Let take a peek at collars today. Collars circle the neck, either quite closely, or further away, and work to add design flair to a garment. They come in different shapes, sizes, widths and styles. Collars should ALWAYS work to enhance the design of the garment you’re attaching it to.
So, what collars do you know? Have a quick tally up in your head, or on a sheet of paper.
Classifying A Collar
Now, do you know that there are only two neckline shapes for a collar?
- Convertible collars
- Non-Convertible collars
Yes, they sound a lot like cars right? 😉 Let’s have a look at what these mean!
Firstly, when talking about collars, what does ‘Convertible’ mean?
It is how the collar reacts to being attached to the neckline.
Think about a shirt collar. It’s an easy collar to picture.
Made up of a stand and a collar. When we stitch the curved collar edge to the slightly straighter stand edge, we force the collar to sit a certain way. So Convertible Collars are collars that are cut ‘not conforming’ to the neckline shape. Part of their intended design is how they are forced to then conform to the shape of the neckline.
Further more, when the prepared shirt collar (collar and stand attached) is laid flat, it has a very slight curve at the CF end of the collar stand. The neckline we then attach it to is quite curved yes? So when you add that straight edge to a curved edge, the piece with the straight edge is forced to behave in a certain way. That’s why shirt collars work the way they do.
These are the opposite of convertible collars. They mimic the shape of the neckline that we attach the collar to. Unfastening this collar will keep it sitting exactly in the same place. It is almost like a facing like that, only cut for design, and on the outside of the garment. (Read last week’s post on facings here.)
A good example of a non-convertible collar is the Peter Pan Collar. This is cut to follow the neckline that it is attached to.
Types Of Collar
But, do you know that there are only three types of collar?
- Flat Collar (convertible)
- Stand Collar (convertible)
- Roll Collar (both)
That’s it. Every collar I’ve ever seen is a variation on one of these three collar types. .
• Peter Pan? Flat collar. (Non-convertible)
• Mandarin? Stand Collar. (Convertible)
• Sailor collar? Flat collar (Non-convertible)
• Turtle neck? Roll collar (Convertible)
Is your brain feeling as ‘collared’ as mine with all the information? 😉
Frequently Used Collar Terms
There are only four terms frequently used when talking about the collar.
- Collar Edge
- Collar Stand
- Roll Line
- Neckline Edge
This refers to the edge of the collar. It is the most ‘designed’ part. You can shape it in a gazillion ways, and it will affect the overall design of the garment.
This is the amount that the collar ‘stands up’ by. If the stand is separate, it would be the height of the stand, if designed in, it is the distance between the neckline edge and the point that the collar rolls over.
This is the line that ‘rolls’ over on collars. Essentially, it is the visible or invisible join line between the collar and the stand. Even on convertible collars – Peter Pan as an example – that 1cm seam allowance attaching the collar to the neckline acts as a stand which causes a ‘roll’ of sorts.
The most important measurement when thinking about adding a collar. It is the part of the collar that attaches to the neckline of our garment.
If designing more complex collars there are other features to consider.
- Break line
- Gorge Line
- Break Point
- Top Collar
What? This may have quite possibly terrified you into never designing and adding on a collar to your creations, but fear not my fashion creative friends!
When creating a jacket with a collar and lapel, I tape the ‘break line’. This is the line of the fold. It isn’t a stitch line, but a gentle fold line, whereby the turning down of the collar makes the lapel ‘fold’ over.
Also called a ‘rever’, a lapel is actually the facing of a garment, turned over to reveal itself. Some designers use a contrasting facing fabric, so that when the lapel is folded over, it becomes a design feature.
This is the seam line which connects the collar to the lapel. Think about tailored pieces, with different collar styles. Peak, notched etc. A gorge line isn’t usually used on a regular fashion piece, it is normal in tailored pieces, so don’t panic! 🙂
A break point is not just the title of a film. Nope. It is also the term used to describe the point at which the lapel folds over from the edge.
If a collar is not created with one layer of fabric, it requires a top and bottom collar. The top collar is usually cut 2 millimetres larger or more than the under collar, depending on the fabric choice, so that when they are stitched together, the top collar rolls under slightly, hiding the stitch line.
This is also called a ‘bottom’ collar in commercial patterns. It is basically the facing of the top collar, and usually cut slightly smaller too.
Finally – Collar Construction Rules
There are several rules to remember when constructing a collar.
- Use an interfacing where appropriate to stabilise the top collar, and both stand sections.
- Your collar edge should measure the same as your finished neckline edge.
- Remember that the seam allowance for collars is usually less than everywhere else, in order to keep bulk to a minimum. Be sure to check the pattern before sewing!
- Be sure to use notches on your collars so that there are no sewing mistakes! A good standard are Centre Front, Shoulder, Centre Back and also Break Point notch for lapel collars.
Finally, have fun. Collars are a great way to get creative with your fashion creations, and add some real wow factor to your pieces. Have you got any pieces in your wardrobe with rockin’ collars? Have you seen something somewhere you’d love to recreate? Let me know in the comments below!
I’ll start work on some construction tutorials for the different types of collars, so that you can see just how they’re constructed! 🙂
Til next time…
RECOMMENDED READS: If you loved this, check out How To Draft a Mandarin Collar here. There’s this post on FANTASTIC FACINGS, and Sewing Zippers for those zippered collar creations!