I made a cowl neck top!

Cowl topAlthough I have often made comments about how I don’t like sewing very much as I am not much good at it, this doesn’t mean that I don’t like dressmaking.

I did an ‘O’ level in Needlework and my mother made lots of her own clothes so I had two lots of teaching.

I only gave it up when I was really short of money and discovered that it was much cheaper to buy clothes in BHS than to make them. Though I have made a few things over the years. For instance I adapted this patternCoat patternTo make a cape coat for my husband like the John Pertwee Dr Who used to wear and I made an First Communion dress for my younger daughter which I kept and was also used by my granddaughter for her First Communion.Louisa's first communionNow I am not so poor, I have long been wanting to make some jazzy summer trousers but inspired by Lucie of Love, Lucie I also decided to make a top with a cowl neck.

I bought this pattern which was the only one I could see for a top with a cowl neck.Cowl neck top patternNow originally I cut the pattern out for look ‘B’ (the main picture) but there was a suggestion that you pin it to check it fitted. I did this and decided the neck just didn’t look as I expected so I re-cut the front piece for the other neckline (C & D) which hadn’t looked like much on the picture. Luckily except for a tiny bit at the edge of the part that hangs down inside I could get the other shape without loss.

This is the bit I cut off.ResidueA couple of comments about the pattern:

On the plus side I was pleased to see that McCall’s patterns still had markings printed on them unlike some patterns I remember from my youth which were plain tissue with cut out notches and holes.

However on the negative side, patterns used to come in one size whereas now you buy a pattern that does four sizes and you have to spend the afternoon cutting out the one you want. (And with a top and trousers and hands that hurt when I close down the scissors it did take me an afternoon to cut out both patterns.)

The pattern for the top I also found was overly helpful and made suggestions of how you could adapt it for things like a wide back or a full bust. Now I have a fairly ample bosom and in my young days patterns and shop clothes all came with bust darts but adding bust darts involved cutting the pattern and adding in an extra piece of tissue with tape and with the pattern made of thinner tissue than I remembered I decided not to risk wrecking it. Anyway I am now used to the idea that clothes are meant to fit without darts. Maybe I might try the bust darts if I used it again, just for interest.

I went to Fabric Land to buy the pattern and fabric as they seemed to have the best choice locally. When I saw the fabric I used I knew that I just had to have it. With that lovely mix of colours, spirals that look like they come from the Mandelbrot Set (mathematics!)Mandelbrot spiraland a patterning that evokes tie dye and batik,Fabric patternsit was definitely the one for me. The fabric I chose for the trousers was quite tame in comparison.

Although it took half an afternoon to cut out the pattern and a morning to cut out the fabric I sewed it together in a day, helped by not having any lunch! and wanting to wear it that evening.

I started with my electric machine but it seemed to have a problem lifting the needle so rather than spend all morning fixing it I used my manual sewing machine. (Both originally my mother’s). Luckily my mother had bought a zig-zag attachment so I could do the stretchy hem that was called for.Zig-zag stitch footI haven’t made a garment with knit fabric before so the tape for the back neck and shoulders was new to me but after that I strayed from the instructions and decided to hem the sleeves before fitting as I was sure I would make a mess of trying to machine such a small circle. I also used my mother recommended way of dealing with sleeves, that I also use for knitted garments, which is to attach the sleeve and then do sleeve seam and side seam all in one. So much easier than fitting and stitching the sleeve into a closed armhole.

I couldn’t face all the struggle of using the self portrait setting on the camera and the picture my daughter took late at night in the kitchen looked all wrong with the artificial light and orange walls so I resorted to the mirror in my bedroom. The quality of the mirror and light levels still don’t make for a brilliant photograph but I think it will give you the idea.Wearing topAnd one from the front taken next morning!Front view of topAnd the best I could do from the side.Side view of top

17 thoughts on “I made a cowl neck top!

    1. I actually find I have more control with the manual sewing machine. It is so hard to keep just the right degree of pressure on the foot pedal to make sure the machine doesn’t run away with it. Also I am used to this particular manual sewing machine most of the machine sewing I have ever done has been done on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What an awesome fabric – it definitely is you! So classy and high drama, not to speak of the luscious colors. Thank you for the post – it gives me encouragement. Maybe, just maybe . . .



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