achievement unlocked: pink & gold long-sleeved renfrew top

are you ready for thrills & chills?!


i made another renfrew. this is like maybe my ten millionth? maybe only my fifth or sixth.

this photo cracks me up. obviously i do not have the greatest photos when i just stand there doing nothing. so this is me pretending to walk like wayne & garth do in “wayne’s world” when they are pretending to be in new york city. “hey, i gotta gun, let’s go to a broadway show!” it is truly astonishing how much i do this walk in my day-to-day life.


or perhaps you prefer my “tiny dancer” pose? what’s that you’re saying? “ciara, did you take any normal straight on photos of yourself wearing this shirt?” nope. it’s feast or famine around here. you either get terrible, unflattering head on photos that really don’t provide any details of the garment, or you get goofy poses that obscure the style lines & also don’t provide any details of the garment. it’s all a long con so no one realizes that i don’t really know how to sew & am just holding all my projects together with paper clips & bubble gum.

so, this shirt is not my best work. i went nuts last month & bought four lengths of jersey to make myself some long-sleeved renfrews to wear under hoodies & sweaters this winter. that’s right. they will all be renfrews! i’ve tried some other knit tee patterns & i still like the renfrew best. i love the banded finish on the sleeves & hem. i like that the neckline for view A is a little bit of a scoop, which suits my body shape, but isn’t giving away the whole farm. i cut out the biggest size & did a 4″ FBA, grading the extra space into the front hem (because i need a little extra room in the waist too), & i love the resulting fit. i think the renfrew, as drafted, is supposed to be a tighter fit, but this body-grazing shape is more my jam. the renfrew, being a sewaholic pattern, is also drafted for pear shapes, hence the FBA. she drafts for people that are a lot smaller up top than i am, but whatever! doing a knit FBA is pretty easy. & i think i’ve talked about it before so let’s move on.

let’s move on to my failure:


this neckband! *shriek* i guess i must have lost the original neckband piece when we moved, & of course i have a paper pattern instead of a PDF, so i couldn’t just print off a new one. this is the kind of shit that makes me love PDFs. sure, it can be a pain in the ass to print them out & spend hours taping them together, but if you lose or mangle a pattern piece, as i am wont to do, you can just print off a new one! you don’t have to spend literally an hour searcing every cavity of your rather small sewing space looking for a teensy tissue paper neckband piece.

so i made my own. i stretched my fabric to approximately fit the neckhole & was actually thinking i was pretty smart to make a totally custom neckband piece. i was thinking it was going to be a trial run for the next time i make the lady skater, which is a pattern i love, but the neckband gives me non-stop grief.

in the end though, i think i cut it too small. i really had to stretch the bejsus out of it to get it to fit around the neckhole, & sewing was not super-fun. take a few stitches, stop, pull, try not to pull the actual shirt, sew a few stitches, repeat. & i used clear elastic to stabilize the neckline, which only complicated matters. this jersey is actually fairly beefy, & the elastic just made things even thicker & beefier. this is a good thing when you’re feeling anemic so you treat yourself to a bacon cheeseburger. it is less good when you’re trying to make yourself a nice shirt.

ultimately, there are a few puckers. & i was like, “fuck it,” & just left ’em. i did steam it to within an inch of its life, & it looked better after i topstitched , but still. not my best work. i’m okay with it because i’m not sure i love this fabric (i never really like gold, & i’m not sure about the watercolor effect in the pink), & i’m just going to wear it under other things anyway. but with my next one, i’m going to cut a slightly longer neckband & maybe just staystitch the neckline instead of using elastic. unless someone leaves me a better idea in the comments.

what i do like:


my top-stitching! the directions say to do this with a narrow zigzag. that feels a little becky home-ec-y to me. so i do a longer straight stitch instead (long to maintain a certain degree of stretch).

& yeah, i had to cut the cuffs & bands on the cross-grain due to not-having-enough-fabric issues. i forgot that doing a 4″ FBA meant i might need a little extra fabric to make the shirt. luckily this particular fabric had the same degree of stretch both ways & the directional print makes it look kind of a like a design element instead of a mistake. yay!

so, i read a lot of sewing blogs. i was reading one the other day, in which a woman shows off a new dress she has made. at one point she criticizes a photo & says she “looks so fat”. i don’t know, man. i really don’t love being sideswiped by people hating on their bodies. (to clarify, this person was definitely criticizing herself in using the word “fat”. i don’t necessarily subscribe to the belief that “fat” is always a negative descriptor.) & for what it’s worth, the blogger in question is pretty tiny–definitely a lot smaller than me, & i don’t really consider myself to be that much bigger than the average woman, really. i know people are their own worst critics & we have all probably thought more uncharitable things about our own appearances than we would ever think–let alone say–about anyone else’s. but i work hard to not think hatefully about myself, & that work is undermined a little bit every time i am caught off guard by someone voicing hateful things about themselves.

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.

5 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: pink & gold long-sleeved renfrew top

  1. Read the same blog and felt the same exact way. I don’t want to pile on that person because in general I super like her, but that little comment made me sad. I’m more critical of my own body than I am of other people’s, so I understand the impulse to feel dissatisfied with certain things, but I don’t voice it publicly because I know that my issues with my body don’t need to be other people’s issues. Plus I find that voicing it just reinforces the negative feelings, at least for me.

    1. yeah, i don’t want to pile on her either, because it’s not like that kind of remark is so incredibly rare. i know for certain i have read similar things on other blogs. hers was just the most recent example that came to mind.

      i feel exactly the same way as you. i am definitely far more critical of myself than i am of others (not just about body issues either), but i know putting myself down only feeds a culture of body hate & i don’t want to contribute to that.

      i’m glad i am not alone in thinking about these things! i find that there is a weird trend in the sewing community to make little critical comments about one’s body, like maybe that is supposed to make a person seem relatable? but then there’s also this idea people are always putting forth, about how sewing your own clothes makes you more accepting of your body. which is it, guys?

  2. I used to make some unfortunate comments about myself. It wasn’t until I had a daughter that I realized just how fucked up it was to say things like that, and how badly I had internalized some really shitty ideas about women’s bodies. I am still not the most super confident person when it comes to my own body, but it feels like the act of not saying things out loud in front of LJ has made me feel a lot better about myself. I’ve had a couple of people make some fat-phobic comments in front of her and I shut that shit down. I’m sure American society will get to her at some point, but I want to keep her self-confident and comfortable in her own skin for as long as I can.

    1. yeah, exactly. i have been practicing the art of not saying negative things about my appearance or the appearances of others for basically my entire life, so i am not worried that i will slip up in front of ramona. but criticizing bodies seems to be a default way that people communicate with each other. ramona has overheard all kinds of people making negative comments about themselves because hating on their post-partum bodies seems to be a key way that new moms try to bond with each other. i have gotten more than a few raised eyebrows for refusing to participate.

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