Renfrew! Third time’s the charm

I may be more than a year behind many of the folks who’ve tried this pattern (which was released January 2012), but gall darn it, better late than never!

With all of the rave reviews I’ve seen over the internet for Sewaholic Renfrew, and the fact that it is pattern for knits, I wholly believed I would sew up a perfectly fitting T right out of the envelope.

Not really. High hopes dashed.

My biggest problem? These dastardly armpit wrinkles! Seriously, WTH is up with this?

Underarm haz doubleknit snack.

*Sorry for the subpar photography – it was just me and a self timer for this post! :)

After perusing blogland and Pattern Review, I found a few different folks who have experienced this phenomenon. Some said they’d already done an FBA and were still seeing it, and since I had not enacted an FBA on mine, I decided not to even try it. Plus, that’s the reason I love knits so much…they just stretch! I thought of making a size bigger (I’m not pear-shaped, so I cut a 10 in the upper body and 8 in the hip…so, bigger would be a 12 up top), but it generally fits and bigger would make the sleeve and shoulder too large.

During my research, I found one person who said they’d had this happen with tops when the bottom of the armhole was drafted too high: they had compared it to another knit top pattern they had, and Renfrew’s was a good inch higher. And then I realized that it felt like the shirt was totally up in ma pit business…to the point of minor discomfort!

So, for my next try, (made from a rather stiff, but stretchy, jersey) I lowered the armscye 1/2″. But, in a logical brain fart, I also lowered/took in the cap sleeve 1/2″, whereas instead I should’ve been adding 1/2″ to the underarm area of the sleeve cap to make up for the difference of what I had taken away from the body of the garment. She sells seashells by the seashore.


Nice try, but no dice.

Possible swayback issue?

But seriously, it’s a T shirt. Do I give a crap that there’s a bit of pooling there? Maybe. Depends on the day and my mood at the time.

As you notice, the result is still pretty cat whiskery in the ‘pit/boob zone, but at least it didn’t feel like my armpits were being suffocated. Yay for small victories!

And then I realized something. I know this pattern calls for “firm knits,” and that’s why I had chosen these particular fabrics, but I don’t really like or own any T shirts that fit the description of a “firm knit” besides my Woot! T-shirts, which have been chosen to join my wardrobe for their hilarity alone, figure flattery be damned.

And so, downtrodden but not yet beat, I set out for take 3 (same type of Renfrew – scoop neck. Once I get the fit down, I’ll try another neckline). My changes? Subtracted 1/2″ from original pattern lower armscye (AKA da ‘pit), and added 1/2″ to sleeve cap of matching area. Lengthened the whole thing by 1″ because it just seems slightly too short to me. Used a deliciously stretchy jersey (which was a bit more fiddly to sew up than the other knits I used, but still not bad).

To shake it up, I used the mid-length sleeve.


Third time is the charm! Sorry about the wrinkles – I wore it a few hours before taking these2020-02-11_0179

Is it perfect? No. Do I still have some vestiges of kitty whiskers? Yes. Am I finally happy with the fit? Absolutely.

The real kicker? I started paying attention to the fit of my RTW (ready to wear) T-shirts, and they all have the armpit wrinkle issue. It’s funny how critical I can be of something I’m making, but be perfectly fine with it when I’ve just purchased it off of the rack.

Also, I definitely love having the sleeve and hem bands instead of actually having to hem a knit, and the look of the neckline is very professional!

Each of these tops took me under an hour to sew (mostly serged). I’m slow at cutting, so we’ll call that half an hour. Not bad. :)

Go Renfrew!

20 thoughts on “Renfrew! Third time’s the charm”

  1. I’m Definately going to buy this pattern! I’ve heard so many good things about it and your tops look lovely. I agree with you, we’re so critical of things we make but so much rtw stuff is far from perfect too!

    1. Sergers are definitely awesome to use with knits, but I regularly use my sewing machine for parts of knit garments. A narrow zig zag while slightly stretching and you’ll be just fine! :)

  2. I’m sort of gratified that you had ‘pit issues with this top, cause when I made this up I was worried that I had freakishly low armpits or something… I think Tasia just has higher armpits and narrower shoulders than we do! I had to take more than an inch off the bottom of the armscye when I made my sleeveless version. Anyway, you ended up with a trio of awesome tops! (And your neckbands are so pretty!)

    1. Yeah, I totally thought there was something wrong with me when I first put it on, based on the magical reviews Renfrew has gotten (I was expecting unicorns and pots of gold at ends of rainbows…AKA a little too much). But, yeah, Tasia must just have a bit different shoulder/armpit area that us! I will probably try lowering the armscye a bit more than I have already for the next one.

  3. Great job on your successive Renfrews. I just made my first one as well and had the ‘whiskers’ under the armpit as well. I’m having trouble visualizing how you added the 1/2″ to the sleeve cap. Did you make it wider or taller or something else? Inquiring minds want to know!

    1. Thank you! Yeah, I described the sleeve alteration a bit oddly…I raised the underarm portions of the top part of the sleeve up 1/2″ (AKA made it taller; didn’t add any width).

      Here’s a crappy drawing on a post-it note: Hope that makes it more clear!

      I would totally lower the armsyce and raise the underarm of the sleeve cap 1″ if I had it to do over again (which I’m sure I will someday!)

      1. Thank you, your crappy drawing made a world of difference in my understanding! I just couldn’t picture it. I’m having the same issues and am going to try this!

      2. P.S. I actually emailed sewaholic and told them about my issues, and showed them numerous blogs about these issues, but they told me the armpit wrinkles were quite normal, and that if I was having problems with the armhole being too high that I should go with your method!

  4. OK, I am WAY late to the Renfrew craze, but I want to thank you for this post. I have been surfing the web for a solution to my armsyce problem and happened upon your blog. I have tried 2 different Renfrews over the last few months and both had the problem of the armsyce being WAAYYY to high for me (literally the seam was in my armpit) Your description and post-it made so much sense. Now I just need to make the sleeves wider to accomodate my weight-lifter biceps! ;) Thank you for this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s