Create a sleeveless cowl tunic from a t-shirt pattern!

This week has found me hand stitching a garment, a la Alabama Chanin, visiting for the first time in months with my mama because it feels like there is a slight window for that and positively melting in the muggy heat of mid-July.

You may not know this about me, but I’m a cool, dare I say, cold weather human. Let me be clear, I love summer and all it’s bounty and eating dinner outside on a pleasantly warm night is heavenly.

But if a beast appeared and forced me to choose between a cold, brisk winter day and 90 degrees and high humidity…I’d choose woolly sweaters and a roaring fire, any day.

Sure, you may argue that with a wood stove and wool sweaters, I’m set up for comfort in cold weather, but with only fans and tank tops for my northern Michigan summer, it’s not quite the same level of creature comfort. True enough I say.

Honestly the worst part is the sweaty tangle of bed sheets. Blagh.

How about you? Do you melt in the heat or thrive in it?

I watch from my puddle on the floor as my husband becomes energized in the heat. My muddled mind blown. Of course come a brisk 10 degree winter day and I’m thriving and he’s sluggish.

Anyway…on to garments to keep us cool! Last week we talked about making a simple tank top from a t-shirt pattern. This week we’ll talk about a sleeveless, cowl neck tunic, also made from a simple t-shirt pattern.

Once you have some well-fitting basic garments (much like a sloper) you have a great foundation from which to jump.

This is the idea behind our Make-It-Your-Own Society membership….taking a good simple pattern and hacking it into new garments!

So, to make the sleeveless, cowl neck tunic, I took my basic t-shirt pattern and adjusted the armhole, like this… To make a t-shirt sleeveless
The armhole was originally drafted to be sewn into a sleeve and therefore had extra fabric at the bottom of the armhole to allow for movement…when making it sleeveless you no longer need that extra fabric…so I raise up the bottom of the armhole on the bodice about 3/8″ and move it in towards the bodice a 3/8″. Doing this helps with gaping at the armhole.

Next, I considered how deep I wanted my cowl to drape and drew an angled line from that depth on the center front up to the shoulder seam. I wanted my shoulder seam to be narrower than the original, so I drew my angled line to roughly the center of the original shoulder seam.
Then I drew in my bust line and drew three curved lines from the bottom of my angled neckline. Two of the angled lines went to my shoulder seam and one went to my armhole.
I cut through the bust line, and the 3 curved lines, leaving a small hinge of paper at the seam line and opened the pattern up until the top piece was perpendicular to center front. I spread them evenly and taped them down. The armhole changes shape when you do this, generally speaking the more rounded the armhole becomes the deeper the cowl you’ll end up with.
I then drew my center front line up to meet my top piece and drew a nearly, perpendicular line over to meet the shoulder seam.
I wanted my cowl to be self facing, so I traced the top two inches or so of the pattern and flipped it over and attached it to the top of the pattern. This way, I could fold this piece in towards the wrong side and stitch the facing into the shoulder seam.
Then, I adjusted the shoulder seam of the back bodice piece to match the shoulder seam of the front bodice piece.

The last pattern adjustment I needed to do was make the t-shirt into a tunic length.

So I slashed both pattern pieces between the waist and the hip and spread the pieces the amount of inches I wanted to add. I redrew the side seam to blend into the bottom side seam.

And voila`, a sleeveless, cowl-neck tunic perfectly suited for the summer or maybe under a layer in the cooler weather. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE a drapey cowl neck…all the time.

(Wonder how I finished the back neck edge? I simply folded it under and top stitched it down before I sewed the shoulder seams together, with the front edge facing tucked in there.)

Below you can see the original t-shirt pattern pieces and the finished cowl neck tunic pattern pieces.