achievement unlocked: more Renfrews

I’m going to group this batch of shirts together in one post. I’ve sewn this pattern so many times now, I don’t need to make a production over each individual one.




Not much to write home about here. One short-sleeved tee & two long-sleeved versions, all sewn with various prints from Katarina Roccella’s collections for Art Gallery. I used my altered Renfrew pattern with a 2″ FBA with width added to the waistline & a new waistband re-drafted accordingly. The neckline on the two long-sleeved shirts is weird because I lost the original neckband piece (an argument for PDFs–it would have been nice to have the option to print out a new one) & tried to draft a new one. But I made it a little too small. I looked high & low for that damn neckband piece for literally almost a year (since last spring!) before I finally gave up & decided it must have gotten lost when we moved.

& then, last month, I decided to experiment with stabilizing some of my favorite tissue paper patterns by ironing them on to freezer paper.

Mostly I did this because I was running low on Swedish tracing paper & wanted to conserve it. I will say: this works really well! Just make sure you iron with a press cloth so you don’t scorch the paper. You can cut away the extra paper after & have a sturdier pattern piece for tracing on to fabric. I did this with my McCall’s 6696 pattern, the Renfrew shirt, & the Butterick 6296 undies, because I have made all of those patterns multiple times, with no plans to stop!

Anyway, in the process of pulling all the Renfrew pieces out of the envelope (something I have done literally dozens of time, looking for that missing neckband)…I found the neckband! It had just been hiding in there the whole time! I have no idea how I managed to overlook it. But this means I was able to use it when I made the owl print tee & got a neckline that fit a little better. I’m still not great at knit necklines though. I really need to finesse my technique. I always pull a little too much or not quite enough. One of these days I’ll get it right!

Nothing new in the constructions. Serged all the interior seams for a clean finish, constructed with a narrow zigzag on my regular machine, topstitched neck/waist/armbands with another narrow zigzag & done. I’ve sewn so many Renfrews, I could do it in my sleep.

I also used some the leftover fabric from the owl tee to make a matching turban headband.


I should probably serge that seam in the back, but whatever. It’s hidden under my hair, so who cares.

I haven’t been sewing too much recently (though I do have another M6696 yet to be blogged) because Jared was out of town at a conference, leaving me home alone with Ramona for five days. Not that I can’t sew with her around, but it’s hard to muster up the energy with everything else that Jared usually does falling to me (getting Ramona up in the morning, making dinner, doing her shower before bed, laundry, grocery shopping, etc). I did watch all three of Berverly Johnson’s fantastic bra-making classes on Craftsy, which gave me a lot of inspiration & motivation. I’ve been wanting to make more bras ever since the two I made last year, but I got sidelined by the pregnancy, & the move, & other enormously involved sewing projects. But I have a Pin-Up Girls Shelley all cut out now & ready to go to the machine.

I’ve also been distracted by trying to figure out our plans for next year (by which I mean, next school year–when your partner is an academic, the year starts in August). The Lawrence rental market is such that if we plan to move houses, we need to start looking now. I talked with some mom friends about it last week & one of them convinced me that I just need to pursue what I want in housing & family life, & if my plans are upended by Jared getting a different job or something–that’s a GOOD problem to have! So I set a bunch of appointments to look at new houses, & I also took an enormous leap & enrolled Ramona in preschool for August! We visited the school while Jared was away & Ramona really liked it. We stayed & played all morning & for an hour after the morning class ended.

But then Jared got home & dropped the bomb that it’s a lot more likely that he’s going to get a job NOT in Lawrence & that we will be leaving town at some point this summer. When? Who knows. Where? An even bigger mystery. What can I do to prepare? At this point, absolutely nothing. There is still a small chance that we will stay, so I haven’t asked for my preschool deposit back yet (Ramona got the last spot in the last under-four class, & I don’t want to give it up until I absolutely have to), but we can’t commit to a new lease right now, so I had to cancel all of our house viewings. & now I just have to sit tight until the situation clarifies itself. Our landlord has gone ahead & put our house on the rental market for August, so if the summer marches on, someone rents this place, Jared doesn’t get a job & we don’t find a new house…not sure what will happen then! But that’s clearly a worst-case scenario.

To top it off, I finally succumbed to one of Ramona’s many late winter/early spring colds, so I’ve been all hopped up on Nyquil for the last few days, which always makes me feel like things are both a way bigger deal & way less important than they are. When Jared first told me that we’ll probably be leaving town, I cried & cried, way out of proportion to how a person should react when informed that they will be leaving Kansas. But a few hours later, when a friend called to see how I was doing with this news, I was like, “Whatevs! It’s fine! This means I get a reprieve from trolling for rentals on Craig’s List! Wahoo!”

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.

8 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: more Renfrews

  1. Not knowing where I was going to be would drive me nuts. I just have to know. Even if it’s knowing that it’s not an ideal situation. I have to know. You have my sympathy! I hope you figure it out soon and find a better place… or at least a better landlord!

    1. Oh, trust me. It drives me nuts. I hate it. But it can’t be helped if you or your partner is working in academia. The only way to have some guarantee is to limit your job search to a specific geographical location, & accept the fact that you may not get a job at all & end up painting dorm rooms to make ends meet. I would prefer that Jared cast the net wide geographically-speaking if it means he’s more likely to get a job that pays okay & that he likes.

  2. I so feel the pain of not knowing where you’ll be. I’ve been applying to jobs at community colleges (which is where I’d prefer to work and their job season is in the spring as compared to the fall for 4-year schools) and I haven’t heard anything from any of them, so everything about my life is up in the air at this point. I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to delay my graduation for another year and continue being a TA for some income, so I’m really struggling right now. A friend asked yesterday how I was doing, and I told her that my day-to-day life was pretty good – I’m teaching a class I love with a good bunch of students, and I’m only teaching one class compared to four last semester, and I’ve been getting good work done on my dissertation. But then there’s the background existential dread that makes me burst into uncontrollable sobbing every so often, so life is a mixed bag right now. I really just want to be an adult and settle down somewhere. :/

    1. Yeah, being an academic is really hard in this respect. Being family of an academic is hard. I talked to Jared about it all some more last night & commended him for not being in a shrieking panic like I would be in his shoes. (But then, I have been known to go into a shrieking panic if I can’t find my to-go mug. I do not handle stress well.) He said the only thing that is really helping him keep it together right now is the knowledge that it’s really not going to be very difficult to find SOMETHING to replace his TA salary, even if it’s a non-academic Joe job. As I am sure you are aware, TAs are not exactly rolling around in their riches, Scrooge McDuck-style.

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