I love me a cowl neck, so when I saw Burda 08-2011-116 I knew I had to try it. Several months ago I sat with Cidell while she cleaned up her sewing area (sometimes you just need company). I came home with quite a haul, including this knit. It's not something I would have picked out for myself because the neutral color is brown and I just.don't.wear.brown. But I really love the colors in it and was itching to make it up.
I didn't have enough fabric to lay out the front and back as single pieces, so I cut it at the waist and added an elasticated waistband (I was going to need some waist definition no matter how it was cut). This turned out to be fortuitous.
To make sure I got a good shape at the back collar, I interfaced it before stitching. The back collar is cut onto the front piece so be sure not to extend into the front cowl. You don't want a stiff cowl!
The challenge with a cowl is to find the fine line between skimpy and ginormous. Burda crossed that line, and then went all the way around the earth and crossed it again. The cowl on this thing is just huge.
I don't know what it would look like one me without the waistband, but you can see all that extra fabric drooping down over it.
It was too late to do anything about it at the neckline, but it was not too late to save my waistline from total obscurity.
And then there was this monstrosity. Pattern twinning is my nemesis. I don't even understand how it happens, I only know that it happens to me all the time. So I ripped out a whooooole lot of serging (it was a multi-day project), taking the front bodice off the waistband and removing the skirt from the lower edge of the waistband entirely.
I re-attached the front bodice to the waistband, shortening by about 1 3/4 inches at the center, tapering to nothing at the side.
I moved the skirt seam (the skirt is a tube with one seam in it) to the side, where the twinning would be less noticeable.
The before and after isn't majorly striking, but I do think you can see a difference in how much fabric is puddling in the front and my waist is visible.
Now came the question of how to keep the cowl in place.
I have heard of commercial cowl tops putting a little weight into the cowl facing that you tuck under the center bridge of your bra to keep the cowl neatly in place. So I went with that idea.
I thought that boning inserted into a casing and tucked under the bra might do the trick. I use cable ties for boning--much cheaper and not all curled up like plastic boning from Joann.
Just cut off a piece of a suitable size. Plastic boning and cable ties alike are very sharp when cut; I find the easiest way to smooth the sharp edges is melting them with a candle. Once the edges were smoothed, I inserted the boning into a little channel I'd made.
For this particular dress, I found that one attachment point at the center was not going to be enough to keep the cowl in place. Through experimention, I found that two sticks placed as pictured were good to keep people from being able to peer directly into my top.
I wore it with the sticks tucked in the first time and they were a good idea and on the right track, but completely ineffective. I realized I needed some way to keep them firmly in place.
So I sewed a snap on them. I apologize for the blurry picture, but you get the idea. One stick goes in front, one in back, and you snap them together below the bra. It really works a treat!
As you can see here, even with the giant cowl there is no gape.
I am pretty sure this is the first and only time I'll say this, but I think McCall 6069 is a better pattern for me in this style. *gasp* Who would have thought it of the Big 4? I really like the back collar and cut-on sleeve detail of the Burda, but hooboy the fit is a problem. I need to eventually compare the pattern pieces and see if I can come up with an acceptable hybrid.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.