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Make a Shirt Collar with Channels for Collar Stays

One of the best ways to keep shirt collars looking sharp is with collar stays. These small strips are made of plastic, metal, mother-of-pearl, and even horn.

In order for a shirt collar to accommodate them, it must include channels on the undercollar. This is generally achieved by adding a facing to the undercollar before attaching it to the upper collar.

Shirt collar with collar stay

 

Few shirt patterns accommodate collar stays

Let’s look at how this is done in two commercial men’s shirt patterns. Of the many vintage men’s shirt patterns I own, I’ve found the collar stay option on only a few. These tend to be patterns with a variety of collar styles: pointed, spread, rounded, button-down, etc. If you can’t find a pattern that includes a collar with channels for collar stays, you can create your own. I explain how below.

Channels in a pointed collar pattern

Butterick 5897, a vintage men's shirt pattern from the 1970s

Butterick 5897, which dates from the 1970s, includes the collar stay option. There is a pattern piece for the upper collar, and a separate one for the undercollar. There is also a collar facing piece (see below). The facing sits behind the undercollar on the finished shirt. The undercollar is folded down diagonally along its upper edge. The channel for a collar stay is stitched through the two layers: undercollar on top, facing below.

Butterick under collar pattern piece showing stitch lines for collar stay channels

Close-up of Butterick facing piece for under collar

 

The channel is sewn through two layers: the undercollar layer (red polka dots) and the facing (black polka dots). Naturally, the channel is not sewn through the upper collar or it would be visible on the finished shirt.

Stitched sample of Butterick collar with collar stay channel
This pattern is drafted for a long and narrow collar stay. The width could be adjusted for a wider stay.

 

Collar sample with collar stay protruding from collar stay channel

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