Hey, everyone! Today I’m back to demonstrating sewing the Renfrew Top, working on the collar of View C next. I’m excited to add this demo to the library as it will answer a lot of questions!
Here’s where we left off, if you’re just catching up – Sewing and Stabilizing the Shoulder Seams. Or if you want to catch up on the whole series, check out the list of posts here. (Get the pattern here.)
- A Big List of Tips for Sewing Knits!
- Three Tips for Sewing Stripes
- Introducing the Renfrew Top
- Sewing the Renfrew Top: What Would You Like to See?
- What’s a Stable Knit Fabric?
- Assembly-Line Cutting and Sewing
- Cutting Knit Fabric: Making Sure Your Project is Cut On-Grain
- Make Patterns Last Longer: Iron Interfacing to your Pattern Pieces
- Renfrew Top: Choosing which View to Make
- Thoughts on Cutting Knit Fabric
- Cutting Striped Knit Fabric and Matching Stripes
- Why Add Twill Tape to the Shoulders? Plus Possible Substitutions
- Seam Allowances on the Renfrew Top
- Approaches to Sewing Knits
- Sewing & Stabilizing the Shoulder Seams
Next, we’ll construct the collar and sew it to the neckline of our top. We’ll finish the seam allowances, and then secure the seam allowances to the neckline with zigzag (or other stretchy) stitching.
Remember, you’ll need two pieces of the collar. The collar or cowl is self-lined, which means that it’s double-layered, sewn together at the edge where there would normally be a hem if it was a single layer.
There are two good reasons to do it this way: one, your cowl collar will be twice as warm and two, it’s easier to sew a seam than to sew a nice-looking stretchy hem.
If you have less fabric, or didn’t want to have a double-layered cowl, simply cut one collar piece. Instead of following the sewing directions, sew the centre back seam of the cowl and then hem the edge. (If you have tips on how to get a nice-looking hemmed cowl, let us know!)
Next, place the collar pieces on top of each other, right sides together. (Yes, it says wrong sides together in the instruction sheets! This is corrected in the second print run but it’s incorrect in the first printing. Here’s a link to the Errata page as a reference. I strive for perfection but sometimes it escapes me!)
It’s a bit hard to see what’s happening in that photo, I’m pinning along the top edge. The one without any notches, the edge that is wider than the other edge. Right sides of the fabric are on the inside.
Sew along this pinned edge.
If your fabric is likely to get chewed up by the machine at the edges, stop just short of the edge. (I’d forgotten to make this note but remembered as soon as I saw this photo!)
I’m stopping about 1/4″ (6mm) from the raw edge of the fabric, backstitching, and then going forward slowly, instead of sewing right to the raw edge.
I trimmed the seam allowances of this seam.
Ok. We’re approaching the part where people got confused. These aren’t the greatest photos, but bear with me. I think they demonstrate the collar construction and how to arrange your fabric pieces pretty well.
We’ve just finished sewing the seam, right? Our piece is still on the table, right sides together, exactly as it came out of the machine. Now lift up the top layer of the collar..
.. and spread the collar piece open. The right side of your fabric is facing you.
Now grab the closest edge to you, the bottom edge from how the piece is oriented, and lift it upwards like you’re folding a sheet, lining it up with the top edge.
The wrong side of the collar is facing you, the shorter edges are lined up, raw edges together, the right side of the collar is on the inside. Are you still with me?
Now pin along the raw edge that’s opposite the folded edge. (I’ve rotated the piece since the image above, what was the top is now the right side edge.)
Sew this seam. The picture below has the collar hanging off the table a little just so it would fit.
Press this seam open. I used a seam roll so that the seam allowances wouldn’t show on the right side and so I didn’t have to stretch the collar over my ironing board.
We have a collar tube at this point. Now, fold the collar in half, wrong sides together, lining up the raw edges.
See? Now we have the completed collar, ready to attach to our necklines. I hope this was easy to follow!
Next we’ll line up the raw edges, to prepare them for sewing to the shirt. Make sure the seam allowances are still open when we line them up.
Pin at each notch and seam point, lining up the raw edges. What we’re doing is making it easier to pin the collar into the neckline, if we’ve already lined up the collar’s two edges, then we only have to line up the collar to the neckline, rather than worrying about all three layers separately.
Next, get your top! We’re nearly finished. Arrange your top body so that the right side is facing you, with the top right side out.
Next, we’ll line up the four points on the collar to four points on the neckline.
Here’s what lines up to what:
- Centre Back Collar Seam – centre back notches on neckline
- Sideseam notches – shoulder seams on neckline
- Centre Front Notch – centre front notch
If you start with the centre back, the rest will fall into place.
Start pinning centre back to centre back, matching the seam of the collar to the notches at the back neckline.
In between the pins at the notches, make sure all three layers are lined up. Use as many pins as you need to feel comfortable sewing the seam.
Next, sew the neckline. This is where you want to use a stretchy stitch. I’m using my machine’s stretch stitch and stretching the fabric ever so slightly.
Here’s what it will look like, fresh out of the machine!
It’s normal for it to look a little puckery around the curve, as long as there are no actual puckers. A good press will take care of that!
First, I finished the seam allowance. Again, it’s optional, but I like the look.
Now, we’ll press the seam allowance down, away from the collar, towards the body.
Next, we’ll topstitch around the neckline! This is optional. You don’t have to topstitch around the neckline, but there are a few reasons I do it. One, it keeps the seam allowance secured. Ever had a purchased tee shirt where after washing, the neckline seam would flip out? I like my seam allowances to behave, so I’ll topstitch to keep them in place. It also creates a flatter seam, and defines the neckline. (And if you don’t like it, the cowl mostly covers it anyways!)
If you do topstitch, use a zigzag or other stretchy stitch.
Not sure about how your stitch is going to look, or if it will stretch? Sew a row on a scrap of fabric. Experiment with different stitch lengths and widths to get the look you want.
Press the neckline seam.
Now that’s a nice-looking neckline!
And with the cowl folded down..
That was a lot of photos! I hope this clears up some of the confusion on how to sew the collar. Once you try it for yourself, I bet it will all make a lot of sense. Let me know if you have questions!