29 responses

  1. Sarra Bess
    September 30, 2011

    Thank you for this! I value all your tutorials, but this has the additional value of perfect timing for me, as my task for the weekend is to (finally) sew myself a formal shirt, which I mocked up and made the fit changes for several months ago. I’ve already incorporated many of the production pattern tricks I’ve learned from you (seam allowances, etc.) into my altered pattern; this is one more piece of the puzzle.

    I do have one question, though. A home sewing book I have (yes, yes, I know) suggests cutting the under collar 1/8″ or so smaller lengthwise than the upper collar and then stretching it to fit the upper collar while sewing, so that once it is sewn it will curve inward, i.e., around the neck. Is this a good idea, or an example of poor pattern drafting?

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  2. Renee
    September 30, 2011

    Kathleen, I love that you did this experiment. I’ve been meaning to post a photo in the forum of a baby dress a sewing contractor gave me as a gift. The collar flips up incessantly and I was sure you would know the reason why. I did assume that the top and under collar were cut from the same pattern piece, and I was trained to make the upper collar as you described for the higher cost product.
    One question, though. The dress collar in question is rounded at the ends. It seems as though that would be difficult to stitch in a 2-step process, and where would you break the seam? I would prioritize having the longer seam roll under.

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  3. Xochil
    September 30, 2011

    Would there be any reason to use method 1 vs. method 2? I learned to make top/under collars using method 2. I see you get the same result here, but is there any reason to do it one way or another?

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  4. Tamsin
    September 30, 2011

    Excellent – many thanks to you for posting this.

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  5. Marie-Christine
    September 30, 2011

    Aaah. I had learned 1 but not 2, and I see it may actually give the best control over the whole of the collar. Thanks! As always, precious information. It’s so -refreshing- to see scientific methods applied in areas where most people think they don’t belong.

    Signed: the one who doesn’t like the idea of boot camp:-).

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  6. Katherine
    October 1, 2011

    Another great post! Completely new info to me. I only knew of the textbook example, which I did once and decided was too much hassle.

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  7. Renee Corrick
    October 1, 2011

    I second Xochil’s question – I’ve never really understood the whole “which seam is boss” concept.

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  8. Marie Noelle
    October 1, 2011

    Invaluable post. Thanks for taking time.

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  9. Chris
    October 1, 2011

    Thanks for such a clear tutorial and explanation of the process. This is something that keeps catching my eye in handmade clothes I have seen online – they can be beautifully and carefully sewn, but if the pattern is wrong to start with, it can never look perfect. Coat collars especially look bad, because the thicker fabric just highlights the problem of the collar sticking out at an odd angle.

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  10. Quincunx
    October 1, 2011

    There were a few entries on the topic of “dominant seams” which might help with what is called here ‘which seam is boss’, and it was covered again not long after the Refine My Line entry for Lilah Children.

    The real lesson here is that your home sewing doesn’t have to look as home-made if you apply some corrections first. I, for one, welcome the implicit pat on the head that tells me it’s OK to sew the outside edges of the collar in more than one step.

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  11. Pam ~Off The Cuff~
    October 1, 2011

    Thanks so much for this post, Kathleen!

    2. Good pattern design is the tool for quality results.

    !!! Amen and Halleluiah !!! In my custom Shirt-making world, a precise draft that renders quality results (like collars and cuffs with no “seam-peek”) is one of the reasons my clients keep coming back for more of my very expensive shirts.

    In my studio, we use a variation of collars 1 and 2. Collar C …one of the “home-sewing methods” often touted as the “right” way {big sigh} …usually results in wonky collar points because errors are common when trying to trim-and-taper at an angle…not to mention trimming the seam allowances too closely after sewing (rather than drafting the pattern with the correct allowances in the first place) and trying to “poke” the points out rather than “turning” them …but I could go on for an hour about these collar peeves of mine…I’ll stop now. :)

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  12. Reader
    October 1, 2011

    Looks like an interesting post. Once again I have to salute the bravery of anyone who would let you attend and critique her class. :-)

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  13. Lisa Blank
    October 1, 2011

    This is a very timely entry for me as well. I’ve got a blouse setting in the sewing room waiting for collar and stand to be attached. I’ve been so dissatisfied with every method I’ve tried for attaching stand to neckline that I think I should just stop and make a new collar while I can.

