Friday, 21 December 2012


Make it in a Metre: Sew a double-layer bibbed cowl tutorial

With Christmas just a few days away and everyone being short on time for makes, over the next couple of days I thought I'd share some ideas for some super-quick makes for all of us that are procrastinators.
double layer bibbed cowl

Jamie and Maia are both illogically anti-scarf, and I spend more time than healthy arguing with them about the need to keep their necks covered in the winter, so I whipped up some cowls to quell the protests.  I already have a tute for a 15-minute double layer snood, but I wanted to make a bibbed variation for the kids so they had some extra coverage and warmth for their chests for when their coats are zipped down against all advice and rationality.  The bibbed front means that the side seams sit on their shoulders and offers good coverage of the neck, but that the bib also extends down the chest front and back for extra warmth and protection from the elements.  Make time is again less than half an hour once you've drawn the pattern, so you can easily whip some up for the kids' stockings, last-minute birthday gifts etc. The cowl I made has an interlock layer and a fleece layer (or you could use two jerseys for less cold weather) and potentionally the cowl is reversible if you slip-stitch at the last step.  These dimensions are suitable for my five and seven year old; for adult dimensions the width still works but you'll probably want to increase overall height. It's suitable for all knit fabrics. Let's go!

To draft the single (!) pattern piece, you'll need a piece of paper that is at least 13" by 11".  First draw a rectangle that is 8" tall by 11" wide near the top of your paper. Then draw a second rectangle just below it that is 5" by 11".  Fold the paper in half vertically so the rectangles are in half to draw the bib.  Mark 2.5" alway from the centre fold on the bottom line.   From there, draw a diagonal line to a point that is .75" away from top line and then blend it into a curve on both side.  While on the fold, cut the pattern so it's symmetrical.  If this doesn't make sense, I'll scan a pattern piece in. It probably would've taken me less time than explaining it :)

1 cut fabric

Cut two pieces each of both a main and lining. As above, I used interlock and fleece. Make sure the stretch is going across horizontally.

2 sew one side

Right sides facing, sew the main fabrics together along the side seam on one side.  Repeat for the two lining pieces.  I'm using a serger because I have one, if you have a regular machine that's fine too!   Modern regular machines might have a pre-built stretch stitch (like a lightening bolt), with older or more basic machines you can use a narrow zigzag.  All of the seams end up enclosed so neatness isn't an issue.

3 both sewn

Now you have this.

4 pin layers

Place the lining on top of the main, right sides facing, and pin the layers together along the top straight edge and the bottom curved edges.  You are going to sew along these lines (as per the black lines) and leave the sides open.  Obviously, follow the curves rather than my hatchet-ey straight lines in the picture.  Make sure the seams in the centre match up.

5 sew layers

This is me sewing the layers together.

6 layers sewn

And this is me done this step.

7 right sides out

Turn right side out through one of the open side seams.  Fold along the centre seam so the raw edges match up.

8 pinch layers together

Where the main fabric transitions to the lining fabric at the top edge, pinch together at the seam so the right sides are facing.  Pin here, and then continue pinning the main fabric to the main fabric along the raw edge, leaving the lining fabrics alone for now.

9 inner layers pinned

This is what it looks like when the main fabric is pinned.  See how the lining is hanging free?

10 push to the inside

Starting at the side seam where the main transitions to the lining, start pining the lining together right sides facing. As you are doing this, the whole cowl will disappear into the interior.  This is known as bagging.

11 all pinned

Now that all the lining has been pinned to the lining, there is a resulting circle to sew and the cowl is hiding inside.  In order to access the cowl and pull it right sides out, you will need to leave a gap in the lining.  I normally find two inches is fine for pulling it out, and I normally place the gap in the middle of the lining away from the side seams.  If you don't leave that gap, the cowl is trapped inside!

12 sew in a circle

Sew all the way around this edge.

13 all sewn

Again, make sure you leave the gap!

14 pull right side out

Through the hole, start pulling it right sides out.

15 right side out

Voila!  If you want to iron for neatness, do it now.  Beware the fleece (if you're using it) as it will melt at too hot a heat.

16 open hole

But... there's still that hole to close.

17 topstitch hole

If you want to make it reversible slip-stitch it closed, however, if you're going to have it mostly main side out you can top stitch it close to the edge.  Because it's slouchy, the stitching will disappear anyway and no one will notice.

18 all done

And you're done!


  1. She is just too sassy and adorable.

  2. That is the neatest 'scarf' for kids I have ever seen. And I think I can whip up a couple of them yet, for an extra Christmas stocking stuffer. Thanks a million for sharing. HAPPY HOLIDAYS

  3. Love that! If I have time tonight, I might make one. Need to finish Anara's Rainbow Dash costume first.

  4. Love this cute little thing! Will make one for both of mine for the cold January days.