Cowls, traditionally called wimples, are tubes of fabric that merge the warmth of scarves and hoods into one piece. Pull the tube over your head and tuck it around your neck to wear it like a circular scarf. Pull one edge up and onto the back of your head to get the look of a hood. Larger cowls are sometimes worn pulled down over the shoulders as well. Although they are pricey in some retail stores, you can create your own with very little sewing and no paper pattern needed.
Unfold and spread the fabric across a work surface. Measure 26 inches across the long edge of the fabric to make a cowl that fits close, and 52 inches across for a larger, draping cowl.
Make a mark at the measurement you chose on the bottom long edge of the fabric. Measure the same distance across the top long edge of the fabric and make a mark.
Lay a yard stick or straight edge across the marks and connect them with a straight line using the fabric pen.
Cut the fabric at the line.
Fold the fabric in half over its center. This makes the doubled fabric 13 inches across the bottom and top edges for a smaller cowl -- 26 for a larger one -- and 45 inches from top to bottom along the side. Fleece may not have a wrong side. If your fabric has a wrong side, fold it wrong-side facing out. Smooth out any wrinkles and pin the 45-inch-long edge together.
Set your machine to a medium zigzag stitch. Cowls are usually stretchy. Sewing with a zigzag stitch helps preserve the fabric’s flexibility at the seam without breaking threads. You can use a wide zigzag stitch instead of medium, but a narrow setting doesn't provide as much stretch. Sew the pinned edge together with a 1-inch seam to make a tube of fabric. Remove the pins.
Tuck each raw, unsewn edge under itself to create a roll of fabric along the seam and secure with pins. Sew down the center of the roll to create a finished, rolled hem.
Fold the top edge of the fabric over 1/2 inch to make a hem around the tube. Fold again to tuck the raw fabric edge under the hem and pin it. Repeat around the bottom edge of the cowl. Sew with the same zigzag stitch around the top and bottom hems. Remove the pins.
Things You'll Need
- 1-3/4 yards fleece or other soft, stretchy fabric, 45 inches wide
- Dressmaker’s measuring tape
- Yard stick or straight edge
- Fabric marking pen
- Sewing pins
- Sewing machine
Customize your cowl by sewing fabric cut-outs to the outside. Cut-outs could be different shapes like triangles and rectangles, or fun images like animals, cars or pieces of fruit.
Glue rhinestones to the outside of the finished piece for a real "rhinestone cowl-girl" look.
For extra warmth, use thicker fabric, or stitch two pieces of regular fabric together at the edges before beginning.
Search for hidden pins after sewing.
- Customize your cowl by sewing fabric cut-outs to the outside. Cut-outs could be different shapes like triangles and rectangles, or fun images like animals, cars or pieces of fruit.
- Glue rhinestones to the outside of the finished piece for a real "rhinestone cowl-girl" look.
- For extra warmth, use thicker fabric, or stitch two pieces of regular fabric together at the edges before beginning.
- Search for hidden pins after sewing.
Carole Oldroyd, a writer based in East Tennessee, has authored numerous DIY home improvement, Human Resources, HR and Law articles. In addition to holding a degree in paralegal studies, she has more than 10 years of experience renovating newer homes and restoring historic property.