As I mentioned in a recently post, the Sewaholic Renfrew was the first project I ever sewed in knits. Since then, I’ve made at least 15 versions. Love that pattern!
One of the great things about sewing a pattern many times is seeing how it fits and feels in different fabrics. Just for fun, I thought I’d go back and look at what fabrics worked best for this pattern!
1. The Boring Basics
Stable white cotton knit: WIN! This was my first Renfrew, and despite a few flaws it still gets worn.
Cheap thin black knit: FAIL. This is that horrible kind of jersey that sticks to itself and pills immediately. Worn only under sweaters!
2. Contrast Yokes
Grey cotton stable knit: WIN! THis fabric is like a classic mens tee, and it holds up really well and doesn’t cling!
Navy double knit: WIN! This interlock is really soft and works perfectly! The contrast yoke fabric was too thin, so I underlined with with tissue knit and it’s help up well. I spray-basted them with quilting spray during sewing to keep the two layers in place.
3. Pyjama Time!
Thin drapey rayon: FAIL (but PJs, so a WIN!) This shirt is so thin that you can see my bra underneath. The fabric drapes and stretches so much that it’s seriously long with baggy underarms. Best worn around the house!
Girl Charlee Bird Fabric: MEH? Look, lot of people love Girl Charlee, but a lot of what I’ve got from them is this thin knit with heavy ink and poor stretch recovery. This is great as a pyjama top, and my sister gets a lot of wear from her kimono tee in the same fabric, but overall, I’m not a fan of this kind of knit!
4. The Cowls
Oh wait! I had so many Renfrews to photograph that I forgot one of my favourites! Oh well. Let’s pretend it’s there! 😉
Turquoise Rayon Knit: FAIL! This top is a disappointment. The rayon sags, and it’s so thin that everything shows through. Plus, it clings like nobody’s business! I almost never wear this one.
Solid navy stable cotton knit: WIN! It’s plain and basic, but I wear it a lot! The classic t-shirt style fabric gives the cowl some body, and is cosy to wear.
4. Loose Tanks
Both of these tanks have a loose, a-line shape flaring out below the bust. Technically, I guess this recent #SewcialBee make would also belong in this category!
Thin orange stripe cotton knit: WIN! I love this top in summer! Sadly, the bottom band is a bit thin, and folds up in the laundry… but that’s not the fabric’s fault!
Navy stripe cotton knit: WIN! This is my most worn version! It’s all piled and sad now – I should definitely remake it! The fabric is nice and stable, but also drapes. Since it has a loose hem, I cut the bottom band along the grain. It’s not stretched, so it lets the top hang down loosely.
5. The Dress!
Cotton spandex stripe: WIN! I cut this one extra snug, but the spandex helps it fit well AND hide what needs hiding!
(Oh, and I forgot about this dress too!)
So what fabrics work best?
In my opinion, a nice stable soft knit is the best choice! Not something as chunky as a ponte, but something a bit substantial. Rayon knits are a bit too drapey for this pattern – I prefer them for a kimono tee instead. Thin knits sometimes work, but they have to be stable enough to support all the seams… and say “No!” to cheap knits you’ll never want to have next to your skin! I’m curious to try more versions in cotton spandex.
What kind of fabric do you prefer for t-shirts (either RTW or homesewn)? Have you made a Renfrew, and how did it turn out?