If done poorly, collar points on a shirt or blouse are a dead giveaway that something is homemade. Many patterns and textbooks provide what seem to be logical instructions for sewing the points, but in reality, generally produce sub-par results. I have sewn many unsatisfactory collars to support this. Take a look at any store-bought shirt. The points are neither blunted or rounded, but indeed “pointy.”
For more detailed instruction on the ins and outs of sewing a classic dress shirt, check out The Classic Tailored Shirt, taught by expert shirtmaker Pam Howard. She’ll help you tackle tailored garments with ease and achieve professional looking results.
It can be a struggle for the home sewer to achieve those perfect collar points. Here are some secrets professional shirtmakers use for this often frustrating task:
The first lesson from the experts on sewing a dress shirt is don’t follow textbooks or pattern instructions. Replace ⅝” seam allowances with ¼” allowances. Don’t stitch and pivot around corners in one step, but rather make it a two-step process.
And, there are some new rules when it comes to trimming. But the real secret has to do with using thread to pull out the point. Have I caught your attention? You will be amazed at how effective this method is and how much better your collar points will be. It’s not hard, just a new set of steps.
Before I delve into the steps, I want to attribute this method to the right person. This technique comes from David Page Coffin, a shirtmaking expert who’s the former Threads Magazine senior editor, and author of several sewing books and blogs. He authored a blog post last year describing this method, which many sewers, like me, have now adopted.
How to sew perfect collar points
Cut out the collar, reducing the top edge and side seam allowances to ¼”.
Interface as instructed (usually the top portion of the collar).
Stitch the long top collar from end to end in the following manner: Stitch the first ½” with the stitch length reduced to 1 cm, then raise the length to a normal setting. Then, ½” before reaching the opposite end, reduce the stitch again and complete the seam. This will secure both sides of the corner. Press the seam flat and then press the seam open.
Turn the collar so the right sides are facing up and the pressed seam runs horizontally.
Cut a fairly long piece of thread in a contrasting color and fold it in half.
Lay the double layer of thread along the well of the seam line with the looped end extending a good 1 ½” to 2″ beyond the end of the collar.
Making sure the threads are resting on top of the seam line, fold the right sides together to sew the side collar seam with a ¼” seam allowance. When approaching the top edge intersection (about ½” from the edge) reduce the stitch length to the smaller stitch and finish the seam.
Trim off the corner tip, making certain not to cut the thread loop.
Turn the collar right side out. The thread loop will be revealed.
Grabbing both threads, gently pull the thread loop to extract the corner point. Once the point has been fully extended, pull one thread of the loop until all of the thread is released from the collar.
Repeat the process for the other side seam.
Don’t let the large number of steps dissuade you from considering this method. It is effective and will produce sharper, more professional looking collar points, which after all, are the hallmarks of a well-made shirt.
Be sure to come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for a special holiday installment of Free Pattern Friday!