Friday, December 16, 2011

about collars and collar stands

This is a random post about collars and collar stands, as participation in cyber-conversation about shirt construction.  This is also why I sew - so I can get the fit and function that is important to me.

My pattern is a TNT originally copied from an Eddie Bauer store-bought shirt, but now altered almost beyond recognition.  The collar has two pieces:

1. the stand- the front of the stand is curved, for a better fit at my neck.  
2. the collar- the edge that attaches to the stand is also curved.  [Also, the edge that touches the shoulders is curved, but I am not discussing that aspect of the shaping in this post.]

The collar stand is curved, the collar is curved, and furthermore, the curves go in opposite directions.  Yes, it is tricky to sew, but that's how flat fabric is shaped into 3 dimensional clothing.  I learned about these collars by reading Pam Erny's blog, but the same information is presented in books like David Page Coffin's shirtmaking book, Threads magazine articles and other online tutorials.

 In contrast, it is possible to sew a collar and a collar stand that are attached already, which makes for very speedy construction.

Click here to watch Peggy Sagers show how to sew a shirt in an hour.  She uses a pattern piece that combines the stand and the collar.  The edge attached to the shirt neckline is straight, which makes it a breeze to sew.

For my body shape, and for the sensual pleasure wearing well-fitted clothing, I will take the extra time to sew the curved collar stand and curved collar.

Peggy is fun, entertaining and knowledgeable.   I have taken classes from her at Sewing Expos.  Some shortcuts are brilliant, but some will result in that RTW fit needing improvement, depending on one's particular body.

Personally, I get a better fit with the separate curved pieces.

Here is how I attach the collar band and the collar to a shirt:

Clip seams, iron well, use good quality interfacings and fabrics and the reward is a long lasting shirt.  My shirts last longer than any other item I sew, so a little extra time is time well spent.

How about you?  Preferences?

Happy Sewing!


  1. I think there is room for both speedy methods and "cut corners" techniques. I see no harm in using both, but I take it slow when I sew collars, they are close to your face and must be perfect :)

  2. I'm all for getting the better fit. That's part of why I sew. ;)

  3. I'm not sure about a combined collar and stand, but hey its worth a trial.

  4. I'm with you on the fit priority. I'm not above using these techniques but in general prefer the more classic methods.

  5. Collars are always a frustration for me as both my husband and I have short necks. I find I always have to re-do the pattern in that area or it pokes up way too high. I'd not seen the combined collar thing, but it's an interesting idea. As much as some of the speed/industrial techniques are nice to see they don't work for many patterns and fabrics that I use. (speed sewing for a corset? i think not. lol)

  6. The one piece collar is called a "stand and fall" collar. Works best when you use a really crisp, heavier interfacing. I use it all the time when I make shirts for rodeo queens - starch 'em up, and they don't move an inch, even galloping around the arena!

  7. Cynthia, that makes perfect sense! The stand is the stand, of course, and the fall refers to the distance from the neckline edge to the outer edge of the collar.
    I'd live to see one of your shirts in action!!

    I like the rounded pieces because they follow the natural curve of my body, but I can picture someone speeding by on a horse and her collar doesn't need to hug her neck; it won't stay there anyway! As long as it stands up she'll be good to go and using the all-in-one, stand-and-fall pattern makes perfect sense.

  8. Thank you for this video! I just found it through a google search while trying to save a shirt that I'd applied a messy collar stand to. I followed your instructions and the second attempt went so much better!


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