As useful as a plain t-shirt is, it hard to get excited about them, don't you think? I love how comfortable T-shirts are to wear but I prefer to add something or alter them in some way. I've been drafting cute collars to add to some t-shirt remakes which use a small amount of contrast woven fabric, great for stash busting those little pretty bits of fabric you don't want to through away.
So, if you'd like to draft your own contrast collar pattern and aren't sure how to go about it, here's a tutorial:
You'll need a pattern of your front and back necklines, so if you are using a pattern to recut your old T-shirt you will already have this. If you plan to add a collar to an existing T-shirt that doesn't require reconstruction, you'll need to trace the neckline onto some paper. Fold your garment in half to give you the centre-front and centre-back and trace round the necklines.
Either way, make sure your new neck hole is big enough for you to pull it on and off ver your head without stretching the neck hole. Draw a nice scoop neck shape, the new collar will frame it nicely. Here's my back and front pattern pieces I've used to recut the old T-shirt:
Because I am a naughty lady, I often don't draw my seam allowances onto my self-drafted patterns. However, make sure your seam allowance (whatever it is, I've used a 1cm seam allowance here) is drawn onto the shoulder seams:
Overlap the front and back pieces along the shoulder along the stitch lines. It doesn't matter whether it's the back or front pattern piece that lays on top of the other. Whatever your seam allowance is for the rest of the T-shirt seams, I would advise a 1cm / 3/8" seam allowance around your neck hole for easy application of your collar. Draw 1cm / 3/8" in from the neck edge on the shoulder seam line:
Next you need to overlap your front and back pieces an extra 1cm / 3/8" at the shoulder point (the other end of the shoulder seam from the neck edge). Remember you are measuring 1cm / 3/8" in-between the stitching lines, NOT the cutting lines:
Pin the pattern pieces together in this position along the shoulder seam. Draw in the 1cm / 3/8" seam allowance around the neck hole:
Time to draw your collar shape. It may be useful to use a tape measure against another similar top to give yourself an idea of how wide you want your new collar to be:
When you are happy with your new collar shape, trace it onto another piece of paper. Remember, if you don't have any pattern drafting paper, standard tracing paper, baking parchment or grease-proof paper can work just as well. Add the seam allowance around the outside edge of your collar. You will be trimming most of the seam allowance off before you turn the collar through after stitching, so you may as well keep this seam allowance 1cm / 3/8" too:
Make sure you've marked in the centre back and indicated that the collar pieces will be cut on the fold of your fabric. You can of course add a seam at the centre back and cut out two pairs of collar pieces, rather than one pair of collar pieces if you are cutting them on the fold. Cutting the collar in two pairs of pieces with centre back seams will be more economic in terms of fabric usage, just remember to add the extra seam allowance to the centre back if you plan to do this. Also, you will want to alter the grainline so it runs the length of your collar piece (see the photo from step 6 where I have drawn it in). If you plan to cut your collar out on the fold, the fold line will also be your grainline, I was running out of space on the pattern piece to write that in too!:
Very importantly, make sure you mark on your collar piece where the shoulder seam of your T-shirt will align. This will help you no end when applying the collar to the main T-shirt. Stitching a woven fabric to a stretchy jersey one can be a little tricky, so this point of alignment will make doing so much easier. When you cut out your collar pieces, make little notches at this point on all your collar pieces (snip in half the depth of your seam allowance):
You may wish to make your collar rounded at the front, Peter Pan-style, instead of angled like mine. Either way, you need to know where your centre front point is on the collar. I squared off the seam allowance (see below) so I'd know where the centre front is easily:
Time to cut out your collar pattern piece. Cut 1 pair (AKA two) of collar pieces, unless you are making a centre back seam as previously discussed. Unless your woven collar fabric is super thick, I'd advise applying fusible interfacing to one of your collar pieces. The interfacing will give the finished collar more body and make it easier to apply to the neck edge. If your chosen woven fabric is quite light-weight, you may wish to apply interfacing to both collar pieces:
With the collar piece(s) fused with interfacing, stitch them together right sides together around the outside edge:
This picture below highlights how to stitch the corners at the centre front. Follow the squared off seam allowance:
To get a really neat collar, trim away a lot of the excess seam allowance all the way round, in particular at the corners. Turn the collar through to the right side, carefully poke the corners to get them nice and sharp, then press the collar with an iron:
Now your collar will be ready to apply to the neckline of your garment. If you haven't already done so, make your T-shirt, being careful not to stretch out the neckline during the construction process. Because stretching the neckline should be avoided, if you want to check the fit of your garment before hemming, it is best to try it on after you have applied the collar.
The method I use to attach a collar to a T-shirt neck edge is just to overlock (serge) it straight on, although you may prefer to stitch it on using a normal sewing machine instead, and then neaten the raw edge after. I lay the woven collar on top with the jersey neck edge underneath and line up the front collar edge with the centre front of the jersey top. With the woven collar positioned on top of the jersey neck edge, you will find it easier to ease the jersey in if necessary when sewing them together. Remember to match up the shoulder point notches on the collar to the shoulder seams of the jersey top, and to match up the centre back points of both as you stitch round.
I then turn the 1cm / 3/8" seam allowance towards the inside and do a line of top stitching to secure it down about 0.5cm from the edge. The inside edge of my neckline then looks like this:
The outside edge of my neckline at the centre front usually looks something like the picture below. After the top stitching I give the neckline a good press with an iron to set it all nicely. The row of top stitching makes pressing the collar back into shape after laundering much easier too.
There you have it! A pretty contrast woven collar for a your jersey top/T-shirt. I've added a ribbon bow to the top below, picking out one of the colours in the printed cotton I used for the collar. Adding a row of little buttons, like the top in the second picture from the top, might also be a nice extra touch.