Pattern Puzzle: Fixing a cowl neckline

In the forum, we’ve been discussing how to correct the cowl neckline of a specific pattern to fit. Lisa said

The facing seemed too bulky to be sewn into the armscye. The pattern was made for knits and wovens, front cut on the bias. I used a synthetic knit I had lying around. I have to wear a shirt under it since it gaps too much in the front.

Here is a picture of the pattern piece below

And here’s pictures of Lisa wearing it. For modesty, she’s draped the fullest part of the cowl so you can’t see her cleavage because it’s pretty low.

So there you have it. Prescriptions please. Of course I’ve prepared what I think is the appropriate solution but am eagerly waiting to see yours.

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11 Comments on "Pattern Puzzle: Fixing a cowl neckline"

Dana Cetz
5 years 8 months ago


As always your tutorials make the most sense for me. Thanks for meking an easy way to understand how to make a gorgeous draped cowl neck.

[…] to buy wholesale fabric, the best kept secret to lowering expenses, how to start a clothing line, fixing a cowl neckline and emerging textiles. You’ll also find a list of Kathleen’s services (patterns & […]

6 years 8 months ago

“The pattern was made for knits and wovens”?! That’s a problem; I think the pattern should be made for either knits or wovens.

The knit was cut on a bias also strikes me as odd. Are you working against the inherent stretch of the synthetic knit by putting it into a cowl? I recollect a cowl pattern, made for wovens, that had tucks at the shoulder allowing the excess fabric to cowl at the front. Sorry, I can’t remember the facing.

Yes, the across shoulder measurement appears too wide.

6 years 8 months ago

The vintage fashion site shows drafts for two cowl necklines on this page
–one is low, one is high–if you compare the two drafts you can see that the wider the shoulder points are spaced the deeper the cowl–that’s why ken simmons is correct in a general way about how to correct the pattern so the cowl does not fall so deep.

To stay or not to stay–I have a cowl without a stay that I like just fine–it probably depends on the pattern and fabric and the effect the designer is looking for.

To reduce bulk and maintain a nice drape, you should cut the facing at one with the fabric. Sewing a separate facing on a bias cut won’t be that fun–unless you had some reason like you were cutting the facing on the straight of grain. But then that would affect the drape and make it stiffer, less soft. So it’s all in what effect you want.

Lisa B. in Portland
6 years 8 months ago

I really do look better in other photos and real life!

If the facing were separate from the front, would that work better?

Also the sides aren’t very shaped, which isn’t hard to fix.