A question of collars
I found this question on a message board and asked its author for permission to reprint it here. Z wishes to remain anonymous. As you read the question, you should know this question’s author was using a pattern that was generated from what amounts to a pattern printing program. By that I mean that the software is marketed as a CAD program but it just prints out pre-designed template patterns as per the inputed size so it’s not really a CAD program so it won’t work for DEs. And it’s buggy as you’ll soon see which is why I don’t mention the name of the company. I’m hoping they’ll improve it in ways I’d consider to be substantive (I’ve been waiting for 8 years). I’m hoping they’ll get it together so I can recommend it or even use it myself but many of the pieces don’t match up -that in spite of the company’s constant hyping of their pattern maker as the most expert pattern maker to ever draw breath. Ho hum.
I’m making a shirt with a Peter Pan collar. I forgot to stay-stitch the neckline before I started construction, and I think it may have stretched some (I’ve been fiddling with this shirt a lot as I’ve sewed, considering some design choices). Normally the collar piece is slightly longer than the neckline seam, so that the collar piece is eased on to the neckline, helping the collar to roll slightly — right? If so, when I stay stitch the neckline should I gather it up just slightly along the seam line to get it back to its original size before sewing the collar in place?
Okay, so the neckline seam measures 8.96 and the collar seam line measures 9.08 so I guess that indicates there’s meant to be just a tiny bit of easing on the collar. I think I will have to pull in my neckline seam some to get it back to size. Or maybe take in just a hint at the shoulder seams. I’d still welcome any wisdom on this.
I’ll break this question into sections now. If I fail to address something, hit the comments button and tell me.
I forgot to stay-stitch the neckline before I started construction, and I think it may have stretched some
First of all, just forget stay stitching; it’s largely ineffective and amounts to a waste of time particularly when a better solution is available. Second, stabilize the neckline with fusible. Cut your fusible piece to about the same size as a facing would be (read my previous interfacing advice). If you’re worried about bulk, try that nylon tricot stuff.
Normally the collar piece is slightly longer than the neckline seam, so that the collar piece is eased on to the neckline, helping the collar to roll slightly — right?
No, the collar should not be slightly longer than the neckline -on the seam line. If the collar is larger than the neckline, the collar is wrong and will need to be corrected. As ever, the need of “ease” has raised its ugly head to compensate for a poorly made pattern. The collar should match the neckline precisely.
If so, when I stay stitch the neckline should I gather it up just slightly along the seam line to get it back to its original size before sewing the collar in place? I think I will have to pull in my neckline seam some to get it back to size. Or maybe take in just a hint at the shoulder seams.
The solution to the problem is recutting the collar, otherwise you’re having to make adjustments to no less than three other pieces. If you fiddle with the shoulder lines then you’ll have to double check to make sure those still fit together. It’s better to measure the difference and take this out of the collar. While you’re at it, walk the collar into the neckline and mark a notch at the shoulder line on the collar piece. This way, whoever is sewing it will know the collar is off before they get around to the center front on the opposite side. Which brings me to the concept of where to start sewing when you set in a collar. In industrial sewing, you start at one side of center front (or center back depending on where the neckline opens) and sew all the way around to the opposite side. You’d start at the front, match the collar notch to the first shoulder line, sew to center back matching those notches and then onto the opposite shoulder -again matching notches- until you got to the opposing side of the front.
Now, I don’t typically sew collars in like this but that’s because I mostly sew prototypes. Because I’m sewing first cut patterns, my preference is to start at center back (for a front opening) and sew in one side, then returning to center back to sew the opposite side. The reason I do this is more of an issue of shaping (because my pieces would match). If shaping on either side is extreme, it’ll be harder to hit the sewing line precisely so I’d have to acclimate to the styling and recalibrate my usual handling of joining the two pieces together. If we were in production tho, I’d say that is unnecessary because the pattern would have been proven before then and it should match exactly and the handling of it is easily acquired after sewing just a few pieces. I suppose I could compare this to riding a bike. If you can ride a bike, you can also ride anyone else’s bike but it may take you some reorientation to get the feel of handling it according to its own unique properties.
Then Z wrote me back (after I’d posted an abbreviated version of the above advice) saying
What you say makes sense and makes sewing collars sound like it ought to be easier than I had been taught. I just discovered yesterday a thread from a while ago on the forum where others had the same problem I did with the Peter Pan collar, so I hope that it is a bug that may be fixed soon. Mine turned out terribly, would not lie against my shoulders but stood up in a ruffle, so I ended up cutting off the collar and throwing it away and binding the shirt neckline.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, the software isn’t that great just as many patterns aren’t that great. The thing you should always do before cutting anything is to walk the sewing lines. Take the time to walk corresponding pieces onto the corresponding sewing lines. Yes, I realize this does take time when all you really want is to get to the sewing portion but it really is much faster this way. If you walk the patterns and find that they don’t match, it’s much easier to correct if you haven’t cut it out of fabric already. Otherwise you’re stuck with discovering that pieces don’t match while you’re already in the process of sewing it together and then you have to switch gears to either re-cut the affected pattern pieces or jury-rig the pieces together. And believe me, pieces that have been force fed together, look as though they were.