Pattern hack – zipped cowl top

Is that a good name for it?  Not sure what to call this style.

Okay, what we have here is a tutorial for a pattern hack to get this style of top:

Instructions to hack a pattern

In order to do this hack, you need a basic long sleeve t-shirt top pattern that fits.  I used the Wardrobe by Me Basic T-shirt in a size larger than I would fit per the measurements.  I wanted it looser fitting.  I added the band at the bottom, the cowl and a facing, but otherwise, the bones of this top is just a basic long-sleeved t-shirt top.

Need –

  • Basic t-shirt pattern
  • 1.5 yards of fabric (roughly)
  • Interfacing
  • 16″ or 18″ zipper
  • Optional: Wondertape (for placing zipper)

Take out your front, back and sleeve shirt patterns, and trace a copy of them.  Figure out where it would hit just under your breasts, and mark that spot on your pattern piece.  Now make a gradual curve down to the side.  I just draw this in with a pencil first and then cut.

The diagram above shows what I did for the front and back pieces.  Make sure the cuts meet up on the sides.  The bottom band for my shirt ended up being 6″ x 18″ on the fold (both top and sides).

This next diagram shows how I used the front piece that I had cut from the pattern to draft two new pieces.

The cowl I measured the length of the neck opening on the pattern pieces (subtracting the seam allowance at the shoulder), and used that length for the length of the piece.  The width is 7.5″ wide, which can be cut on the fold OR you can use two different fabrics for the inside and outside (what I have done).

These are the majority of the pattern pieces (just missing a piece for the bottom band and front facings).

These are all the pieces cut out except the front facings.  I forgot to do those until I got to that part of construction.  I just used 2″ into each side of the front pieces for the facing pieces.  The facing is just giving you some protection from chaffing from the zipper.

Construction:

  • Sew the shoulder seams together (I sewed the bottom on the back piece first, but you can wait on that if you want).

  • If you have an inside and outside of the cowl piece, you need to sew them together along the long edge.
  • Attach the cowl to the neckline along one edge right sides together.  The inside of the cowl is going to be the one showing, so select the outside part to attach first.

  • Next add the facings to the inside edge of the cowl.  Don’t use a serger for this, just zigzag them on.

  • Add interfacing along the edges.  My interfacing was 1.5″ wide.  If you have a seam for the cowl, just go up to that seam and not over it.  I ended up cutting the interfacing there, since it affects how the seam folds over.

  • Take your zipper, and figure out where it will hit at the neckline and mark this spot.  This helps to make sure your zipper does not get skewed and offset when stitching up.

  • Place the marking at the neckline and sandwich it between the inside/outside cowl, front piece and front facing.  Clip in place, and you can check to make sure the zipper will match when zipping it up by turning it carefully to the outside and zipping up. Straight stitch the zipper.  If you want to make sure it won’t shift, use Wondertape to hold in place.  Just make sure you are placing the tape inside the seam allowance so it won’t show once stitched up.

  • Top-stitch the zipper seams.

  • Attach the inside edge of the cowl to the neckline.  You can turn the edge under, pin and top-stitch or do the burrito method (enclosing the body pieces in the cowl), leaving an opening to pull everything through to the outside.  I did the burrito method, and then still top-stitched.  It just allowed me to not have to pin as much.

  • Top-stitch the top edge of the cowl (if desired), and stitch down the front facing pieces.

  • Now we are going to attach the bottom front to the top.  I didn’t want the extra zipper teeth at the bottom to be irritating when worn, so first I stitched across the zipper.  Next, I cut off the excess zipper and pulled the teeth apart up to the stitching.  Lastly I pulled the excess teeth off with a small pliers.  When stitching the bottom to the top, I wanted to make sure it held together, so I just did a quick basting stitch to the bottom of the zipper to keep them together.
  • Mark the middle on the top and bottom pieces.  Clip them together and stitch for both the front and back.  I first stitched the front pieces on the sewing machine and then serged.  I just wanted to make sure my serger wouldn’t hit the zipper, because that causes broken needles flying to your eyeballs.

  • Top-stitch the seams, if desired (I did).
  • Attach the arms.  I color blocked them at the 3/4 sleeve line and added a few inches of extra length.
  • Sew up the side seams, matching the curves at the side, and hem the arms.

  • Sew the edges of the bottom band together.  Mark it in 1/4’s for the sides, middle front and middle back.

  • Mark the middle front and middle back on the bottom of the body pieces, and match them up on the band.  Sew the band on the shirt.

