my linen fabric is just waiting. 😛 For my other projects I am missing fabrics! 😛

        • That happened to me with the Colette book as well. Very frustrating but Colette was v.helpful.
          Have you ordered Cambie? I’m so desperate to get Minoru jacket but have resisted so far.

          • I thought I had ordered cambie and thurlow earlier, but I must have closed the browser before! d’oh. WIll buy them on Monday now. 🙂

  8. Sorry I didn’t reply to your fabric quantity question but the short answer is I was still trying to figure this one out as I had bought a remnant of dubious quantities. This pattern is fantastic and I am not quite sure why. Your skirt is also one of my favourites.

  9. Hey, thanks for leaving me a comment on the fishing vests! (I’m both ecstatic and floored that someone else was actually interested/inspired.) Let me know if you have any questions or want the construction order if you do try to make one—it wasn’t hard but it was a LOT of steps. 🙂

    Sewaholicism IS catching and dangerous—and they don’t even suit my body type! Your Renfrews look *great* and about a billion times better than my first knit T-shirts. As to which stitch, the ones I use on my machine are most like your #8 and (I think)#16—the one on my machine that looks like #16 is actually a stretch version of the blind-hem stitch (#3 on your machine), and is the one my manual recommends as being the most stretchy. I often use the #8 for athletic-looking hems as it’s stretchier (and easier) than using a twin-needle. Clear as mud? I thought so.

    • I’ve got a queue of stuff I ‘have to’ make – dress for Miss 7 and two for work – and then I will start looking at the vest. It’s so cute. She will love it. I’m sure she will consider it a wearable hand bag LOL.
      Sewing machines are do funny, there is nothing standard between them!

  10. They both look absolutely fantastic on you, I can see why you love them so much. I would wear them straight away without finishing either 🙂 btw, I think ELH is the best acronym for one’s husband I’ve seen in blogland… I have problems with the ubiquitous DH, like a lot of Aussies I am sure! :S Good one!

  11. Your Renfrew looks great, you just reminded me I need to finish my second one.
    In my advanced knits class, the teacher had us do a narrow zigzag. Set your machine to a 0.5mm stitch width and a 2.5mm stitch length for stable knits and on interlock and double knits use 1mm width stitch and 1.5mm length stitch.
    How did you finish your raw edges?

    • Thanks for that Trice! I tried two sorts of overlocking stitches. I tried a vari-overlock seam (no.3 on my machine) and also a double overlock seam (no.8 on my machine) both seemed to work. For the seams I used no.13 a little tiny zig-zag seam – which is sooooo hard to undo!! but seems to work a treat – sounds like the first stitch you suggested. It’s a thread hungry stitch that one 🙂

  12. I really love sewing knits on a regular machine. The lightning stitch you’re using is usually for lingerie knits-like the back elastic on a bra and the like. #16 is the overlocker stitch and it’s great for knits so you sew a seam and finish the seam all in one. It will give you 1/4″ seam. I use this one all the time. I was told to use it when I took a swimwear class and it’s really versatile. #s 3&8 also stitch and finish in one step. They are great for more stable knits like interlock. Sometimes it’s really whatever you like the look of. When in doubt, the plain old zigzag is your best bet: #2 is the standby from older sewers before fancy machines came about. You just have to get used to seeing the seam with that stitch in your mind-but it works fabulously. I sew the seam with width 2.5 and length 2.0. I hem with the same stitch but reduce the width to 0.5. On a knit, this actually looks straighter than a straight stitch, especially after pressing, and you don’t stretch the fabric at all when sewing. I agree with another comment above about topstitching with the triple stitch. I have a walking foot and I find that even the most finicky knits work well if I use any of the stitches I’ve mentioned if using my walking foot. Others say you don’t need it but with my regular zigzag foot I really do need a lot of spray starch and mega pressing to keep things from puckering. It’s much easier and faster with the walking foot, at least for me. I got mine from Bernina on sale with an online coupon-check their site regularly if you don’t have one and are interested. My Bernina manual says #14 is for attaching ribknit and #15 is for jersey. I still use #16 for attaching ribknit and jersey. I always test a scrap piece of fabric to see which stitch pulls the least…and appeals to me visually. There are so many stitches that work…even the running stitch #4, that you don’t have to use just one. Find one that works for you-like you said, the lightning is almost impossible to unpick (it’s really only used for very secure stitching). When I started sewing 2 years ago people kept warning me about knits. Now they are my favourite things to sew…and wear. Hope this helps 🙂

    • Wow thanks for your detailed and very informative comment! Much appreciated!!
      I’ve got a Bernina walking foot as I have the quilters edition machine – thank you for all the tips. I’ve never actually used my walking foot so my next Renfrew might be a good opportunity.

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  16. Your Renfrew looks awesome! Mine have not turned out very well so far – I’m also getting those armpit “smile lines” (great term, btw!) and am working on combating them. Glad to know I’m not the only one! Though, I didn’t really notice them on your yours until you mentioned it, so maybe no one will notice mine, either (AKA a case of me being overly self-critical).

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