Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cowl pattern review, by Dawni Callahan

I'd seen these cowls/neck corsets around and had fallen in love, but had no idea where to start. Well, where else to find something not found in the books at Joann's, but on Etsy. I found this pattern and it looked about my learning level (Beginner). I was thrilled when this arrived, until I opened the package, all of the sewing instructions, meager though they were, were all in French. I made my first one (option B) following what instructions I understood and cut the pattern pieces as drawn, but soon realized it was going to fit a small child, not an adult. I was glad I'd been using scraps leftover from another project.  Dang, this meant there was going to be some math involved in making this, dang. I measured my neck (right under my chin(s), mid throat and close to my collar bone), to get an average of what was needed to get around my throat. I then measured each piece of the pattern across the center, added the totals, subtracting for the seam allowances and found the difference. I divided this by the number of pieces in the pattern (x2). It ended up being about 1/2" per piece. I traced off the pattern, split it along the grain line, taped the split pieces to another piece of tracing paper, adding the 1/2" to the center of each piece. The pattern, itself, was super simple to put together, really intuitive, you just have to keep up with what pattern number is next. I used a mid weight velvet that was fairly stiff, so I didn't feel the need to add stays. You may want to use stays if making either collar out of a lace or a light weight fabric, like silk. Inlue of stays, I suspect a stiff trim would work as well, sewn to cover the seams and it would add a lovely detail.

Lessons Learned: I'd never used feather trim before and didn't realize, until it was MUCH too late, it needed to be hand stitched to the cowl. The glue holding the feathers inside of the ribbon base gummed up my needle something fierce, causing all kinds of problems. Again, I'm glad I was using scraps, because this was a lesson in doing a mock-up first before committing to an expensive fabric. I did not use grommets for the closure, but instead used snap tape. I did change the closure from the back to the front. I wanted to be able to get in and out of this with as little hassle or outside assistance as possible. I think hook-n-eye tape would also be an excellent option.

I'm going to wear this the the Dallas Central Library's Edgar Allen Poe Victorian Halloween event, in October. I can either be a representation of the "Raven" or just very witchy looking. It has a very elegant look and I'm excited to try this again with other fabrics. I'd be interested in incorporating it into a jacket pattern. But, maybe next time...no feathers