The “Taking Initiative” Renfrew Top


renfrew-patternThe Facts

Fabric: 1 1/2 yards of red cotton jersey from Mood NYC
Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew
Notions: none
Pantone Challenge color: Samba
Year: contemporary
Time to complete: 4 to 5 hours
First worn: for these photos
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: $20

It’s here! My contribution to the Sew Weekly Reunion. A really simple effort, but it’s definitely going to come in handy once the cooler months come our way. Dressing and sewing for summer is no problem, but the winter has always left me stumped. I just don’t like the cold! I often wear a short-sleeved shirt or dress with a cardigan over it so this is the year where I’m really trying to focus on long sleeves and thicker fabrics.

I’m calling this the “Taking Initiative” top because I really didn’t think I was going to be able to contribute to this challenge after committing to it. I felt like I was running out of time and then I realized one day I was making a bunch of excuses! It was then that I took the fabric back out of the cabinet and cut out the pieces. It took me two evenings: one to cut and the other to sew it all together.


I was a contributor to the Sew Weekly in 2012. Didn’t participate too much (I think I did about 5 challenges), but I thought it would be fun to join in on the reunion. The theme challenge was to sew with one or several of the Pantone colors for this fall, and while I originally had a more elaborate summery skirt and top planned I opted to be a bit more practical and think of cooler months ahead.

This red cotton jersey from Mood fit the bill! Fitting in with the theme, Pantone’s “Samba” color is what inspired this top. I’m pretty pleased with how fast I turned this purchase around; you may recall I picked this up three weeks ago on MPB Day! I like that the fabric has raised threads that create subtle horizontal lines across the shirt. The solid fabric is simple (which is never a bad thing), and I like the added texture that these lines create.


Once again, I relied on the Renfrew top from Sewaholic Patterns to provide me with a cool-weather staple: the long-sleeve shirt. I honestly just don’t like long sleeves for some reason, but making them myself seems to make the difference! This time around I chose to make the cowl-neck top (version C). Everything was done using the serger, but as I’ve mentioned this can totally be made on your regular sewing machine so don’t be afraid to give a try!

I was intending to just make the plain ol’ scoop neck, but found that I had a lot of fabric left over (I guess since I cut knits on a single layer rather than on the fold the pieces take up less space?). I used just under 2 yards, less than what the pattern called for.

It’s quite simple to put together, but if you have the first edition of this pattern just note that there’s an error: the instructions say to sew the cowl wrong sides together even though the illustration correctly shows to sew the pieces right sides together. This is also noted on Sewaholic’s errata page, but just wanted to point that out here too!


This top is super easy as I’ve mentioned in the past. I ended up making it even easier on myself by going with a straight size 4 (no alterations were made to the pattern, although I didn’t top-stitch around the neckline since you can’t even see it). In the past, I’ve played around with different sizes at the bust/waist/hips to more closely reflect my own measurements. I decided to just give it a go in the one size and I’m happy with the fit. By the size chart’s standards I should be a size 0 at the hips, but I think it hugs me just fine two sizes larger.

By the way, I do not like wearing long sleeves (or pants/trousers) above 70 degrees F (~20C) so I was really “taking initiative” to get these photos snapped and submitted in time for the theme challenge! Seriously, you are seeing something quite rare here. 🙂


So there you have it! My contribution to the Sew Weekly Reunion is in the bag. If you’re wondering, these photos were taken at a gorge in Ithaca, NY (home of Cornell). It ended up being the perfect photo location because the cool breeze from the waterfall made it feel less toasty in this long-sleeve shirt. Pretty humid the rest of the day elsewhere!

T’would appear I’m in a Sewaholic state of mind. My next project is the Minoru jacket (here’s my fabric selection, which actually fits the “Mykonos Blue” Pantone color!). I’m really excited to tackle it. Oh, and I’ll also be back to chat about a fabric store visit. 🙂


14 thoughts on “The “Taking Initiative” Renfrew Top

  1. I love the way your Renfrew turned out! I have the same feeling about cold weather clothing. I think I’ll be a copy cat and sew up some knit shirts for fall/winter too. I wish I could wear sundresses year round!

    • Definitely pick it up! This pattern is worth every penny. I’m not a fan of stiff turtlenecks, but I don’t mind this drapey one. A nice alternative to my usual scoop- and v-neck shirts!

    • I feel the same way about looser turtlenecks – I actually don’t like them any other way so this is a nice compromise. And you won’t regret this pattern, really versatile!

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