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DIY Top: Sew Along for Cowl Neck Collar (2024)

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diy top cowl neck collar sew alongLooking for a way to take your DIY sewing projects up a notch? Look no further than this Sew Along tutorial on how to make the perfect cowl neck collar! I’m sure there are many of us out there who have been scared away from trying such an advanced technique.

But don’t worry, this step-by-step guide will show you that it’s easier than it looks.

Not only will we walk through creating View C from the McCall’s M7979 Top and Tunic pattern hack, but we’ll also provide tips straight from Helen Bartley (our workshop instructor) as well as our Knits For Real People book.

With just a few simple steps and some material, soon enough you’ll be sporting your very own unique top with a DIY cowl neck collar!

Key Takeaways

  • Choose a knit fabric with stretch and recovery.
  • Prepare pattern pieces and cut out the body and collar. Make sure to cut on the bias for added stretch.
  • Transform patterns into cowl neck designs by extending the collar into a cowl shape.
  • Tips for constructing and attaching cowl neck collars:
    • Stitch the cowl neckband separately, then attach to garment opening
    • Use a zigzag or stretch stitch to allow the neckline to stretch
    • Clip/notch curves for flexibility
    • Apply gentle steam pressing to shape the neckline
    • Attach shoulder seams last for easier construction

McCALL’S M7979 Top and Tunic

McCALL’S M7979 Top and Tunic
McCall’s M7979 Top and Tunic

You’ll love how the relaxed fit and cowl neck of M7979 show off your creative flair. Sew this top in a fun print or soft knit to really make it your own. The cowl neck styling provides an elegant draped look, whether self-lined or left raw-edged.

Sewing techniques like the stretch stitch and topstitching give structure while allowing movement. Upcycling ideas abound too – try transforming an old t-shirt or button-up into this relaxed silhouette.

Play with fabric choices like cotton blends or rayon jersey to find your perfect drape.

Collar alternatives like a hood, drawstring or split neckline mean options galore. Follow the pattern’s explicit instructions or make it your own with clever modifications. This top lets your skills shine brightly with clever personalization for a distinctive handmade wardrobe.

What will your next M7979 iteration be? This sew is ripe for experimentation and self-expression.


Your vibrant Helen’s knit sees you through summer in breezy style. With its eye-catching screen print, this knit begs to star in the season’s chic cowl designs. Transform the neckline with simple sewing techniques. Cut the knit on the crosswise grain for fluid drape.

Measure and cut a rectangle double the finished cowl length, by 1 1/2 times the neckline width—allow for seam allowances. Sew the rectangle into a tube, aligning raw edges. Pin the tube to the garment neckline, matching side seams and centering the cowl seam.

For more structure, interfacing can be added. The possibilities for upcycling necklines are endless. Give your wardrobe new life with a stylish cowl like Helen’s breezy top—perfect for sunny days.


Get creative with pattern hacks to turn basic designs into modern stylish garments. Take a close look at your patterns and envision how you can modify them with easy tweaks. Start by changing necklines by cutting a new shape or adding a collar. Transform set-in sleeves to raglans for a relaxed look.

Adjust hemlines shorter or longer depending on your style. Mix up your fabrics too – use jersey instead of woven, try wool coating rather than cotton.

Experiment with cowl neck drapes, crossover bodices, angled hems, and other contemporary details. Don’t limit yourself to the original pattern design. With a few smart sewing techniques you can customize garments to flatter your figure.

Play with neckline shapes, sleeve and skirt lengths, fabric textures. Soon you’ll see infinite possibilities to make each project uniquely your own through simple yet ingenious pattern hacks.


Y’all’d be shocked how easily hackin’ this dress to have a cowl neck’ll add some extra oomph to your wardrobe. Take an old shirt dress gatherin’ dust in your closet and transform it into a fresh new cowl neck look.

Simply cut out the existin’ collar and neck facin’, then stitch a wide bias-cut rectangle into a tube.

Sew the raw tube edge to the new neck openin’, right sides together. Flip the cowl up, et voila! You’ve got yourself a relaxed yet totally chic neckline without buyin’ anything new.

Give your tired frocks new life with clever cowl hacks. Experiment with different fabric weights and cowl proportions for customizable DIY fashion.

Don’t let stale dresses bore you – a simple neckline tweak is all it takes to feel like you’ve got a brand new piece for maximum cost-savin’ style.


Another gorgeous dress-version hack, but let’s turn our attention to getting this cowl neck collar looking perfectly executed on our DIY top. Helen is here to share her expert tips on constructing the collar and attaching it cleanly.

