One of the reasons I decided to purchase Sew U Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin was that it contained a basic tee pattern block that included very simple instructions on how to turn it into a variety of tee styles including....... a boat neck! Yay!
So my original plan was to use the pattern from this book and alter it according to the instructions. Then I bought the Renfrew and kind of forgot about it until the other day when I tried (AGAIN!) to remove my vinegar stain from my beloved striped bateau and remembered my Sew U book. A little reading of the book and research on the net revealed the block tee pattern wasn't very fitted through the waist, and most ladies who had made the Sew U tee hadn't liked the wider sleeves and had had to taper in the waist. That put me off a little, but I thought I could use the basic alteration principles on the Renfrew to hopefully achieve a similar a result.
I am just so very pleased with how this has turned out. If you're interested in how I did it, I've a bit of a basic step-by-step tutorial below..... Of course this will work with any basic tee pattern, Renfrew or otherwise!
|Gather one's helpers and moral support (optional)|
Trace off your original front piece - I also added some length to the bottom of mine as I wanted to try a Renfrew without bands
|Trace off your original back piece|
Mark the same distance on the back shoulder as you did the front (remember mine was 1 inch) and lower the back centre a little too - I did 1 inch on the back. Make a new neckline with a french curve joining these points.
|Cut out your new pieces on the fold. Neckline looking good!|
From here on I had to wing it a bit. Sew U says to serge/overlock the raw edges of the neckline then turn under and topstitch. Firstly I don't have an overlocker, and secondly I wasn't convinced this would give me the nice tight flat boatneck that I wanted. I've made enough crappy knits now to know that if you don't stabilise the neckline with some sort of stretchy something that is SHORTER than the length of your finished neckline it will be loose, sloppy and look very handmade. I figured I could use some sort of fold over elastic (which I'm not sure is even available in Australia - I've no idea what it looks like) or I could just make a binding using the same fabric and top stitch it. I chose to bind the neckline BEFORE any of the rest of the construction because I wasn't sure whether that sharp angle that is made at the shoulder seam on the neckline would behave with a traditional neck band applied once the shoulder seams were sewn up - I have another RTW boat neck that I think had the neckline finished before the shoulders were sewn....
Don't worry about it wrinkling up - it's meant to because the binding has been sewn under tension and is now relaxing back.....
|From the right side|
|And the wrong side - when I twin needle the raw edge will (hopefully!) be caught in the stitches.|
Do this for both the front and back pieces then construct the knit as instructed - shoulder seams, sleeves, side seams etc. I added 3 inches to my Renfrew length so I could avoid the hem band, and used the long sleeve pattern as I wanted 3/4 sleeves again without the hem bands. I finished my hems and the neckline with my twin needle in neon pink!
Next version I will make the neckline slightly less wide and a little lower, to sit just below the collar bone. It only just covers my bra straps, and as I am a cold fish I usually a singlet or tank in winter, and would want those straps covered too. I raised the neckline by 4 inches - next time I will just do 3 or maybe 3/12 inches, and probably make the shoulder seams 2 inches wide - if the front is too low I think there will a be a risk of it drooping. The tension of the neckline binding is pretty good on the front, and perhaps slightly loose on the back, but for a first attempt I'm really pleased. If anyone has a better suggestion for finishing the neckline (both in materials and order) please let me know!
As for making the Renfrew without bands - easy! The long sleeve pattern piece gave me a 3 inch seam allowance to play with - I ended up chopping 2 inches off before hemming with my double needle, and the hemline with the extra 3 inches was pretty spot on. Whoohoo!