Monday, 8 October 2012

Guest Post: Kathryn... Considering Massive Collars

Today's post is by Kathryn from 'Yes I  Like That', a London-based blogger and one of the nicest and funniest ladies out there in blogland.

When Zoe asked me to do a guest post for her blog, a topic immediately came to mind. It's a very important topic which I think has been overlooked by the sewing world, and I hope you'll enjoy this serious exploration of it's possibilities. But what is this topic, I hear you ask?


Now I know that there's a fair amount of peter pan collar exploration going on around sewing blogs, but I feel that there are still boundaries to be pushed. What really sparked my interest was a pattern I received at the Brighton Sewing Swap, earlier this year.

This pattern fascinated me. The collar is so big that it overlaps the shoulder seams to rest delicately on the top of the arm.

Simplicity 8664 led me to do some research into huge collars through the ages. Apparently a design feature like this is known as a 'pilgrim' collar, which seems to stem from American fancy dress costumes like these ones. (Incidentally, if you are interested in collar research, I recommend this amazing Wikipedia page which has an exhaustive list of every kind of collar known to man.) The pilgrims came to American in 1620, which was around the time that ruffs were being replaced by enormous lace collars for both men and women. You can see that in this famous portrait of The Laughing Cavaliar by Frans Hals.

You might think collars like this are sort of ridiculous, and I admit that they are, but there's a strange beauty to their exaggeratedness as well. I loved the delicate lacy white collars in the Louis Vuitton SS12 show, which totally reminded me of dolls clothing.

Pilgrim collars were big in the 1950s as well (in both senses). Here's an example, McCalls 8204. How fabulous are the hip pockets on this pattern?

Of course the 1960s are the natural habitat of the exaggerated Peter Pan collar. Here's a beautiful deadstock example from Etsy, which also features lace trim and matching white cuffs. It looks like something Wes Anderson might have put in the costumes for Moonrise Kingdom.

In the 70s, things started to a go a bit wrong. Not content with making flat collars bigger, pattern makers went a bit experimental and decided to grotesquely enlarge the shirt collar, which resulted in things like this:

This large collar is also from the 1970s, and it looks dangerously sharp. Although I have to confess I rather like the trousers on this pattern. That fabric is amazing.

In the 1980s the big collar hit hard times, and was forced to debase itself by appearing in patterns like this. Actually the dress on the far left isn't too bad, apart from being a bit sack-like, but things just get worse and worse going to the right.

In conclusion, I reckon the massive collar is ripe for sewing rehabilitation. I quite like the idea of sewing one in a very light lace so you can see the dress fabric underneath, or doing a double collar in two different fabrics. There's something fascinating about exaggerating the shape and size of a feature like this.

What do you think? Would you ever sew a shoulder-skimming collar?


shams said...

lolol. I owned some of those patterns from the 70s... back in the 70s! Yes, I have, more than once, given even modern collars a trim!

Anonymous said...

I've got a horrible feeling I made the second on the right dress in the last pattern but in a navy and white stripe (hello sailor?) I seem to remember the collar only being at the back - I can only hope. Well, it was the 80s but, luckily, no photos survive of me wearing it. What was I thinking?

Anonymous said...

ohh dear... you've given me an idea ....

Janine said...

Umm I am a bit embarrassed to say I have a dress made from a similar pattern to the last one and even more embarrassing -I loved it - saved it for special occasions. I think Princess Di had dressed with large collars so I felt quite chic wearing it. WIsh I had saved the material though - it was really good quality - light khaki with a fine red and white stripe.

Sara Noemi said...

I'd love to play with larger collars but I'm afraid as someone who is always more concerned in trying to diminish the size of a large bust, it would draw more attention that I'd like. I think I'll have to pass on this look =(

Anonymous said...

Haha, great post! The last pattern reminds me so much of what my mom looked like when I was a little kid-- she had several floral dresses with huge white collars that she would wear to special events or to church. It's such a terrible look! I agree with you, though, about the Louis Vuitton collar-- it's delicate and beautiful! I think there's something particularly terrible about the solid white collar.

Claire (aka Seemane) said...

Hey Kathryn! I donated the Simplicity pattern at the Brighton swap LOL! :)

Anonymous said...

I made a blouse like that one with the huge droopy collar back around 1970! It was bright emerald satin and closed with velcro not buttons! It was incredibly noisy to remove.

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