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Make a Comfy Cowl Top

Try layering your cowl-neck top over a long-sleeve shirt, a knit dress, or a turtleneck top.

There’s nothing like a monthlong trip with one suitcase to give you a deep appreciation for a versatile garment. This top was inspired by such a trip. The original, in a tiger-print jersey, drew many compliments, and I found it could be worn alone or as a layer.

A cap-sleeve cowl neck combines T-shirt simplicity with a flattering cut and delicious fabric options. All winter, drop it on over a turtleneck or long-sleeve jersey for warmth without the bulk of a sweater. The draping around the neck and in the back is equally interesting in lightweight knits for summer.

Two yards of fabric with two-way stretch are required for this one-size-fits-most garment. The secret to a quick finish is purchased bias-cut strips of sheer nylon knit, such as Seams Great. It’s easy to use, with a natural curl to cover seam allowances neatly. It saves you from cutting and sewing any fabric bindings or facings.

Our wintry version is made in a loosely woven cotton/rayon with a touch of Lurex. Necessity drew me to a garment like this, but you’ll see it is a lot of fun to invent new looks for it.

Tip: Choose fun fabric. The top doesn’t require much fabric to make, so indulge in a rich fiber and/or color. 


  • Fabric with two-way stretch, 2 yards
  • Scissors
  • Seams Great seam and hem finish by Dritz (one package, 5⁄8 inch by 10 yards)
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread

Construct the shirt

The top’s back is made with two pieces for fullness. You’ll sew the back together, then staystitch the neck edges before you sew the shoulder seams.

1 Cut out the fabric. Follow the pattern diagrams on page 94 to draft the pattern pieces full-size on gridded paper. Cut one cowl, one front, and…

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