There is no need to get hot under the collar when you decide to learn how to sew a collar for the first time. Simple sewing steps to follow and the right pattern instructions will make any collar far easier to tackle and sew with confidence.
How to Sew a Collar
This article will show you how to sew a basic collar and then discuss how to attach it to a collar stand or flat neckline.
Steps to sew a basic collar:
Step 1 - Cutting and Marking
Cut out the collar according to your shirt or dress pattern. You will need a front and back for the collar. Ensure you follow the pattern directions for the fabric grainline and mark and notches or marking. The reason for these grain markings is to ensure the curve of the collar is part of the cross-grain of the fabric. This gives it more stretch and elasticity.
Step 2 - Stiffening or Lining
Cut a piece of fusible interfacing or lining for the collar using the pattern piece. The interfacing should be smaller than the fabric. It is usually reduced by the width of the seam allowance in order to reduce bulk.
Depending on your pattern the interfacing may be attached to one or both sides of the collar. The interfacing's main purpose is to add some stiffness to the inside, on the underside, of the collar. If you also need to add it to the outside of the collar, ensure you are using top-quality interfacing that does not wrinkle the fabric once fused.
Iron the interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric. Make sure the interfacing, or stiffening, fits inside the seam allowance lines.
Step 3 - Sewing
Pin the right sides of the collar together, and machine sew along the bottom and side seam lines. Here are some sewing tips to get the smoothest results:
- BASTING: Baste the collar pieces together or pin with dressmaking pins vertically.
- DIRECTION: Start sewing in the middle of the center-back and sew to one side. Return to the middle of the center-back and complete the second side. Then sew the sides. This enables the collar to sew together evenly without too much stretch on either side.
- CORNERS: Make sure you stop at the corners and leave the needle in the fabric while you lift the foot and turn to continue the machine sewing.
Step 5 - Trim and Clip
Trim off the corners of each side of the collar. Clip into the fabric at intervals if you feel the fabric needs a little more flexibility.
Turn the collar right side out and gently push the point of sharp scissors or a knitting needle into the corner to make the tip of the collar stand out in a point.
Press the collar carefully. You may like to topstitch the outside of the collar at this point.
Step 5 - Attaching to the Neck
Now you are ready to sew the collar onto the neckline. Some necklines have a collar stand to sew the collar onto while others are sewn straight onto the neckline. Whichever way your collar is designed, there should be notches to help you fit the collar in place.
Different Types of Collars
Different collar styles will vary in shape ranging from the neat little Peter Pan collar to the large sailor’s collar. Each collar will have to be sewn ready to be attached to the neckline of the garment, or onto the collar stand. Below we will discuss sewing onto a collar stand and secondly straight onto a neckline.
Learn about all the types of collars.
How to Sew a Collar - Shirt Collars
Here are the basic instructions for a simple shirt collar to be sewn onto a collar stand.
Step 1 - Sew the Collar
Sew your collar using the instructions listed above or on your specific pattern instruction sheet.
Step 2 - Sew the Shoulder Seams
Sew the shoulder seams of your shirt or garment and finish the edges.
Step 3 - Stay Stitch the Neck
Stay stitch your neckline where you are planning to attach the collar stand. Remember the collar fits on top of the collar stand.
Step 4 - Attach the Collar to the Collar Stand
Attach fusible interfacing to your collar stand. Make sure you have transferred your markings and any notches in order to match the collar stand together with the collar.
Sew the finished collar into the collar stand. The collar will be sandwiched in the middle of the two pieces of the collar stand which will be right sides together.
Clip any edges that need some more ‘give’ and turn the collar to the right side of the collar stand. Press the collar and the stand and topstitch if desired.
Step 5 - Join the Collar Stand to the Shirt
Put the right side of the collar stand to the right side of the shirt or garment neckline. You are going to sew the right side of the collar stand to the right side of the neckline leaving the collar stand open.
Once you have completed the attachment of the right side of the stand to the neckline, the other part of the collar stand will be turned over the raw edges of the neckline to neaten this area.
The curve of the stand should finish off the buttonhole band or button strip at the top of the opening ready to button up the shirt. Match the notches together carefully and ease into the neckline.
How to Sew a Collar - Flat Collars
The second method of attaching a collar does not require a stand. The collar can be attached to the neckline or it could have a facing to finish off the neck edge. This type of collar is known as a flat collar because it does not require a stand to hold it up. The flat collar lies flat with the neckline of the garment.
Steps to take to sew a flat collar.
Step 1 - Sew the Collar
Assemble your collar according to your pattern instructions or follow the instructions in the first part of this tutorial. Check your pattern markings on your collar and on the neckline.
Step 2 - Sew the Shoulder Seams
Sew the shoulder seams of the garment and cut and sew the facing for the neckline. Check all markings are correct and match up with the collar and the neckline.
Neaten the collar facing and press open the seams of the facing. Lay the garment flat on a table with the right side facing up.
Step 3 - Attach to Neckline
Lay the completed collar onto the neckline. The side of the collar with the interfacing should be facing the right side of the garment. Check all markings match up.
Step 4 - Facing
Lay the facing that you have neatened and pressed right sides down onto the collar pieces. This is a bit like a sandwich - there is the garment, the collar as the center, and the facing on the top. Baste these together along the seam line before sewing or pin vertically.
If you feel the neckline is tight and the facing is not fitting well, then a few small snips into the facing, just to ease it in, may be helpful.
Step 5 - Stitch the Neck
Stitch the facing, flat collar, and neckline in place. Make sure the notches match and the shoulder seams are pressed flat. Snip where necessary to help ease the facing and neckline before pressing the seam.
Step 6 - Fold
Fold the facing into the wrong side of the neckline and the flat collar should rest neatly on the outside of the garment.
How to Sew a Collar - In Conclusion
There are many different styles of collars ranging from the big square look of the sailor's collar to the short stand-up mandarin collar. Collars enhance the neckline of a garment and can lie flat, stand up or even roll over. Every style of collar will either use the stand method of attaching the collar to the neckline or the flat collar method. Collars are a flattering part of the finished neckline and knowing how to neaten them and attach the collar professionally adds quality and distinction.