Looking Good! Velvet Renfrew Top

The other day I finished a new project, the Sewaholic Renfrew top! And I really mean a day, because this only took about 3 hours! What I really love about this pattern is that you can just make a really nicely fitted t-shirt with it, or a classy and elegant top like this one I made.

This fabric is a stretchy, velvety polyester material. Isn’t it beautiful? I never would have thought to make this into a Renfrew top, this was Nan’s idea. I love how it came out! She also suggested doing the cowl neck version, and the drape of the cowl really highlights the fabrics gorgeous sheen. And it is so unbelievably soft!

This material is surprisingly easy to work with. I’ve actually made this pattern once before, with a cotton jersey, and I’m not so happy with that one. But that was my first time working with a knit, so I’ll call that one practice. One of the things I learned from that one, though, is that it’s hard to prevent the fabric from puckering or stretching. I was so bummed, I thought I had made a wobbly disaster. Once you try it on, though, everything comes together, the wiggles stretch to fit the body, and you have yourself an awesome, flattering top.

But this one turned out great! This fabric was very easy to work with because it’s fairly thick, and the pile keeps the layers from slipping while sewing it. That did make it difficult to cut out the pieces from the yardage, so my solution was to cut the yardage smaller for each pattern piece. Instead of smoothing out the two layers of fabric, which would create wrinkles in the bottom layer, I sort of draped the fabric onto itself as I folded it. I hope that makes sense!

As you can see, I traced the pattern (onto tissue paper, because that’s what I have and it works just fine). I prefer to trace my patterns, rather than cut them out of the originals, for many reasons. I spend more time with the pattern, thinking about my fabric choices and stuff. This way I’m not just staring at the pattern while I think about it, and I become more familiar with the pieces. The biggest factor is that I don’t destroy the original, because I am notorious for losing smaller pieces. And I can make an alteration to the pattern—say, a lower neckline—without losing the style of the original. There are obviously better, more stable ways of copying patterns. I tape together pieces of sometimes crumply tissue paper, but there a sturdier ways of tracing patterns. You can trace it onto a special fabric, or fuse interfacing to the pieces, or buy better quality tracing paper.

The only problem I had with this was that I kept crushing the velvet. Really, that’s not much of a problem, but now the shirt looks funny in certain lighting. Here’s what I did: like any good sewist, I took the fabric home to wash it before I did anything with it. (Nan and I both agree, washing fabric is high on our list of sewing pet peeves—we’re both very impatient). I usually line-dry everything my clothes, so I laid this fabric on my drying rack, and the rods left line imprints in the velvet. So when I took it to work I steamed it with the iron just to make sure the lines would come out. They did, but I guess I was poking at the fabric while it was still hot, and now there are fingerprints in it.

What I’m getting at with all this is, if it looks like someone was groping the mannequin… that was me.

Also, I put the shirt on the mannequin over the Sewaholic Cambie dress that I made out of our two J Crew velvety paisley ginghams. I’m such a bad blogger, I don’t even have pictures of that dress yet! But I will, because I love the way it came out! Of course, I’m just a huge fan of the Sewaholic patterns in general.

But in a different light, doesn’t this look awesome?! The sheen makes is so glamorous, this would be so fun to wear at parties! Too bad that mannequin doesn’t get out much. Anyways, I’m so happy with the finished product! Has anybody else tried this pattern yet? What do you think?


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