Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A Flamingo Renfrew to cast away the sewing blues

It’s that time of year again when the evenings start to draw in, the temperatures plummet and I get the sewing blues. I have extravagant plans and fantastic resources at my fingertips, but I’d rather curl up on the sofa with a big bowl of cheesy mash, watching episodes of Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, Homeland, New Girl, American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy...you name it. It seems like I’ll do anything not to sew, but I don’t want to get stuck in this seasonal rut again! I always regret it come Spring, especially when I realise I don’t have enough clothes to fully take part in Me-Made-May.

So to ease myself in, I made an easy-peasy, tried-and-tested Renfrew (previous five versions here, here, and here), which also ticks the stash-busting box. Yipeee!


When I saw the Flamingo-print jersey at my local market, I knew exactly (for once) that it was destined to be a Renfrew with a round neck and three-quarter length sleeves. Being on a thrifty streak though, I was determined to squeeze it out of just 1.5m, which meant piecing the back. Been there, done that before with my floral version, doesn’t bother me.


The construction was as straight-forward as ever and super quick. As usual I cut a size 6 for the neck, shoulders and sleeves and a size 8 for the rest. This seems to work pretty well for me - I like that my Renfrews aren’t too tight or too loose, they’re just right for my liking!

Six Renfrews later, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things about the pattern and about sewing with jersey:

  • The cowl-neck Renfrew doesn’t work for me. I’ve given away both of mine, because they make me too hot and bothered.
  • I’m not entirely convinced the waistband suits my body shape, but it does provide a really professional finish that I don’t want to compromise.
  • All jersey is NOT created equal! No matter how much you spend and what quality you get, jersey can be a little unpredictable. For example, this flamingo print is a little ‘flimsy’, so the neck band doesn’t lie as flat as I would like it to. Yet, my stripy Renfrew (link) is also flimsy, but the neckband lies totally flat. So sewing Renfrews is a bit ‘trial and error’, which I’ve come to accept. In fact, I like how they all fit a little differently as it keeps my wardrobe looking more varied than it possibly is.
  • Don’t over-think sewing with jersey. Yes, it behaves differently to woven fabrics, but don't let it scare you. All you really need is the right needle. For this particular Renfrew I used a needle suitable for 'stretch' fabrics, but you can use a 'jersey' needle too of course. Everything else I did exactly the same for woven fabrics – I kept my tension on 4 and I used a straight stitch instead of a zigzag stitch. See, not scary at all really!



70 comments:

  1. I hear you on the cheesy mash.

    Great Renfrew and I love the flamingos. But who doesn't love flamingos! :)

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  2. Very cute and w irks so well with the red jeans

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    1. Thansk Gail, red jeans were a first for me...a bit scary!

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  3. This is one of the best Renfrews I have seen! I love the fabric!!!

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  4. Nice!! Wonderful fabric and the fit looks great too.

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  5. Yay! It's fab! I was just thinking about this fabric earlier today, when my husband told me I looked like a flamingo with my orange tights on - tsk! Personally I thought I was an oyster catcher...
    Lovely!

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    1. Hehe, you make me laugh! I dread to think what he'd make of this Renfrew then ;o)

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  6. Seriously cute! I need to whip up a wardrobe of renfrews! This jersey looks pretty good to me but I totally agree, buying jersey without touching is a bit of a nightmare, I tend to go for ponte as then I know its a nice medium ish weight!
    x

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    1. Thansk Stevie! I don't think I've used ponte before, but it sure would be good working with something relatively sturdy!

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  7. Very nice flamingo Renfrew! I bought a piece of jersey to try t, so hope, your advices will be useful for me!%)

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    1. I hope so too...let me know if you have any questions!

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  8. Ohh! I love this one. Especially paired with the red jeans. Super cute!

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    1. Thanks so much, red jeans are a scary first for me!

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  9. Ooh, I love that fabric! Great work, Marie.

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    1. Thanks Karen...nothing beats a quick and easy make sometimes!

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  10. This one is by far my favorite! I am scared of knits but maybe I just need to get over it. You make it looks so easy!

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    1. Aaaw, thajnks Amy! Don't be scared by knits, it's really not hard to sew with them at all!

