Collars: Cowl Neck

The diversion into fit was interesting and I think needed but I’m happy to be returning to my class One Pattern Many Looks: Blouses.  I want to make samples for both rotating bust dart to shoulder and rotating bust dart to yoke topics, but I want to use those style lines with fall and winter clothing.  The few garments I’ve recently made with sleeves are languishing in the closet because just looking at them makes me perspire. Wearing one all day long is out of the question.  So I’ve continued watching the course and the next lesson: Collars.

First topic: the Cowl Collar.  This is the neckline I think of first when someone says “cowl”. In fact when I first saw RTW sporting the droopy neck and sloppy shoulder, I vehemently disagreed with the “cowl” description.  The cowl neckline that I think of is neatly tailored. I recall it as a favorite neckline in the 60’s. Worn by all  females in my extended family and most of our friends. I was saddened to see it fall out of favor and practically disappear.  I was more than pleased to have it taught in this course and stunned at how incredibly simple it is: Determine length, width, add seam allowances; cut fabric on bias.

  1. Measure the neckline.
  • It’s a little more complex than that.   You are free to decide how wide you want the neckline and how deep. The only advice is don’t make the neckline deeper than the bust radius. If you do, the neckline will gape. Guaranteed.   I cut my neckline 1/2″ wider and 3″ deeper than my sloper’s default.  I used my Curve Runner to measure front and back neckline. (The Curve Runner is wonderful.  So wish I’d had this a few decades ago.)
  • Add seam allowances
    • I use 1/4″ seam allowances whenever possible. No fitting to be concerned with here so I added 1/2″ (1/4″ SA * 2 edges).
  • My Total Collar length 29.5″

2. Decide how wide you want the finished collar

  • Entirely  a personal preference. No guidelines given. No warnings issued.    I didn’t know what I wanted. Maybe something wider than a ribbing but not as wide as a turtle neck.  I started with 2″ because it sounded good.
  • Add Seam allowance (only 1/4″ because of next step)
  • Calculate (desired width+ SA) times 2
    • (2 + .5) * 2= 5″

3. Map out a rectangle on tissue paper the length and width just determined

  • Mine is 29.5″ by 5″

4. Cut on bias.

  • Sarah has a neat way to mark the bias grain onto the rectangle. It’s something easier to show than write about so if you really want that information, buy the class.
  • Here’s the downside, which my pics couldn’t show (so I didn’t post any):   This collar takes a whole bunch of fabric (because it is cut on the bias).
  • I needed a 30″  long and 30″ wide piece of fabric to place my collar correctly.  IOW this collar, the size I wanted takes almost a FULL YARD of fabric.
  • I just happened to have 2.5 yards of cotton/poly fabric in stash.  It’s been there for a few years.  Has a subtle Shantung type weave.  Lovely color that goes well with my personal coloring.  I returned a whopping big remnant to the shelves. I can see making a big remnant  in the 50’s and 60’s when most of what we wore was cotton. This left over fabric wouldn’t have been an issue. Most of my folks quilted and would have considered a large cotton remnant a bonus to start the next quilt.  Today’s rayons, polys and other fibers don’t make good quilts. A big remnant is not necessarily a plus.

I was relieved to get away from the last few projects that were so intensely fitting discovery. Then I wore my beloved and recently fit ‘Pure And Simple’ shells.  I just knew I had the pattern perfectly fit. The garments look good in the fitting pics. Look fine during the day. But they both slop around on my shoulders.  Hoping to effect a little stabilizing, I added shoulder pads.  Not only did that NOT help, but my shells looked bulky around the shoulders and neck. Shoulder pads should make your clothes look better—never worse. So while I would have preferred to work exclusively with one of my fitted slopers, I decided to see if I could also learn a little about these extended shoulder/kimono style lines. I chose to work with Connie Crawford’s Butterick pattern B5503.

It has the extended shoulder in which I’m interested and I suspect the yoke is more about fitting than style. With apologies to Connie, this is one of the least attractive pattern envelopes I’ve seen. I thought maybe it was a rehash from eons ago. Published in 2010. Not that long ago. I know for a fact that this style can be attractive and flattering for a range of body types, heights and weights.  But the illustrations used are just hideous to me. Frankly, I would not have chosen this pattern had Connie offered another blouse with the extended shoulder.  I did though because while I”m not head-over-heels-in-love, I’m quite fond of Connie’s draft.  I particularly like how the upper bodice fits. With her draft, I tweak the angle of shoulder slope and position of the armscye. With most other drafts I need to change the slope and chest and the bust and,,, and,,, and.  I like starting with a Connie Crawford pattern.  I copied the pattern front, back and sleeve.  I’m not going to use the sleeve this time.  I anticipate that the facings will need to be changed and opted to draft my own instead. I added a little height along the shoulder hoping I could use it to tweak the shoulder slope. Finally, I added 1″ ease to the back hip. Oh and I did my usual BWL. Because it’s a Connie Crawford pattern, I didn’t have to do an NSA.

There are lots of pattern pieces in the envelope.  I was hoping to see separate bodice pieces for the sleeveless versions (there are not). Instead I found that there were lots of duplicates with minor changes.  Like the yokes. One seems to be the basic yoke. Another has a 3/8″ seam allowance added to the front (for View B). Although the armscyes are all exactly alike, one of the 3 versions has sleeve notches (View B). The others do not.  I matched line for line. Dot for Dot.  That was the difference for View B’s yoke.. OK all those pieces could be helpful if I was brand new to sewing. Truthfully,  pieces for View A would have been more helpful had it been drafted for the sleeveless style illustrated on the  envelope; and when I was a new sewist, the fewer the pieces, the less confused I am.

That concludes the pattern selection, alterations and fabric choice. Let’s quit for today before I get this post so horribly long even I fall asleep.


2 thoughts on “Collars: Cowl Neck

  1. I read all of this interesting post and it did not put me to sleep at all! 🙂 I enjoy reading about sewing (sewing = choosing patterns, looking at pattern pieces, choosing fabric, fitting issues etc) almost as much as I like to sew.
    I see you made LH’s cowl, too. It looks good on you. I have LH’s cowl pattern but have not made it up. I am eager to see this bias drape finished cowl, too.
    I checked one of my favorite online stores (to copy ideas from anyway) and see “cowls” can be many different shapes and drapes. All of the cowl styles seem flattering to many and feminine, too.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s