A Tiny Hack - Boat Neck Renfrew


Confession - I'm a instagramming junky when it come to my sewing. Unless it's a secret project, I'm taking a picture of my process every 10 minutes. Early this week I put up a pic of a black boat neck T-shirt that was altered from the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern. Silvia aka Jusipra said, "Hey can you do a tutorial on that?"  Heck yeah, tutorial request excepted.  I'll even make another T-shirt out of a fabric that doesn't photograph like crap.
Ta daaaa, one foxy boat neck out of some cheap ass fabric.  Oh little foxes I couldn't say no to you.

Fabric is from Girl Charlee "Fox family on Blue Cotton Blend Jersey." I feel the need to do some full disclosure on this particular yardage.
-The fox print is very cute and the colors are bright.
-The price is very reasonable at $6.50 per yard.

-The base fabric is cheap feeling and if I hold it up to the light it's semi transparent.
-On my piece the grain is skewed. The pattern does seem to be printed on the straight grain so maybe one could block this straight if they wished.
-It has very little stretch in any direction. Too be fair the fiber content is clearly stated and the fabric has no fibers like spandex woven in to increase it's stretch. That means the fabric only has "mechanical stretch," it  stretches cause knit construction is inherently stretchy.

I've ordered from Girl Charlee before and knew what to expect in terms of quality. I decided that the price point was low enough to make up for any inadequacies with the fabric. Those foxes where just too cute to pass up. Now on with the tutorial bit.

How to turn your Renfrew into a boat neck
Notes - All my Renfrew seam allowances have been trimmed down to 1/4 in this example. Use the seam allowances you are comfortable with. The coverstitch machine can be substituted for a twin needle or a zig-zag stitch on your regular machine.

Drafting Instructions
1. Trace the front of the Renfrew and extend the CF line up to the shoulder.
2. The width and depth of your boat neck is mostly personal preference, but it's always nice to have a guide line. For my shirt I marked the shoulder seam 2.5" from the outside and the neck 3" down from the shoulder point.
3. Then use a french curve to draw the new neckline in.
4. The front is pattern has now been adjusted. I considered the new neckline the cut edge and did not add any seam allowance to it.

5. Moving on to the back pattern. Here only the shoulder width needs to be adjusted to match the front.  Measure 2.5" from the outside of the shoulder and mark.  You can double check by putting your new front piece next to it.
6. Grab the french curve again and draw the new neckline.
7. Your back piece is now done.
8. One last step is to draft a facing for the front and back neckline.  I traced the new necklines and made the facings 1" wide. We'll be cutting them down later.  I cut notches at the CF/CB of both the shirt and facings to make them easier to line up later.

Sewing Instructions
1. Sew together the shoulder seams of the shirt.  Then sew together the shoulder seams of the facings.
2. Pin the facings and shirt right sides together lining up the seams and the notches on the CF/CB.
3. Sew these pieces together along the neckline.
4. Flip the facing to the inside of the shirt. Give it a nice press on a ham to keep the facing inside.
5. To secure the facing, run a line of coverstitching along the neck edge. I used the throat plate as my guide making the stitching 1/4" away from the edge. When you're done secure the coverstitch threads.
6. Finally we're gonna trim the facing down to the coverstitch.  Use a small pair of scissors and go as slow as you need to. When you're done the neckline will have a nice tidy binding.
Additional changes to this pattern were:
- Narrowed the lower half of the sleeve by 1/2" at the cuff, tapering the new seam up to the elbow area.
- Added 2" additional length to both the sleeves and body of the shirt. The shirt was then finished with 1" coverstitched hems.
Hopefully that was clear enough, but if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments. Happy Hacking!


  1. Thanks for the tip on binding the neckline! I am always so excited to find new ways of binding arms and necks in jersey fabrics. I always feel like there are better ways out there than what I do, so I am pretty keen to give this a go next time. Cute fabric too.

  2. Nice way to finish the facing without it looking (or behaving) like a facing! Now that I have a coverstitch, I can't wait to try things like this - I can be cool like you! =)

    I am tempted by the fox print too... do not need more fabric...

  3. Thanks for the tut. And the heads up on the fabric- it's been in my cart for a bit now.

  4. Awesome! I love the Renfrew and this additional mod makes it even more versatile!

  5. I love a boat neck and now I can make all my tops with this neckline. Also love the binding technique. Thanks all the skillz Heather.

  6. Thanks Debbie, I like this binding for shirts when you're not in the mood for a band. Always nice to have options. :)

  7. Yes! You too can do all the coverstitch now too Brooke. I'm pretty sure you're already cool. :)

  8. Your welcome Kristin, I'm always happy when other sewers like the tuts.

  9. Thanks VickiKate, more renfrews in your drawer can only be a good thing.

  10. Your welcome Maeve, I do love a good boat neck. Go and have some fun with the new skillz.

  11. Fab tutorial, I'm putting one of these boat-neck Renfrews on my to-sew list :0)

  12. Oh, this looks great! The facing finish is such an awesome tip-- thanks, duder!

  13. I just pinned this - great hack! The instructions are perfect - thanks!

  14. I just love this. The Renfrew is such a great pattern and you have really got me thinking outside the square now. Thanks for such a great tutorial.

  15. A boat neck is my fav neckline. Which is probably why I like Simplicity 2444 so much as well. Thanks for your tute.

  16. Hooray! I'm so happy that you're gonna make one.

  17. Sweet! I'm glad you like that old facing tip there Ginger. :)

  18. Woot, I get pin status from Shar. Thank man, I'm glad the instructions make sense.

  19. Thank you Jean, I'm so happy the tutorial was helpful. Renfrew is such a great base that it make variations easy.

  20. I agree Margo, a boat neck is so chic/classy. We all need a few more boat necks in our closets.

  21. Cute! Love the fox fabric, but it sucks when the cute fabric is crappy quality. Is this typical of that website? Also, what kind of coverstitch machine do you have? Would you recommend it?

  22. I've ordered 3 things from that site and they were all that quality, so I "think" so. My coverstitch machine is the Brother 2340CV. It was a bit of a lemon to start with, but I talked to several PR members that said they had the same model and it worked great. I took it in to be serviced and now it works fine. I guess something got knocked around when it was shipped to me.

  23. What does the fox say? Ding Ding...wait what? I love those foxes, super cute.
    I always see cute fabric from Girl Charlee, is the quality really not good. I don't mind transparency that much in my tees, if that's the only problem with their stuff.
    You just made me want to buy a coverstitch, do you have the Brother Coverstitch?

  24. Thanks for sharing this. I will be trying this soon!

  25. The fabric doesn't seem to be transparent when you wear it so that's a plus. The grain not being straight is more of a problems. I've heard from other people that they've encountered this too.
    I do have the Brother Coverstitch...2340CV.

  26. Excellent /\ my evil plans are coming to fruition......oh no I've said too much.


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