How to Remove a Cowl Neck From a Sweater (Alter a Neckline)

The name does not always match the beauty of the design of the outfit. But unless you change it you are going to be stuck with explaining what a cowl neck really is.

The important step is to look at the seam. There may be a possibility of simply using a seam ripper to remove the cowl while leaving the rest of the seam intact. If not, you will have to leave at least a 1/2 inch of fabric for a new seam.

To learn more about what a cowl neck is and how to remove it just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can alter any sweater that has one. Cowl necks are pretty despite the weird-sounding name.

What is a Cowl Neckline?


To some people, this type of neckline is a lot of wasted fabric. They may possibly be right as the cowl neckline does have a lot of material around the collar area that hangs down below your collar bone. Some people prefer the word drapes but it is all relative.

This neckline design is really not exclusive as you will find it on both long and short-sleeved turtle neck sweaters and it is used with a variety of fibers, both natural and synthetic. More so with wool, angora, and cashmere than cotton or linen.

In modern times this neckline design is combined with very fitted sweaters and by that, we mean that there are areas of the garment that help highlight and form fit to your figure.

The extra material used in creating this neckline can often be so much that the back of the sweater can be used as a hood when the weather turns cooler. This design is also used to help women either hide parts of their figure or enhance it. The extra bulk does wonders for both purposes.

It is a good design to have when you are not ready to show off your pregnancy.

How to Change a Cowl Neckline

There are many different methods you can use to change the look of this type of neckline design. The first method is to simply cut away the material and change the sweater from a turtleneck design into a scoop neck or something else.

To do this right you need to inspect the seam to see if you can simply use a rotary cutter and cut the excess material off or if you need to leave a seam allowance to do a fold-over seam to make the neckline look good.

Take careful measurements before you cut and a sharp pair of scissors will work also. Leave enough material to fold the seam allowance in half twice before sewing a running blanket stitch to hold the seam in place.

That is all there is to it with this option. It is quick, simple, and very easy to maintain the integrity of the sweater while changing the look. A second method is a bit more complicated and part of what influences your alteration will be your bust line.

The other will be the material you use to alter. It is recommended that you make a muslin copy first so you can make changes to the style if it is not going to fit you correctly.

Then if you want to take a higher front drop and make it more modest you will first need to draw a slash line from the side seam at about a 90-degree angle. Take it to the bust point area.

Then do a second slash line from the bust point area coming 90 degrees off the first slash line to your cut line of the cowl facing. This second slash line needs to be beyond the shoulder neckline notch or you won’t be making the drop more modest.

Next, cut along the slash lines making sure there is a hinge at the armhole/side seam intersection. Once that is done, overlap the pattern areas to reduce the front neck drop and then reshape the cut lines to make them nice and smooth. While all this is going on you are to retain a 90-degree angle on the CF/facing edge.

That is all there is to it.

How to Remove a Cowl Neck From a Sweater

How-to-Remove-a-Cowl-Neck-Fro- a-Sweater

This is probably going to be one of the easiest tasks you will ever have to do in sewing. There are not a lot of complicated instructions, fashion movements, or tricky sewing to do. But it is an effective method to getting rid of that excess material and turn your turtleneck into a crew neck sweater.

The first step is to turn the turtleneck sweater inside out. That will expose the seam and show you how the sweater was put together. If your turtleneck is like almost all the other ones, you will see that the two were knitted separately, then sewn together to make the sweater.

That brings us to step two. Snip the stitches or thread holding the cowl neckline to the body of the sweater and remove the material. You may have to pull out some yarn in order to separate the two pieces of knitted fabric.

Step three has you making a decision. If you like the distressed look, you can stop right there and wear your newly designed sweater. Or you can continue on to make a seam and give your sweater a more finished look.

If you decide to continue, then move on to step four which has you rolling the hem and pinning it. The roll goes to the inside of the sweater and pin close to the edge. Hand sew the new edge with a good stitch making sure it is secure enough to stop any possible unraveling that may take place.

