Breaking news: I made another Renfrew. Does this pattern ever get old?? Apparently not around here! What can I say – I’m a sucker for simple, comfortable knit tops. Like the lovely Roisin, I know what I like, and I just keep making it. : ) However, instead of making yet another version of exactly the same thing, I decided to change things up a little this time around. It’s finally getting warm here in Boston, and a sleeveless top was just the ticket.
I spent a few hours online looking for a pattern for a knit top with a little “interest,” some intriguing detail at the neckline or shoulder to distinguish it from a boring old t-shirt. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Most of the patterns I found had ruffles and frills, and you know I’m not a ruffle girl. I knew I already had the Renfrew pattern with all my fit modifications, and I knew I wanted a more sleek and streamlined detail, so I decided to just wing it. Hooray for DIY! : )
Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew (my 11th one, for those of you keeping track!)
Fabric: Teal striped cotton/poly jersey from Grey’s Fabric
Modifications: Omitted sleeves, but added self-drafted angled sleeve bands (see details below). I used my scooped-out neckline from Renfrew #10.
Level of crafty satisfaction: Love it! A comfortable and versatile summer top.
Ok, now about those sleeve bands…
Here’s the piece I drafted, and I’m calling it an “angled sleeve band” for lack of a better term. The top curve is essentially a nearly-flat sleeve cap, and the piece gets folded in half lengthwise so all the raw edges are enclosed in the armhole seam.
To draft the piece, I measured the length of the armhole, multiplied by about 0.93 so the band would be slightly shorter, and drew the band length as a horizontal line across the center. I chose my desired width at the shoulder (2 inches) and armhole (5/8 inch), and drew vertical lines at the center and ends to represent these distances. (Remember to double these width measurements since the piece will get folded in half.) I eyeballed the curve, connecting the ends of all my vertical lines. Finally, I added a 5/8 inch seam allowance all around the outside of the piece.
Does this make any sense? If not, just ask. : )
I really like the result! I knew I wanted something similar to a kimono sleeve with a thick sleeve band, but not quite as big as an actual kimono sleeve. I didn’t exactly want a cap sleeve either, since I find cap sleeves extremely difficult to move my arms in. These angled sleeve bands extend the shoulder line just enough to give a hint of a sleeve, without actually adding one. The look is streamlined while still adding some interest.
The back is my favorite part – I just love this look! My style can be somewhat androgynous, and I really like that the added “interest” isn’t overly feminine or fluffy. It’s still just a t-shirt. Nothing fancy here!
Here’s a close-up of the angled sleeve band. I inserted it just like the neckband, zig-zagging on the outside to keep the seam allowance in place. Each sleeve band (well, and the neckband) took 4 seams (!!!) to insert, which took forever with the lightning bolt stitch on my sewing machine. It was much more of an epic saga than I was expecting, but I do like the finished look. When am I going to strike it rich so I can buy a serger??
The armpits were a little tricky, and as you can see above, they didn’t come out perfectly. The curve of the armhole is sharpest here, and easing in the slightly smaller sleeve band took a little bit of finessing. Steaming can cure a multitude of sewing sins, and I definitely steamed the crap out of this! Still, it’s in my armpit, so who’s really going to notice? : )
I made an executive decision about stripe-matching: life is too short to worry about perfectly matching stripes! My machine can only do so much without a walking foot (WHY are Bernina feet so expensive??), and I’m not patient enough to hand baste seams on a t-shirt. So, I’ll live with whatever I can get. The stripe matching is good enough, and who’s going to care anyway!
Overall, I’m quite smitten with my angled sleeve bands, and I’m mulling around the idea of a maxi dress for my next version. My credit card slipped this afternoon, and I may have purchased more jersey… oops. : )
And no, I haven’t forgotten about my self-drafted maxi dress muslin… I still want to come back to it! I need to muster up the energy for more drafting work. For now, I predict a Renfrew dress will appear on this blog first. Stay tuned!