Button Cowl

Plain weave isn’t usually very exciting by itself, but learning to do it well is an essential for rigid heddle learners. A clever way to make beginner projects more interesting is to choose a variegated yarn in colors you love.

This cowl wasn’t the first thing I wove on my Cricket, but it might have been, as it’s so simple to make that anyone can do it. It’s just a rectangle of cloth, but I love how the variegated yarn makes it look so much spiffier than a solid color plain weave!

When beginning this project, I first wove ten rows of cotton weft in a complimentary solid color — and I finished with the same ten rows. Since I knew that I didn’t want a fringe, and would be sewing a hem, I wanted the stability of that tighter weave for the ends. Another advantage was that I wouldn’t have to fiddle with measuring a hem — I could just fold the “waste” selvedge under when it came time to finishing.

The less-variegated weft is the solid cotton.
(I know; my inexpensive phone hates color,
and only picks it up correctly sometimes . Sorry!)

I didn’t have much of this yarn, so I just warped up my loom and wove until I reached the end. My fabric came off the loom at 44.5 inches/113 cm by 12.5 inches/30.5 cm, and was exactly the same after washing. I still don’t know what the fiber content is, having misplaced the label, but, safe to say, it’s not wool. Or not much wool.

Fabric before washing (and after washing!)

This length wraps around my neck comfortably twice, but no more. I’d been thinking about making a kind of a portable turtle neck with buttons, and that’s what this turned out to be.

The fabric was too wide to wrap in a single layer, so¬† I knew I’d want to double it by folding it lengthwise. But first I crocheted a chain to use for button loops, and decided on their placement. I wanted my long seam to be in the middle of the cowl, rather than along one edge, so I measured the short end of the fabric, and then set out the loops evenly across the middle two quarters of the short edge.

The loops are laid across the waste selvedge overlapping on the right side of the cowl. Make sure they point across the long length of the fabric! If you orient them the other way, you’ll end up sewing them inside the tube — not useful!

I didn’t want to deal with cut ends on the loops, so I just ran the crochet along the selvedge edge. Then I invisibly sewed the loops and the edges to the fabric, taking as many small stitches as necessary. Another cautionary note: check that your buttons will go through the loops before you sew! For bulky loops like these, I use shank buttons — and I like to orient the shanks so that they line up with the loops, which makes them easier to use, and lets the buttons lie more smoothly.

Then I joined the long sides by taking a series of many tiny stitches, connecting the weft loops, with right sides facing, at the edges.You want to keep these stitches relaxed so that the edges just meet when the fabric is opened — but you also want them close and snug enough so that there aren’t any gaps in the seam. That’s all a bit tricky at first, but practice makes all the difference.

When you open the tube out, this is how you want the seam to look — almost invisible! Be sure to check for gaps, and fix any, before proceeding. You can fix them later, but it’s less fun and harder to do unobtrusively.

Once you’ve sewn the long edge and checked it, turn the tube inside out and fold the selvedge hems to the wrong side of the cowl. One end will have the buttonhole loops, and the other will be where you sew your buttons.

Grosgrain peeking out strictly for illustrative purposes.
It gets tucked completely inside. Choose a color
that won’t contrast with your cowl.

I like to put either interfacing or grosgrain ribbon, or something similar, into the hem across the section where the buttons will go. This doesn’t show, but gives better support to the buttons. Sew the hems as invisibly as possible by hand, or, if you prefer, make them visible by sewing my machine.

Then all that’s left is to turn the cowl right side out, invisibly stitch up the ends, sew the buttons on — and dream of the times when we all could go outside at will!

Categories: Accessories, Clothing, Cricket Loom Tags:
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