Today I’m going to show you how to draft a sailor collar pattern, which is a collar type inspired by the uniforms worn by sailors. Who’d have thought it?
This collar style is classified as a non-convertible collar type – you can learn more about collar types here! – and is an easy enough collar to draft.
I’ll be adding a separate tutorial on how to sew a sailor collar for those who want to follow that.
If you prefer video tutorials, check out the video at the end of this tutorial for drafting your own sailor collar patterns!
A standard sailor collar is square across the back, comes over the shoulder and meets at the center front with a V sort of neckline, but of course you can get creative and draft your own variations of a sailor collar.
Today, I’m showing you the standard method for an open necked bodice – as in, there is no button stand / placket / tape.
What You’ll Need
To start drafting a sailor collar pattern you’ll need:
- Patternmaster or ruler
- Front bodice pattern
- Back bodice pattern
Let’s dive in!
Step 1: Prepping Pattern Pieces
Start by placing the front bodice pattern piece on the worktable in front of you. Place the back bodice pattern piece just underneath, so that the neck points join but the shoulder at armhole overlaps by ½” / 1.25cm.
You can overlap by greater than this to get a less flat sailor collar. As a guide overlapping but the following amounts will give more of a roll to your collar:
- 1/2″ / 1.25cm minimal roll
- 1.5″/ 3.75cm medium roll
- 2-3″ / 5-75cm high roll
Lower the front neckline as needed on the pattern pieces to get the neckline that you wish to achieve. Below are some examples.
Place a piece of paper over the front and back bodice pieces and secure with tape or paper weights to prevent movement.
Trace and mark in the following:
- Centre front from below armhole up to front neckline
- Around front and back necklines
- Down centre back to below armhole
- Front and back neckline
- Shoulder point on neckline
Remove the pattern pieces from underneath the paper and set aside.
Step 2: Decide Length Of Back Sailor Collar
We need to decide the finished length of your sailor collar at the centre back. Standard is anything between 4″ / 10cm and 8″ / 20cm, though of course it is down to design and you can get as experimental as you’d like!
Once you know where you want the back of your sailor collar to fall, measure your desired amount down the centre back line, mark it in and square across.
Decide how ‘wide’ you want the collar to be across the back, and then square a line slightly up from this point towards the shoulder. Note that the collar should not extend further out than the armhole!
Step 3: Sailor Collar Styleline
Now we need to connect the back to the front, to create a one piece sailor collar pattern! Decide whether you want the line from the back coming over the shoulder and meeting at the centre front to be straight or with shaping. The choice is up to you.
Below are is an example of a very straight style line to help you see what I mean!
Once you’ve decided, mark in this line to meet at the centre front neckline point. Below is mine.
Step 4: Finalise The Neckline
Now we need to finalise the neckline itself. We traced off the front and back neckline in step 1 but we need to make sure the there are no jagged or uneven areas where the two shoulders were overlapped. Below on the left is an example of how a nice smooth neckline should look.
Finally, mark in the centre back and shoulder notches on the pattern piece.
Step 5: Top And Under Collar Pieces
Like many collar patterns, a sailor collar pattern should be in two parts:
- Top collar
- Under collar
To do this, trace off two separate pattern pieces, with the top collar pattern piece being ⅛” / 2mm bigger along the outer edge than the under collar.
The reason for this is to ensure that the seam from sewing the two pieces together rolls under slightly and isn’t visible when worn.
If you prefer to have fewer pattern pieces for your pattern you could have the one, and note in that the top collar needs to be slightly bigger when cutting out.
Step 6: Add Seam Allowance
The final step is to add seam allowance to your sailor collar pattern pieces! Go with the amount that is preferable to you – mine is 1cm, though I do sometimes go down to 0.5cm on the neckline to reduce bulk. But it really depends on the fabric that I am using.
Step 7: Neck Facing Pattern
Because of the way the sailor collar is attached, you will also need to create facing patterns for the neckline to ensure a clean and professional finish.
Making a facing pattern is simple enough. Gather the original bodice pattern pieces – NOT the new pieces you traced for the collar drafting process! – and follow the instructions below:
- Trace the back bodice along the back neckline
- Mark in a point 3cm down both the centre back and shoulder lines
- Join the two points with a curve that is as smooth as the original back neckline curve.
- Trace the front bodice along the new front neckline and down to the hem
- Mark in 3cm along the front shoulder and 5cm along the hem
- Join the two points to create your front facing piece.
Below are what my facing pieces look like!
Drafting A Sailor Collar Pattern – Video Tutorial
For those who prefer a video tutorial, below is the same step by step process in video format.
How To Sew A Sailor Collar
The next stage in making a sailor collar is to sew it! I’ve created a completely separate tutorial on how to sew a sailor collar so that you can follow along if needed – I’ll be sharing that tomorrow. And if you’re here for just the pattern drafting part, great job, you’re done!
Let me know how you get on with drafting your own collar pattern!
And if you’re excited to learn more about pattern making, I have many pattern making tutorials you can learn from!
Eve Tokens (aka The Creative Curator) is a fashion designer, creative pattern cutter and sewing pattern designer.
Eve graduated with a 2:1 in Fashion Design from the University of The Creative Arts in the UK, has a BTEC diploma in Creative Pattern Cutting, a Foundation Degree in Art & Design from Wimbledon College of Art and gained extensive experience in the fashion industry by interning and freelancing for London based fashion brands – Hardy Amies, Roland Mouret, Peter Pilotto and others.
As well as running her own small sustainable fashion brand, Eve has more than 25 years experience sewing and making clothes for herself and family members.