Thursday, February 5, 2009

Boy's Button-Up Shirt Collar Tutorial

This tutorial is for the collar of a button-up shirt. More specifically, the collar of this brown shirt here. First off, let me explain why this is not a detailed tutorial of the entire shirt. It would be way too long! But, I do briefly show you all the steps. If you have questions about any other part of the shirt I would be happy to answer them. I chose the collar because it seems to be the trickiest for me. If you can make the collar (and believe me, you can) then you can make the whole shirt. Since I like seeing everything laid out for me I'll just give you an overview before we jump into the collar.

Outline of This Tutorial
  • Fabric
  • How to Get the Whole Shirt Started
  • Pattern and Cutting
  • Assembling the Basic Shirt
  • Sewing the Collar
    • Upper Collar
    • Collar Stand
    • Attaching the Collar to the Collar Stand
    • Topstitching
    • Buttonhole
    • Button
  • Finishing

  • Fabric

  • For this shirt I used 100% cotton quilting fabric from my favorite local quilting store. This can get a little pricey, I know, so I don't do it very often. A more economical alternative is to use a less expensive fabric for the main part of the shirt and purchase only a fat quarter of the nicer fabric for accents like the collar, sleeve hems and pockets. When I planned this tutorial I intended on making the bulk of the shirt from some solid forest green fabric I found at the thrift store. Unfortunately it didn't match the Frolic animal fabric at all. I wasn't able to make another trip to the store so I used the Brown Cheery Circles I had on hand (originally intended to cover my son's car seat).

  • How to get the Whole Shirt Started

  • Steps for Making Entire Shirt
    1. Pattern
    2. Cutting
    3. Shirt Back to outer Yoke
    4. Shoulder seams
    5. Side seams
    6. Sleeves
    7. Placket (where the buttons will go)
    8. Inner Yoke
    9. Collar
    10. Buttons and buttonholes
    11. Hem

    There's a reason I do it in that order, but the list is not set in stone. You might be anxious to just get to the collar so I'll give you a slacker's list of the minimum steps required to make the collar.

    Slacker's Steps to Get to Collar Fast
    1. Pattern: shirt Front (with extra room in front for folding over a placket, or a strip for separate Front Facing), Yoke, Collar, Collar Stand
    2. Cutting: same, but also a strip of interfacing for Placket/Front Facing, Collar and Collar stand
    3. Shoulder seams
    4. Inner Yoke (at the shoulder seams)
    5. Placket

    Note: The names of pattern pieces are capitalized.

  • Pattern and Cutting
    For this shirt I made pattern pieces using a boy's shirt I already had. (If you need help with this there's a good tutorial on MADE for making your own patterns from clothes)

    Using an existing shirt, trace the required pieces onto paper to make a pattern. They should look something like this (These are pattern pieces from a shirt I made last year that I'll just reuse):

    Trace the Collar and Collar Stand pattern pieces onto paper. Be sure to add a seam allowance. Mine here is about 1/4".

    Place your pattern pieces onto your pre-washed fabric for cutting. Note that if you are using a one-way fabric, such as this one with little animals, you'll want to place the Collar piece upside so that the animals will be right-side up when the collar is folded down for wearing.

    Cut out two of each piece in the fabric, as well as one of each piece in fusible interfacing. Note: If you like, you can wait to cut these pieces out until you reach the point of your shirt that you actually need them. The Collar Stand has a way of mischievously becoming too short, so it's nice to measure it against the actual Collar-ready neckline of the shirt.

    Cut out the rest of the pieces, including interfacing for the Placket or Front Facing.

    Unfortunately, I have to show you a mistake in my pattern:

    It should be like this:

    I like to make mine by folding over the edge of the shirt in the front instead of cutting out a separate Front Facing. However, you must be sure to cut out the top edge in a "V" or else when you fold it over the folded Placket won't line up with the Shirt Front.
    Here's what I mean. I do this every time:

    The way I fix this problem is to trim the fabric along the upper edge of the collar-less shirt until it lines up. While this won't hurt your shirt, it might make the Collar Stand too short since I've cut it out to fit the old, smaller neckline. I might have to cut another one later.

