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How to Reduce Collar Bulk

Photo: Sloan Howard

Contributing editor, Louise Cutting, shares a great technique to smooth away a collar's bulky points and edges from "A Better Collar" in Threads issue #166. The secret is in reworking the collar pattern piece to shift the front edge seams, thus eliminating the stiffness and lumps these seams cause. This altered version works well if you like to wear collars standing up (which puts more color around your face and makes your neck look longer). The collar stays where you place it because this technique puts the undercollar on the bias. This easy-to-follow tutorial will leave you with the perfect collar!

Make the new pattern

The revised collar pattern for this technique starts with the original collar pattern. It can come as one piece cut on a fold or as two pieces-the upper collar and undercollar; follow the same directions for both.


1. Start with a half-collar pattern piece. Usually a collar pattern instructs to cut two on the fold. This example shows a typical half-collar pattern, with the center back placed on the fold. With the collar pattern wrong side up, copy the collar shape to tracing paper. If the seamlines aren't included on the pattern, draw them on. If your copier prints at 100 percent, you can also photocopy the collar pattern, but make sure the collar pattern is placed wrong side up in the copier. You now have two halfcollar pieces, one for the upper collar and one for the undercollar.

Merging upper- and undercollar

Click to enlarge

2. Add a 5⁄8-inch-wide seam allowance to the undercollar pattern piece's center back. Extend the seam allowance from the center-back line.

Half Collar Pattern Piece

3. Tape the upper-and undercollar pieces together, aligning the short front seamlines. Overlap the collar pattern piece along the seamlines drawn in step 2. Label these seamlines as foldlines. The little points at the ends of the collar may stick out beyond the cutting line on the outside collar edge. These points are not needed and may be cut off. The angle of the collar's front edge varies between patterns; consequently, the drafted one-piece collar shape also varies.

Add Seam Allowance

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Comments (15)

sewinginmissouri sewinginmissouri writes: I learned this technique from Nancy Zieman and I am glad it is being used again. Its a shame pattern companies can't do this in the beginning. This is very clever.
Posted: 6:16 pm on April 10th

RedPointTailor RedPointTailor writes: That's great idea! I can always count on you :-)
Posted: 3:41 pm on April 10th

pbeesley pbeesley writes: I used Louise's technique on the last blouse I made - FABULOUS!

Posted: 8:58 pm on April 4th

ustabahippie ustabahippie writes: Terrific idea! I'll make another shirt just to try it. I had just about given up on shirts after my last one. Thanks.
Posted: 5:25 pm on April 4th

LOUISE CUTTING LOUISE CUTTING writes: How to sew the collar: The upper collar needs to be placed toward the presser foot and the under collar is on the feed dogs. The under collar is off grain or can be even a full bias depending on the design of the original collar style.

Off grain or bias sections of garments sew better when placed toward the feed dogs. The feed dogs will ease the bias, while the presserfoot 'pushes' the fabric ever so slightly...the end of the seam will come out even. Sewing the collar this way will keep the front points from curling.

Don't forget to trim the seam, clip the corners, and press the seam open over a point presser/clapper before turning the collar right side out.

Posted: 7:24 am on April 4th

Mamato8 Mamato8 writes: I can see at least one other benefit of doing the collar this way. The center seam on the under collar helps support the back of the collar to help it stand up better!

But I also have a question: How does this change of grain work on the under collar? Does it stitch up the same? No problems with the bias?

Thank you for sharing!
Posted: 11:55 pm on April 3rd

psfws1963 psfws1963 writes: psfws1963 writes:lkie the collar very know i like most all the ideas from threads. threads should have a demo on turtleneck sweaters, and how to take out the neck in change the shape around the neck. posted: 10:02pm on 4/3/13
Posted: 11:03 pm on April 3rd

Mahogany_Stylist Mahogany_Stylist writes: Excellent! I planning to make a few button down blouses this season. This will come in handy. It's also illustrated in Sandra Betzina's tool kit.
Posted: 9:23 am on April 3rd

Bonsal Bonsal writes: Just made a shirt to try out the technique and I'm very pleased with the result.
Posted: 11:24 pm on April 2nd

bobbie12345 bobbie12345 writes: Nice application. I learned it years ago from Nancy Zieman of Nancy's Notions. It was in a couple of her books. But it's been quite a while & a very good way to reduce bulk.
Thanks for reminding us all about this application of the collar pattern splitting.
Posted: 8:48 pm on April 2nd

jansquires jansquires writes: Learned this in one of Louise's certification programs and it is the best technique. Would recommend her program to everyone.
Posted: 7:28 pm on April 2nd

canei canei writes: I tried this when I first saw it demostrated on the Industry Insider Techniques DVD. This way of doing the collar is awesome. Try it you will get the best collar ever!!!
Posted: 7:12 pm on April 2nd

ppinnc ppinnc writes: I have tried it and it works like a charm. Such a simple solution for those bulky front edges ! Thank you Louise Cutting !
Posted: 6:45 pm on April 2nd

sewquilter sewquilter writes: I saw Louisa Cutting show this on Martha Pullen shows and when I make a stand up collar I will probably use this method of doing the collar.
Posted: 6:00 pm on April 2nd

Lena48 Lena48 writes: Wow! This looks like a "keeper"! I can't wait to try this out.
Posted: 5:54 pm on April 2nd

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