Keeping It Cozy: DIY No-Knit Fabric Cowl

Image of a woman with long black hair and red lipstick wearing a dark gray cowl and black top standing in front of a pink wall
Ponte de Roma Tweed No-Knit Fabric Cowl

I have been trying really hard to use all of my scraps. I was able to use a big bag of them when I sewed my yoga bolster, and I have two more bags ready to go for when I sew a couple of throw pillows. But I also have a bunch of larger pieces that are too small for a garment but too big for stuffing. I save these remnants in big plastic bins, and as of now, there are just too many plastic bins. I had to find ideas for projects to put these fabric cuts to good use.

Image of a woman with long black hair and red lipstick wearing a black fabric cowl with glow-in-the-dark eye print and gray top standing in front of a pink wall
Glow-in-the-Dark No-Knit Fabric Cowl

While I was scrolling through Instagram, I came across a post by Caroline from @sewingbythec. Her feed is full of beautiful garments and sewing inspiration. This is where I found the idea for a scrap busting project that might become a TNT pattern: a DIY no-knit fabric cowl. This seemed like the perfect project for a couple of my knit fabric remnants.

Image of a woman with long black hair and red lipstick wearing a dark gray cowl and black top standing in front of a pink wall
The Ponta de Roma Cowl with Its Golden Button
Pattern

There is no official pattern for this project. The instructions come from the We Can Do Anything blog. The cowl is made of a rectangular piece of knit fabric 22″ x 60″. I did not have enough of one of the fabrics for 22 inches, so I made it work with 20. For my second cowl, I ended up forgetting about the suggested 22 inches of the tutorial and went with 20 again. It made no real difference in how the cowls look or function.

Fabric

After going through a plastic bin full of knit remnants, I selected two pieces for this project. The first one is a fun Halloween glow-in-the-dark knit from Joann. This fabric is no longer available from the site. I used it to sew this most adorable Plantain T-shirt.

Detail of black knit fabric with white cat-like eyes
Halloween Doodles Glow in the Dark Fabric Black Creepy Eyes
Image of a woman wearing a black T-shirt with glow-in-the-dark eyes and a black skirt
The All-Eyes-On-Me T-shirt

The second remnant is a ponte de roma tweed, also from Joann. This is a really nice knit with none of the pilling some of the other ponte fabrics from Joann show. I used this one to sew a Morris blazer.

Detail of ponte de roma tweed fabric
Knit Ponte Fabric Tweed
Image of a woman with black long hair wearing a cropped tweed jacket, a mini black dress, and boots standing in front of garage doors
The Morris Blazer
Construction
Sewing the Cowl
Image of two pieces of fabric, one black interlock fabric with glow-in-the-dark eyes, one piece of ponte de roma tweed, buttons, scissors, pins, snaps, and rotary cutter on a green cutting mat
What You Will Need

This is a super fast project. I spent more time fussing with the position of the snaps than completing the whole thing. I started by making the bottom edge of the remnant straight. I used the ruler from my cutting mat to help guide my rotary cutter. I ended up with a big rectangle of fabric, 20″x60″.

Image of a piece of fabric on a green cutting mat with a clear ruler marking where to cut
Cutting the Rectangle of Fabric

There is not a lot of sewing in this project (and if you like hand sewing, this could be a great project for you). The seam that runs in the back of the cowl is created by sewing the longer edges of the fabric together, making sure to leave an opening in the middle (so that you can turn the piece inside out). Line the seam with the middle of the piece; press the seam open.

Image of a tube of fabric with the seam lined in the middle of the tube of fabric placed on an ironing board
The Middle Seam Pressed Open

For the last bit of sewing, sew the shorter ends of the piece. Trim the excess from these seams (you can trim the middle seams, but make sure to leave enough for when you close the opening with a ladder stitch). The hole in the middle will allow you to turn the cowl inside out.

Image of a piece of ponte de roma tweed fabric with an opening on the seam to allow the piece to be turned inside out
Don’t Forget to Leave an Opening
Adding the Snaps and Button
Detail image of both cowls, the tweed one with a golden button, and the glow-in-the-dark one with a black button
The Decorative Buttons

Now, it is time to add the snaps and the decorative button. With the smooth side of the cowl (the one without the middle seam) facing up, sew the top of the snap to the right upper corner of the cowl. After A LOT of trial and error, I placed the bottom snap two inches from the top and 1.5 from the side. Then, place the cowl with the seam facing up and sew the top snap. I placed it 1/2″ away from the top and 1/2″ from the side. Place the cowl with the smooth side facing up again and sew the decorative button in the same position the top snap is.

The tutorial suggests that you use the hole to put your hands inside the cowl and sew the snaps and button through one layer of fabric. This helps hide any ugly stitching on the outside. I have to say that this did not work for me. Maybe the snaps I used were too big and heavy, but every time I sewed through one layer only, the corner would flop when I snapped the cowl. I tried sewing through both layers, and the corners looked much more stable.

Image of a woman with long black hair and red lipstick wearing a dark gray cowl and black top standing in front of a pink wall
Detail of Golden Button
Finishing the Cowl

To avoid the ugly stitching on the outside, I only allowed a couple of stitches to go through. Most of the stitching keeping the snaps in place only goes through one layer. The button hides really well any stitching that has gone through, and when the cowl is around the neck, everything looks nice and neat.

I finished the cowl by sewing the hole closed with a ladder stitch. This is why I did not trim the middle seams—so I had more fabric to grab when getting the needle in. Make sure to give the middle seam a good press; the pressed seam serves as the guide for the needle.

The No-Knit Fabric Cowl

These cowls are super comfortable and warm enough to keep me cozy on a cold day—and much less bulky than a knit cowl. This project comes together really fast and is a great way to use those remnants you don’t know what to do with but don’t want to get rid of. You can showcase a beautiful button from your collection or maybe a family heirloom brooch. And this cowl can make a great gift for family and friends. This is a quick and easy afternoon project with a great payoff.

Image of a woman with long black hair and red lipstick wearing a black fabric cowl with glow-in-the-dark eye print and gray top standing in front of a pink wall
Easy, Cute, and Practical Project

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7 Comments

  1. Lodi
    January 19, 2021 / 5:51 am

    The cowl is a great look on you, and such a simple/cozy project! Yours seems to sit better than the ‘original’ and I’m wondering if that’s because of the 2″ difference? (It looks much more comfortable.)
    Great scrap project. (Do you shred fabric for stuffing?)

    • SewGoth
      Author
      January 21, 2021 / 9:56 am

      Thanks! I wondered that myself—if that extra 2″ would have made the cowl too roomy. I think that 20 works really well for me. ANd yes, when I am going to use scraps for stuffing, I take the time to shred it. I use a rotary cutter and run the blade over it until I am happy with the size of the bits of fabric. It is tedious, but it makes for much better stuffing.

      • Lodi
        January 21, 2021 / 11:38 am

        I feel fabric shredding coming to a sewing room near me… it’s got to be a stress reliever!

  2. January 20, 2021 / 12:40 pm

    This is such a cute way to use up stretchy scraps! I can never figure out what to do with them. The cowl is very cute, I love the idea of adding a snap instead of a buttonhole and button. But Oh well I take any reason not to make buttonhole 🙂

    • SewGoth
      Author
      January 21, 2021 / 10:00 am

      Me too! It took me literally years to make clothing that needed buttonholes. I am always so afraid that I am going to mess up the whole garment at the very end of the process. I practice, I try the buttonholes on scraps, but it always seems that at the very last minute, the machine acts up and messes up at least one buttonhole.

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