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Not So Cold Shoulder Hack - Fold Over Cowl

While looking for sweater inspiration online during a sudden cold streak (mid-day temperatures plummeted over 50 degrees F in just a couple days) I was drawn to this style and could not resist attempting to replicate it using the Not So Cold Shoulder (NSCS). Unfortunately the Mustard Rib Knit I used for my cowl is out of stock, but there are other great fabric choices that will work; like French Terry or one of the sweater knits.

Getting Started

For this NSCS I cut and sewed according to the simple sweater tutorial, skipping the neckband. Because this is an off the shoulder top I needed to think about how to measure and cut the cowl. The cowl needed to be a wider at the folded edge to accommodate going over my shoulder, otherwise it wouldn't stay down. There are two ways to do this: cutting a circular flounce (basically a very short circle skirt) or making a wide band with the short edges rounded to cup my shoulder and add a little width. Both options have their pros and cons. The circular flounce is seamless, but uses a lot of fabric, requires hemming, and doesn't work for directional prints. The band uses less fabric and works for directional prints, but has a seam.

I decided to use the wide band. I really did not want to hem a circle flounce and would have been cutting it very close with having enough fabric.

Getting Started

Cut and sew your NSCS according to the tutorial, leaving off the neckband. The next step is measuring the neck opening to determine how wide the band needs to be. I decided to cut the band on the fold, so I only needed to know the length around half the neckline. Carefully fold the neckline in half, matching up raw edges. Clip or pin every few inches to help keep everything in place. Use a soft tape or gently straighten the edge (without stretching) and use a long ruler or your cutting mat like I did in the image below to measure the neckline. This measurement plus 1/4" for your seam allowance is the first measurement you need. My half neckline was 18" so 18.25". Note: I use painter's tape to mark my pattern pieces.

Next decide how long you want your cowl. I knew from my unmodified NSCS that the band started on the cold shoulder at about the top of my armpit. I settled on 6" plus my 1/4" seam allowance. Because the cowl is folded in half I needed to double this measurement to get 12.5" for my pattern piece.

Making Your Pattern Piece

I needed a piece of paper at least 13" wide so I used parchment paper I had on hand. The first three lines are easy. Towards the edge of the paper make one line that is the same length as your cowl height: the second measurement you made (12.5" for mine).

Perpendicular to that line at the ends make two parallel lines as long as your first measurement plus seam allowance. Mine was 18.25". I made a mark across my parallel lines at this point for visibility. There are all sorts of ways to curve out the end to complete your pattern piece, I used a large mixing bowl because it is a perfect circle and easily accessible. The more you curve out the end the looser the cowl will be around your torso. The short, straight edge of your pattern will be placed on the fold, the length should go the direction of the most stretch.

The collage below shows the steps I took to draw out my pattern piece and the cowl after it's been cut. The top left shows the three straight sides drawn with a quilting ruler in place to mark where the curve should start. The top right shows a large bowl upside down at the edge of the pattern to be traced. Bottom right shows the drawn curve. Bottom left is of the cut cowl piece.


Place your pattern on the fold and cut around (fold right sides together to save time). With right sides together, matching the curves, pin or clip to prevent shifting and serge or sew together along the short edge. Sewing with a triple or lightening stitch may be the best option for this step because you can press open the seam to reduce bulk. Press open the seam, optional. Fold in half, wrong sides together. Mark your quarter points, using the seam as the first point. Mark your quarter points. Use the center of the warm shoulder sleeve as your first point. This puts the seam over your shoulder, but allows the curve to hug your shoulder and arm, reducing pulling.

There are two ways to attach the cowl at this point:

1) With right sides out slide your NSCS into the neckband (right side of top to wrong side of cowl), matching up quarter points: the seam of the cowl should be on the warm shoulder. Pin or clip around as desired. Sew or serge around. Pull your cowl up so that you can topstitch (this is necessary or the seam will flip out), iron the seam down toward the bodice. Topstitch around. Fold the cowl down and press.

2) Place the cowl inside the neckline (right side of cowl to wrong side of top), sew around, then pull the cowl up and fold over the seam. This sandwiches the seam between the bodice and cowl, but if your cowl flips up it will be visible. There is a very real chance of that happening with me, so I chose the first option, shown in the collage below.

Stand back and admire your new top!

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