The Secret to Sharp, Crisp Collars? Lots of Trimming!

From casual to classic, so many shirt styles include a collar. Sewing collars is a key skill, so today, I’m showing you how to sew a collar to achieve a crisp and precise result. 

denim shirtdress with topstitched  collar

Learn how to sew a shirt collar with this step-by-step tutorial

Step 1: Prepare your collar pieces

Step 1 cut out and interface collar and stand

Most classic shirt collars consists of two pattern pieces: the collar (the piece shown on the bottom) and the collar stand (the curved piece shown on the top).

You need two of each pattern piece so the fabric is folded to double. Both pieces also need interfacing to give structure and body.

A great way to save time and be more precise is to block fuse your interfacing. This means you fuse a piece of fusible interfacing on the fabric and then pin and cut out your pattern pieces. It saves a step and avoids having to apply interfacing to the small pattern pieces.

Most fabrics need one layer of interfacing, although you can interface both sides of a collar for an extra stiff collar. Do a test on scraps to see what type of interfacing works best with your fabric.

Step 2: Sew the long collar seam

Step 2 sew long seam on collar

After cutting out your fabrics but before removing the pattern pieces, transfer the pattern markings. On the collar stand, you may see notches for matching and dots or triangles to indicate the shoulder point where the collar attaches to the shirt. This is an important one, so don’t skip your pattern markings!

Next, place the collar pieces right sides together and sew the seam on the long outer edge as shown above.

My pattern happened to have 3/8″ seams. If your pattern has 5/8″ seams, I recommend trimming them down to 3/8″ after stitching to reduce bulk. 

Step 3 press seam open

Press this long seam open. This may seem counterintuitive, but pressing seams open before turning and pressing results in a crisper edge.

Step 3: Sew the short edge seams on the collar

Step 4 sew remaining seams collar

Sew the side edges of the collar. I like to use a shorter stitch near the point for security, since this area will be trimmed close to the stitching. 

Step 4: Trim the collar and turn

Step 5 trim collar

Carefully trim away the point of the collar as shown above. Depending on the angle of your collar point, you might have to trim more than a diagonal. If your collar has a narrow point, then the trimmed off portion might resemble an arrowhead (as mine does). The goal is to have the seam allowances “kiss” in the middle once the collar is turned right side out. 

Step 7 turn collar

Turn your collar right side out and gently push the corner to create the point. You can use a point turner or another blunt tool for this task. Be careful not to poke a hole through your fabric! Go slow and work gently. You can tease the last bit of the corner out with a pin or needle. 

Step 5: Press the collar

Step 8 press collar

Press the collar flat. You can roll the seam edge ever so slightly toward the underneath, which will offset the bottom edge just a little bit.

Step 6: Attach the collar to the collar stand

Step 9 press seam allowance and sew collar to stand

On the collar stand piece that doesn’t have interfacing, press up the seam allowance on the curved edge (which corresponds to the neck seam). Attach the collar to the interfaced collar stand piece, using the dots and notches to align the pieces. Stitch the collar to the stand. 

Step 7: Trim the seam allowances on the collar stand

Step 11 trim seam allowance

Almost done! Time to trim the edges of the collar stand as shown. In commercial sewing, curved seams are trimmed near to the stitching, leaving about 1/8″. No notches are needed and the seam turns right side out beautifully.

Step 8: Give it a press

Step 12- turn right side and press

Turn your collar and stand right side out and press the round sides, working the seam to the edge to get a crisp finish. Press the rest of the collar and now you are ready to attach to the neckline of a shirt.

shirt collar plaid popover top
Sewing Collars on craftsy

A Complete Guide to Collars

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4 Responses to “The Secret to Sharp, Crisp Collars? Lots of Trimming!”
  1. desiree toledo
    desiree toledo

    I am really disappointed that they did not show the last step? thats where I got lost. : (