There’s nothing I love more than a top or dress with a collar on it. I wear them, design them, teach them, and add them onto everything. I love a good collar! But, there’s nothing more homemade looking than a poorly sewn collar. If the curves are not smooth and the points are not crisp, the rest of the outfit, no matter how well sewn, will look homemade as a result.
Here are some helpful tips on how to get your collars to look store bought perfect!
1. Make sure your collar is on grain. If the collar has lines, a grid, or anything that will giveaway that your collar is not sewn straight, make sure it is perfectly on grain with the threads and print of your fabric.
2. Take your time cutting. If you pin and use scissors, be sure to pin it well around all the curves. If you use weights and a rotary cutter (as pictured here) make sure to use a sharp blade for clean cuts and heavy weights so it will not shift in the process.
3. Use interfacing in your collar to give it body. I recommend using a piece that is the size of your collar without the seam allowance on either curved edge. Otherwise the seams will be very thick and will stand out from the garment around the neck.
4. Press your interfacing onto the wrong side of the collar pieces, on only the under collar and not the upper collar. This will give strength and body to the whole collar while keeping the upper part of the collar looking like the original fabric and not stiff.
5. Prior to pinning your upper and under collars pieces together, mark your pivot points with your seam gauge. Be sure to follow the seam allowance for the project you are sewing!
6. Some collars will have matching upper and under collar pieces, and others will use a smaller under collar piece. If your pattern has a smaller under collar piece, be aware that you will have some edges to ease together along the curve so they will not lay flat while pinning.
7. When turning the corner of your collar, stop just short of your pivot mark and sink your needle into the fabric prior to lifting the presser foot up. Raise it, pivot, and see if you are on your mark for the seam allowance. If not, return to the proper position and turn the hand wheel forward to move another stitch. If a full stitch will over shoot your mark, turn down the stitch length to move forward a smaller amount.
8. After sewing the collar pieces together, trim the corners down to reduce bulk. Do not get too close to the stitching as to weaken the stitch.
9. In addition to clipping the corners, trim the entire collar seam allowance down to around 1/4 inch. This will create a smooth curve around the entire collar and is better than clipping or notching.
10. Turn the collar right side out and use a point turner in the corners to poke out the seam allowance and get a crisp corner. Be firm but gentle with the point turner as not to poke through your seam stitching.
11. When pressing the seam flat, roll the seam to the underside of the collar. If the under collar was smaller, this will happen naturally. If not, you will need to trim the neck curve a bit to allow for the amount you are rolling to the underside.
12. To top stitch the collar, make sure to mark your pivot points with water soluble marking tools. I like the pen pictured above that provides a perfect mark for precision turning. Always test your marking tool on a scrap first!
13. I prefer to topstitch my collars with a 1/4 inch seam, making it a perfect moment to use my 1/4 inch seam foot. The bar on the right of the foot keeps the stitching in place for professional stitching.
14. After stitching, use water or the eraser on your marking pen to remove the pivot point on the front of the collar.
15. Give it all a final press with the iron, clip the threads, and you are ready to add it to your project!