I’ve managed to squeeze in one more “From a Sewing Book” project for The Monthly Stitch’s November challenge. Everyone seems to have decided that magazines are fair game for this challenge so I used the latest Threads magazine, number 170 (same one I’m in!) to create this cowl top. They give you clear and concise direction to turn your plain best fitting top pattern into one with a draped neckline, either front, back, or both.
Just two days before reading this article, I happened to pick up this amazing, soft, drapy knit fabric in the clearance bin at Hancock Fabrics while I was searching for something else. I snagged it for $3.49/yard and bought the whole 1-1/2 yard piece. I assume it’s rayon (acetate) based on the incredible softness and drape. It behaves just like other rayon jerseys I’ve used and loved before.
When I bought it, I intended to make my favorite basic long sleeve t-shirt that I have made a dozen times before. I don’t even feel like I need to give credit to the original pattern because I have morphed the pattern so many times the only seamlines that are original are the shoulders. Fair enough, right?
I started out with my TNT pattern and carefully followed Threads through this mess:
… among other frightening illustrations and directions. I took a leap of faith and cut my fabric with my wonky looking pattern, which ended up looking even more curvy and wavy than the one in that bottom drawing.
They give a few pointers on construction. I went with one of their options for back neckline finishing: self binding. I used what I know about super stretchy rayon jersey and decided upon a binding that was 80% of the length of my back neckline, a formula that has proven me well in the past. Usually that 80% means that the binding will hug the body rather than sag and distort the neckline but that assumes a binding that goes all the way around the neckline! Oops! The tighter back neck binding coupled with the soft, drapy cowl front means that it pulls the entire cowl toward the back at the neck opening. My shoulder seams are pulled to the back by about 1/2″ on each side. No biggie, but I certainly notice every time I look in the mirror. My husband also commented that it pulls a little oddly right at the back neckline but only someone who was examining it could tell that something wasn’t right.
For the rest of the construction, I followed Threads’ advice on how to fold the neck facing at the shoulders to stitch it. That worked out okay on the second go-round. The first time I had pointy shoulder bits sticking up at the neckline because my serger always pulls to the left when it reaches the end of a fabric. I just turned it around, started at the neckline and stitched over it again, chopping off the pointy bit.
Oh – and as you can see I ended up with 3/4 sleeves because I didn’t have enough fabric for long sleeves. That’s ok with me though since this is rather lightweight and not really the best fabric choice for a really cold day. Plus I usually push up my long sleeves to steer clear of wayward spaghetti sauce and play dough.
I stitched everything but the hems on the serger. I took the sleeve and bottom hems over to my Singer Scholastic machine, tossed on the walking foot and finished them up with a zig-zag. On that note, I find that different machines behave differently on knits with the same stitch settings and feet. I can’t sew a decent knit hem on my White Quilter’s Star to save my life because the presser foot pressure is far too high, even at it’s “lower” setting. It just holds the fabric in place, stretches it out, and practically eats it to pieces. On the Singer Scholastic it’s just fine and dandy. Thought I’d throw that out there for those of you who are frustrated with sewing knits! Simply try a different machine – even if you borrow a friend’s.
I really love the design of this top. I know I’ll make it again. For the next time I’ll be sure to adjust the back neck binding to the same length as the neckline, though. I think I may also extend the self-facing on the cowl neck another inch. Sometimes as I wear it you can see the cut edge of the facing. Another inch ought to take care of that.