When you are done sewing, your crew neckline should look finished, neat and good. One good tip you should consider following is that you should not throw out that cut-off turtleneck section.

It can be used to decorate your new sweater’s look or you can use it as an ear muff or headband. Or be a little creative and see what little projects you can make out of it for your daughter’s dolls, etc.

How to Adjust a Cowl Neckline

Sometimes adjusting the cowl neck doesn’t involve any sewing or cutting. It will depend a lot on how much fabric you have in the cowl neck area. You can make adjustments just by reshaping the material.

One way to reshape it is to turn the back part into a nice little hood. If you have enough material, just pull the material back and up over your head until you are covered. Simple, effective, and practical as this method keeps you nice and warm.

Another option you have without cutting or sewing is to simply pull the cowl neck at each side. Bring the extended material over both shoulders and let the material stay there. With one quick pull of the fabric, you have created a nice off-the-shoulder look.

These are simple ways to make adjustments to your overall look without having to go home and change. Plus, it is a good look for when you have an evening gown type event to attend later that evening.

Or you can simply put on the sweater and make no adjustments. The cowl neck will naturally find its own way and hang or drape where it wants. With boat neck or off-the-shoulder style, you may end up re-adjusting the material as cowl necks are not known for staying in place for hours.

The adjustment you make will be up to you as some of these options may create a lot of folds which is good if you are trying to hide a secret and not ready to reveal the news yet.

Altering a Cowl Neckline


This is actually one of the simpler aspects of sewing. It takes a little skill, a little experience with the fabric, and a little experience. As you can see, the non-sewing and non-cutting methods are very simple and do not need any of those three elements.

You just have to have good fashion sense. That element is important when you alter the cowl neckline through cutting and sewing. If you do not have a little fashion sense, your look may work for doing things around the house but not good enough to show off to the world.

Unless you are going for that avant-garde look that will turn people’s heads and have them scratching those heads trying to figure out how you could wear such a garment. it will take a little time to figure out how you want the cowl neckline to look.

As you have read earlier, cutting the neckline off is the next simplest way to alter the neckline. It may be the best option for certain circumstances. This option does not take much work or effort and can be done in a few minutes.

Plus, a crew neck is very fashionable as well as complementary to your figure.

How to Sew Cowl Neckline


While it is called a cowl neckline, the term cowl is used to describe extra material that can be placed on the back of a sweater or bodice, the sleeves, and also the sides of a skirt or pair of pants.

So when you are talking about adding a cowl to your neckline make sure to use the words ‘cowl neckline’ so everyone knows exactly what you are talking about. Once you have clarified where you are putting it, you have another decision to make. How is it going to look?

The fall can be a gentle type of pattern or it can be very dramatic and risque or somewhere in between. After that, the first step will be to draw your new neckline. It should be somewhere between 3 to 5 inches below your collarbone.

Measure down the center front of the pattern then draw a line creating your shoulder point and your drape point

Next, draw your slash and there should be 2 of them going from your shoulder seam to the center point. Third, make your cuts but do not go through your stitching lines. Also, include a hinge that goes almost to the sewing line.

Now, place this pattern on some new tissue paper and spread the different pieces out, and tape them in place. Next, draw your lines as well as the cowl line keeping the latter at a 90-degree angle that goes from the shoulder point at the neck edge to the center front.

After your lines are drawn, cut the facing line and then fold along the cowl line. After that true the shoulder edge and the armhole. Then check the side seam to see if it also needs some truing done to it. Don’t forget to check the hem edge as well.

When all that is done, you can begin sewing. There are a few extra things to be concerned about and they are:

- Bind or finish the back neck edge to fit your preferences.

- Pin the back shoulder to the front shoulder as well as the front-facing to the back neckline.

- It is possible you may need to add a little weight for proper drape, so add a little fabric to hold a small weight inside of that fabric piece.

Some Final Words

You either love or hate cowl necklines. They can look great or they are just excess fabric in the way of your fashion style. remove, alter or adjust at your leisure to get the look you want.

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