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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adventures in collar making

A while back I posted links to what seemed to me to be the three most popular approaches to collar-on-a-stand making. I now have tried all three and found my favourite, the one that suits my sewing personality.

Here's which one and here's why.

Debbie and Belinda's Insert-the-collar-last method gets this random sewer's vote. It seems to me to be the method I am most likely able to master, yes master, with a bit more practice. The reasons have to do with the fact that this method deflects the tricky sewing into bigger spaces where you can get your hands in there and has space to resew imperfections, rather than ripping out stitches. It also has a few smart tricks (see previous post on why I love smart instructions, preferably with tricks I haven't seen before).

Let me explain, with a list of the reasons this method works for me:

1. In this method the long neckline edge of the bands are sewn first, and independent of the collar, to the neckline edge, sandwiching the shirt between the two. As we all know sewing a flat thing (the bands) to a curved thing (the shirt neckline) can be tricky and the risk of getting those little mini pleaty things caught up in the seam is high, and annoying. Because you have the tops of the bands still open when you do this step, and don't have the collar to worry about yet, it is easier to keep this seam under control and see what you are doing. Also if you work with 5/8" seam allowances there is something for your  hands to hold under the needle and you can cut these seam allowances off to 1/4" after wards - same end effect without the scaring feeling of letting go of little pieces of fabric as they disappear under the presser foot.

2. The curved ends of the stand are then stitched as far as the collar opening, and again because the collar is still not yet involved, it is easy to see and hold onto. The idea of drawing in stitching lines with a template was a good one ( I made a little template cut from the file folder I keep tax stuff in - I am sure in a few months I will wonder what idiot cut a curved shape out of the edge of the folder) and I discovered that if you don't get both curves completely even and the curved the same, you can go back and restitch until they are quite easily, which of course I did, without having to unpick previous stitches and starting that whole fraying process. There is no end of collar bump in this method, much like the Burritto.

This system also calls on one of the Major Rules of Successful Sewing  which is it is always better to do a series of short, in control seams than one big long I-hope-I-am-lucky-and-it-looks-better-from-the-right-side seams. 

3. The last thing you do is pop in the completed collar in the last remaining opening which is at the top of the collar band. I like this because the Tricky Seam was actually a big flat one where you had large pieces to work with to pin and again your hands and eyes could see what you are doing - easy too to compensate for any tiny inaccuracies in how big and opening you left by unpicking the odd stitch or closing a too big gap with top-stitching.

OK, and what would you be worried about in this last seam? That the two sides of the band wouldn't be completely even and that you might have one slip away and miss the top stitching that captures in the collar? Am I right? Of course but, and here is the smart part, before you start this whole process you baste these two edges together, press and then remove the basting stitches - so the two seam allowances you are going to be tucking in around the collar are already perfectly even and pressed ready to go before you even start the collar insertion process.

I mean how smart is that? 

You can see some of the stitches in my straight stitch plate
post and in the shots I will be taking of this latest shirt once I get to the buttonholes.


LisaB said...

Thanks for a good review of this method. I look forward to seeing your completed collar!

Debbie Cook said...

Thanks for the nice comments. :-)

"before you start this whole process you baste these two edges together ..."

I never like the instructions that tell you to turn under and press these kind of edges. First, the iron is hot and my fingers have to be close to it. And second, it's just so much easier to baste it, press it nice and even, and remove the basting. As in ... DUH! lol So I do this a lot in other applications too, not just collar stands.

The link you gave the other day to a pictorial tutorial had a step that I liked. Something about 2 passes on the collar stand. I need to revisit that, because an inspection of my husband's shirts shows this in every one.

Julie Culshaw said...

This sounds like the method that Nancy Zeiman had in a pattern years ago. Do you know if it is the same one, Barb?
I agree, this one seems much easier to manage well whereas the burrito method is hit or miss for me.

Digs said...

I used the burrito method, imperfectly at first but improving with each successive application. It does help to baste the last seam (the upper back edge of the collar stand) down before topstitching. I'll be using your #3 method to correct my off-centre first attempt.