Everyday wardrobe: four Renfrews with coordinating Archers

Four Renfrews with coordinating Archers by Allspice Abounds

The image above is the culmination of a grand sewing strategy.  Are you strategic with your fabric and pattern purchases?  I’ve been trying to get better at planning ahead with the goal of creating a wearable, everyday wardrobe.  The idea is to create comfortable, easy-to-wear pieces that are functional in my daily life, and to create new pieces that work with existing pieces.

I had identified a few problems in my existing wardrobe:

  • I needed more long-sleeved t-shirts for layering in cold weather.
  • Wearing an Archer with a tank top underneath doesn’t keep me warm enough.
  • My existing knit tops don’t match with my Archers.

The solution: Buy some jersey in colors that match my Archers, and sew up a bunch of Renfrews!

I also tried to keep my color palette in mind when shopping for jersey.  How do you think I did?

Allspice Abounds color palette

I think I’m on track with everything except the burgundy combo.  I tend to pull out a few fall colors at this time of year that don’t see much wear throughout the rest of the year, and I think a few exceptions to the palette are acceptable.  🙂

Project Stats:

Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew, with long sleeves and V-neck.

Fabric: The orange, yellow, and purple tops were made with Robert Kaufman Laguna Jersey in tangerine, citrus, and amethyst.  It’s a medium-weight cotton/lyrca knit, and I would highly recommend it!  It has a good weight with excellent stretch and recovery.  The burgundy top is made from a heavier cotton/lycra knit that I got at Fabric Place Basement.  It’s pretty substantial – about the weight of yoga pants.

Modifications: A bunch of tweaks to fit my long, inverse triangle body shape (quite the opposite of the pear shape the pattern is designed for!).

Level of crafty satisfaction: Although these are just plain t-shirts, I’m pretty happy with my strategic sewing.  🙂

All right, now it’s time for all the requisite photos!  You’ll see that I kept the tops quite long with extra long sleeves, and with a decent amount of ease around the mid-section.  I’ve noticed that my handmade knit tops tend to keep shrinking over a long winter with many washes, and I want these tops to last a while!

Renfrew #14 in Tangerine Laguna Jersey

Yes, I’ve made a lot of Renfews.  I can’t help it – I wear one almost everyday in the winter!

Orange Renfrew - front Orange Renfrew - back           Orange Renfrew - side

I’ve paired it with my Spring Archer.  What do you think of the combination?  I think it’ll keep me nice and toasty all winter.  Sewing win!

Orange Renfrew with Spring Archer

This was the first of the four tops I made, the one with an alteration FAIL.  I made the armholes too deep, resulting in some unflattering pulling over the bust when I stretch out my arms.  Oops!  I corrected this for the subsequent tops, thankfully.  Live and learn, right?

Orange Renfrew - shoulder alteration FAIL

Renfrew #15 in Citrus Laguna Jersey

When I showed John this top, his response was “interesting color choice.”  I’m just going to take that as a compliment.  I love yellow!  Plus, it’ll be great for crossing the street in the dark.  🙂

Yellow Renfrew - front Yellow Renfrew - back           Yellow Renfrew - side

This top is paired with my Archer of Many Details.  I really love the combination of yellow and gray, or yellow and black/white.  I used this combo in my Sgt. Pepper dress, which I love wearing!  I think this is my favorite Renfrew/Archer combination of the bunch.

Yellow Renfrew with Archer of Many Details

Renfrew #16 in Amethyst Laguna Jersey

I was aiming for more of a blue color when I bought this fabric online, but the purple is growing on me quite a bit.  A few people have told me over the years that purple looks good on me, so I’m going to roll with it.  🙂

Purple Renfrew - front Purple Renfrew - back           Purple Renfrew - side

I’m wearing this top with my Oxford and Liberty Archer.  I think the combination is ok.  Not quite what I was aiming for, but good enough!

Purple Renfrew with Oxford and Liberty Archer

Renfrew #17 in Burgundy Heavyweight Cotton/Lycra Knit

This jersey is different from the previous 3 in that it’s heavier weight with a higher lycra content and less drape.  It’s incredibly warm and comfortable to wear!  I also think the higher lycra content makes it appear just slightly less loose than the other tops, although the pooling around my waist is still there.  No biggie.  Like I said, I’m trying to guard against inevitable shrinkage, and I’ll almost always be wearing these tops under button-downs and sweaters.

Burgundy Renfrew - front Burgundy Renfrew - back           Burgundy Renfrew - side

This top is paired with my Chambray Bird Archer, the most recent addition to my army of Archers.  I’ve also been wearing my teal Renfrew with this shirt, which also matches pretty nicely.  It’s nice to have options!

