Renfrew T-shirt


Everybody needs a great basic t-shirt pattern in their armoury, right?

This might just be mine. It’s the Sewaholic Renfew top, a complete dinosaur of the lightning-fast indie pattern scene, but still going strong. Heck, it’s been sitting unopened in my stash for almost two years!

The pattern

If you’ve already sewn other indie t-shirt patterns like Agnes, Lark, Gable or Concord, here’s what’s (a little bit) different about this one:

  1. You don’t need to master, or even buy, a twin needle. Unlike lots of t-shirt patterns, this one doesn’t use a turn-and-twin finish for the hem and the sleeves – it uses bands instead.
  2. Like all Sewaholic patterns, it’s designed for pear shapes. So if you’re a pear, all that grading out from bust to waist and waist to hip is already done for you.
  3. There are three sleeve lengths and three necklines to choose from – V-neck, scoop and, for something a bit different, a cowl neck.

I went with the scoop neck and short sleeves for my first version, mainly because I didn’t have much fabric to play with.


The fabric

This is a mystery lightweight, slippery jersey that I picked up at Royal Fabrics in Leamington Spa at the start of the year. It’s a kind of ashy/pewter brown, and right now, it reminds me of drinking chocolate powder… It’s not a hugely stable knit, but the recovery is good, so I thought I’d give it a go before trying anything with stripes. Looking at these pictures, it’s a little too slinky for this pattern, but it looks fine under a cardigan or a jacket, so I’ll settle for that for a first attempt.


I made the straight size 14 with the scoop neck and the short sleeves, just adding around an inch to the length above the waistline. It’s turned out pretty well, although I think I’d add 1/2″ to the short sleeve length in future, and I’m going to chew over possibly switching to the size 12 with an FBA. Opinions welcome – would the fit be more critical in a heavier knit?

I think these wrinkles show that I might need to go down a size, but then add back an FBA…


If you’re new to sewing t-shirts, there’s lots of help available on the Sewaholic blog.

Like all t-shirt patterns it’s incredibly quick to construct on an overlocker. I used my ordinary sewing machine for three steps: sewing the shoulder seams, adding clear elastic to stabilise these and to zigzag around the neckband.

In a solid, I think the zigzag topstitch works well. But I’m not convinced it would look as good in a striped fabric.

That last one is going to divide opinion; lots of people prefer to use a twin needle. While that probably does look a little more professional, zigzagging was an awful lot easier…

I’m going to wear this on heavy rotation for a few weeks to see if I’d like to unleash this pattern on some of the other lengths of jersey that are lurking in my stash. Meanwhile, I’ve been running up a second version for my sister – I’ll post that one soon.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a Merry Christmas – with plenty of time to sew!


  1. hi – Your tee turned out nice – great mushroom color.

    I just finished making my first Renfrew after reading rave reviews for years. Mine’s going to be a “wear at home” top. Not flattering, but the fabric is a nice organic cotton that feels great. I made the long sleeve version and it will keep me warm during the winter.

    However, it has the same crease (from underarm to bust) and I don’t know enough about fitting to know what causes that. You think it’s because it needs a full bust adjustment?


    • Thanks Chris 🙂 Your organic cotton version sounds lovely and cosy, and perfect for winter!
      I think the underarm creases mean an FBA might be a good idea for me. It’s kind of like the fabric is trying to form its own dart at that point, even though I’ve got plenty of room across the back of the top. So I might give it a go at some point, when I’m feeling keener… There’s a tutorial, including some fitting photos, in this post from Maria Denmark that I might use to do it:


      • Thank you so much for the link!
        It exactly illustrates the problem and offers a solution.

        Your comment of “It’s kind of like the fabric is trying to form its own dart” makes a lot of sense.
        🙂 Chris

        PS I’ve barely taken off my “Renfrew fail” since I’ve sewn it. So cozy…


      • Maria’s posts are usually really helpful, so I’m hoping it’ll help me get a good fit. Fingers crossed that it helps you too.


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