  • Assembling the Basic Shirt

    Here is a super-short, almost wordless explanation of how to assemble the basic shirt. The numbers correspond to the steps listed at the beginning of the tutorial.

  • Sewing the Collar

    Upper Collar
    Apply interfacing to Collar and Collar Stand.

    With right sides together, sew the Collar pieces together along the sides and top, leaving the bottom open.

    Clip the corners.

    Turn and press the Collar, then set it aside. We will topstitch it later.

    Collar Stand

    Mark center points of Shirt and Collar Stand pieces.

    Measure your Collar Stand pieces to the top edge of your Shirt, matching the center points, to make sure they fit. Determine the size of your seam allowance based on how much Collar Stand you have. Remember how I said the Collar Stand sometimes isn't long enough? Well here's a perfect example for you. It should be longer than the Shirt by about 1/4", instead of the other way around.


    But at least I have some pink peanut M&M's!

    Back to the ol' cutting board. It looks like I have just barely enough horizontal fabric to cut out two more Collar Stand pieces. Using my faulty first Collar Stand as a guide I'm going to cut out the new pieces one at a time on the fold, but with extra fabric on the fold to make the whole Collar Stand longer.

    Okay, that was slightly embarrassing, but a good example. Let's get back to work.

    Measure your Collar Stand to the shirt again. Determine your seam allowance based on how it fits. You might want to mark your stitch line on the curved ends of the Collar Stand, starting from the bottom and following the curve about 1 1/2" into the straight, upper part of the Collar Stand. Here I've used an expensive, secret, high-tech tool known as the #2 mechanical pencil.

    With right sides together, stitch along your marked stitch line on both ends. Cut notches along the curves or clip close to the stitching.

    Turn it right-side-out and press.

    Turn it back inside-out.

    Open up the Collar Stand and put the neck of the Shirt between the Collar Stand pieces, lining up the neck edge with the lower edge of the Collar Stand. Pin it in place.

    Stitch it and clip the curves.

    Fold up the Collar Stand and press.

    Attaching the Collar to the Collar Stand

    Collar - Inside

    Remember that Collar piece I told you to set aside? Pick it up again. On the inside of the Shirt with right sides together, pin one side of the Collar to one side of the Collar Stand.

    You may have to undo a tiny bit of that 1 1/2" stitching you did on the Collar Stand to get the Collar to go right up to it.


    Guess what? The inside of your collar is finished! It should look like this:

    Now let's do the...
    Collar - Outside

    It should look like this:

    From the outside, take the Collar Stand and press down about 1/4".

    Carefully pin the folded Collar Stand over the back of the Collar. You will be stitching from the inside, so you may want to put your pins in from that side as well. Put pins right along the last seam you stitched.

    The pins from the outside/messy side.

    Make sure your thread matches the collar fabric. We don't want this stitching to show much.

    Now you're going to finish sewing the back of the collar together. Remember that I said this seam gets messy? That's only from the outside. From the inside it's going to be nearly invisible. To do this we're going to sew deep down into the seam, gently pulling the fabric on each side so you can get the seam open. Pay particular attention to the two ends of the collar, as these are the parts that will show.

    Here's our lovely, messy seam from the outside. But the collar will be folded down over it so it won't show! Yay!

    Stitch about 1/4" or so from outside edge of Collar, and very close to the edge all around the Collar Stand. To me this really helps finish the collar.

    One of your buttons will go on the Collar Stand. On boys' and men's shirts the left side crosses over the right, which means your buttonholes should also be on the left. Using a ruler, mark where your buttons and buttonholes will go. The collar buttonhole will be horizontal, whereas the rest going down the shirt will be vertical.

    Test out a buttonhole on scrap fabric first to make sure it's the right length for your button. It was.

    However, in practicing I realized that not only was my bobbin about to run out, but that I needed a sharper needle. Lucky for me I had these sharps on hand that--among other things--are good for buttonholes. Switcharoo time!

    Now you're ready to stitch your buttonhole. You might as well do the rest of them, too.

    If you haven't already done so, mark where you want your button(s).

    Now stitch! I have a handy dandy button stitch on my machine, but you could also do this by hand.

