Shirtdress Sew-Along: Sewing Collars

Sewing collars. On the McCall Pattern Company Blog.

Does the thought of sewing a collar make you want to bypass any pattern with one? Collars can be intimidating at first, but it’s easy to become proficient in them. In this post we’ll walk through sewing and attaching a collar and collar stand. But first, four tips:

Tip 1: If you’ve never sewn a collar with a collar stand before, practice on muslin fabric first. Choose any old fabric that’s approximately the same weight and type as your shirtdress fabric. Cut out the collar and collar stand (two pieces of each), and enough of the front and back bodice to attach at the neckline. Follow the pattern instructions to make the collar and collar stand and then attach it to the bodice. Practice, practice, practice.

Tip 2: You can use any instructions you like to make the collar and collar stand; you aren’t bound to use the ones that come with our patterns. I have Shirtmaking by David Coffin in my sewing library and use it often. Whatever works for you.

Tip 3: Press your collar every step of the way. You can follow every step and stitch it perfectly, but if you skimp on the pressing part you’ll end up looking like a beginning sewer. Read our post on pressing in case you missed it.

Tip 4: Collarless shirtdresses and shirts look just as chic, if you want to skip a few steps and streamline this part of the process. I may sew M6885 again without a collar.

Ok, now let’s break it down. These are the basic steps reflected in most of our pattern instructions for attaching a collar and collar stand. (Let’s assume you’ve already interfaced these pieces as directed.)

Staystitch the neckline edge. You do this so the neckline doesn’t stretch out before you attach your collar, which it can because parts of the neckline are on the bias.

Fig 1 collar-points

Stitch the collar pieces together as directed, but in the areas of the collar points, decrease your stitch length to about 1.5 or so [fig. 1]. You need this area to be strong and sturdy when you turn out the collar and work those collar points to get them nice and sharp. It is so easy to poke through the collar when you’re trying to turn it (ask me how I know).

Before you turn your collar, trim the seams, cutting close to the stitching at the collar points. Then press the seams open using a point presser tool like this [fig. 2]. Turn, using something like this tool to get the collars nice and sharp. Press and edgestitch.Sewing collars. On the McCall Pattern Company Blog.

Follow the directions for turning in the seam allowance on one of the collar stands.

Sewing collars. On the McCall Pattern Company Blog.Next, you’re going to layer the collar between the collar stands as shown in fig. 3. Stitch as directed. Before you trim, turn everything out and check that your collar’s front edges on both sides look identical (size-wise) at the places indicated in fig. 4. If you fold your collar and collar stand in half, the front edges should mirror each other exactly. If not, adjust as necessary. Then trim and press the seams as directed.Sewing collars. On the McCall Pattern Company Blog.

Attaching the collar to the neckline is where things can get a little squidgy. First, if you’re working with a woven fabric it’s helpful to clip the neckline to the staystitching you did previously. Pin the collar stand edge to the neckline edge as directed, then hand-baste it in place and remove the pins. Important: You want to make sure when you turn the seam allowance you’reSewing collars. On the McCall Pattern Company Blog. about to stitch to the inside, that the seam allowance and the front neckline edges (the plackets if you’re making a shirtdress) become neatly enclosed under the collar stand [fig. 5]. You will need to trim this area first before turning, but be careful not to trim too much.

Turn, trim and press as directed. Before you edgestitch the collar stand, hand-baste it in place [fig. 6].


Sewing collars. On the McCall Pattern Company Blog.

That’s it for making and attaching a collar and collar stand. Key take-away points:

  • Hand-baste, rather than relying on pins, to achieve greater control as you sew
  • Press seams open and don’t neglect the collar points
  • Check for symmetry between front right and front left sides of your collar and collar stand.

The first collar you sew may be a little intimidating, but it’s all downhill after you’ve conquered the initial one. Good luck!

• • • • •

Oliso® Smart Iron with iTouch® Technology TG1100Shirtdress Sew-Along Giveaway! We are giving away a brand-new Oliso Smart Iron, and a goodie bag from Clover filled with cool sewing notions, to one lucky Shirtdress Sew-Along participant chosen at random. All you have to do to participate in this giveaway is show that you’re finished with your shirtdress, or are at least half-way through with it, by July 31, 2016 [new extended date]. To do so, you can upload a photo to the “Shirtdresses We Made” photo album if you’re a part of our Facebook group (new members welcome!). Or, you can post a photo on your own social media—just tag us and use the hashtag #shirtdresssewalong. If those options aren’t your thing you can email a low-res photo to  Can’t wait to see what you’ve made! [8/22/16 update: This group is now closed as the sew-along is officially over. All shirtdress construction information and tips are located on this blog.]

We’ve been sewing since 1863.

  1. The best Tutorial on collars. Pressing is sure the most important part for a perfect collar. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for posting. I was too impatient & should have waited instead of plotting through last night. I finished it & happy with the results!

  3. David Coffin has a great article in this months Seamwork magazine about how to make perfect points. In it he recommends not trimming the corners in favor of folding them. Since I’ve never tried that method I think I’ll practice and give it a go for my shirt dress collar.

    1. Interesting! Let me know what you think of this technique.

  4. How do you deal with a collar made of cotton eyelet? I am specifically referring to interfacing that you would be able to see through the eyelet? Someone suggested to me to try and match the colour with a broadcloth that would be interfaced but Idon’t think you would be lucky enough to get the right colour in every case.

    1. Hello,

      I just finished my eyelet shirtdress a couple of days ago (McCall’s 6696) and I interfaced the collar and the bands with silk organza. It worked great! Happy sewing 🙂

  5. I haven’t used piping on clothing yet. Do you have any tips on how to do it? Thank You

    1. Hi Norma! I plan on writing a blog post about this soon. Stay tuned!

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