  • All done!

Let me know if anything is unclear in the tutorial.  I didn’t detail everything, as if you have a basic pattern, you should have instructions for some of it already.

The fabrics I used here are a brushed poly stripe from Fabric Anthropology, a black fleece backed poly and a quilted faux leather from Joann’s.

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The Blixen Blazer

It has been awhile since I made a blazer, and Wardrobe by Me was going into testing for one.  The timing was less than ideal.  I had already committed to doing some sample sewing and another test, and then I had a funeral.  I was soooooo very glad when I got this finished.

It turned out very nice, though, so that was my carrot for the trial of accomplishing this pattern.  It took the majority of one week’s sewing.  There are a lot of pieces to cut out, interface and mark/baste stitch/notch.  Luckily it was drafted well, so everything went together nicely.

Blixen Blazer

I did do a few things that made it more difficult:

  • Leather welts and collar
  • Thin, slippery satin lining
  • Non-stretch interfacing

So…don’t do that.  For the first one you make at least.  There were also testers that had issues using scuba knit, since it really didn’t iron flat.  I would not recommend that type of knit.  This was a pretty sturdy ponte knit, and it ironed very well.  The thin, slippery satin lining was the devil’s handmaiden, though.  It acted like I cut it all on the bias.  It suuuuuuuucked.

This blazer looks and feels expensive, and I am very happy with the outcome.

I made a size 12 with no alternations.

There were some changes after this version.  The back notches for the sleeve were not in the right spot, so I had to really iron out some puckers.  In the final version she had them placed correctly.  Mine was made worse, as I did not use a stretch interfacing.  I didn’t have enough tricot interfacing to do the jacket.  I should have ordered more, but this test came up sooner than I thought it would.

This is the peplum back.  If you want it more full, it would be fairly easy to just slash and spread this piece and the lining piece to get a fuller back.

Lots of nice tailoring in this.  The notched collar and back darts.

The front piece has the dart and welt in a combined piece.  The pieces all went together very well.  Christina does a good job at drafting.

I put my buttonhole in wrong.  It should be a horizontal and not vertical hole.  I should have remembered that, but it was the LAST THING I needed to do.  I honestly was so excited I was just about finished.

I think it would be fairly workable to use zippers in the place of the welts, too.  You would just use the interfacing piece to make the pocket facing and the sew the zippers to that piece or a narrow seam around the opening.  That would look pretty nice and modern.

This is the “bane of my existence” lining.  A pretty satin.

Taking photos for this was a challenge due to the angle of the sun.  I also did some cloning on the ground where our mulch needs to get raked back up a bit.  Looks like the kids have some yard work to do! 😉

I love the details with the leather collar and welt pockets, but they do make it more of a challenge.  I used wondertape to hold it in place and also clips instead of pins.  I am actually using my clips a lot more than pins these days.  Makes it a bit faster and I can’t try to sew over them!

If you don’t have shoulder pads on hand, just use some quilt batting.  That is what I usually do now.  It gives it some form, but it still forms well to your body.

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Details on the pattern release sale:

Blixen Blazer on sale for one week for $12 (reg. $15)

 

Oh, and I made my shirt, too, but I will post about that later.  It is hard to get pictures of white shirts.  It actually has an interesting detail on it that really doesn’t show up in these photos.

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A few of his favorite things

The boy is into the Assassins’ Creed video game and movie, though he hasn’t actually played the game.  Dad has, and they are pretty cool games, with a bit of history involved in them.

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The boy wanted some shirts with the AC logo on them, and yes, I know…copyright and all that.  We have bought almost all of the games, if that helps. 😉  I also wouldn’t sell these shirts either.

So…I made some shirts for him out of the new men’s raglan pattern by Wardrobe by Me.  These are in size Small for my 5’9″, 115 pound 13 year old.

Bram Raglan Men’s T-shirt

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The length is about 1.5″ longer than the pattern, since some found the first version to be too long.  He’s growing about an inch every two months, so this length from V1 was better for him.

It lays better with the jersey (blue shirt) over the cotton lycra and french terry lycra (black, red shirt).

He loved the shirts!

On a photography related side note…I really need to figure out my new flash.  It is underexposing, so I end up having to do a lot of post processing work in Photoshop.  You can see the color is really off on the black shirt ones.  I set up a backdrop in the basement to get these pictures, and the wall are orange.  You can see that a bit with the color cast.  I miss taking pictures outside!

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