    You might as well sew the rest of the buttons on now, too.

    An alternative to buttons is no-sew snaps, which I used in the patriotic shirts and the yellow romper. They come in small packs with a handy little application tool. You just hammer the snaps into the fabric. It's actually really satisfying to do.

    Your collar is done now. Doesn't it look great?

  • Finishing

    To finish up your shirt you'll probably want to do the topstitching around the rest of the shirt and then hem it.

    Now go put the shirt on your boy, grab your camera, and let's see what you've done!


    1. I love it! I can't wait to try it out. Thanks for being so down to earth and understand that we all make mistakes...because that's always half the fun of making the project right!? I think it's in our blood. BTW, I never lost my bobbin casing so as soon as I find some good boy fabric I'll be trying this before anything else! You're amazing Brittany, thanks for sharing your talent with everyone.

    2. Wow! Great job Brittany! I never could quite get collars to work! They were always a little off - more on one side than the other! I love the way you "stitched in the ditch" to do the finish work - very clever!! Thank you, Brittany!

    3. A W E S O M E !!! I'm going to link to this now...

      Also, I love how you admit your mistakes, that is EXACTLY how I sew too...a little "Oops, OK I'll just trim it!" goes a long way!

      Fabulous job!

    4. OH MY GOSH. Brittany, that is one of the best tutorials I've seen. Very detailed and explained so well and includes M&Ms?! Yippeee.
      Seriously, thank you for sharing this. I will be coming back to this often.

    5. Nice tutorial Brittany! And I love you're blog. Why haven't I been over here before??!! Lazy with the blog hopping. Sorry.

    6. This is the best little boy collar sewing tutorial I have every seen!

      And the author is breathtakingly beautiful.

    7. Brittany - this is an awesome tutorial! Thank you, thank you for all the work that went into doing it - the photos, the instructions, the humor, the MnMs...! Wow. I love that grin on your son's face in that second last photo - is he proud of his momma or what? And those dress pants (previous post) - !!!!!!!!! Fabulous! Am loving your blog so much!

    8. I have never been to your blog before and now am never leaving!!!!!I found you from MADE and you are so talented and your kids, what a lovely family.
      I love the collar tutorial, now I can finally battle the collar and am winning this time round.
      You are amazing, amazing, amazing!!Bless your heart.

    9. P.s:- I love the look of your blog, so neat and organized, very welcoming!Jack the seam Ripper--Ha!genious

    10. Awesome tutorial!! You make it look so.. DOABLE!

      I blogged about your tutorial over at Craft Gossip Sewing:

    11. wow! All I can say is Wow!!! That is AMAZING!! Good job Brittany! I should have you give me sewing lessons!!! All I need is for you to give me a tutorial like this for everything I attempt to sew. Then I might actually experience success and joy in sewing.

    12. Thank you so much for your time and effort for the lovely tutorial! Thanks to you, I've made a button-up shirt for my nephew and couldn't wait to make more of it.

      Here's what it looks like! :)

    13. Thanks so much for this AMAZING tutorial! It's my first time sewing a shirt and I'm so stuck on the collar stand. It also became mysteriously too short :) I stumbled onto your blog and now I know what to do! The pictures really helped. thank you thank you!

    14. Many thanks much with regard to your energy for that lovely course! Due to an individual, I've built some sort of button-up shirt with regard to my personal nephew and would not wait around to generate more from it.Shirt Dresses For Women

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    17. You people have actually provided the best blogs that are easy to understand for the folks. Dylan - ButtonBoy

    18. Hi! Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial. I was looking for this for a very long time (believe me!). Its really easy to understand and follow. Love the step-by-step picture. Already in my fav bookmark. Well done!!! Thank you!!!

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    20. Thank you for your tutorial. It's so easy to follow. Since I am a beginner, this will help me so so much. Love that you have pictures to help guide me. Gonna try this

    21. Hey awesome looking shirt here... but I'm lost at the collar part... I'm not doing the interfacing for it.. I just sewed the collar and the collar stand... not sure how to attach them to the actual shirt... help?


    Thanks for your comments! They make my day!

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