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Button Up Neck Cowl in Flannel and Fleece

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Across the US, winter seems to be hanging on tighter than the waistband of your favorite jeans after a few too many holiday treats! This warm-you-up neck cowl will get you through the wicked weather in style. It’s like a mini scarf that buttons around your neck. Ours is smooth flannel on the outside and soft luxury fleece on the inside. Toasty times two! 


We used the Janome Memory Craft 6700 Professional for this project. As we many of the Janome machines, it features the built-in AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system, which was perfect to handle the two very different substrates used for this neck cowl without any slipping or shifting. The MC6700P also has a great automatic buttonhole foot. Stitching a buttonhole in thicker fabrics can be tricky, but this foot has a stabilizer plate that makes it easyThat thickness comes from the soft and silky Shannon Fabrics Luxe Cuddle® we chose for the inner layer. It feels absolutely wonderful against your neck. The smooth flannel on the exterior is the perfect compliment.

We went with a lovely neutral color combination that will work well through winter and even into the first cool days of spring. Of course, the choices in both Cuddle and Flannel are almost endless, so you can put together all kinds of options. And since you just need a little bit of both fabrics, you could make several for yourself, family, and friends, customizing each to match the wearer’s favorite colors.

Because the cowl is smaller and less bulky than a standard scarf, it not only works well under a coat but is also a great option over a heavy sweater to add a bit of warmth when the indoor temps are less than ideal.

Beginning sewers sometimes shy away from working with less-common substrates, such as luxury fleece. But, the truth is, they're just as easy, if not easier, than a standard woven fabric. Plush fabrics are particularly forgiving thanks to the deeper pile that conceals any less-than-perfect stitching. For more tips and techniques, check out our tutorial on Sewing with Plush Fabric, like Cuddle and Minky.

Our Neck Cowl finishes at 7” x 29” when flat and is sized to fit around the bare neck of a standard adult.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ¼ yard of 44"+ wide luxury fleece or faux fur for the inner layer; we used Shannon Fabrics Luxe Cuddle in Marble Beige
  • ¼ - ⅓ yard of 44"+ wide flannel or similar for the outer layer; we used Window Pane Brooklyn Plaid Flannel in Natural from Robert Kaufman Fabrics
    NOTE: The cut is just 8” high, but if your plaid motif is on the larger side, get ⅓ yard in order to allow you to more easily achieve a perfect fussy cut.
  • THREE ⅞” - 1” buttons; we recommend a two-hole (best) or four-hole button, not a shank button – we used ⅞” buttons, purchased locally
  • All purpose thread to match fabric and buttons
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pressing cloth
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins or clips
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the flannel for the outer layer, fussy cut ONE 8” high x 30” wide rectangle.
  2. Because our chosen flannel had a very definite grid, we were careful to make sure that the “half grid” cuts were equal top and bottom...
  3. ... and that the two side cuts were sliced right along the lines within the plaid.
  4. From the luxury fleece for the inner layer, cut ONE 8” high x 30” wide rectangle. When working with fleece, you need to first draw in your cut lines on the BACK of the fabric.
  5. Cut along the drawn line. When cutting, the idea is to cut only the backing and not the nap of the fleece. Use just the tips of your scissors. With the wrong side facing up, slide the bottom blade of your scissors up next to the backing. Cut with short, deliberate snips, being careful to cut just the backing. If you feel a drag, you're starting to cut the nap. Back off and start again.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Place the flannel and luxury fleece panels right sides together, aligning all four sides.
  2. Pin or clip in place along the raw edges at a right angle, this will allow you to sew right up to the pin before pulling it out. Also, when pinning luxury fleece, remember to tuck its longer nap to the inside as you go so you are less likely to catch up the hairs in the seam (remember to check out our Sewing with Plush Fabrics tutorial for more details and photos).
  3. Leave an approximate 4” opening along one long side for turning right side out.
  4. If possible, attach a Walking or Even Feed foot; we used the built-in AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system.
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the entire perimeter of the layered rectangles. Remember to pivot at all the corners…
  6. … and to lock your seam at either side of the 4" opening.
  7. Clip the corners and lightly press the seam allowance open.
    NOTE: Luxury fleece does not like the high heat of an iron. Consider simply finger-pressing or use a pressing cloth.
  8. Turn the cowl right side out through the opening. Gently push out all the corners. A long, blunt tool works well for this, like a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner.
  9. If you followed our 'tuck and pin' suggestion above, you should have a clean seam. However, working from the right side, you can also use a straight pin to pull the nap from the seam where needed.
  10. Fold in the edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Brush the nap out of the way and pin closed.
  11. Thread the hand sewing needle with matching thread and hand stitch to secure. Use a tight ladder stitch; it will disappear nicely into the nap of the luxury fleece.

Measuring for the buttonholes and buttons

  1. The wrap is a simple rectangle, so in order for it to wrap correctly around the neck and form the proper “triangular” look when buttoned up, the position of both the buttons and button holes is extremely important. The drawing below shows the exact positions and the direction of each: the buttonholes are stitched horizontally in one corner; the buttons are stitched vertically in the opposite corner.

  2. As shown in the drawing above, mark for the three buttonholes. The center of the  first buttonhole is 1” from the top seamed edge and 1” in from the side seamed edge. The second and third buttonholes are evenly space at 1½”, which puts the third buttonhole 3” from the bottom seamed edge.
  3. Set up your machine for a standard buttonhole.
  4. We love the Janome automatic buttonhole foot. It has a button holder that allows a perfectly sized hole as well as a stabilizer plate, which is helpful with the thicker layers.
  5. The buttons are configured in a similar pattern: 1” in from the bottom seamed edge, 3” in from the side seamed edge, and evenly space 1½” apart.

    NOTE: Our measurements are based on our ⅞” buttons.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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