Learning to put on a collar
By Jennie on 25th July, 2011

I’ve gradually been mastering the sewing on of a collar, ready for a fitting, over the past few weeks. Overall, the making of a fitting (such as the basting shown above) had improved to the stage where I don’t have to be watched any more.

I was initially shown three different methods for the collar that are taught to apprentices. They all aim to break down the process into small steps, which require you to do a certain number of stitches to one point, then tack back, fit a certain number into the next gap, and so on.

But I was finding it hard to get those right, so I eventually asked John to show me the method he uses – which is theoretically harder as it works more by instinct and getting a feel for the right number of stitches.

The hard thing about the collar is getting the curve right, easing in enough fullness all the way around and then making sure the tension at the front makes the lapel roll correctly.

You start at the back of the collar and work round to the shoulder point. Over the shoulder you need to put in 2 to 2½ inches of fullness, which is about two stitches; then you straighten the jacket out, put your hand on the shoulder and make sure the break line lies straight; and finally you stitch round to the top of the lapel to get the roll right.

It was that last point that I was having trouble with. So I tried John’s method, which was just to smooth down the lapel so it lies straight, then stitch down as much as you need.

The fullness in the collar is perhaps more important, as that determines how the jacket fits around the neck of the customer. A lot can go wrong if just the first couple of stitches are out. And you can repress the break afterwards. But I wanted to get the collar right all the way round and it’s very satisfying that I can now do that.