UPDATE: You can find a tutorial for the deeper cowl neck here.
I have a simple t-shirt/shell pattern that works well for me but I have enough basic tops - I want something fancier! I love the high cowl neck look that is going around these days:
|DKNY from macys.com|
|LRK from saksfifthavenue.com|
I wanted to make this look without having to shell out money for a new pattern and I couldn't find a free tutorial online that was really what I wanted. So I hid out in my sewing lab and figured it out! I use a lot of online tutorials in my sewing so I'm always happy when I have something to share with all of you. Here's what I created:
*1 - 1.5 yards of drapey fabric with stretch (jersey, knit, stretch charmeuse, maybe even stretch poplin)
*Tracing paper (I use Bienfang Canary Sketching and Tracing Paper, the 50 yard/24" roll)
*Top/bodice pattern that you like (if you don't have one, there are plenty of tutorials online that will show you how to create a pattern from a t-shirt or top that you have in your closet, like this one).
Step 1: Cut & spread neckline
Trace your front bodice/t-shirt pattern onto a new sheet a paper; you need to cut the pattern so you don't want to ruin your master. Draw a curved line under the neckline, 1.5 inches down from the original. Cut along this line until you are about 1/8 inch from the shoulder line.
Draw two lines that meet at a right angle on a new sheet of paper. Place your cut pattern piece along the top line on this piece of paper. Spread the neckline so that both points touch the top line. Angle the remaining bodice so that the bottom center front corner touches the side line. Tape into place. This sounds harder than it is so don't fret! It should look like this:
Smooth out the angle created at the shoulder line:
Step 2: Turn half pattern into full pattern
You need to cut on a bias for this design, so you will need a full instead of a half pattern. Take a big piece of tracing paper and draw a T with lines meeting a right angles. Trace your half cowl neck pattern onto one side of the T and then flip and trace it onto the other. It should look like this when you are done:
It looks a bit odd, doesn't it? Trust me, it works! Imagine that super wide neckline draping in the middle because this is what will happen. (Ignore the wide band in the middle of my pattern piece - my tracing paper wasn't large enough so I had to tape two pieces together with masking tape.)
Draw a new grainline that is at a 45 degree angle to the center line.
Step 3: Place and cut your fabric
Spread out your fabric. Place the front pattern piece on the bias and the back pattern piece on the straight grain. It will look like this:
Cut and sew the top as you would normally. I have left the edges serged and turned them under by 1/4" and topstitched them into place - your choice. I added a band to the bottom for this top but you could do a simple hem or leave the hem unfinished. However you finish it you now get to glow with pride everytime you wear it because you drafted the pattern and put it together on your own!
I also drafted a cowl neck from a pattern that had a bodice dart which made for a deeper cowl. I'll post instructions for how to do this if there's interest - leave a comment if you want it!
Credit: I generally followed instructions I found in Adele Margolis' book Make Your Own Dress Patterns. I strongly recommend this book if you are interested in learning about drafting patterns.