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Collar roll

There's a bit of patternmaking going on here -I am finalising a few summer styles.  While my mind is on patternmaking I wanted to share some thoughts on collars.

The collar is an important part of a garment, as it frames the face.  Just as you wouldn't hang beautiful art in a bad frame, you wouldn't want a top, dress or jacket finished with a poorly designed or constructed collar.  And as it is the piece of the garment closest to the face, it is the part of the garment people will look closely at.  To me, one thing that determines whether a collar works or not is the amount of roll in it.

A_coat_blue1 I'll try to explain by showing you this example.  See how the outer edge of the collar sits flat against the coat.  There is no flaring or scalloping around the outer edge; and yet there is a curve or roll to the collar piece from inner seam to outer seam that causes it to sit up from the garment.

Does that make sense?  Rather than a straight line from the inner seam to the outer seam of the collar, there is a gentle rolling curve.  There is probably a cm or two of air between the collar and the coat.

G_shirt_frill1 Here is another example (from my range about 5 years ago).  This collar to me is showing just a little too much roll.  It's sitting up a little too high around the neck, and would benefit from less roll.

To me it looks a little restricting and too uptight (if a collar can be uptight).

Collar example Here are a couple of examples of shirts from a lovely overseas brand.  I do like this brand, but I'd love to have my way with the collars.  They are just a bit flat or clown-like (ooh, that's harsh I know, I debated typing that, but it's what they remind me of).  There is a lot of fabric in them and they get a fluted or wavy finish to them, or the outer edge sits up from the shirt (as in the top example).  I guess it's a matter of personal preference and many people will prefer them this way.

Adjusting the collar pattern piece is easy.  You can change the amount of roll in the finished product.  If you want more roll you reduce the length of the collar's outer edge.  If you want less roll you increase the length of the collar's outer edge.  And here is how you do it.  (Click on the images to enlarge.)

Collar1 Trace your collar piece on to patternmaking paper (baking paper will do).  Make sure you mark the neck seam as you do not want the length of this to change because then it won't match the neck seam on your other pattern pieces.

Collar2 Make several cuts at right angels to the seams right up to the neck seam.  I made 6 in this case.  Make corresponding cuts in the seam allowance of the neck seam so you will be able to manipulate the paper more easily.

Collar3 To increase collar roll, overlap the segments of the collar at the outer seam.  Tape them into place.  I have overlapped them by only 1mm (times 6).  Use sticky tape to hold the segments in the new position.

Collar4 Trace the new shape onto a fresh piece of patternpaper.  Test the new collar piece in inexpensive fabric and drape it on a dressmaker's stand or real model to see if you like the look of it.  Continue the process until you get the desired effect.

Conversely, to decrease the amount of roll, fan out the segments so there is space between each one.   Hold in place with sticky tape and retrace it. 



I get the whole collar roll thing after your brilliant explanation! Thanks. I look forward to sitting down and doing a collar with your tute in front of me.


Oh My God - and I thought the collar points looked hard!!!!!

Violet & Rose

I'll never look at a collar in the same way again!

Jean C.

Great tutorial! To be honest I looked at the first picture of the blue plaid and really liked it! Then the more I read and then re-read what you had to say (it takes a couple of times to sink into this grey matter of mine) I could see where your right. I would look better with a tad bit less roll, but, the first white one... to me looks like something the Flying Nun would wear to take flight with. (Do you know who the Flying Nun is?) It's much too flat and stiff looking for me. I guess I want the child/adult to enjoy wearing the outfit too.
Anyway, I enjoy your posts!


Although I have never sewn a collar, after that tutorial I believe I should and could. Thanks for sharing.


Wow! Inspiring attention to detail :-)


Thank you so much for explaining everything so well. Very helpful!

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