28 June 2010

Getting A Great Collar

Let's face it..collars can be a pain in the @$$ not only to attach, but also to shape. I finished my vintage blouse today that has an attached collar, and thought some of you may like to see some tips and tricks. This particular collar isn't exactly the best to demonstrate with, but I supplemented with some examples.

I would say that one of the most important things to keep in mind when sewing a collar is what I consider to be one of the golden rules of sewing: reduce bulk whenever possible!

Normally I use an overlocker on most unfinished seams, but collars are a rare exception for me. Honestly, it isn't really needed and it can end up leaving a little bulk or showing through the fabric (if it is light colored), especially in the corners.

I like to trim the seam allowance and then make overlapping "layers" so that the bulk is spread out:

Here you can see it incorporated on both edges on the inside:

Unlike this collar, many incorporate interfacing to give stiffness and sharpness. I follow the same concept, except I cut out as much of the interfacing in the seam allowance as possible because it is not going to affect the strength of the seam (this works for both sew-in and fusible interfacings):

Another prominent place to reduce bulk is at the shoulder seams. See all that shoulder seam allowance? No need for it!

So now that we've taken care of the sides, let's talk about corners. This probably isn't anything new to you, but the best way to reduce bulk at the corners is to cut across the seam allowance at an angle:

This seam could use more trimming, but when doing so cut carefully and conservatively. If you cut too close to the corner seam (or any seam really), it can pull apart when turning out.

Now that we've reduced some bulk, how do you get that elusive knife-edge?

This can be quite difficult at times, especially when you can't press open the entire seam. This is a time where good pressing skills are essential, and unfortunately that really only comes with practice. There are however tools that can be incredibly useful for this, such as a tailor's ham or seam roll for curved seams, or a point presser & clapper for hard to reach areas. If you're in a bind or simply don't have one, never fear; the straight edge of a butter knife can work just as well (although it may take some more maneuvering).

Are you still with me? I know this is a long post, but it's almost over! Just one more thing I want to cover briefly: collar attachement.

This can often be the most frustrating part because sometimes you are attaching a straight piece of fabric to a curved edge (like this one).

As you can see from the photo above, the collar edge won't always lay perfectly against the neck edge. This is where ease becomes a huge factor in making it work. Unfortunately easing is another one of those things that comes with practice, so if you have trouble with easing don't give up!! The best way to success is to line up your notches, markings, and edges and pin them (vertically) in place, and then work from those points.

Almost done!! Now that the collar is in place, it's time once again for some good pressing. Press the seam up into the collar, and work out any wrinkles or bunching with your fingers and steam.

And there you have it..a flat, sharp, smooth , happy collar!

Although it's finished I want to wait and show it modeled..it really doesn't have a lot of hanger appeal. Pics tomorrow! :)


  1. Thanks Ruth a very helpful post. I hate sewing collars on and I do struggle with the easing problem especially if there's interfacing involved too, it seems to make the problem worse in my experience.

    Keep it coming...

  2. Ahhh--the good old collar! You did a great job of fitting that collar onto the neck and the pressing job looks superb! Often times after I would cut across the corner to reduce bulk, I would also make a few clips in the remaining fabric just to help reduce any extra pull or bulk at the corner tip of the collar. Good job. Can't wait to see the whole dress in your next photo!