How to make a cowl neck

Updated April 17, 2017

Cowl necks can be added to dresses and shirts to create a unique touch to an outfit. This style also works well at keeping the winter chill away. Making your own cowl neck allows you to decide the fabric style, and how long you would like the cowl to hang on your neckline. This effect can be created on a budget and with just a few sewing implements.

Measure the circumference of the neckline to which you will be attaching the cowl. Add 2.5 cm (1 inch) to this measurement. For example the collar might be 62.5 cm (25 inches). After adding 2.5 cm (1 inch) onto the measurement it would be 65 cm (26 inches).

Mark out a rectangle on the fabric. The length of the rectangle should reflect the measurement obtained in Step 1, in this example 65 cm (26 inches). The width of the rectangle should be about 37.5 to 50 cm (15 to 20 inches), depending on how large you would like the cowl to be. The wider the rectangle, the larger the cowl will be and the more it will drape around the neckline.

Cut out the rectangle of cloth created in Step 2 using a pair of scissors. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise so that the right side of the fabric remains visible, and the underside of the fabric -- what will be the inside of the hat -- is hidden from view. Fold the rectangle again in the other direction and pin the two short sides together at the end.

Sew along the edges of the folded rectangle to attach the two folded ends created in Step 3, 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) inside of the edge of the fabric. Keep the newly created tube turned with the new seam visibly out.

Pin the bottom of the cowl to the neckline of the shirt or dress with the raw edge side, not the folded side, touching the neckline. Pin in place with the shirt right side out and the cowl hanging down from the top of the shirt.

Use the sewing machine to sew the cowl in place around the neck of the garment. Flip the cowl up so that the seam created in Step 4 will be hidden from view. When wearing the garment adjust a few times to find the right placement for the extra cowl fabric.


Use a contrasting fabric to create the new cowl on the top. Keep the cowl as a separate to create a cowl scarf.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 1 metre (1 yard) of fabric, such as cotton or jersey
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
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About the Author

Sarah Vrba has been a writer and editor since 2006. She has contributed to "Seed," "AND Magazine," Care2 Causes and "202 Magazine," among other outlets, focusing on fashion, pop culture, style and identity. Vrba holds an M.A. in history with an emphasis on gender and fashion in the 19th century.