How to finish a cowl neckline

As promised yesterday, here’s a really cool technique I used to sew the shoulder seams and get a clean finish at the neckline of my MyImage cowl tee (M1152 from the Fall/Winter 2011 issue) all in one go.

It’s a variation of “the burrito method”, and you can use it on any top where you’ve got a facing on one side, and a folded edge on the other. So it doesn’t have to be cowl necks, it’ll also work for surplice or wrap necklines with a self-facing, too!

This comes fairly early in the construction of your garment, but by this point you should have already sewn your facing (in this case, my back neck facing) to the body of the garment (the back here), right sides together. You should also stabilise your shoulder seams, either by using Vilene bias tape like I have, or with strips of knit interfacing or clear elastic – whatever your preferred method is!

In my example, I’ve got a back neck facing which is a separate piece, and a folded (ie: integrated) facing on the front.


Step 1. Pin the shoulder seams together from the shoulder edge to the back facing stitching line, right sides together. Keep the front facing and the back facing out flat (ie: don’t pin them!)

The One Hour Cowl tee

First of all, thank you so much for all your comments and suggestions regarding my draped jacket! The consensus seems to be a) try it with skinny trousers, and b) shorten the sleeves at the very least, but I definitely need to take some time away from it before I can contemplate working on it again.

I think you can also predict what came next – a quick knit top! This top was particularly medicinal because last Saturday I’d already sewn up Holly’s maternity coat muslin, then done a bunch of overtime work from home, cut more insulation on the boat, and I found myself about 4pm with a totally frazzled brain and not quite sure what to do with myself.

So I went with my gut instinct, and started tracing the MyImage cowl tee (M1152 from the Fall/Winter 2011 issue)!

This fabric was a gift from Marie-Christine when we visited her in Toulouse at Easter. It’s a viscose(?) jersey printed (or actually, bleached, since the reverse is black!) to look like lace! I’m not a big “prints” person in general, but I’m such a sucker for a trompe l’oeil print, and you already know my love of lace!

There was only 1 metre of this, though, so it’s a good thing it has 2-way stretch since I had to fit the sleeves on the cross grain! If this was just a crosswise-stretch fabric I don’t think I would’ve been able to fit it in…

This pattern really is the essence of simplicity – there’s only three pattern pieces (four if you count the back facing, but I just used a rectangle of fabric instead), and the title of this post is no exaggeration – from tracing to cutting to sewing to wearing it took me only an hour! This really was just the pick-me-up I needed after the long-running draped suit project…

Lekala cowl top instructions and giveaway

You’ve seen my version of this fantastic cowl top, now’s your chance to make your own and show me yours!

As you’ll recall, the above is made using Lekala 4020, but I’ve created sleeve bands on the back to echo the ones on the front, so our first step is to alter the pattern for this.

Here’s the (unaltered) tech drawing:

Lekala give full pattern pieces rather than placing some patterns on the fold, so the first thing I like to do is fold the front and the back in half. If you’re altering the back like me, then cut the back piece in half along this foldline (at the CB).

To echo the sleeve bands/yokes on the back, first lay the front sleeve band/yoke piece onto the back, and mark the corresponding widths at the back shoulder and the back side seam, so the two bands will align nicely when sewn together. Then, using the front yoke piece as a guide, draw a nice curve to join the two points, trying to keep the width of the yoke even. Lastly, draw a double notch somewhere in the lower half across the line, so you’ve got the notches on both the back piece and your new back band piece. Then cut along the line and treat as two pieces.

You’ll end up with something like this:

Black Beignet skirt and a bias cowl top

It feels like I’ve been talking about sewing the Colette Patterns Beignet skirt for ages now, but it’s mostly because I’ve just been so busy with life (running, socialising, wedding planning, the boat, and my garden, mostly) right now that I’ve been sewing in tiny increments here and there! But it’s finally complete, and I even managed to sew up the bias cowl top from Patrones 292 (#19) to wear with it!

Even though these go so well together, I’ve actually got no shortage of other things in my wardrobe to wear with either, so there’s no “orphan coordinates” here! And I managed to sneak some mustard and navy into my wardrobe a bit earlier than I’d planned, too!

Easy cowl knit top

After over week of agonising waiting, I’ve finally now got a revised admission date (29 June) which means I’ve got two more weeks to sew!

First up is a modified version of Simplicity 2580 (which my mom brought me from America), sewn up in the £1.70 lycra knit remnant from Brighton! I realised wearing it to work yesterday tht the pale turquiose here matches my spring coat exactly, too…

Pucci playtime cowl neck top

This weekend I finally got a chance to properly play with my new toy and whip up a few knit tops to see what this baby could do!

First up was BurdaStyle’s Sadie top (with the added cowl neck) using some lovely Pucci-esque printed knit which you may remember from last Spring’s tunic top. I was really just keen to use up the stash fabric on something very quick and easy, and also in case something went horribly wrong on my first serger attempt and the whole thing became a wadder!

Luckily no such thing happened and I got a decent summer top after an hour or two…

Burda magazine August 2017

oh. my. gorgeousness! Are you ready for, what’s in my humble opinion, the best Burda issue of the year, or possibly even the past few years? Seriously, there are SO many patterns in here that I want to make immediately that I can hardly stand it! In my eyes, I’d have to go back to the Japanese-style feature in June 2014 to find as many designs I’m utterly crazy about! But don’t take my word for it – let’s show you some of my picks!

Burda magazine Jan 2017

I think Burda Towers must’ve taken a break for the holidays or something because everyone I know received this issue really late for some reason! But better late than never to kick off a brand new year of Burda sewing patterns, and this one’s not only got the traditional January carnival costumes (and nary a “recycled water bottle lady” bonkers one in sight!) but also… activewear! 😝

Burda magazine December 2016

I know it’s a cliché, but my god, where did the year go? I mean, I know I basically lost the first three months of the year but still. Overall, it’s been a fantastic year of Burda magazines, in my opinion, and I’m pleased to report that there’s no letup for the final issue of 2016. I’ve ended up picking a lot out of this one so grab a mug of something hot and settle on in…

A Jean Paul Gaultier flannel shirt

You may recall that back in September, I traveled down to Brighton to meet James at a conference, and we both hit up the fabulous Ditto Fabrics store over his lunch break. I’ve been surprisingly good at sewing up most of the fabrics from that trip in the past four months (only the coating & lining remain, and that’s earmarked & muslined already), having made a cowl neck top from the digitally printed lycra and of course, a shirt for James from the lime linen.

During that same visit, James spotted a wonderful 50/50 poly/cotton flannel which was black on one side, and a soft, brushed charcoal grey on the reverse. It also still bore the tags from its original, designer previous life!


Jean Paul Gaultier Paris!

After the success of the lime linen shirt, James requested that I make the same pattern again using this two-sided flannel – most of the shirt should be in black, but with the cuffs, collar, and placket using the grey side.

I wanted to sew this as a Christmas gift for him, so once the Surf to Summit Top pattern release was out of the way, I got to work, finishing most of it before my evil holiday cold hit, but finishing the sleeve cuffs on the 24th when I could barely sit up!