Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Collar Stand

Oh boy, the pressure is on.  Two of you are really following what I'm up to with this stand. I'll do my best to document is detail each step in process of making a collar stand.  A couple of nights ago, I made three cardboard templates for the collar stand with seam allowance, stand without allowance, and the collar.  Rather than follow the pattern instructions and cut the stand, one uses a half pattern and measures directly from the shirt body.  This is critical if you want to use a collar from a different pattern; say a Vogue collar on a Simplicity shirt body.  Tonight, I did just that...

When the front and back are sewn to the yoke, one has a nice round neck hole.

When I first cut the front and back pieces, I stay stitched the top edge to keep it from unravelling.  I stay stitch a second time the full length of the neck opening.

To straighten out the neck edge for measuring, one clips "V"s just inside the stay stitching line. 

Then the shirt can be stretched out for measuring.

Measured the shirt as 18 1/4", divided my measurement in half, added the 5/8" seam allowance and marked my cardboard template (in pencil .. erase for future use)

I folded two pieces of my fabric, and placed the template with the pencil line on the fold.  Then I cut.

At this point, I admit I already had made some mistakes.  I probably should have given myself a touch more fabric on the collar stand.  [sigh] Onward!  Remember the template without the seam allowance?  I lined up the front center line, and transferred my mark for the fold to the template.

Then I lined up my template on folded fusible interface, cut it and ironed it on one of my two collar stand pieces.  This interfaced stand would become my outer stand.  To mark the center of the stands, fold them, and nick off the edges.

Here's the cut stand pieces, interface fused and center knicks..
And that was the easy part.. next fold the shirt body neck line and mark the center.  Line up the center knick of the fused stand to the mark on the back of the shirt, right-side to right-side.  Pin the outer stand to the back.

And just to check, I measured the overlap of the stand from the shirt body.  Uh, oh.. it's less than my seam allowance.. [sigh] Onward!

I tried it a couple of times with the same result and only caused more fraying.  The next step is to sew the outer stand from the center of the stand out to the edge of the front piece.  Stop the needle right at the edge of the shirt body fold and leave a long tail of thread.  When you sew the inner stand, you start at the center and sew out to the thread tails.    (Notice how I marked my sewing machine bed with red tape to indicate 5/8" from the needle on both left and right sides.)

Next I sew the inner stand to the body.  On his DVD, Coffin demonstrates a method for introducing some curve into the collar stand by pulling on the sewn body while leaving the inner stand loose.  ISBN 978-1600850776.  He makes it look so easy on the DVD.  Kind of like how Devils Goalie Martin Brodeur makes stopping power play goals look easy. I have mixed success (putting it nicely).  Pin the center, lay the inner stand down on the feed dog, put the presser foot down, and do a few stitches.  With the needle down into the fabric, lift the presser foot, pull the completed body/outer collar to the end of the inner stand to match the tips.  Put the presser foot down and sew through the stitch line of the outer stand while holding the out stand taunt and the inner stand (underneath) loose.  When in doubt, ignore all of this and just try to stitch the two stands together so they match up. Sew from the center to the long thread tails I mentioned above.

Have I lost you?  Just scroll up and start over.  Having successfully sewn the inner and out stands to the thread tails, you will notice that the little flaps of fabric (see the picture above with the purple ruler) are loose and not sewn together.

Next were going to mark off the stitch line on the stand for closing up the stand.

Using the cardboard template again, mark the center line on the collar.  Then, from the edge where your stitching ended at the thread tails, trace a line out to the marked centerline.  The line should be 5/8" from the edge of the fabric at the centerline.  You can see the arc of my line is much smaller at the tail threads  -- because I screwed up somehow in measuring or cutting or stitching, who knows [sigh] Onward!

Here's where it gets really crazy.  The shirt body is folded up, encased inside the collar stand, and then one sews along the stitch line just drawn.

You can see the shadow of my folded shirt inside the collar.  Stitch from the centerline, along the drawn line to the tail threads.  You should end up right on the stitch.

Then trim off to about 1/8" to the stitch line (otherwise you'll get a ball of fabric when you turn the stand out.  And that's the next step.. using a point turner (Coffin has a very fancy turner on his DVD that looks like ice tongs).  Then press your stand.

The compare the right and left sides.  Grown men may weep at this point.  I know I do either way when I've got it or made a mess of it.  Lastly, I put the shirt on my dress form.  Ugh.

 You can see I somehow missed my stitch line on sewing the inner stand and there are about a half dozen stitches slightly down.  What?  Me worry? With luck, my collar will cover this mistake.

I'll leave you with one last picture.  I went to a church rummage sale today.  I found four nice pieces of fabric for 50 cents.  In a sewing basket filled with crochet thread, I found this lovely Lady Bunny.  She's a beautiful work of art.. only $1.

Another time, I'll take better pictures of her in the daylight.   She's entirely hand stitched.  Her nose and eyes are hand embroidered.  She'll be my sewing muse going forward.  Gnight!


  1. Nice tutorial on the collar stand. It is interesting the different methods that are used for attaching the collar stand to the shirt.

  2. Tom, it's expensive (you might want to look on eBay) but I highly recommend Margaret Islanders tape (now DVD), "Shirts Etc."

    Islander has a great method of attaching the collar to the stand before attaching the stand to the shirt -- and many other excellent methods for shirtmaking. You might be a person who prefers books to videos, but if you're not, the Islander tape is a great addition to your sewing video library.

  3. Completed stand with collar v. Stand first and then collar .. Both methods produce a finished collar. I haven't settled on which approach works best for me. It is a good subject for discussion.