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Cowl Neck Hacks: Three Different Looks

Posted by Betsy C on

Cowls come in different shapes and styles. Some are more voluminous, some drape lower and some sit high on the neck with lots of fullness. Take a look at the three options I put together for you to try and give your Bronx Dress a different look.

This technique is the most common way to create a cowl neck and add fullness. In fact you can even take a regular T-shirt and do the same, just add a facing extension. The only issue that I have with this type of cowl is this makes the chest become wider. Sometimes you need this, but other times it means that if you lean forward someone can see all the way to your navel. The more you add to the top the more width will go to the chest.

However, this is a good starting point if it is your first time with cowl alterations. How much you will add is totally up to you. 3" at the top (to zero at bottom pivot point) may be a good starting point for a subtle change to a cowl. If you are starting from a basic t-shirt shape then 10" (to zero at bottom pivot point) would probably be a good starting point.  

This one is my fave. It keeps the chest in check-the width stays the same, but all of the volume goes to the neckline. This is how I created the new cowl shape for the Bronx Dress. 

a. Start out by cutting the cowl piece in half

b. Pick a good midpoint along the side seam to cut across to a point at center front almost level to the chest. 

c. Close the side seam to zero at the pivot point by overlapping. Secure in place. (1" may be a good starting point).

d. Straighten the top CF edge and add back on to the bottom bodice side seam the same amount that you close out (this ensures it will sew to the back side seam). Blend to zero at the center front. 

This one is fun. I own a cowl neck in really drapey jersey that has lots of little pleats at the shoulder that form the cowl and it it has the lovely side result of making my boobs appear much larger they they are (The transformative powers of the pattern, right?) . However, that may not be the look that everyone is going for, but if you do this to the Bronx Dress neckline you will end up with horizontal fullness in the cowl. 

a. Start out by cutting the cowl piece in half

b. Cut across the body/facing intersecting line, or lower along the shoulder point toward the center front.

c. Extend the cut section. 2" may be a good starting point. 

d. Turn this new extra fullness into tucks that you will fold together and baste in place, then sew to the back shoulder seams. 

Cowl Conclusion

Cowls are fickle things. The drape totally depends on the fabric, how deep you want the neckline and how much fullness you would like to add. 

The illustrations are intended for starting points for your own experimentations and opening up the possibilities available to make your vision work. Play around with them and have fun. But make sure to try a quick muslin- in the actual fabric. Yes, you heard me right. Going back to my first point- the drape is totally dependent on the fabric. To expect the same results from muslin to jersey is asking a lot. Even jersey to jersey varies. But you only need to cut the front cowl in the real deal if that helps to lessen the pain. Trust me, it will pay off in the end.






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  • What a beautiful post..very helpful thank you very much!!!

    Marina on

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