Yesterday I showed you a slightly unconventional method for sewing a collar for the Kalle Shirt & Shirtdress. While this is my preferred construction technique for shirt-making, I thought I’d demonstrate the traditional method as well; you should try both and see what you prefer.
To start with, you’ll need the collar stands and 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 collar was actually sewn before I tested sewing sharp collar points and was done using the “miter” corner method with a squared off corner – you can see how blunt it is. Use the thread pulling technique for sharper corners!
Sandwich the collar in between the two stands, right side together. The interfaced side of the collar should be touching the interfaced side of the stand. Pin into place.
Before stitching along the top edge of the stand, you may want to draw in the curved seam allowance using a seam gauge or use the pattern piece as a template. This makes it easier to get a consistent curve when you’re sewing.
Stitch the collar and stands together using a short stitch length (2mm).
Grade and trim the collar stand to reduce bulk and let you easily turn the stand right side out. Don’t clip the curve, just trim close to the seam allowance.
Turn right side out and press thoroughly.
Measure and mark the seam allowance along each shirt front at the neckline. Staystitch just inside the seam allowance all the way around the neckline of your shirt.
Pin the stand to the neckline of the shirt, matching up the edges of the stand with the edges of the shirt. Only pin the outer stand to the neckline, and leave the seam allowances free.
Clip along the curves of the neckline to the staystitch line to “flatten” the seam and get the neckline and stand lined up.
Starting on one end, stitch the stand to the shirt as close as possible to the edge as you can get, without stitching the seam allowance of the stand itself (tuck that seam allowance up and out of the way when you get started).
Continue stitching to the end, again, not catching the seam allowance of the stand itself in the stitching at the other end. The edge of teh stand should be even with teh edge of the shirt on either side when you’re finished.
Here’s the tricky part. The outer stand is now to sewn to the neckline like so:
In order to get a nice clean joint here, we are going to tuck everything inside the corner of that stand and sew about an inch or so in. It’s kind of hard to show in a picture, but essentially you want to roll the collar out of the way, and then turn the stand wrong side out.
The inner stand should fold over along the outer stand, with the collar and edge of the shirt in between rolled out of the way of the seam allowance. You are only catching the seam allowance of the shirt (not the front of the shirt) and the two collar stands with a few pins. The collar and shirt front are rolled out of the way and won’t get caught in the stitching. It will be very tight, but the goal is to stitch that corner for an inch or so, to create a super clear join on front and back.
At your machine, stitch those seam allowances together at 5/8″ as far as you can without catching the shirt front in your stitching. Use a short stitch length, and then trim around the corner and grade seams to reduce bulk.
When you pull the stand right side out, you should have nice clean corners on either side where all the seam allowances are tucked inside. This can be a tricky step so don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes a few tries to get right.
Press the raw seam of the inner stand under along the neckline seam in between the two corners you just sewed.
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 one of the trickiest parts 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.
Continue all the way around until you’ve secured the stand completely.
As I’ve said, I do prefer the more unconventional method, but to each their own!
What’s your preferred method for installing a collar?