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In this post, I’ll try to convey the method I used to raise a cowl neckline on a pattern which was originally so low that wearing another layer underneath became imperative. That was not the look I was going for…. take a look.
Here is a picture of the original rayon top using Vogue pattern 2611, View E (probably discontinued). The top is several years old and I made it in rayon crepe print in fall colors, happily identifying with the idealized fashion illustrations on the pattern envelope where the cowl fell in a perfect place; I wanted to BE the Vogue Pattern illustration. Are you rolling on the floor laughing? I am now resigned to wearing this pretty top with another layer, usually a camisole.
Instead of discarding the pattern, I sought to raise the cowl depth for the next version of the same view so it would be more – you know, modest. Here’s how I did it with a some pattern manipulation. I’m giving you a choice of two methods where you get the same result.
The upper front on the pattern is the only part you will have to change. Everything else remains the same.
This is the entire front pattern. Note: this top is designed for a bias layout which is the reason the pattern company suggests that the full pattern be used instead of a half pattern placed on the fold. But for our purposes the pattern will be folded on center front to make the changes easier. As in the picture below where I’m ready to trace the original folded front onto white tracing paper. Once you trace the pattern, mark the bias grainline and the bust point.
To understand the process of raising the cowl, we need to know how the low slung cowl neckline is drafted in the first place, then the process can be reversed. I will only present a picture of a cowl neck draft from one of my new favorite sewing/drafting books, and then detail the process of making it smaller.
The above method of cowl drafting keeps the top fitted below the neck area.
Method 1 to raise a too low cowl neck:
- Measure the original folded pattern from the shoulder point to the center front fold. Decide how much you want to reduce the depth of the cowl. I decided to reduce a good 1.5 inches. Record this measurement.
- Addendum: Thanks to Lisa of the Stitch it Again blog, who commented below, an important step was omitted in this “instructional” post! In answer to Lisa’s question, this is how you determine where the cowl depth will land on your um, cleavage. In the picture above, I’m measuring the pattern (folded at center front) – it measures 11.5 inches. In the collage below, you can see the tape measure on my dress form placed from shoulder to center front (the dial) where 11.5″ is an unacceptable depth. Yikes! I determined that 10 inches would be acceptable, which is the number I used to alter the cowl depth. I hope that answers your question, Lisa. Thank you for alerting me to the oversight.
- Trace the pattern onto white paper as mentioned earlier. On the tracing, draw a line (dotted red line in picture below) from just below the underarm, ending 2″ above the bust point. Pivot this dotted line and continue it straight up to 4″ inside the center front.
- Measure your recorded amount in from the dotted line on the neck (on the straight line running horizontally from shoulder point to center front in the picture. The area above it is the facing). Mark this point. Draw a solid red line starting from the same underarm point and echoing the dotted line as shown in the picture below, crossing the marked point on the straight neckline, which I turned into a green one in pictures further down. The blue line AB is just an indication that the two pivot points echo each other in alignment with the bias grain.
- Cut open dotted line up to but not through the underarm point. See below.
- Overlap by pivoting the shoulder/armhole piece onto the front piece. The overlapped area at the green neckline should measure 1.5″. Use tape to secure. Add a piece of paper to true up the facing, as I’ve done in the picture below.
- Measure from the shoulder point to the center front to make sure it measures 1.5″ less than the original. Be sure to duplicate the same facing shape as in the original pattern.
Method 2 for raising a too low cowl neck (to confuse you even further). You may find it easier:
- Draw a line (red in the picture) from the armhole, just above the notch to approximately 6″ inside the center front. Remember that the green line in the picture is the neckline. The area above it is the facing.
- Cut through this line up to the armhole but not through it, to create a pivot point.
- Overlap this line by 1.5″ (the amount we want to reduce the cowl depth). Again, add some additional paper at the facing area to “true” it. See below.
The above two methods of reducing the cowl will not change the fit below the armhole, and will not change the shoulder length or the dimension of the armhole; it will only make the cowl smaller by raising the shoulder. All of this on the front only; the back remains the same.
The new cowl top is not that new. It has been road tested and worn a LOT. There are some details you may want to know: it was made out of just one yard of silk crepe de chine, on the bias, which resulted in me adding a raw edge silk organza at the hem and calling it a day.
What do you think. my friends? Have you ever had to adjust a cowl? If there is an even easier way, please let me know. I’m always thrilled to see comments here.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post.