achievement unlocked: polka dot renfrew & headband


i bought this polka dot knit (some kind of poly blend, i think?) at a yard sale over the summer. full disclosure: i am not a polka dot fan. but i am a fan of a) purple & b) two yards of 60″ knit fabric for $3. an elderly couple was moving house & selling practically everything they owned, including tons of sewing stuff. we had ramona with us & she was getting really tired so i didn’t get to look around as much as i may have liked, but i did get this fabric & an entire cigar box full of bias tape.

i knew right away that i was going to make a long-sleeved renfrew out of it, because this was back in august when i was churning out various renfrew dresses. i was curious to see how it looked as the shirt it was intended to be, but then the weather got insanely hot for like three months & i lost the motivation to sew a sweater.

i finally got around to making this last week. it sewed up very easily, because i was already familiar with the pattern & construction, & i made no alterations. & knits are always fast & easy because you’re not fussing with darts or anything (not that darts are hard).


but at the end of the day, i just don’t love it. wearing polka dots makes me feel like i’m wearing pajamas. & not in a comfy, snuggly way. it just makes me self-conscious. i also think the pattern as is, without alterations is a little too small & a little too short to be flattering. these photos? are the best we got. i’m not posting some of the ones that honestly made me think, “holy hell, is that what i look like?” i mean, i own mirrors. i look in them. i feel like i have some sense of what i look like. some of these pictures we took…i am going to have to discuss them in therapy. they are terrible.

if i make this again, i plan to add a little extra to the side seams & a little extra to the length. i’ll probably still wear this shirt as a layering piece…like, under a zipped up hoodie. it’s warm.

jared likes it & says it “looks good”. i’m not fishing for compliments here. i just honestly don’t know that i agree.


i like the headband though. & it was super fast to make. i cut two strips of fabric, sewed the long raw edges of each together & turned them right side out, crossed them in an X shape to loop them together, & then sewed the short edges together. done & done. i’ve seen similar headbands for sale for like $15, which is highway robbery. i mean, maybe not to someone who isn’t remotely crafty, but it seriously took me less than five minutes to make this thing.

these photos were taken at the field station outside lawrence, which is an experimental preserve where scientists are trying to learn how best to restore prairie grasses. jared has been doing some research there with his environmental studies students this semester. we also found an actual pioneer-era cellar hole!


another reason why these photos may not be super-flattering is that i really did jack my shoulder/back up pretty badly by cutting fabric on surfaces that are not an appropriate height. i can only hold my head in one position & have to turn my entire body to look left or right.

it started getting really bad on saturday night after i put ramona to bed. it got to the point that i was actually having trouble breathing & started feeling nauseated because i was in so much pain. & i am no stranger to pain. this was a world beyond. i started crying & told jared i wanted to go to the emergency room, & truth be told, he got kind of mad at me & started complaining about how all the grading he has to do is “difficult enough under the best of circumstances. i don’t have time to deal with this.” not sure what that was all about, since i was planning to drive myself to the ER & ramona was already in bed, & i was, you know, weeping in agony, but whatever. i took a muscle relaxer (which i usually avoid because it wipes me out for 24 hours straight, which isn’t a great situation when you have to look after a kid) & went to bed.

i woke up a few hours later in so much pain i could barely move. i can’t remember ever being in that much pain. maybe when i was recovering from my cesarean? it honestly felt like someone was taking both a knife & a blowtorch to my back & shoulder. jared helped me out of bed & i drove myself to the emergency room. they were worried i had a pulmonary embolism or something at first, but eventually they decided i had torn my trapezius muscle. they kept saying, “we can’t give you anything here because you have to drive yourself home. you really should have had someone drive you. this isn’t safe.”

eventually they gave me a shot of toradol (an anti-inflammatory) & that helped enough that i was able to go home & get some sleep. i got a prescription for vicodin filled the next day, which isn’t great, because it makes me really tired & foggy. but it does help a lot with the pain. it feels like a dull ache rather than a machete cutting through my muscles with the vicodin. so i can either be in debilitating agony & alert, or be sleepy & out of it but with a manageable pain level. i’ve been going for sleepy & out of it & taking naps while ramona naps.

not sure how long it will be before i recover, & i’m not going to be able to do much sewing until i’m better. i also really need to figure out a better solution for my sewing table situation, because i think that’s what caused this & i don’t want it to happen again if i can help it.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: polka dot renfrew & headband

  1. I am a big polka-dot fan! I think the shirt came out well, although I think you’re right that it’s a little short. That headband is awesome. I should make myself some.

    The ER experience sounds horrible. 😦 I’ve had a couple of experiences where I hurt myself, and cried a lot, and my husband didn’t deal with it very well. I think he was raised that you suck it up and deal, but I am just not like that.

    1. i think it’s short because my bust measurement is bigger than the largest size for the pattern. & the fabric i used didn’t have a ton of stretch to it.

      jared is definitely kind of a “suck it up & deal” person too, as am i to a certain extent. but i think the bigger problem is that any time one of us is sick or hurt or something, the other is like, “fuck, does that mean i’m gonna have to take care of the baby solo?”

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