Burgundy Renfrew with Chambray Bird Archer

A few details and final thoughts

I’ve been using my new serger for most of the construction on these tops, with the exception of attaching and topstitching the neckband.  Check out those serged seams!

Burgundy Renfrew - serging detail

I used gray thread for the right needle and both loopers for all the tops, just changing out the left needle thread to match the fabric color.  To sew a circular seam (like the sleeve cuff above), I start at the sleeve seam, serge all the way around, and then serge over the starting point and then off the fabric.  Can you see where I did this above?  Is this the right way to do it?

Purple Renfrew - V-neck detail

Another close-up shot of the point of the V-neck (check out the yellow one here).  Not bad!

Four Renfrews finishedOverall, I’m feeling quite pleased with myself after this t-shirt sewing binge.  I successfully used my new serger on a few garment projects, I increased my arsenal of staple garments that I’ll wear all winter long, and I coordinated new pieces with existing ones in my wardrobe.  Yeah!!  🙂

If all this planning and coordination has the OCD part of your brain all riled up, stay tuned because I have 2 Moss mini’s on deck that will also coordinate with these Renfrew/Archer combos.  Hooray for planning an everyday wardrobe!

16 thoughts on “Everyday wardrobe: four Renfrews with coordinating Archers

  1. I love these – my long sleeve tees from last winter are getting a little tired and I need some new ones so I completely appreciate how organised you are being about it!

    I really like the purple colour on you – will be great with denim moss skirts as well (still haven’t got round to that one..)



    • Thanks Louise! I have some denim lined up for a Moss, just have to get around to sewing it up, like you said. 🙂 My Renfrews from last year are getting a little tired too, hence the need for more. I wear them to death – they’re great at keeping out the chill.


  2. I love your Archer-and-Renfrew-collection! I think you hit the sweet spot of just enough detail and color variation to keep it interesting, and staple patterns to keep it wearable. Well done!


    • Thanks Uta! That’s exactly what I was going for. I often feel like I have to sacrifice style in the winter to keep myself warm, so I’m making an effort to sew comfortable and warm winter garments that I actually enjoy wearing. 🙂


  3. I love your approach to sewing! I am trying to be less lured to nice garments that do not fit my lifestyle, but some times it is inevitable to go for frosting instead of cake… I was thinking of making an Archer (never made one), and I feel so inspired by this post I may even print the pattern today…


    • Thanks Vaire! Yes, give the Archer a try! I find them really enjoyable to sew (lots of details to think about) and comfortable/easy to wear.

      I definitely take a very practical approach to sewing, and I seem to be in the minority among sewing bloggers on this. New patterns are exciting, but why spend time and money on them if I won’t wear them in my daily life? One can only have so many party dresses! I’d love to see more casual patterns come out – like the new Linden sweatshirt from Grainline or Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Files.


      • I totally agree, although I suspect that “casual” does not mean the same to everyone… What for me is a totally awesome everyday casual uniform for other people is plain frumpy!

        And I forgot to mention something in my previous comment: thank you for recommending RK’s fabric! I am always on the lookout for nice knit fabrics…


  4. These look great! I really like the blue/purple combo a lot. I just love that Liberty pocket on the Archer. I have been contemplating the Renfrew pattern since it’s such a great basic. It’s perfect layered with your Archers!


    • Thanks Teri! Renfrews are so great for layering, at least for me. I find that I need a close-fitting, long-sleeved top underneath shirts and sweaters to keep the chill out. When it’s really cold, I even wear a tank top under the Renfrew. Perhaps one day I’ll live somewhere warm and won’t need to bundle up as much. 🙂


  5. Carolyn, you are such a champion!
    Great colour palette. When I first started sewing I would buy fabric willy-nilly just because I liked it. When it came to using the fabric I was clueless as to how to use it. So after I did my SWAP colour analysis a couple of years ago I now know to keep to my colour palette so my makes will coordinate.
    Alteration fail or an experiment and still a wearable top? It’s good to ‘havago’ 🙂
    Your Citrus Renfrew is glorious! Awesome combo with your grey archer too.
    I think my favourite is the Burgundy renfrew. It just looks fantastic on you and looks so cozy and autumnal.
    Hooray for your overlocker/serger!
    I’m totally hanging out to see your Moss Minis 🙂


    • Thanks so much for the kind words, Vanessa! The color palette has been so helpful in choosing fabric… and in resisting random prints that won’t go with anything else I own. These Renfrews may not be very exciting projects, but they are my most-worn garments. The citrus one is really growing on me – it’s so cheerful! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice, strategic sewing. I love seeing problem-solvers at work. I’m in just the same place in my wardrobe planning. I need layers, and I think that means more t-shirts and jackets/sweatshirts/cardigans on top. I think after Christmas I need to get down to some sewing. I have a t-shirt pattern to hack and some jackets or something to sew. 😉


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