Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Drafting the Cowl Neckline

Today we are drafting the neckline for these shirts.

But just before we start - after I published the last post, I realised I had exactly the same pose in every photo. So here's something different.
Hope you enjoyed that!
So here's a quick 'How to' using the tank top with darts.

First things first - If you haven't got a tank top with darts, you could probably do this with a t-shirt pattern. In any case, its worth taking the time getting a good t-shirt and darted tank pattern figured out, because they are useful in their own right, and you can do so much with them! My instructions for copying an existing t-shirt are here (be sure to check part 2, that's when it gets good!) and instructions for adding a dart to the bust are here. Of course, you can use a commercial pattern too. Mark your own bust points, under bust line and waistline on your pattern, as it will come in handy for drafting stuff that fits YOU.

Once you have your basic pattern, you can start on the cowl.

The back is the same as your standard pattern, except that I added a bit of length and made it looser.

I tapered out from the waistline and added 2cm to the side. I added 5cm to the hem, although on the green I modified it to 2cm.
To work out the front, I measured the neckline that scooped where I liked.
In this case, it was 20cm.
I then added 4cm to that length (=24cm) because my first trial showed me that the length needs to be a bit longer than the original neckline. I drew a line parallel to the paper edge 24cm in. [Edit - sorry just fixed the numbers there!]

This is a guide for the extent to which I will spread out the original pattern piece.

I slashed through the bust point and dart. If you don't have bust darts, just slash through the bust line. I lined the edge the bottom of the shirt with the edge of the paper, and rotated out the top by closing the bust dart.
The inner edge of the pattern piece hit the guide line straight away, which was fantastic, because then I didn't need to do anything else.

If I wanted a deeper cowl, I could slash the waistline and spread it out further.
 Tip - When you modify patterns by slashing, mark in your seam allowances. This is because you need to match your seam line, not your cutting line. If you rotate on the cutting line you will end up with different length seams and it will distort and not match the pieces you are joining.

From here, I traced out the pattern and extend a line from the edge to the shoulder point at right angles. This is the fold of the cowl, and we will create a facing on the other side of the line.

I added about 8cm to the other side, and draw a parallel line. We will come back to the facing in a moment.
Make the same alteration to the length and hip as to the back, (2cm to the side and 5cm to the length in my case). Then cut out the new pattern. To finish the facing, cut the top line you drew in first.
 Then fold it backwards.

 Cut out the rest of the outline, both layers together.

This will then form a facing which fits exactly.

That makes your pattern piece! Told you it was easy.

I've got a few pointers on construction of the cowl, and that will be my next post. Stay tuned!


  1. Great tutorial, the cowl is a really flattering shape. I have only ever drafted a cowl on wovens but with a midriff panel.

    1. I was amazed how many different styles there were. I never really took a good look before. I could end up a bit of a cowl junkie.

  2. I am going to have this shirt! Thank you for the tutorial!! :-)

    1. Thrilled to hear it!!! If anything is unclear let me know, and I will refine my posts accordingly. I want to see photos!