Hi Sewists,

I’m back with the last instalment of my Christmas shirt. Last time I focussed on the Tower Plackets and the Cuffs, this time its all about the collar.

I never could understand why the collar would fit perfectly one time but not another time, when I was using the same shirt pattern. But if I’m switching techniques like overlocking/ French seaming or altering the button band between sewn-on and folded-over, then there must be minor discrepancies building up all over the place, which in turn have a pretty major effect on the size of my neck openings!

For the collar to fit perfectly the neck opening must be the right size. Of course. So it is essential to sew the shoulder/ yoke seams accurately and take great care when folding or attaching the front button band on the shirt. Since making this particular shirt, my new rule-of-thumb is to check the collar stand against the neck opening before I’ve stitched the fronts in place – if the stand doesn’t fit properly I find it much easier to adjust the front button plackets until the neck opening is correct, rather than having to deal with a seemingly wrong sized collar later on. This may seem elementary but was quite a revelation to me!

Another thing is; once you’ve got the neck opening right, staystitch it! This simple row of stitching inside the seam allowance can be the easiest thing to overlook, but do so at your own risk! That neckline will stretch out, under the lightest of touches, without even a care for your project. You may get away with it once, or even twice, but no one can escape it forever! Be warned!

You’ve only got four pieces to make a collar. Six if you include the interfacing. As half the pieces look the same, I think it’s good to know what each one is called and where it ends up…

And as I said in my last post, I’m no guru and there are plenty of methods out there that all work marvellously. This is just the quickest and easiest way I’ve found (so far) to get a decent result without any dramas.

First things first, make sure all your notches and markings are accurate – especially the centre-fronts and attachment notches on the collar stand. (Once, I skipped a few markings and ended up sewing the upper collar upside down- I spent the whole day wondering why my collar looked like a pie-crust!)

1: Press the seam allowance over on the bottom edge of the inner collar stand, the interfaced one. Put it to the side.

2: Take the outer collar stand and pin it to the neckline, remember the seam allowance will overhang at each side. To help avoid puckering around the curves you could snip into the seam allowance a little bit, just up to the staystitching- but if you’re using a 1cm seam it’s less likely to pucker anyway. Sew it in place and press the seams up towards the stand. Be aware of your stitching line and collar placement notch.

3: Sew the collar pieces together and turn them right sides out. Before topstitching double check that the collar fits properly to the stand then pin it in place. I pin the interfaced under-collar to the outer collar stand, right sides together.

4: Then place the inner stand (with the interfacing and the presses seam) right side down, on top of the collar. Make sure the notches and seam allowances match up.

5: I find it useful here to mark my stitching line onto the collar stand; at least the curve, just to be sure it’s all in the right place.

6: Once you’re happy it’s all lining up and pinned in place, sew it together, taking it easy around the curves and matching up exactly with the shirt fronts.

7: You can notch into the curves and trim the seams before turning, but I prefer to use my pinking shears; they’re quick, neat and do the job.

8: Once it’s turned and pressed, the folded seam on the inside should match up perfectly with the stitching at the neck line.

9: Stitch it in place from the right side, catching the open seam underneath. I always start at the centre back of the collar stand, not backstitching but leaving the threads long to pull through & tie off at the end.

10: Give it all one last press and your collar is done.

Taking my time over this shirt has really paid off, I’m so pleased with how it’s come out. I think it’s my neatest collar ever! So, if I follow my own instructions in the future they should all come out like this, right? Fingers crossed for that! I’ve got it ready in good of time for Christmas-jumper-day at work… I hope I don’t get picked on for not wearing a jumper! … I also hope it washes well and dries quickly because I want to wear it every day! I’ve got a nice dinner with friends coming up and I definitely want to wear it for Christmas Day too!

In other sewing news, I’ve got a big project ticking away in the background, that I’d love to finish by Christmas… but doubt I will. Also a few little projects that must be ready by December 22nd or else my name will be mud! Hopefully I’ll get to share those with you soon!

Until next time…

Happy Sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Make all marks and notches accurate and clear.
  • Check the collar stand against the neck opening before sewing the front plackets.
  • Staystitch the neckline.
  • Snip the neck seam (esp around the shoulders) to the staystitching to avoid puckering.
  • Check the upper collar fits before topstitching it.
  • Mark the curved stitching line.
  • Tie off threads.
  • Blimey…! Anything else…?! 😅
  • Oh yes, put the big project away and get on with the little projects ASAP!