Three Renfrews in Laguna jersey and Art Gallery knit

Three Renfrews in Laguna jersey and Art Gallery knit by Allspice Abounds

The fact that I’m sewing basic t-shirts and couldn’t find any time to photograph them in natural light pretty much sums up the state of my sewing right now.  Such is life!  With that said, I find these simple knit tops extremely relaxing to sew, and I wear one almost every day in the winter, so this is total win in my book.  Hooray for my everyday wardrobe!  Plus, I have some thoughts on my first time sewing with the new Art Gallery knits, so hopefully you’ll find something interesting in this plan vanilla post.

Now you may be thinking, “Carolyn, didn’t you mention something about drafting your own pants a few weeks ago?  Why are you showing me boring t-shirts when you could be writing a juicy post on pants?”  Umm, ok, you’ve got me there.  Let’s just say that the pants have been sitting in the corner of my cutting table, patiently awaiting the day when I have enough brain power to revisit them.  The fact that this post is about t-shirts should give you a clue about the brain power I’ve been able to dedicate to my sewing lately.  🙂

Project Stats

Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew, for the millionth time (or something like that).  I must be getting close to 20 at this point!

Fabric: Robert Kaufman Laguna jersey in hot pink and royal (blue); Art Gallery Utopia knit in “Specks of Carambola” (yellow print) by Frances Newcombe.  I believe both are 95% cotton and 5% spandex, and I used 1.5 yards per top.

Modifications: I used my heavily modified Renfrew pattern and took 1.5 inches off the length compared to my previous versions, since they wound up being just a bit too long.

Level of crafty satisfaction: These tops are not all that exciting, but I can never have too many of them!

My first impression of Art Gallery knits

Yellow print Renfrew in Art Gallery knit - front

All right, sewing friends, I’m going to be honest here: I really wanted to hate this fabric.  These new Art Gallery knits are expensive ($16/yard for cotton jersey) and have gotten a lot of hype on blog tours and other marketing venues, exactly the type of hype that drives me crazy and often completely turns me off to whatever is being pushed down my virtual throat.

But… and you know what I’m going to say here… those prints.  They really do have some very lovely prints, often much nicer than I can find in other good quality knit fabric, either locally or online.  So I decided to give into temptation and give them a try.  I bought 1.5 yards each of 2 prints (this yellow one and another that I haven’t sewn up yet) and went to town with my favorite t-shirt pattern.

And you know what?  I didn’t hate it.  In fact, I think I actually like it.

Yellow print Renfrew in Art Gallery knit - back

The fabric is a solid medium weight knit with good stretch and recovery, perfect for a t-shirt, in my opinion.  In fact, the fabric is actually pretty soft and cozy, and it almost has the feel of brushed cotton or a light flannel.  It was a pleasure to sew with, as the flannel-like texture allows the fabric to stick to itself, which was great for aligning edges.  And as a bonus, there was minimal curling of the cut raw edges, always a nice surprise in a knit.

The print was printed on the fabric clearly and cleanly, and there wasn’t any “heavy ink feel” that I’ve seen on other printed knits, which often means that the printed areas don’t stretch as much as the non-printed areas.  All good so far!

My only complaint about the print is that it seems like all the Art Gallery knits are printed on a white base, even prints with a dark background, which means that the white will show through in areas that are stretched during wear (like across the chest).  It isn’t noticeable in this yellow and white print, but I’d be very hesitant to buy a darker print for this reason.  Something to consider if you’re thinking about trying this fabric.

I’m also curious how this fabric will hold up in the wash.  I pre-washed the fabric twice, as I always do with jersey, and put it through the dryer once.  So far so good, but some jersey just keeps on shrinking over time.  We’ll see.  I’m also curious how the print will hold up over time.  I’ll try to report back on this in a few months.

