Are you tired of tiny little baby collars? Wimpy little triangles under your face got you feeling blue? Ready to give your neck some real flair à la Queen Elizabeth I?
Okay maybe not THAT much flair. How about a classic ’70s butterfly collar? Good, because that’s what we’re doing today!
I feel like I’ve been seeing this oversized shape in a lot of designer looks lately. These are just a couple that have caught my eye recently, but I also made a Pinterest board dedicated to interesting collars. I think that playing with the collar is a subtle way to add interest to a shirt. I’d like to make a rounded collar, like the Chloé dress below, on another version of this dress.
These designer pieces come with hefty price tags, but luckily it’s fairly simple to make it yourself! Many of you experienced sewists don’t need this tutorial, but I’m leaving it here for anyone who wants a little hand holding with this sort of a modification.
To start, you need the collar piece for your pattern. I used the Kalle Shirtdress, so for this example you’ll see me using the top collar pattern piece (we’ll talk about the bottom collar later). You can do this with most shirt collars, though – it doesn’t have to be the Kalle. You will also need some tracing paper, a writing tool (I prefer pencil because it is easy to erase lines), scissors, and a ruler.
1. Trace your pattern piece onto tracing paper, making sure to add all pattern markings and notches.
2. Now draw in your seam allowances for the outer and front edges of the collar. When altering patterns, it is good practice to remove seam allowance – that’s what I’ve done here by erasing the outer lines.
3. Next, we want to extend the front point of the collar. I placed a ruler against the short front edge of the collar and extended the line by 3 inches. You can make your collar bigger or smaller, depending on your preference.
4. Now we need to redraw the outer edge of the collar so that it meets the front at the new length. I used my ruler to draw a line connecting the center back fold line on the pattern to the end of the line I extended earlier. We now have an enlarged collar pattern, but there are still a couple of things we need to do.
First, contour or curve the outer edge of the collar near center back. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with a sharp V at the back of your collar. Not ideal for sewing. I used my curved ruler to scoop out the back and make it more of a broad U shape instead. You could easily freehand this – a curved ruler is not really necessary.
Another thing you can do at this step is to change the shape of the collar. Say you prefer a rounded collar instead of a pointy one? Or a scalloped collar? The choice is yours!
5. The last thing you want to do is to add seam allowance. Remember how we removed it earlier? Yes, well, now you need it again. I used a ruler to add 5/8″ to the outer edge and front edge of the piece – just go slowly and move your ruler carefully around the curved area. Be sure to add any necessary markings that were erased, as well. My original marking for the notch on the outer edge was still visible on the tracing paper, so I just filled it back in. You could also just place your old pattern piece underneath and trace the notch in the correct place. (Though that notch is just for matching up your top and bottom collar pieces, so it doesn’t really matter where you put it as long as it is in the same spot as the bottom collar’s notch). Once that is done, the top collar is ready to cut out!
Now that bottom collar piece. This is a nifty addition to the Kalle pattern that’s really useful. If you hold it up to the top collar piece, you’ll see that it is a little shorter on the outer edges (about 1/8″). This helps with hiding the seam line when you turn your collar. Obviously, the bottom collar piece that came with the pattern will no longer fit your modified top collar, so you have two options: cut two of the top collar piece and press carefully to hide the seam line (like a lot of patterns do) OR make a new bottom collar.
6. To make the bottom collar, just trace off your new top collar and remove 1/8″ from the outer edge and 1/8″ from the outer front of the collar, tapering to nothing at the inner corner. Again, make sure you’ve included all necessary markings, then cut this out and you’re ready to go!
See? I told you it was easy. Now that you have a nice big collar, you can play around with it however you like. How about some embellishment? Embroidered motifs or initials? Enamel pins? Patches? I opted for two rows of top stitching on mine. The first 1/4″ away from the edge, and the second 1/4″ away from that (man, I love my quilting foot). If you get nervous turning corners on your topstitching, do what I do and draw in your corners with chalk first. It’s fool proof, I promise!
I also simplified the instructions for the top collar in a little diagram, which you can save/Pin for future reference.