    I’ve been making my collar pattern pieces more or less as per the textbook example. I’m looking forward to trying something new. Thanks!

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  14. Linda
    October 1, 2011

    I can’t follow the progression of collar #2 from “first seams” to “second seams.” In the first instance there is 1/8th extra in gray along the bottom, and the seam is sewed along the top. In the second photo the extra is gone. What am I misinterpreting?

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  15. Pepper
    October 1, 2011

    I am so grateful that you take the time to post these lessons on your blog. This is very very timely for me. I just told my husband that every one of your posts contains AND links me to invaluable information (I still consider myself a newby because I never want to stop learning the most efficient way). If only you lived in my city and had classes, I would be a student for sure!

    I also have the same question as Renee. A peter pan collar would be Collar 2 with the one long seam (no second shorter seam) or is there a different way to approach this type of rounded collar?

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  16. theresa in tucson
    October 1, 2011

    In defense of home sewing, your method is not entirely unknown since I have it in several of my Nancy Zieman books as a “wrapped corner”. It does not, however, show up in the “how to sew” literature and you are very correct about the collars in the published pattern company packages. As a shirt wearer/maker and home sewer I welcome any opportunity to improve so keep up the analysis. Your posts are always enlightening and my sewing has definitely improved.

    Reply

  17. Deanna Tanner
    October 1, 2011

    Would you recommend these methods #1&2 for pad stitched under collars as well? Or by using &1or #2 you wouldn’t need to pad stitch? The cutter I used to sew for would cut the collars one straight one biased but identical size, and I would sew it to shape based on how much turn of cloth I thought it should have. But that was one of a kind – not production…
    I just wonder if the seam allowances leave weird lumps?? (I’ll stop now)

    Reply

  18. Katherine
    October 1, 2011

    I have been thinking about this some more. Could you also use this technique for the short edge of contoured waistbands? I always get a bit of peek of the contrast facing out the front of the waistband, above the fly.

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  19. Elle
    October 1, 2011

    Thank you very much for sharing.
    I’ve been taught the textbook method at school unfortunately, and pressing is often a pain in you-know-where (I even resorted to cutting out paper jig to help the pressing)
    I look forward to trying both method out.

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  20. Quincunx
    October 2, 2011

    Linda: The extra 1/8″ in collar 2 is pushed into the collar and causing buckling so faint I can’t even point it out. What I think you’re misinterpreting, though, is that you think you can still see the 1/8″ beyond the seam in collar 1 once the second seam is shown. Those seam allowances have also been matched and the extra pushed back into the collar to make it not lay quite flat (only this time we can see it, on the left side there’s a ripple between the box and the word ‘collar’). Collar 1 just has a faint shadow at the side seam allowances, which looks like a single thickness.

    Reader: Oh, it gets worse. Remember that the class was taken so she’d have an idea of what us -students- thought and/or didn’t think about while being taught. ;) Must’ve been a gulf between what we do with keyboards at our fingertips versus pre-cut samples in hand.

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  21. Another Kate
    October 2, 2011

    This is so interesting. But I’m afraid I haven’t understood “Why ignoring this advice can make you a target for a knock off” – are you saying that if your clothes look homemade then they are likely to get copied? Maybe I haven’t understood what you mean by the term “knock off”.

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  22. Another Kate
    October 2, 2011

    I’ve just realised I should have read this
    http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/are_you_a_target/

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  23. Laura
    October 2, 2011

    Thank you! I’ve been wondering about this for a long time.

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  24. Esther
    October 3, 2011

    Thank you for the collar explanation Kathleen. This is timely for me too as I am working on my own shirt pattern pieces and I have been stymied by the collar. In a larger context, I didn’t know how the “turn of cloth” idea was applied in a sewing application. I understood from a theoretical point of view how a turn of cloth was added to a pattern but did not know how to accommodate it in sewing. The products I’ve made in the past were a lower price point and thus did not need it. Thank you for showing this – now off to work on my collar patterns.

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  25. Lisa Blank
    October 9, 2011

    I’m back to report that my first try with this method produced a lovely collar. I had a little trouble getting the points exactly the way I wanted, but that’s related to my skill and not the method described here. I’m very pleased with how the upper collar rolled under, and it didn’t require tedious iron work!

    Reply

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