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  11. Suuuuper cute! I love the print, and the fit is great too. The last couple of Renfrews I made, I skipped the band and just made the shirt a bit longer. Didn't even hem it, but now that I've unearthed my coverstitch machine I could fix that. The band likes to crawl up or flip up on me -- it's a cute design element but I think I'm happier without.

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    1. Thanks Andrea and thanks also for sharing this tip...could be the way forward ;o)

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  12. The fabric is adorable :) You look great in your renfrew and with the busy print I can't even see the waistband so I think that's just in your mind

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  13. That is going to be such a favorite, Marie, I can tell. The bold colour and cute flamingos will go with so many things, and especially since it suits you so well

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  14. That fabric is amazing! I love this entire outfit :)

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    1. I must admit that I was scared of trying red jeans, so thank you for your comments!

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  15. So cute! The perfect way to beat the sewing blues =) This time of the year I also find it very hard to keep up my energy and actually sew instead of just sit in the sofa watching TV and dreaming about sewing... Quick and easy projects is a great solution, I think.

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    1. Glad I'm not the only one, though I really hope I can overcome my sewing laziness this season!

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  16. That's so gorgeous! Where on earth did you piece the back I can't see the join at all. That's really interesting that you've done it with a straight stitch - really? And the seams don't pop or anything? I might try that. Love that print so much - if I see flamingo print ANYWHERE Imma doin a Marie xxx

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Joanne! The busy print makes it hard to see the join at the back, which is a bonus! I think the straight stitch works on something like this that isn't particularly tight fitting - so I've had no popping seams at all...yet ;o) Maybe on a tighter/more fitted make zig-zag would be the way forward to allow the seams to stretch enough!

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  17. Very timely post, I'm determined to make better use of my Renfrew pattern, having only made one top from it - so your version is the inspiration I need! I'm going to try and make mine on my overlocker, right after I've made a knit dress!!! Eeek! I just think jersey is so perfect for UK autumns, it's daft not to make better use of it.
    I love your flamingo version, the fit is so flattering as is the colour, it looks great with your red jeans and cute as a button shoes. X

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    1. I'm so glad this has inspired you Jane as you're a constant source of inspiration to me too! My Mad Men dress was knit and I found it so easy to sew, so I'm sure your dress (and subsequent Renfrews) will come out a treat! Thanks for the lovely outfit comments, I've been afraid of 'coloured' jeans for ever!

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  18. love that print! i so need to hunt around for some cuteer jersey - i never find anything but plain or kids stuff in my local shops.

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    1. Thank you! Is there a trusted online shop you could use maybe?

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  19. gorgeous! I love this whole outfit - you look great! thanks for the tips re the pattern and sewing with Jersey. I've got to get over my silly fear of knits!

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    1. Thanks very much Shivani! Honestly, sewing with jersey's not hard at all. Just takes a tiny bit of getting used to, but very easy really ;o)

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  20. Lovely top, and THANK HEAVEN I AM NOT ALONE! All I want to do is watch tv and drink tea - I'm so glad you're lazy and cozy too. The best thing I have found to combat this is a) move your sewing machine to where the telly is and b) sew during the day. Sunlight seems to burn off the lethargy.

    Also, I really have to get around to making the Renfrew already.

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    1. Thanks missus and glad I'm not the only one too! As inconvenient as it may be, I've often contemplated taking the sewing machine into the living room! I would get so much more done, but I don't know if the boyfriend will be that thrilled with the noise ;o)

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  21. I love this! The flamingos are way, way cute! And I love it with your adorable red trousers! So sweet!

    I've been battling pretty extreme fatigue lately-- I've been working close to 80 hours a week-- so I'm really struggling to motivate on the weekends. All I want to do is sit on the couch with the dogs watching TV! So I totally hear you!

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    1. Thanks so much, you're alwyas so kind! And wowzers, sounds like you've been working way to hard my dear! Don't feel bad anout the sewing, I'm not surprised you're not feeling it at the moment. Just make sure you get enough rest and I'm sure the sewing will resume once work gets quieter...right?!?

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  22. That jersey fabric is DELICIOUS. Both the colour because it looks lovely on you, and the print which is uber-cute! It's so frustrating having to work within the constraints a particular stretch fabric... especially as unpicking can be such a nightmare. I think you've got a great fit on this top though :)

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    1. Thank you very much and yes, unpicking jersey is no fun!