Based on my initial impressions, I’d give this fabric the thumbs up!  Yes, it’s pricey, but I think (I hope!) I got what I paid for.  I can’t afford to sew all my t-shirts in this fabric, but if I see another print that I can’t bear to be without, I might just snap it up.  🙂

Laguna jersey Renfrews

Pink Renfrew in Laguna jersey - front Pink Renfrew in Laguna jersey - side

I’ve worked with Laguna jersey on my previous batch of Renfrews, and I’m very happy to report that it’s been holding up extremely well, despite weekly wearings and washings.  In other words, this is my absolute favorite knit!  I have no doubt that I’ll slowly but surely buy yardage in every color and crank out a whole wardrobe of comfortable and hard-wearing t-shirts.  I realize these Renfrews are not the most exciting, most glamorous, or even most flattering garments I could choose to wear, but in dealing with many months of cold weather and the necessary layering that goes along with it, these shirts are a life saver.  🙂

Blue Renfrew in Laguna jersey - front Blue Renfrew in Laguna jersey - side

I think my new pink and blue t-shirts will pair nicely with my GeoPop Moss mini, which is quickly becoming my favorite handmade garment.  Here I’m wearing them with an old RTW skirt that is bordering on too short for my age.  Then again, the short hemline doesn’t stop me from wearing it (with opaque tights), so whatever.  🙂

Construction notes

Maggie supervising Renfrew construction

When sewing t-shirts (or anything really), always remember to have your sewing supervisor close at hand.  The supervisor performs valuable functions including depositing white cat fur all over your dark fabric, batting your pin cushion onto the floor, and meowing loudly until you stop to give her dinner.

Yellow print Renfrew in Art Gallery knit - V-neck detail

After sewing so many V-neck tops, I’m finally happy with my technique.  It’s a little tricky to get the V looking neat and clean, but this one seems to have come out well.  My trick is to sew the majority of the neckband to the neckline, leaving the point of the V unsewn for about 1.5 inches on either side of the point.  I then go in with extra pins and get that area positioned just right, and sew the point slowly and carefully, pivoting at the center with the needle down.

Three Renfrews in Laguna jersey and Art Gallery knitI used my serger for all the construction seams except attaching the neckband and topstitching around it.  I know many of you prefer using a twin needle for topstitching the neckband, but I’ve been happy with a simple zig-zag stitch.  It just seems like so much extra work to load up a second spool of thread and change out the needle.  🙂

That’s about it for today!  Sometimes a pile of simple knit tops is all it takes to keep me motivated to sew another day.

Now my question to you: Have you tried the new Art Gallery knits?  What do you think of them, and how well do they hold up over time?  In your experience, are they worth the hefty price tag?

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22 thoughts on “Three Renfrews in Laguna jersey and Art Gallery knit

  1. So I was actually going to do a post today on making 3 knit shirts yesterday because I wanted something easy after making shirt dresses! I think knit shirts are a perfect place to land after lots of brainwork 🙂

    • My thoughts exactly, Chris. The thought of pants-fitting made my brain hurt, but sewing knit tops is so quick and satisfying, not to mention super practical. Knit tops are like the trashy daytime tv of sewing – no brain power required. 🙂

  2. oh i love the Laguna jerseys also! as for the art gallery knit, i also love their prints but only buy when i find a sale:). love your renfrews; i haven’t braved a V neckline just yet.

    • Thanks so much! The V-neck isn’t too bad once you get the hang of it. A sale on the Art Gallery knits would be awesome! I haven’t seen one but will keep my eyes peeled. 🙂

  3. Really appreciate your honesty in reviewing the art gallery fabric. It’s all over the Internet these days and some of the prints are fab. Will wait to see what you think of it in the long run. The colours are really lovely in all 3 tees and will go great with your moss skirt.

    • Thanks Maeve! I’ll be really curious to see how it holds up too. Honestly, considering the price of the fabric, I’d better be wearing these tops for years! We’ll see…

  4. I love basic tops like this and I don’t think they’re boring. They’re what I wear 90% of the time, so I sew a lot of them too. Your tops look great! I love how clean your v is in the collar. I haven’t tried Art Gallery fabric, but I do have a lot of Laguna stretch jersey.

