Drafting a cowl top from Lekala 4004…

me-made-March day 8!

I liked the Lekala 4004 dress so much that I tried making it as a top. Only problem was the depth of the cowl neck – on the dress, using a thick knit, it folds over and lays flat against the bust. But if I’d made it in a soft drapey fabric, well, the “ladies” would have been seriously exposed. Scandal in the office would ensue. Yikes.

So I tried taking in the cowl a bit, so that it wouldn’t plunge down too much. I like the end result, but the top pulls forward a bit – I took it in a little too much, I needed a bit more room between should seam and bust. All the same, it was a good exercise in construction, and I do like the top. It’s a nice knit from Vietnam, my sister was living there for a couple of years and brought it back on a trip home to Canada. She worried it wasn’t nice fabric, but I really like the pale blue and brown deign. With a little skirt and cardi, cute!

P2090029     289_technical_drawing_1439-1

Here are the steps I used to modify the pattern:

Start by measuring the cowl fold line of the top front piece (pic on left), mine was 27″ wide. Measure your cowl fold line reduction by standing in front of the mirror, pin one end of a tape measure to the neckband of your shirt, and allow to the tape to drape down to the length you’d like. Based on this, my new measurement was 23″ (pic on right), quite modest, and I could have gone with a little more drape, but for the first go this was just fine.


So, we have a 4″ differential (27-23=4) that needs to be moved out of the cowl fold line. Find the middle point of the top front pattern piece, here I’ve marked it with a red solid line – you’ll notice my pattern piece was folded over as well, this will make things easier if there’s a fold line. Next, measure out the differential, here, it’s 2″ to either side of the middle point to equal a total of 4″. I’ve marked these with dotted lines. Fold up the dotted lines and pin together, essentially folding out the extra 4″ from the pattern piece.


Pin the piece to the edge of your drafting paper, this is your new cowl line fold.


Next, press the fold all the way down the centre, tapering as you go along so that the point ends at the bottom of the pattern piece – basically, you’re making sure the underbust line hasn’t changed in width. Now, this gets a little tricky because not only have we shortened the cowl fold line, but we’ve also removed extra fabric that falls across the chest in order to do so. Be sure to measure the width from armpit to armpit to be sure the piece will still fit across your chest.


Finally, draft side seam lines form the underbust as far down as needed to create your ideal length. If you’re not sure how much extra length to add, grab your favourite shirt and  measure out the length. Ta-dah, front piece done.


When cutting out the pieces on fabric, follow the instructions for the dress. You have a couple of options though, in terms of the fold.

1) if you have enough fabric, you could fold it in two and lay the pattern piece so that you get a full 2 layers of the top, from shoulder to hemline. Essentially, your front piece becomes a double-layer of the pattern piece – great especially if your fabric is a little sheer.

2) I didn’t have a lot of fabric to work with, so instead, at the fold I made sure there was enough fabric on the inside of the cowl fold to completely cover my bust once the pieces were sewn together. 4″ below the armpit does it just fine for me.


From here, just follow the rest of the dress instructions for assembling the sides, back facing, sleeves and hem.

Posted on Burda


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