The Many Looks of the Cool, Calm and Cowl-Neck Top
During a recent fabric-related meeting (why yes, we sometimes have meetings where we discuss nothing but fabric) the topic of holiday fashion came up. This led to a conversation about the free Cool, Calm and Cowl-Necked Top pattern the by lovely folks at Hot Patterns. This top is perfect for you holiday and every day wardrobe for a number of reason, the first being that it is extremely versatile. The second reason I happen to love this pattern is that it's very easy to make. Also, did I mention it's free? To prove that the above reasons are true, I made the shirt and asked Crystal in marketing to play dress-up.
First, let me reiterate that this pattern is very easy to make. From the time I hit the print button to the last snip of the scissors, it only took me roughly 40 minutes to put the pattern together, which isn't significantly more than what it takes me to comprehend, cut out and press pieces from one of the "big three" pattern companies. From there, I was able to cut my fabric and sew the shirt together in one evening in less than two hours after putting my toddler to bed, and I still managed to get a full night's sleep.
The fabrics I used are our Bamboo/Cotton Jersey Knit and the Bamboo Cotton Baby Rib Knit in lovely Lavender. I chose this fabric because it's super soft and can be used in both a casual and dressy styles. Plus, the various bamboo cotton knits are all coordinates which took the guess work out of picking a fabric for the waist band. It's light enough to wear in Spring or Summer, but can also be easily layered to wear in cooler climates.
The first look we went for was business casual. Crystal wore the top with a nice pair of black slacks and a black suit jacket. We added some simple jewelry, and her look was complete. We all noted that the shirt is a lot more comfy than some of the fussier dress shirts you see in stores.
Next, we took the look from day to "night out with the girls" by switching the black suit jacket for a fitted denim dacket, replacing the necklace with scarf and swapping her black pumps for ankle boots. Easy and fab.
Lastly, while playing dress-up, we remembered that Fabric.com just got in a shipment of some absolutely gorgeous Silk Velvet Burnouts that would be perfect for a shawl. After some hunting, I was able to borrow two pieces from Jennifer in customer care (Thank you again!) that coordinated wonderfully with the purple top. We used the burnout velvet as a shawl and paired it with a long skirt, nice jewelry and nice shoes to give Crystal a dressier look. Not only did our last-minute creativity work out, I think I might have to divert some of my own fabric funds for enough fabric for a couple shawls...
To summarize, this pattern really is easy, fantastic and versatile. Plus, it's free. As usual, I would strongly advise you to make a muslin prior to chopping into your nicer fabric. We found that the top part wasn't as full as we thought it would be, which was fine, but you may want to play with various levels of room in the top and fit in the band. Also, if the jersey isn't dressy enough for what you need, this pattern could easily be made with another knit with a bit of shimmer to it. Either way, have fun with it and get the pattern soon - it's only available until November 12!