My tutorial on drafting a high cowl neck top has had a lot of pageviews in the last week (this always makes me happy). So at the request of at least one reader (see? that's all it takes with me!), I'll show you how to draft a cowl neck top starting with a pattern that has a dart. This will produce a deeper cowl neck like this one:
I started with Silhouettes' Pattern #195 as I have already made alterations to the pattern for a good fit (changed shoulder slope, took in waist/hip as they are smaller size than my shoulders). It has a French dart, but these instructions should work regardless of where you dart is placed.
And I need to give a big thank you to Peggy Sagers for her help in figuring out how to draft this pattern (from Silhouettes). I took a couple of classes with her at the sewing conference I went to recently (Original Sewing and Quilting Expo) and she encouraged people to contact her with questions. So when I was trying to figure out what to do with the dart, I emailed her. Within a couple of hours I got a very helpful response. And this was on a Sunday.
*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 with a dart
Step 1: Move dart to neckline.
Trace your orginal pattern onto another sheet of tracing paper as you'll need to do a lot of cutting. To move the dart to the neckline, draw a straight line from the dart point to the center front neckline.
Now cut along this line until you are about 1/8" away from the dart point (this will be your "hinge").
Now close and tape the orginal dart which will cause the pattern to spread at the new dart point. It should look like this:
All right! Step 1 is done. You have moved a dart!
Step 2: Cut & spread neckline
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. If that sounds confusing, it isn't - I think it's just easier to understand with a picture:
Smooth out the angle created at the shoulder line:
Step 2, check!
Step 3: 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:
I know this looks like something that would never fit a human body, but trust me, it will work! And please ignore the wide band in the middle - I had to tape two pieces of tracing paper together to get one that was big enough.
Good work - the hard parts are all done!
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. You can serge the edges, turn them under by 1/4" and topstitched them into place or leave them just serged for an edgier look You can add any kind of sleeve or even a hem band. This top will fit and look great. Devon calls this my sexy top and looks suspicious when I wear it out with friends!