The Renfrew top is probably the most perfect t-shirt pattern ever. There are three necklines and three sleeve lengths to choose from, so it can work year round. I bought this one a few months ago and immediately went to work on my first top. It didn't make the blog back then because I felt like it didn't turn out all that awesome, although I still wore it a few times. The more I wore it though, the more I didn't really like it, but I refuse to be defeated. After a close inspect, I realized that I made a few bad decisions with my first Renfrew, so I made another one, and I WIN.
Yeah, I do look a little strange. I was probably talking about how annoyed I was with that shirt.
Mistake #1: My first mistake was due to my own ignorance and laziness. I didn't research anything about shoulder stabilizers, nor did I go to a fabric store and look for stabilizers. I dug around in my box of notions and came up with bias tape. Bias tape is a bad idea. I should have known that...bias tape is meant to stretch. And it will not keep shoulder seams from stretching (see shoulder slippage in the picture above).
Mistake #2: I didn't have any dark purple thread in my stash, so I used light purple. I also used a zigzag stitch to sew my seams, which is what most people recommend to allow the seam to stretch a bit. Light purple thread plus a zigzag stitch equals visible stitches and all around ickiness.
That is just bad.
Mistake #3: I chose a really cheap, awful knit. You can see in the picture above that it is already pilling up, and I haven't worn this shirt that much. The fabric stretches as it is worn so that by the end of the day, I was swimming in this shirt. And, it is thin and clingy, which meant that it created a post-two-babies belly pooch...which, obviously, isn't there normally...(*cough*cough*ahem)
The fabric was the major culprit for this failed Renfrew. I didn't really know what I should look for at first, so I just picked out a few different knits to experiment with. That solid purple didn't work, but I also bought a thicker, more stable pink and purple houndstooth that worked beautifully as an Oliver and S Sailboat Top for Cara:
This top has gotten a ton of wear, and it has held up really well. I used a zigzag stitch for the seams on this one too, and none of the stitches showed on the outside.
Anyway, lessons learned. For my new top, I bought a bright pink cotton pique knit that had a lot more weight and stability. I also bought matching thread and stay tape for the shoulder seams. And look at the awesomeness of Renfrew #2:
The heavier fabric works better with the cowl collar too--it stands on its own just a bit without being floppy. I decided to try out a regular straight stitch for the seams this time, and I think it works fine.
smooth shoulder seam--no stitches peeking through this time!