Merrily We Sew Along #2 – The Cowl Neck Duffle

I have a confession.  The Cowl Neck project in Improv Sewing is one of my favorite projects in the book but I still don’t have one in my wardrobe that I can wear.  The book version was a little snug across the chest – ahem – and though I have meant to make myself one for years, it has taken this sew along to get me to act (follow that link! Join us in this really fantastic way to get motivated to make all the stuff you have always wanted to make!).  It isn’t like I can blame the project for being too time consuming or complicated, because of course it isn’t.  It does take a little more fabric than other garments and I often have a yard of this or that, that just doesn’t quite cut it, but mostly I have no actual excuse.  I really love the one I just made and it fits me great.  My 13 year old is modeling it here, and of course it fits me a little differently but I love it – I just wanted to be the photographer.

Because it is difficult for me to do something the same way twice, and because the fabric I chose to use was  sheer and soft draping – the exact opposite of the knit I used for the book project – I made some changes to this design.

1 – I cut the hemline so the front was shorter than the back which i like very much.  I thought the shirt might not look great if it clung to the front of my jeans.

2 – I doubled up the cowl neck so it is two layers (inspired by a tweak that Debra made on hers – thanks D).  I’ll show you what I did below.

I think those were the only two changes.  I did follow the directions in the book, I’ll have you know. Do you find that funny?

I have a few things to say about fabric choice for this project, so if you are interested read the following:

1. The fabric you see in this version is a rayon sweater knit.  It is sheer and drapey and quite stretchy.  It wasn’t difficult to work with, but I found that I needed to pay close attention while sewing – no sewing with abandon here.  I measured many times to make sure things were going to line up well and I used pins! I usually spurn those pokey and annoying get-in-the-wayers, but that front pocket had to be pinned, and I suggest you use copious quantities.  Of course, it did have a lot to do with this fabric that wanted to bend and stretch.

2. The fabric for the duffle in the book was very thick and didn’t have a lot of stretch.  A fabric like that will create a very different sort of garment – cozy and more structured! You can use a sweater knit that is heavy; you can piece together a bunch of large men’s sweaters of similar or different colors (ooh!); you can buy some french terry or sweatshirt fabric.  It really just depends on what the overall effect is you are trying to achieve.  Once you make a pattern, the variations are near at hand.

I really like how the double layer cowl turned out, and I think it was essential for this thin fabric. This is what I did:

I still followed the directions in the book for making the cowl – the length of the fabric was still the measurement of the neck opening – only I used a folded length of fabric.

1. The length of the cowl will be doubled, and then folded in half so it is as long as you desire from neckline to the end of the cowl.  This folded piece of fabric will be long and narrow, with the right side out.

2.  Next fold this fabric again so the short edges meet, and sew a 1/2″ seam. I pressed the seam open and stitched a zigzag along each raw edge. This will centered in the back of the garment.

Now this simply gets inserted and sewn into the neckline just as the directions say.

3. I cut the hemline so it the shortest point was the front center.  I rounded down to the side seams and then made the back ever so slightly rounded, so the longest point is the back center. A rotary cutter is sort of essential here. Measure twice, cut once!

Now, head to that sewing machine and make one of your own!  Then, of course, show us what you’ve created by posting some shots on our flickr page.  It is fun to share and you will undoubtedly be showered with praise, but there are also prizes! The winner of the merrily we sew along episode two challenge will receive two pdf patterns from Figgy Patterns, an amazing handmade gift from Sew Well Maide, and a fat quarter bundle from the Etsy shop Fabrictree. That is some serious swag, people, and you want that stuff!

This project’s guest blogger is Suburbia Soup, and you have to check out their site! Awesome! Truly! And, of course, Casa Crafty and Imagine Gnats are heading up the sew along show and they are so full of bubbly and positive energy I want to send them a big cyber hug!

Happy stitching folks!

xo, nicole

This entry was posted by nicoleblum.

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