Sewing a Renfrew Hack: Cold Shoulder Version

I kinda like the term “hack” when it’s applied to sewing patterns; affirms that I’m living in the 21st century. The other connotations of that word give me the heebie jeebies; shudder….

After tracking the cold-shoulder trend way back to almost 80 years ago, my inner Marlene Deitrich propelled me to sport the shoulders.



So I hacked a pattern in my stash! The Renfrew top by Sewaholic Patterns makes an appearance again.

Why? Because the preferred cold shoulder look is closer fitting than the “bohemian”, droopy shoulder look available in the pattern company offerings. I’m fickle, so I may sport the droopy shoulder sometime in the near future.  Unfortunately, I could not find a close fitting cold-shoulder pattern in the pattern books; maybe I missed something. Oh, WAIT……..

Vogue DK

Can I take back the previous few words? This Donna Karan  New York pattern was sitting around in my pattern stash!  OK, the one shouldered look is not me, but check out that one long sleeve – the shoulder is peeking out. It’s very close fitting in the neck/shoulder area.  I spread out the DK sleeve pattern and noticed that it was much narrower than the Renfrew sleeve and the negative space left by removal of the sleeve cap had just a little slant to it, upwards toward the back. I considered using the DKNY sleeve in place of the Renfrew sleeve, but decided to just hack the sleeve cap of the Renfrew and see where it goes. The fabric recs for both are a little different; the DKNY pattern calls for a 4 way stretch matte jersey, and the Renfrew recommends a more stable knit.  There are other drafting differences (which is a whole other blog post). Also, I could make the full sleeved version of the DK and apply the cold shoulder sleeve to that version; but I ‘m not feeling that “wrap around” waist. Side note: Vogue Patterns no longer has the licensing agreement with the Donna Karan company, so they are not selling DK patterns anymore. So, hang on to what you have.

So here’s how I proceeded with this project:

sleeve cap

There are no notches, or back and front markings on the Renfrew sleeve, so I determined and marked those myself. Folded the sleeve cap area down to the bicep line to “remove” the sleeve cap. I could not decide how low to go with the peeking part; should the arm/body joint (or crease) show? Or not? Ms Deitrich wasn’t showing hers, so I refrained, too.  Note that the cut off line is slightly higher in the back.

On the left, basting and trial showed a too-loose and sloppy shoulder area. To fix that I reduced each sleeve width by 1/2 inch each side, only in the armhole seam area, because it needed to be snug if I was going to emulate Ms Deitrich. Heh.

sleeve taken in
Snugger and much better! Minnie thinks so too……

For a more defined look in the sleeve top, I applied black foldover elastic on the raw edge, and repeated the elastic on the neckline.

The sewing tasks went this way, after cutting out. Note that the sleeves are attached to the armhole by the flat method, not the set-in method:

Sew shoulders, attach foldover elastic to sleeve top, attach foldover elastic to neckline, stitch sleeves to armhole back and armhole front beginning at the underarm point and ending at the upper edge of hacked sleeve seam, serge finish the armhole all around; turn back seam allowance and topstitch the armhole above the “cold shoulder”. Sew up underarm seam and side seam on both sides in one go, from sleeve hem to garment hem. I made this top longer than the pattern and made the sides swing out a few inches to make it pointy and drapey.

bathroom selfie
A bathroom selfie – again!

I intend to make this sleeve style again – maybe with a turtleneck next time? Just like Marlene Deitrich.

Friends, I’m trying to make something – anything – every week. Are you pulling a weekly (at least monthly) sewing project?



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