    • Thanks Bryanna! I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the Laguna jersey. It’s definitely my new go-to knit! I’m also glad to hear I’m not the only one who lives in these types of tops. They keep me warm and are great for layering under a sweater and over a tank or cami.

  5. Thank you for the update on the Laguna jersey – it’s always so helpful to know how things are holding up after being worn a few times. There are plenty of fabrics I’ve loved at first and then hated later as they started to pill or fade. I’ve been using Sophia doubleknit for things like t-shirts even though it’s a bit heavy, but I’ve noticed that it starts to pill after not too long. I’m adding the Laguna jersey to my list of fabrics to try out!

    • I hope you decide to give the Laguna jersey a try! I haven’t noticed any pilling or fading, and I’ve been wearing and washing them literally every week for about 3 months now. I’ve been very impressed with the quality, and the price is reasonable (about $10/yard).

  6. These look great! I love the color of the pink knit. I love the Laguna jersey, too. So far I’ve been impressed with the Art Gallery knits that I’ve used, although they haven’t gotten worn too much since I’ve been pregnant. I pretty much only buy them on sale because they are expensive. The Imagine Gnats shop is a good place to find them on sale from time to time.

    • Thanks for the tip, Teri! I’ll have to check out her shop and stalk it for sales. 🙂 I remember the top you recently blogged in a tan and white print – it looked great! I’ll be curious to hear how it holds up as you wear it more.

  7. I bought some Liberty cotton Jersey for $US35.00 per metre. I only bought 75cm as it is very wide. Enough to just squeeze in a short sleeved tshirt. It is lovely fabric and I hope it lasts forever. I would never have imagined that I would pay that much for cotton!

    • Oh my gosh, I’ve seen those Liberty knits, and they are gorgeous!! The price tag is outrageous though – about $50/yard in my local shop. Ouch! I think you got a great price and am glad to hear you’re happy with the fabric. I hope it lasts forever too! 🙂

  8. These look great! I love basic tees… and I don’t have near as many as I need for this winter! I have yet to splurge on the Art Gallery stuff for many of the same reasons you listed. Such a turn off the way it’s fawned over and marketed so heavily. That said, I have felt the knits and the voile and yeah. The stuff is nice! I have used the Laguna jersey before and I just love it. Great quality and not a bad price!

    • Lisa, I agree on all points. I was kind of disappointed when I wound up liking the Art Gallery knit – I really wanted to prove myself right and hate it, LOL! I guess that kind of thinking is pretty ridiculous, but all the hype is really nauseating. I guess they have a point though, since it wound up being nice fabric. 🙂

  9. Bring on the Renfrews! I love making t-shirts because they will get worn on a regular basis and not a few times a year, so it makes me happy when I see other people who think the same way as me 🙂

    • I totally agree, Erin! I love being able to wear something handmade everyday, even when I’m just lounging around the house. I work in a pretty casual environment, so Renfrews are perfect for keeping me warm at work. I made too many dresses when I started sewing that I never wind up wearing, so I focus on basic garments now.

  10. Thanks for the honest review on the Art Gallery knits. I feel the same as you sometimes and it is hard to see through the hype. I just finished some cream basic tops. Sometimes basic is just what you need!

    • Hooray for basic tops! I guess they don’t make very exciting blog posts, but they are the most frequently worn garments in my wardrobe. I surprised myself by liking the Art Gallery knit, so I guess all hype was at least somewhat justified, but the price is really ridiculous. I won’t be buying more of it unless I see a print I can’t live without.

    • Haha, thanks Vanessa. The Renfrew is a great pattern, but there are a lot of great t-shirt patterns out there. I just took this one and ran with it. 🙂 Can never have too many basic tops!

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