Thoughts on the Renfrew’s popularity

Renfrew Green - CropRenfrew  - Stripey - 1Renfrew - Paisley - 2Rendfrew Mondrian Crop

The lovely Marjtrundle recently asked:

“Why is the Renfrew so much better than other t-shirt patterns? ….. I see nothing but very happy sewers on all blogs showing their latest Renfrew t-shirt.”

I pondered doing something scientific like running a blog meta-analysis on the Renfrew’s popularity but I’ve got traces to make and things to sew! I also know there are many other great patterns for t shirts. So, my hyperbole about the Renfrew being the “new classic T” is highly challengeable! Nonetheless, it definitely has been a big hit …here are my thoughts on why:

The first few relate to style and construction:

– Loose-but-still-shaped style – It fits at the shoulders, skims over the stomach and sits nicely on the hips. Seems to fit many body types well, despite being designed for pear shaped figures.

– Great confidence booster for first-time knit sewers – due to the hem and sleeves being finished with bands – so much easier to achieve a nice finish than fiddling with steam-a-seam, twin needles and adjusting tension.

– Easy to construct –  on a sewing machine or serger, instructions are clear and straightforward

You may be thinking “but I can create those things with any T shirt pattern!’ Yes, you can (with a bit of fiddling). So, what I really think it comes down to is clever marketing and great timing – ie:

– Significant exposure – the blogosphere and sites like Pattern Review and BurdaStyle are blooming with Renfrews…all of which look great, on all shapes and sizes! This means the Renfrew is often ‘front of mind’ when someone thinks about a t shirt pattern. Update thanks to Alison: The Renfrew has been voted Pattern Review’s No. 1 Best Pattern of 2012

– Memorable Name – Tasia and many other independent pattern makers make use of great memorable names. In Tasia’s case, she’s using local street names. I think it’s easier to remember and talk about a ‘Renfrew’ top than a G8562* And my grandparents lived in Renfrew, PA, so this pattern’s name has a special memory for me!

– Independent pattern company – there seems to be a growing demographic which loves/supports independent pattern makers. Hence, they tend to choose this t shirt pattern over one from the Big 4.

I may be over-thinking this 😉

What do you think makes this pattern (or any pattern) popular?

Note: I have not been reimbursed in any way for these comments, I just geniunely like the Renfrew pattern.

*a made-up pattern number for the purposes of illustration