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How To Draft A Mandarin Collar Pattern

This week’s post is how to draft a Mandarin collar pattern (also known as a Chinese collar). I have received many emails from my readers asking me how to make a Chinese collar, and so a tutorial on drafting a mandarin collar pattern seemed like a great starting point.

So, I thought this week I would start with the mandarin collar, as it is a simple collar to draft, being a standing collar – this tutorial will also work for anyone wanting to learn how to make a standing collar!

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a fee at no extra cost to you if you purchase a recommended product.

Photo of a mandarin collar / stand collar / Nehru collar on traditional Chinese clothing

What Is A Mandarin Collar?

A mandarin collar is a type of standing collar, sometimes known as a band collar. It is made from two pieces of fabric, shaped like a band, often with a gentle curved where the collar meets at the front neck – though traditionally Mandarin collars do not actually meet at the middle!

Unlike a standard shirt collar, a Mandarin / stand collar does not have a fold in the fabric, and wraps neatly around the neck.

What Is A Mandarin Collar Used For?

A Mandarin collar is used on on shirts and jackets, sometimes for function – army jackets can have Mandarin collars for less neck chaffing – and sometimes for style.

Mandarin vs Stand vs Nehru Collar

  • A mandarin collar traditionally does not meet at the centre front of a garment.
  • A stand collar does meet and overlap at the centre front.
  • A Nehru collar is the same as a Mandarin collar, found on Nehru jackets.

Pattern Making Tools Needed To Draft a Mandarin Collar Pattern

Now, many of you have drafted patterns before, while others are completely new to the process. For those pattern making newbies, be sure to have your basic tool set to hand. You can check this post for my recommended pattern making tools!

Tools you will need:

  1. Paper
  2. Pencil (preferable a 3H or greater)
  3. Eraser
  4. Ruler or pattern master (if you don’t have a pattern master, you will need a set square or protractor for accurate angle creation)
  5. Paper scissors

Measurements for a Mandarin Collar Pattern

The key measurements you need to draft a mandarin collar are:

  1. Back neckline measurement
  2. Front neckline measurement
  3. Depth of collar required
  4. Button stand width if the collar will be lined up with the outside edge of the button stand

Mandarin collars can range in depth and shape, though typically they are a non-convertible stand collar. This means that when sewn onto the garment neckline, they do not ‘convert’. They just stand up.

Think of a shirt collar. It has a stand which the collar is then attached too. The mandarin collar is much like the stand part of the shirt collar.

Taking Measurements For Chinese Collar

To draft the pattern, start by measuring the neckline on the pattern. We want to be measuring the STITCHLINE, not the pattern edge. And we need to use our tape measure on it’s edge for a more accurate measurement.

Just like in this photo:

Measuring Seams - The Creative Curator
  1. We first measure from the centre back of the neckline to the shoulder point. In my example, the measurement is 9cm
  2. Next we measure from the shoulder point to the centre front. Note down the measurement
  3. Finally, you need to consider how deep you want your collar to be. Have a look at other collars on clothes in your closet. Which depth do you like? I wanted quite a narrow mandarin collar on my Jude so I made it 3cm but in the example video below it is 3.5cm, and I kept it consistent with my cuff depth too.

You could go crazy extreme but if this is your first time drafting a collar, I would aim for something between 2.5cm / 1inch to 3.5cm / 1 ⅜ inch.

The photo below is a great example of what would have been a rather more extreme mandarin collar pattern!

Drafting the Mandarin Collar Pattern

  1. Now, take a ruler or pattern master – whichever is your tool of choice – and draw a straight line about 2cm from the bottom edge of a piece of paper.
  2. Square up from here using a 90º angle. Label this squared up line on the left hand side CB – this is shorthand for Centre Back.
  3. Measure along the bottom line and place a mark equal to the measurement you took from centre back to shoulder point. Here I use is 9cm.
  4. Square a line upwards from here and make a note that this is your shoulder line. We will notch this later.
  5. Measure another point further along the bottom line that is the same measurement as the shoulder point to the centre front. Mine is 10.5cm.
  6. You will also need to add on the button stand width as well. Don’t forget that your button stand width is determined by the size of your button! My button stand is 3cm wide. This number needs to be halved if we are intending for the collar to meet in the middle of the button stand, or can be kept whole if we want the collar to overlap.
  7. For the purpose of this pattern, I now need to make a mark 12cm on from the shoulder notch. (In the video below I have halved the button stand amount so that the collar meets and doesn’t overlap. On the silk Jude shirt I made recently I actually decided to extend the collar so that there was an overlap and room for a button too.)
  8. Square up 90º from this point.
  9. Make a mark 1.5cm up from this bottom line. This is where we draw in a slight gentle curved line from our shoulder point to this marked point.
  10. Moving back to the centre back section, mark the chosen width of your collar on the centre back line. I am going for 3.5cm here in this example.
  11. Square across from this point, so that the line you draw is parallel to the bottom line, and make sure that it is consistent. I also have a 3.5cm distance from my shoulder notch on the bottom line to the top line.
  12. This collar depth amount needs to also follow through along the curved line we drew in step ?
  13. Now connect the dots to form a slightly curved line at the top. This will be your collar edge, while the bottom line is the neckline edge.
  14. Square up from the bottom curved line until it meets the top line.
  15. Draw in a nice curve that suits your needs. You can get crazy here and go for a scalloped curved section, you could extent it somewhat into a winged collar, or just keep it simple for your first attempt and have a gentle curve like in the video below.
  16. Finally, you mark in where your centre front is. Mine is hard of my button stand measurement, so I pop a nice squared line 1.5cm in from the edge.

Adding Seam Allowance To Your Mandarin Collar Pattern

Of course, when you’re drafting your Mandarin collar pattern you also need to think about the construction method. This will affect the amount of seam allowance you add.

I typically go for 5mm on the collar edge so that I can get a less bulky finish, and 1cm on the neckline edge, which I clip into or grade, if needed.

To save cutting, I often cheat and cut the collar on the fold, but traditionally you would reflect the pattern from the centre back so that you have one long collar pattern piece.

Marking Up Your Mandarin Collar Pattern

The pattern should also have information on it including:

  • The style name or number (The Jude Shirt)
  • The garment section (Collar)
  • Size
  • How many to cut (One on fold? A pair?)
  • What to cut (self fabric and / or interfacing?)
  • Whether seam allowance is included, and how much

Now, if this all sounds a tad confusing, check out my YouTube video – I show you how to draft a mandarin collar in just over 11 minutes! 🙂

Share it out to others!


Saturday 6th of April 2024

Really enjoying learning new skills, thank you so much!

Maroon Kurta | Whats Happening @ The Verandah

Friday 15th of December 2017

[…] Notes: 1. Placket tutorial from Professor Pincushion Youtube channel. 2. Collar drafting from Creative Curator […]