pattern hack -

Pattern Hack: Cowl Neck

Pattern Hack: Cowl Neck

By Marnie from Horris & Deedle

My daughter has two older brothers and as a result, she’s spent loads of her little life beside rugby fields on cool winter mornings and evenings while her brothers train and play. Years ago I found what we call a "neck warmer” at the shops and it has been the most useful thing to put on her when it is extra cool to keep her neck and chin warm. It’s basically just like a detachable cowl neck and boo velvet is perfect for making them.

Why would you want a detachable cowl neck? Well, I think scarves are a pain especially with younger children. They are always coming off and dragging on the ground in the mud and are more trouble then they are worth, not to mention a choking hazard. Also in a climate like Sydney, while mornings can be chilly, if the sun is out, even in the middle of winter, it can get a bit warm for a cowl neck top. So making it detachable means you can just take it off when it gets hot. 

Today I’ll be guiding you through how to make one, and also how to attach it directly to your favourite dress or top depending on what you prefer. Please note I am writing this specifically for Boo! Designs velvet. If you are using a different fabric you may need to work out your own measurements based on the stretch of the fabric. Boo velvet has 100% stretch.

Detachable Cowl

Cut two rectangles, 60cm wide by approximately 30 cm long. One will be on the outside and one will go on the inside. FOr this reason, if you have to cut the velvet in different directions (remember velvet has nap, so you usually have to cut all the one direction) to make the most of your scraps it is not a big deal!! Just cut the outside square with the same nap direction as your garment.

Place rectangles right sides together and sew down long sides.

Turn right side out.

This gets a little trickier here. We need to sew the short sides together in a circle to make the cowl. Pick up the cowl at one side and fold it over the other wide so it turns into more of a square shape than a rectangle. You will have a folded edge on one side, and all four unsewn short edged on the other side. Take the inner two edges and pin them together down the length of the short edge.


When you get to the bottom of the short edges, where the seam for the long rectangular sides you sewed in step 2 meet, keep pinning! You will not be able to pin this all the way around, probably only ⅓ of the way down. Repeat this for the top of the cowl where the other two long rectangular seams meet. You will now have a really awkward looking circle thing, which is ok.

Sew around the pinned edges with the machine of your choice. Sew down as far as you can remembering that you won’t be able to sew all the way around. Remove the pins.

Grab hold of the velvet that is the right side out and pull it through the opening that you couldn’t sew together. Keep pulling until you have your sewn cowl. 


  1. Next you need to sew the gap. This will be visible, although I tend to put it on the inside that faces the neck, but sew it neatly if you can. You can either sew using a straight stitch on your normal machine, or hand stitch the gap closed. 

Stand back and admire how good your work looks. Repeat process for every scrap of velvet you can find.

The cowl can be worn with all your favourite outfits.

This is a mash of the Portrait Dress and the Tank dress.

It works well also on a lengthened sleeved skater bodice to function as a top...

Or on a traditional sleeved skater dress...

The possibilities are endless.

If you would like to attach the cowl permanently to your garment please follow the steps below:

Attached cowl neck.

Sew up your garment. Do not add a neck binding. In my case, it is a portrait top that I am going to attach a cowl neck to. Measure the neckline of the garment. Mine measures 58cm.

Cut two rectangles 60cm long, by 30 cm wide. Lay them down on top of each other. You now need to turn the rectangles into a trapezoid shape to match the length of your neckline. You actually want it to be a fraction shorter than your neckline to prevent the neckline stretching out when you attach it. You are going to need to take a little off the length at both ends of the bottom of the rectangle, and the taper the short sides up to maintain the 60cm at the top. To work out how much to take off use the following.

*Subtract 3cm from the neckline measurement. So for me this is 58-3, leaving me with 55. 

*Subtract the number you ended up with from the above calculation from 60, and then divide by 2. So for me this is 60 - 55 = 5, and then 5/2 = 2.5. So i need to take 2.5 cam off each side and then taper up the short edges to maintain the 60cm at the top edge. I forgot to take a picture of this on my fabric so you are stuck with a dodgy drawing instead.

Separate the two rectangles (well trapezoids really). Fold one in half, right sides together to form more of a square and sew down the short edges. Repeat with the other one.

Place one sewn rectangle inside of the other right sides together. Pin and sewn the top edges together (the 60cm ones)

Turn right side out. You will now have the cowl with the bottom edge not sewn together. We are now going to sew this edge to the garment. Velvet can be slippery when dealing with multiple layers so I suggest overlocking the two loose edges together prior to sewing. 

Mark centre front and centre back of your garment. Make sure the garment is right side facing in. Take the cowl and place it inside. Pink to your top or dress by attaching the seam of the cowl to the centre back of the garment. Then pin the centre fronts and if necessary, add another pin somewhere along the side. Sew the cowl onto the garment using a stitch that can handle stretch. I use my overlocker.

Turn right side out and admire how clever you are. Your garment is all ready for wearing. Enjoy!!!

Sewing is meant to be a fun journey, so don’t be afraid to experiment and give things a go. Sometimes it won’t work out, but other times it works out really well! Happy sewing and thanks for reading along.


  • Barbara

    I love this idea.

  • Kylie

    Hi Marnie
    I love this hack!! Can I ask how you would size it for an adult please? Ie. Longer than the 60cms but same depth of 30cms? I want to make this for myself!!

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