Are you ready to watch a new and exciting way of sewing a shirt collar? Here it comes!
I used this method back when I made Mr. Sewaholic’s shirt here years ago, and remember it made a beautiful collar. I didn’t document the sewing steps then, as I was rushing to finish the shirt in time for Christmas! I wished I had so I could see them for reference, though. This time I took plenty of photos, much better photos than I used to take back then, anyways. Hope these are useful to see! I have used my own photos to refer back to for more Granville Shirts. While the instructions in the Shirtmaking book are great, I’m visual and like to see the steps with real fabric.
There’s more glue-basting in this construction step, too! I’m pretty hooked on glue-basting now. More accurate than machine-basting, faster than hand-basting! Glue-basting and starch, lots of liquids and pastes used in the making of this shirt.
How to sew a shirt collar the shirtmaking way:
- your shirt collar cut from main fabric, two pieces
- your shirt collar cut from a piece of sew-in interfacing
One thing that’s different about this method is that we make the collar first, before sewing the collar stand. We don’t make a collar+stand unit and attach that to the neckline either. Instead we make the collar, then attach the stand to the shirt, then insert the collar into the stand.
So that’s what we’re doing: preparing the collar only. Start with your collar piece in main fabric, and one shirt collar piece cut from interfacing. Then draw in the seam allowances along the short edges and long, top edge. (Basically, the three edges that are not the neck edge.) Then trim off the seam allowances from the interfacing piece only.
Lay the interfacing on top of one collar piece, with the interfacing against the wrong side of the collar. Now is a good time to check the edges of your interfacing, and make sure it’s exactly 5/8″ (1.5cm) smaller than the collar piece. I trimmed parts of mine where it extended too far into the seam allowance.
Fold your collar in half, and clip into the seam allowance to mark the centre of both interfacing and fabric. (If you haven’t marked the middle yet, that is.) The little black arrows indicate the clips, about 1/8″ (3mm) into the seam allowances. This makes it easier to line up the pieces, especially for the next few steps.
Now it’s time to glue-baste! Glue the interfacing to the collar piece. I started at one end and worked my way across to the other side.
Now take the other collar piece cut from fabric. This is where things get interesting, we’ll trim 1/4″ (6mm) from each side of the uninterfaced collar. You can only see one side in this photo but make sure you do it to both ends.
Line up the collar and undercollar, right sides together, starting by matching the points in the middle. You can see that the ends won’t line up, since we’ve trimmed one of the pieces.
Now! What we’ll do is edgestitch around the edges of the interfacing. As we do this, we’ll pull the uninterfaced collar, stretching it to fit the top layer. Sew with the interfaced side on top. Start in the middle, and work your way to the edge. Then start again in the middle, sewing towards the other corner.
Here’s a close-up of where exactly I am sewing:
I’m using the edgestitching foot and lining it up along the edge of the white interfacing, with the needle shifted ever so slightly to the inside of the interfacing for a very close edgestitch.
It’s hard to see the white-on-white stitching but here is how it will look at the point of the collar.
Once you’ve sewn one side, it will be a little bubbly and puffed up on the interfaced side. You can see in the photo below that the top layer is not completely flat. This is intentional, so that the collar will curve around the neck. It will all come together soon!
Flip the collar around and sew from the middle to the other point. You’ll want to use two hands when you sew, to pull that under layer tight as you sew. I’ve tried to demo it with just one hand (and the other on the camera!)
Trim the corners.
Now fold each corner in, and press. This will make the seam allowances naturally want to go into the right place when we turn the collar right side out.
Turn your collar right side out, and press. Use a point turner to poke out the collar points.
Press your collar. It won’t lie flat if you have stretched your undercollar nicely, it will look a bit like this!
Can you tell how three-dimensional it is from that photo? How about this one?
Ok! Only a few steps left. We’ll topstitch the collar next. This is where having that topstitching cheat sheet is handy, so your stitching is consistent on all parts of your shirt.
This photo is meant to demonstrate that you have to stretch the undercollar as you topstitch, or you’ll end up with it all bunched down at the other end.
One final step. If we sew our collar in as it is, it won’t bend nicely over the collar stand. This last step ensures that it has the perfect fold over the stand. I like this step even without any of the above steps! I did it on the pocket flaps for another shirt and it makes a difference.
Fold over the seam allowance along the raw edge of the collar, pressing it towards the undercollar.
Press this fold in place. Now if you line up the raw edges evenly, you’ll have extra fabric bunching on the undercollar. What you want to do is smooth out the undercollar, so it’s flat and even. This will make the edges not line up at the top edge and that’s all right!
Baste close to the fold, within the seam allowance, about 1/4″ (6mm) away from the fold.
Now this is the part where the Shirtmaking book wants you to trim down this seam allowance to 1/4″ (6mm) but I left it as the full 5/8″ for now.
Here’s our finished collar! So pretty. Rounded and formed to the shape of the neck.
Check to make sure the collar points are exactly the same length: check!
Thank you David Page Coffin for sharing this innovative method. This isn’t the collar method included in the Granville Shirt instructions, for simplicity and efficiency reasons, so I wanted to post it here so you can see what I did. I did incorporate some of the theories, like sewing the collar first and folding it over at the seam allowance, but not with the amount of detail I showed here.
By following this method, you end up with a collar that is shaped to the neck and sits very nicely at the neckline.
Next up: sewing the shirt collar stand, again, the Shirtmaking way.
ps. Check out all our posts on shirtmaking here!