When it comes to cowl neck styling, here are Helen’s top techniques:

  • Stabilize knit necklines with stay tape or bands to prevent stretching as you sew.
  • Grade the neckline seam allowances to reduce bulk.
  • Clip inner curves and notch outer curves for smooth collar application.
  • Work slowly and methodically when easing the curved neckline sections together.
  • Check the tension as you sew; slightly stretch knits under the presser foot.

Follow those tips and you’ll have a beautifully crafted cowl neckline. The end result will be a collar that lies flat and hugs your neckline’s curves perfectly. Experiment on test garments first for any necessary pattern adjustments. The right techniques transform upcycled fabrics into wearable DIY fashion magic.


When sewing knit collars, follow these tips for smooth seams:

  • Stabilize seams. Use stay tape or ribbon along the seam allowance to prevent stretching.
  • Grade seam allowances. Trim the top collar allowance narrower so it doesn’t create bulk when folded over the undercollar.
  • Clip inward curves. Make small snips to allow the seam to spread properly as the collar’s attached.
  • Press as you go. Use a press cloth and steam to shape the collar while sewing. Let seams cool before topstitching.
  • Check neckline fit. Have the wearer try on the garment before topstitching to ensure proper shaping and comfort.
  • Topstitch patiently. Take time with the final topstitching, using a knee lift and quality thread for the best results.

With care and precision, you can stitch knit cowl neck collars that truly elevate your DIY tops and upcycling projects. Embrace the tips and transform ordinary necklines into stylish cowl neck collars.

What You Need

What You Need
You’ll need some stretchy fabric, matching thread, pins and scissors for this easy DIY. For this project, opt for a knit fabric with plenty of stretch and recovery. Jersey, interlock, sweater knits, and cotton lycra are all good choices.

Lightweight to midweight knits are ideal. Select a fabric that provides enough structure to hold the cowl neck shape, while still being soft and stretchy for comfort.

Prepare your pattern pieces and cut out the body of your garment along with your collar rectangle.

Have basic sewing tools on hand like a sewing machine, pins, hand sewing needle, and thread that matches your fabric.

Assemble your materials then get ready to transform an ordinary top into an updated cowl neck design. With just a few simple sewing steps, you can customize the neckline of any knit garment for a fresh new look.


You’re ready to begin transforming your pattern into a cowl neck design. To start, determine the desired cowl placement and draw in slash lines following the garment’s grain. Next, carefully cut along the slashes before taping the pattern piece smooth again.

When cutting the slashes, be sure to follow the grain so the cowl neck drapes properly. Altering the grain may distort the cowl shape. Once the slashes are taped, the cowl neck pattern alteration is complete! You can now use the adjusted pattern to create your cowl neck garment.

Decide Where You Want Your Cowl

Consider choosing the cowl placement before cutting your fabric. The location transforms the neckline and alters the style. Experiment! A shirt upcycle allows DIY fashion revamps. A new cowl neck collar can renew garments.

Draw the Slash Lines

After deciding where you want your cowl to sit, carefully draw the slash lines for the neck opening using a fabric marker, keeping them parallel to ensure even cowl drape.

  • Use a light hand when marking to avoid imprinting the fabric.
  • Ensure the slash lines are an equal distance from the center front and back.
  • Check the neck opening measures your desired cowl width.
  • Cut slowly and carefully along the marked lines.

Cut the Slash Lines

Carefully cut along those slash lines to open up the cowl shape. Slash cuts in knit fabrics require precision when unfolding the crosswise grain mitered slit. This neckline transformation technique releases the fabric, shaping the bodice pattern into an upcycled fashion cowl neck collar.

Tape Down Your Pattern Piece

You’ll want to tape down your pattern piece like breadcrumbs in a forest to stay on the right path. Taping a flat pattern helps prevent shifting as you slash and spread for a full bust adjustment. Securing it keeps the fabric and pattern aligned as you transform the neckline shape too.

Draw the Lines

Trace along the paper pattern to transfer all the seam lines and markings onto your fabric. Be sure the transfers are accurate for precise sewing when patterning this updated cowl neck design. Mark darts and notches carefully to properly align pieces during construction. Master pattern transfers to confidently modify necklines.


You’ve come a long way on this DIY top journey, and you can be proud of the stylish cowl neck shirt you’ve created!

With the McCall’s M7979 Top and Tunic, Helen’s Italian Screen Print Knit, and a few pattern hacks, you now have a top that looks great and fits perfectly.

You’ve learned some tips from Helen and the Knit Book, and you’ve seen how to properly measure, draw, cut, and sew the cowl neck.

Now you can tackle any fashion project with the confidence and skill you’ve developed.

So go ahead and express your creativity – it’s time to show off your awesome cowl neck!

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.