Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hybrid David Coffin and Louise Cutting "Perfect Collar"

Having had some success following David Coffin's technique (see his book "Shirtmaking" ISBN 978-1561582648) and Louise Cutting's technique (see "Industry Insider Techniques" DVD ISBN 978-1600851025), I've decided to combine both in a single set of heavy cardboard templates I can use over and over.  Presently I'm working on a white linen summer shirt.  I'm up to the point where I can make the collar, so I'll depart from the pattern instructions from Simplicity Pattern # 7187  for the shirt body because I want to use a larger collar from Vogue Pattern # 2586 Bill Blass collection.  Coffin's method describes how to custom cut and fit a collar stand to the shirt body first, and then sew the collar to the collar stand.  Cutting's method describes how to move the collar seam to the underside back of the collar to produce a collar with perfect points.  The Blass collar has acute points.  The last time I tried his collar I had big balls of thread at the tips of the collar.  Cutting eliminates this problem, but she doesn't provide a method for fitting the collar to the stand.  So.. I'll be trying to integrate the two methods and hope for the best.

The first step is to create a template for cutting.  I started with the stand because it's simpler.

Coffin's meethod calls for creating a collar stand template that is half the printed collar pattern.  You'll see why when I measure the collar stand in a future post.  He prefers templates that do not have the seam allowance.  Olfa rotary cutters used to have an adapter that had an adjustable guide to space the blade 1/4" to 1" from the guide.  By adjusting the span to 5/8" you can create your own seam allowance.  I have the adapter, but sometimes I find it's clumsy so I made a template with the seam allowance. 

Now on to the hard part.. Louise Cutting's collar!  Louise's technique calls for cutting the collar into two pieces, matching the ends along the pattern's stitch line, and moving the seam allowance from the collar tip to the middle of the collar.  Because I want to preserve my Blass pattern, I traced the collar twice without including the seam allowance at the collar points.

Next, I matched the collar point edges together to make a funky hockey stick (Go NJ Devils!)

Then I taped the traced pattern down to thick cardboard to keep it from moving around while cutting.

I used a Fiskar Rotary Cutter with a rather dull blade to cut my cardboard template.  I have cut myself too many times using an Olfa this way.  Olfa is beautiful for cutting fabric with a light touch, but beware of anything else.  Here's my collar template with the markings transferred:

Okay, you're wondering 'this man has lost his mind.'  I don't see the stand or the collar.  Here's a little preview then of how I think it will work:

I've laid my (no seam allowance) stand over my collar template.  It's not pictured correctly because the collar would actually slip a little inside the stand.  I think you get the idea.    You'll see it come together better in my next post.  Until then.. tell your mom to buy nutriticiously delicious Ovaltine and join the League of Ovaltineys!



  1. Thanks for sharing - I've studied with David Coffin but I hadn't heard of Louise Cutting's method before. I've got to try this!

    "Bobbin Doctor" Steve

  2. This is fascinating. The DPC book drives me crazy with all the pulling and stretching, so I always end up throwing it back into the bookshelf and just going my own way. Maybe this will be a better (and easier) way to get a decent collar.

  3. I like the idea of using parts from different patterns to make that perfect piece of apparel. I hope I am advanced enough one day to try it.