We’re rounding the finish line in our Kalle Shirt & Shirtdress sewalong! Over the next couple of days, I am going to show you two methods for sewing a shirt collar, and then we’ll be able to finish up next week with the band collar and cuffs.
In this post I am going to further explain the order of construction for the collar we included in our instructions. I first encountered this method on the Four Square Walls blog, and I know I’m not alone in finding it much easier to sew than the traditional way (although I will show you that as well tomorrow, since you may prefer one over the other).
To start with, you’ll need the collar stand, top and under collar cut out. Interface one of the collar stands and the top collar piece only. If you’d like to reduce bulk, you can trim the interfacing so it doesn’t extend into the seam allowance, but we didn’t do so in this example.
Sew your collar pieces right sides together. I suggest using our tutorial on sewing sharp collar points first. The under collar is slightly smaller than the top; this helps roll the top collar over the under collar a little bit so it doesn’t peek out. Grade your seams. Press thoroughly and topstitch 1/4″ away from the edge.
This is where the order changes a bit. Normally you would assemble the collar and stand fully and then sew the entire thing to the shirt neckline. Instead, we are going to pin the top collar stand (the interfaced one) along the neckline. Makes sure your neckline is staystitched at this stage just inside the seam allowance to prevent the neckline from stretching out.
Clip along the curves of the neckline to the staystitch line to “flatten” the seam and get the neckline and stand lined up. Ensure that the stand extends past each side of the shirt by the 5/8″ seam allowance.
Stitch the shirt to the stand at 5/8″ seam allowance.
Press the seam up towards the stand.
Now pin the collar to the top edge of the top collar stand, matching notches. Stitch together at 5/8″.
You still have a collar stand piece, this one non-interfaced. Press the bottom seam up 5/8″, wrong sides together. Now place the inner collar stand on top of the collar, wrong sides together, sandwiching the collar between the two stands. Pin into place.
Again, the stands should extend past the edge of the shirt by 5/8″. Ensure that the folded edge of the inner stand lines up with the seam line where the outer stand is sewn to the shirt. This ensures that when you flip the entire thing right side out, the two stands will meet up at that seam.
Stitch the stands together at 5/8″, catching the collar in between your stitching. As you turn the corners, you want to be sure you’re not accidentally catching the shirt itself in your stitching. If you have trouble getting a nice smooth curve there, you may find it easier to draw in a guideline using the pattern piece as a template.
Once the collars have been stitched, trim and grade the seam. You’ll want to trim somewhat close to the curve so it turns nicely on the inside. Try to leave a little bit of fabric on the outer edges of the stand; it gives you a little bit to hold onto and tuck out of the way. If you trim it too close you may see it peeking out when the stand is topstitched later.
Turn the collar right side out and press thoroughly. Ensure the folded edge of the inner stand lines up with the seamline of the outer stand. Grade seams to reduce bulk and press thoroughly.
Before we topstitch the collar into place, we want to secure the inner stand in place. You can slipstitch it in place by hand, use wonder tape, or use a fabric glue stick and glue baste in place. You can also try pinning it in place but I find you’re more likely to get puckers and misalign the inner stand this way.
With inner stand secured, it’s time to topstitch. This is the trickiest part of sewing shirts because it can be challenging to get your stitching even on both inner and outer stand. Most instructions call for you to topstitch on the outside of the shirt, but if you always wear your shirt unbuttoned like I do, you may want to do it from the inside so you can guarantee the topstitching is even on the side of the stand you’re most likely to see.
Start your stitching at the center back of the shirt. You’ll be topstitching about 1/8″ from the edge; an edge stitch foot can help you get even stitching here. Ignore the pins in the picture below; if you’ve glue or hand basted the stand in place you won’t need them.
Continue sewing all the way around the perimeter of the stand. When you approach the corners, leave the needle down and turn your work.
When complete it should look something like this (but hopefully with less puckers – this fabric was a beast to sew!)
At this point you can go ahead and sew your buttonholes and buttons. I suggest taking a look at our post on sewing perfect buttonholes if this strikes fear into your heart.
Tomorrow I’ll show you the “traditional” method for sewing collars. Hope you consider trying this method for your Kalle or other shirts though – I really do find it much easier to get good results!