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  23. Great top - I love the fabric. I'm yet to make a renfrew - or anything with jersey for that matter so thanks for the heads up about its unpredictability!

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    1. No worries! It's not scary at all so go for it ;o)

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  24. You look absolutely adorable in these photos, this color combo (and the lipstick!) suits you so well!
    You are really tempting me with your Renfrews and Almas, too bad my budget for patterns is zeroed at the moment :(

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    1. Thank you Anna! You are tempting me with your Deer and Doe posts...but my budget is shot too :o(

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  25. Looks goood! My productivity drops in Winter too. It's too cold to sit and sew in the kitchen when I could be under a blanket on the couch. I'm trying to find a great flamingo cotton for a shirt dress...

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    2. Wow, interesting to know that your productivity drops in winter too! A flamingo-print shirt dress sounds fab!!!

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  26. I hear ya about the sewing blues! I'd rather curl up on the couch as well with a bag of chips. What is cheesy mash? It has to be good since it's cheesy. What did you think about the first episode of American Horror Story? Loved it! I can't get enough of that show and I'm thoroughly disappointed at DISH network since they dropped AMC and I'm no longer able to watch the Walking Dead!! I'll have to wait until it comes out on DVD. Your renfrew is so cute! I have yet to sew me up one of those. I've seen so many of them out there and they look so cozy.

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    1. It's mashed potatoes with cheese mixed in...nom nom nom nom nom! I loved American Horror Story Season 1...just started watching Season 2 and I'm not sure it'll live up to the first to be honest :o( Shame about silly DISH network...ggrrrrr!

      Hope you sew up a Renfrew soon ;o)

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  27. Love this shirt! I wish i spotted more fun jerseys

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    1. Maybe if we get to meet at Birmingham Rag Market next summer I'll help you find some ;o)

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  28. Hey Marie! I loved every bit of this post. I totally hear you regarding the sewing blues. Sewing after a long workday does take quite a big dose of courage to get started -- but it is sooo worth it. Nothing like sewing to calm my nerves and bring me joy!
    I don't see what you mean with the waistband and your figure -- looking super fine to me! :-)
    Thanks for the tips on sewing with stretch! Will be useful to me this fall.
    Adrienne x

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    1. Glad to hear I'm not alone...just wish I was more motivated at the moment! Thanks for the lovely comment too!

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  29. Oh, and also, like Joanne, I was surprised that you opted for a straight stitch instead of zig-zag. You mentioned in your response that it works because of the particular fabric and level of ease you have. But I'm just curious: Do you find yourself also stretching the fabric a bit as you sew? I started doing that when I made my jersey dress recently, because I really didn't like the zig-zag stitch. Looks kind of homemade. I found that if you stretch the fabric as you sew (not tons, but a bit) it does the trick.
    A

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    1. Yes, I do stretch my fabric a little as I sew along. But to be honest, I do that when I use the zig-zag stitch too. I find it's the best way to make jersey behave when sewing it up. I know what you mean about the zig-zag stitch looking a little homemade sometimes, but I actually prefer it to the straight stitch in terms of the topstitch around the Renfrew neckline. I don't know why!

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  30. This shirt is so cute! You definitely have the fit nailed down for your Renfrews, and I don't think the waistband is wrong for you at all. The shirt looks great, especially with the red pants. What a great fabric find; I just love those flamingos!

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  31. Wow, I LOVE this flamingo print!

    And I totally agree about jersey, it's not all made the same, I just wish I could find some nice cotton jersey here, it's all polyester knit which is just horrible to wear in a Sydney summer...

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    1. Aaaw, thanks! I hear you on the cotton jersey front. It's hard to come across, but so worth the extra money!

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  32. I LOVE this outfit! That top is so darn cute with those jeans. I have been searching for the perfect red jeans.....

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    1. Thanks Justine! My red jeans are by no means perfect, but I got tired of searching and they're good enough for now I guess ;o) Good luck finding a pair, I think they would suit you so much!

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  33. Seriously cute top. Love the flamingo fabric and the way you have styled the whole outfit :-)

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  34. I love that flamingo print! Super cute!

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  35. There is quite simply so much to love about this top! Hope you are having a lovely break in Cyprus.

    Zoe xxx

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