Making the collar piece

Tutorial on assembling collars, not attaching them, by Mary Danielson Perry at WeAllSew. (Of course use your own brand of machine, the Reverse Pattern foot is the basic all purpose foot. Plus your own edge-stitch foot.)

She does emphasise getting the lengths at the two ends of the collar the same, which is essential for a successful final look.

And getting a good point. See also Making a perfect point by David Page Coffin in Seamwork magazine.

What she doesn’t deal with is getting the shapes of both ends of the collars the same.
The angles of pointed corners need to be the same.
The curves of rounded collars need to be the same.
I use a template to draw on the stitching lines.
And a curved collar needs to be well clipped and turned out, so the curved edges are smooth. See this post by Sew4Home. For some outward curves I find a quick method is to trim the seam allowance with pinking shears.

A Way We Sew gets collar shapes to match by using the interfacing as a template.

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Attaching the collar

Several methods.
None of these are very easy. Some of these are challenging, but there are often easier alternatives for making the same general style.
In my opinion, the methods are listed here in order of increasing difficulty.

If you need to ‘fudge’ the fit of collar to neckline, try to do it in the shoulder seam area.
If you do it in the 3-4″/10cm at the collar ends, or the CB, it will be very visible. . .

With a complete neckline facing

When you are comfortable with applying facings, this collar application is just one step further.

collar facing
from Vogue Sewing Book 1984

Here’s a detailed photo tutorial from Closet Core patterns.

More notes in this post from Sewingplums : Adding into a neckline facing.

If you need a back facing pattern to fill in the facing strip, it’s easy to draft your own.
First trace the neckline shape of the main pattern piece you’re making a facing for (black line on diagram is the cutting line).
Add the stitching line(s) (red dashed lines).
Then draw a line 2-3″ (5-7.5 cm) from the neckline stitching line. This (red solid line) is the outer edge cutting line of your facing pattern.
facing patt

Much clipping of seam allowances needed :
– clip the body and facing neckline s-as, so the edge of these pieces can lay straight while attaching the collar,
– clip the collar neckline s-as, so they can bend in wear to lay around the complex 3D curves at the bottom of the neck.

This is the quickest and easiest method of adding a collar. It isn’t all that quick and easy 😀 but it is more so than the other methods.

This is the method used in most lined jackets and blazers.

Using a bias strip

bias strip
from McCall’s Sewing in Colour 1964
middle diagram – black strip over collar is wrong side of bias strip

More information in this post from Sewingplums : Adding to a front band.

With no facing – as in attaching a 2-piece banded shirt collar

shirt band collar
from Lynn Cooks’ pdf

I don’t know why nearly everyone describes the most difficult way of doing this. Here’s a detailed photo tutorial on attaching a band collar in easy steps, from Andrea Brown of Four Square Walls.
Similar method with some added tips in a photo tutorial from Wardrobe By Me for sewing a collar band. Of course you can add a main collar piece before sewing the two band pieces together, as in Andrea Brown’s tutorial.
Here’s another less traditional way of attaching a banded collar – a pdf by Lynn Cook of Australian Stitches.

With a front facing but no back neck facing

collar no back facing
from Simplicity 2134

I don’t know why some people include this method in ‘easy’ patterns. I have a low opinion of this method – weak unless done using proper methods, not easy to do well. Though it does look neat if you can do it well ! It may be a recent invention, it isn’t mentioned in that great sewing ‘bible’ the Vogue Sewing Book, or in McCall’s Sewing in Colour book of the same era.

Part of the top collar neckline seam allowance lays towards the garment body, part towards the collar. So you have to clip at the changeover point, which makes a point of weakness. To strengthen the end of this snip to prevent tearing :
– use a top collar piece with fused interfacing, or
– staystitch in the stitching line of the top collar where the notches are snipped.
You also need very accurately placed stitching around the change point.

Where you fold in the back collar seam allowance :
– some instructions tell you to stitch the back section by hand.
– some tell you to fold in the seam allowance less 1/8″-3mm and stitch in the ditch from the outside of the garment. I think this is stronger.

I don’t feel the incentive to look for links to good tutorials, but I am preparing diagrams and instructions.

Shawl collar with inset corner

The under collar is cut-on to the front fabric piece.
Another one with a tricky technique to support a change in direction – the inner corner seams attach to the shoulder seam on one side and the back neck seam on the other.
shawl corner

Again, some people manage to think they can call patterns with this feature ‘easy’.
What is easy is attaching a wide strip around the neck and front edges of a jacket, like a wide version of the band at the neckline of a kimono. That is sometimes called a ‘shawl collar’, or better – a ‘faux shawl collar’.

A while back, when I looked for a tutorial for a shawl collar with inset corner, there weren’t any good ones. I need to look again.
Meanwhile, here’s a photo tutorial from Paper Theory patterns on sewing an inset corner.

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First published February 2021

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