Cowl Top Draft and Nostalgia

I redrafted a pattern for the cowl top that’s become a wardrobe standby.

Cowl Top in Silk Satin

This for a daughter who has lost weight, so the originals no longer fit her.

I’ve made many of these and blogged a few times and get asked where to get the pattern.

It’s a simple pattern adaptation, you don’t need to buy one if you have something like a block or basic pattern to work from. Here’s the method I’m using:-

This is a basic block in a 34″ bust with a small FBA adaptation built in. I’m starting with a version with all of the dart suppression moved into the waist. On the left the dart is in an underarm position, on the right all of it is moved to the waist.

Dart Moved to Waist

If you work from a pattern rather than a block, don’t forget that the bust point is likely to be an inch from the dart end on your pattern. This photo shows where you need to draw construction lines.

Slash Lines

A horizontal line goes from CF to the bust point. The neckline is drawn from mid shoulder to a point on the CF (mine’s halfway betwen the base of the neck and the bust level). Two curved lines next – shoulder point to CF and midway of the new shoulder to CF. Here’s how the lines open.

Open Slash Lines


I’ve closed about half of the original waist dart, opening the horizontal slash and cut and opened the other two slash lines so that the new neckline is horizontal, at right angles to the CF. There’s scope for changing the depth of cowl or length of shoulder – change the position of the neckline diagonal in the adaptation.

Front facings

This adaptation is placed onto the fold of some pattern paper so that the original CF lines up with the fold and the neckline lies at right angles to it. Ignore the little bits which hang over the edge of the CF line. After it was traced round I folded the pattern paper on the neckline and traced through the shoulder to draw the front neck facing in, and traced off the armhole shape to get the armhole facings.

Pattern and facings

That photo is from my original post “Gone Natural” and shows the shape of the whole pattern.

I went to London immediately after finishing this cowl top, and managed to get to the Paolozzi exhibition,  a huge nostalgia shot for me. As this is a sewing blog, I should mention that there are some textile works, prints and drawings and some ceramics, but for me it will always be the sculpture with its uncompromising impact.

A few gallery shots –

Paolozzi Exhibition

Paolozzi Exhibition

Paolozzi Exhibition

Paolozzi Exhibition

Paolozzi Exhibition

Paolozzi Exhibition








About jay

I design and draft patterns
This entry was posted in Pattern Making, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Cowl Top Draft and Nostalgia

  1. Aunt Mayme says:

    You’re making me want to make one of these up. Now if I can find the plum sandwashed silk…..


  2. Oh I wish I could go to that exhibition! I didn’t even know it was on.

    Thanks for the details about drafting the top.


  3. fabrickated says:

    I had seen the exhibition advertised but hadn’t fancied it, but I do now! I agree with you that cowls are really nice – nicer than T shirts really and a great way to showcase a nice drapey fabric. I have made them with both flat pattern cutting and with draping. I was intrigued by cowled sleeves and I know you have done trousers before.


  4. jay says:

    I did an asymmetric cowl sleeve (well armhole really) a year or two ago, but found it impractical – side bra reveal. I’ve also tried a cowl sleeve head, but decided that my choice of fabric was wrong, it should have been a soft drapey jersey. Skirts and tops are pretty foolproof.


  5. I didn’t know about the Whitechapel gallery – I will have to check it out on my next visit to London. That exhibition looks very interesting.
    Your cowl pattern instructions are very enabling. Hopefully it will make people try for themselves rather than buying a pattern – and as easy as a t-shirt indeed 😃


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