Adding a collar can make your dress or top look extra fabulous — but it can also be a nightmare if not sewn on correctly. So if you’re planning to sew your own collar, follow these tips to help you nail that polished look.
1. Make Sure You’re On Grain
If the collar has lines or a grid — or any details that could give away a not-so-straight sewing job — make sure the collar is perfectly on grain with the threads and print of your fabric.
2. Take Your Time Cutting
If you’re using pins and scissors, make sure to pin the collar well around all the curves. If you’re using weights and a rotary cutter, make sure to use a sharp blade for clean cuts and heavy weights so the collar won’t shift in the process.
3. Use Interfacing to Give the Collar Body
It’s best to use a piece of interfacing that’s the size of your collar, without the seam allowance on either curved edge. Otherwise the seams will be very thick, and they’ll stand out from the garment around the neck.
Also, be sure to only press the interfacing onto the under collar, not the upper collar. This will add strength and body to the whole collar while allowing the upper part to look like the original fabric and not get too stiff.
4. Mark Those Pivot Points
Use a seam gauge and fabric pen to mark the pivot points before you pin your upper and under collars pieces together. Make sure to follow the seam allowance for the project you’re sewing.
When you’re topstitching the collar, mark your pivot points with water soluble marking tools. Pens make a perfect mark for precision turning, but always test your marking tool on scrap fabric first.
5. Check the Size of the Under Collar
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’ll have some edges to ease together along the curve, so they won’t lay flat while you’re pinning.
6. Take Note When Turning Corners
When you turn the corner, stop just short of your pivot mark and sink your needle into the fabric before lifting the presser foot up. Once you do, pivot and see if you’re on your mark for the seam allowance. If not, return to the right position and turn the hand wheel forward to move another stitch. If a full stitch will overshoot your mark, turn down the stitch length to move forward a smaller amount.
7. Trim Carefully
After you sew the collar pieces together, trim the corners to get rid of the bulk — but don’t get so close to the stitching that you risk weakening the stitch.
You’ll also want to trim the entire collar seam allowance down to around ¼”. This will create a smooth curve around the whole collar, and it’s better than clipping or notching.
8. Use a Point Turner
To get crisp corners, turn the collar right side out and poke out the seam allowance with a point turner. Be firm with the point turner, but not so much that you poke through your seam stitching.
9. Roll the Seam
When pressing the seam flat, roll the seam to the underside of the collar. If the under collar is smaller, this will happen on its own. If it’s not, you’ll need to trim the neck curve to allow for the amount you’re rolling to the underside.
10. Finish Strong
Topstitching your collar with a ¼” seam gives it a polished and professional look. (This would be a perfect use for your ¼” seam foot.) When you’re done, finish your collar with a final press and clip the loose threads.