Totally Tubular: How to Sew a Cowlcomments (9) January 9th, 2014
I love cowls. I'm always just a bit chilly in the winter, and a cowl adds that snuggle factor to just about any outfit. They're also incredibly versatile: They can be casual or dressy, and work for women, babies, and even men! I like cowls better than scarves because they're more practical for wearing indoors (no pesky scarf ends in your way) AND they can't fall off!
Most of the cowls you see are either knit or crocheted, but consider how easy (and fast!) it is to SEW a cowl. It's merely a tube! Which means one seam! Hooray, it's the ideal project for beginners, tight budgets, lazy folks, or those who leave their gifting 'til the very last minute.
This is also a perfect project for using up scraps, as they don't take much fabric. I'd recommend using only knits (jersey, rib, fleece), as the stretch is good for getting it over the head. Recycled sweaters work well, too.
I made two different styles, or, really, sizes. One is a typical cowl that fits fairly snugly around the neck and one is the trendier giant cowl. This one can be twisted and doubled around the neck or worn loosely draped over the shoulders. You can experiment with all kinds of lengths and widths so no two are alike. Check out the range of possibilities!
Here are the basic steps:
1. Cut out your rectangle. A tube is simply a rectangle, folded in half and seamed down one side. The minimum width is your (or the recipient's) head circumference, although you can skim off a couple of inches if the knit is stretchy. Check if the knit only stretches in one direction and make sure you use that for the width. About 22 to 23 inches should work for most women, and add an inch for seam allowance. The length is up to you. The longer you make it, the more the cowl will scrunch around the neck. I made the smaller one about 13 inches long, by exactly my head size, 22 inches (11 inches after sewing). The giant one is 15 inches long by 40 inches wide (20 inches after sewing).
2. Fold the fabric in half (make sure you're folding the width and not the length) and sew the seam. I overlapped my edges and used one of the decorative embroidery stitches on my machine. You could just fold right sides together and sew a plain seam. I also stopped sewing a few inches from the end, so it can split open at your shoulder, but you can sew to the bottom if you prefer. Most knits won't unravel, so you won't even need to finish your edges.
3. Be creative! Since this is such a simple project, you can go wild with the embellishment possibilities: Add a ruffle, crochet edging, embroidery, stretchy trims, fringe, beads, or appliqué.
How's that for a quick, easy, stylish, practical, budget-friendly, works-for-anyone project? You can use this same idea to make cuffs and legwarmers (also tubular), too. Totally awesome!
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