{technique} How I sew a collar

In preparation for the #rosasewalong, today I'm sharing a step-by-step guide on how I insert my shirt collars. Tilly's pattern instructions are some of the best ones around. They're very detailed and with clear pictures. Having said that, I prefer to insert my collars differently from what's outlined in the Rosa instruction booklet.
I like to think I've come a long way from my first ever button-up shirt. Although I still have it in my wardrobe, I wear it and I don't think I'll ever get rid of it, it was a bit of a disaster. Mostly owing to the collar. In hindsight, I was far too inexperienced a sewist to have attempted it then. I had no idea how to insert a collar, I didn't know I had to ease in excess fabric and the instructions on that pattern, although perfectly adequate, are a bit on the minimal side.
Fast forward 3 years and I've made a few shirts and shirtdresses and there are many others I have never blogged about. It's safe to say that I've become quite familiar with inserting a collar and today I'm going to show you how I do it.
It's not a miraculous way of doing it. It's just done in a different order. I learned this technique from making Ginner a Simplicity shirt and I've never looked back. It's particularly good for a neat and tidy collar stand edge.
A quick note before we get going: the collar I'm sewing here is from the Deer and Doe Melilot shirt, that's why it looks rounded. But the process is the same for the Rosa or any other collar.
This isn't a replacement for your pattern instructions. I recommend you read through and familiarise yourself with your instructions first. They might have extra steps you need to do that I may not be covering here. Keep them close by in case you need to check certain details, like seam allowances.
Right. Let's go.

You will need both collars and both collar stand pieces. Follow the Rosa instructions until you've trimmed the uninterfaced collar and collar stand pieces.
Take your interfaced collar stand and make a notch at each end using the pattern's seam allowance as a guide. In the case of the Rosa, you will want to notch 1.5cm (⅝") away from the edge. If your pattern already has these marks, just skip this step. These notches will work as guides for where you need to start and finish sewing the collar stand to the neckline.
Pin the interfaced collar stand to the neckline, right sides together, matching up notches and matching the edges of the button plackets to the notches you just made.
You will probably have to ease the collar stand into the neckline, especially between the shoulder seams and centre back. This will be more or less noticeable depending on the fabric you are using. With a sturdier fabric, you can clip at the neckline to try and spread it out better. Be very careful and make sure you are clipping well within your seam allowance.

***Cut too far and you'll ruin your shirt!***

Sew the collar stand to the neckline, starting and finishing at the notches we made at the beginning. You can see in the photo above that the collar stand extends by 1.5cm at each end.
I like to sew with the collar stand on the bottom and the neckline on the top. I find it's less likely that the collar stand will pucker, due to its being interfaced; so having the non-interfaced neckline on top gives me much more control.
Once the collar stand is sewn, trim, grade (if your fabric is thicker) and clip your seams. Press the collar stand and the seam allowance up, away from the neckline. (I forgot to trim the seam allowance on this picture but I did it later on.)
Now sew both of your collar pieces along the outside edge, right sides together. Tilly has some great tips on getting crisp corners in her instructions. Make sure you take a look. Trim your seams. Most collars, like the one on the Rosa, have pointy corners where mine is rounded. You now need to trim the corners of your collar as the pattern instructs you to do.
For my shirt, I used pinking shears because my fabric frays easily but most of the time I just trim it down with regular scissors. Turn your collar right side out and edgestitch around the short sides and outside edge.
Now we're going to pin the collar to the neckline. If you like, you can baste the unsewn edges of the collar together, like I did. It helps to keep everything in place. This is especially helpful if your fabric is slippery or very fine. You should have the uninterfaced undercollar underneath, facing the right side of the collar stand we've already attached. Match up all your notches.
Some patterns have markings on the collar stand to indicate where the edge of the collar should be. If yours doesn't, a good guide is to have the side edge of the collar in line with the inside edge of the button placket, as you can see above. Baste this seam within your seam allowance.
Now take your uninterfaced inner collar stand and press up your seam allowance on the bottom edge.
Pin the inner stand to the neckline, keeping the seam allowance you pressed up. The inner stand will go on top of the collar. You should effectively have a "collar sandwich" in your hands. Make sure that the interfaced side of the collar is the one that is touching the uninterfaced collar stand which we just pinned to the shirt. Before you stitch this up, please read the next couple of paragraphs for some tips to keep in mind while you're sewing this.
If this is your first collar stand or if you don't feel confident yet, it can be helpful to draw the curve your needle has to follow. Another thing that I do is to sew from the middle. I start at the centre back and go to one side. Then go back to the centre back and do the other side. I find this very helpful at avoiding pleats, tucks and puckers. You can also tack this seam first and checking that everything looks as it should, before stitching it with a permanent stitch.
When you get to the edge of the curve, make sure your stitching is flush with the edge of the button placket. I like to have mine 1mm or 2mm further (see above) to account for the fabric bulk when we turn it out. This also ensures that I'm not catching the placket with my stitching, which we really don't want to do. Ask me how I know! 🙄
Right, enough waffling. We're ready to sew it up now.
Trim your seam and notch the curve. Turn it to the outside and press your inner collar stand away from the collar, as shown above.
All that's left to do now is to sew the bottom of the inner stand to the neckline. Some patterns will instruct you to do it by hand sewing it and others will ask you to edgestitch all the way around the collar stand. Whichever way I'm doing it, I like to hand baste it all first. If I'm hand stitching, it saves me getting pricked and, if I'm taking it to the machine, this will ensure that everything will stay in place and not be distorted by pins as I'm sewing. Beware of your seam allowance peaking out from underneath on the curved edges. Hand basting also helps to keep that in check.
And in the interests of keeping it real, even if I hand baste, look how shit can and will still happen! If you look near the mannequin's neck you can just about see a section where I had a little screw-up. I had to unpick that and redo it. Thank you, flimsy fabric!
And there it is! This is where I leave you. With a brand new, beautiful collar, ready for the dreaded buttonholes... Sorry, but you're on your own for those. 😰😩

Phew! This was exhausting and it took WAY LONGER than I expected it to but I hope it's helpful. If there are any mistakes, anything I missed or if something is unclear, please let me know.

Happy shirt making!

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