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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: johnmouse
Date: 07-06-2006, 09:21 AM (1 of 12)
Hi all;

Introduction and question. Sorry for a long post for a short question!

I'm new here and new to sewing. Glad to see there are other men who sew. Since I'm hard to fit (I'm small) I decided to take up sewing and make clothes that actually fit. We got a sewing machine for free (Montgomery Ward). Had to have a pedal made for it. Problem was, it was old and used cams for various stitches, and we can't get them anymore. Bought a Brother 2600-i over at Walmart (didn't want to spend a lot of money just in case I didn't have the knack). I can suffer with a cheap machine for now LOL.

1st project was boxer shorts and they look store-bought. Sometimes I surprise myself! My 2nd project was a shirt, but I got stuck at the collar so went on to other projects (night shirt, robe, PJ's). Now I'm back at the shirt.

I'm using Simplicity pattern #4207 (casual/dress shirt). Instruction #11 (the facing) says "Clip neck edge of facing to stitching." Instruction #12, after pinning the collar, says to "clip neck edge through all thicknesses at small dot." There's 3 thicknesses at this point; shirt back, facing, and collar.

The diagram shows the clipping which I understand is to cut V's to the stitch line. Other patterns I've seen have similar instructions.

Where should I start clipping? How far apart should each clip be? Is there a measurment to use? Is there any set way to do this? I'm not understanding how to make a collar fit properly.

Any help will be greatly appreciated!

User: johnmouse
Member since: 06-23-2006
Total posts: 22
From: DorothyL
Date: 07-06-2006, 10:05 AM (2 of 12)
Run a line of stay stitching around the neck edge. I usually do it just inside the seam line. Then carefully clip in the curved places so it will lay a little straighter when you put the collar on.
I don't know if there is some sort of standard for this or not. I'd say it would vary with the fabric and the pattern. Just make enough clips in the places you need to in order to get the raw edges of the neck edge and the collar to lay flat together. Sometimes you don't even have to clip.
The clips after it is sewn is so it will lay flat. I prefer to trim with a grade here but with a smaller size a clip or two might be necessary.
Maybe you could cut a piece of scrap fabric the shape of the neck edge and cut a collar piece (be sure you interface and cut two so it is the same weight and hand as the shirt collar) to practice first.
Be sure you measure to be sure your collar is centered before you sew.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: MrsSnuggly
Date: 07-06-2006, 10:40 AM (3 of 12)
Clipping doesn't actually have to be little v's - its more just clipping with the scissors. I have been taught to clip as close as possible to the stitch line without cutting the threads - this is usualy to aobut 1/8 of the stitch. The reason they told you to clip through all the layers at that point was so you don't clip the corner or cut the extra fabric away. Alot of us sewers, in order to make a less bulky hem or for ease of certain things, would have cut away part of one of those layers and clipped the rest.

You are clipping so the collar will lay flat at the neck. Ok - generally I start at the end of the stitching and just follow along about 1 inch depending. If its children's clothes then 1/2 - 1/4 inch. And no, as far as I've been taught, there is no "set" way to do this. The major thing you should think of is pinning it and turning it before you sew it to see if its the way you want. And you should become really good friends with an iron - ironing before and after sewing can make all the difference!!

Have luck!
User: MrsSnuggly
Member since: 05-21-2006
Total posts: 104
From: stephi
Date: 07-06-2006, 01:34 PM (4 of 12)
John, welcome to the site!

I have found that the first clip shoul dbe in the center then I do one about every 1/2 to 3/4" . I find making the first on in the center helps line up the collar with the neck line.

Collars are one of those things you really have to practice at first but after you do a few you get a handle on them :-)

"No body knows what it is that I do until I dont do it"

"if you do what you have always done you will get what you have always gotten"
User: stephi
Member since: 03-17-2006
Total posts: 361
From: LeapFrog Libby
Date: 07-06-2006, 06:31 PM (5 of 12)
Take it from this Old lady, the clipping is what makes the collar look like a pro did it.. The clipping on the curved lines make the layers go together and fit like they should.. Make sure you did your stay stitching properly, then do the clipping as instructed.. If the curve is severe, clip very close together.. (need more clips to make it lay straighter.).. (see the connection??)
Sew With Love
User: LeapFrog Libby
Member since: 05-01-2002
Total posts: 2022
From: johnmouse
Date: 07-07-2006, 07:35 AM (6 of 12)
Thanks all for the suggestions! Since it's a practice shirt, no harm done if I make a mistake. I did have to play frog (rip it! rip it!) since I decided to have 2 wrong sides at some point LOL I ended up with a seam on the right side. The material doesn't clearly have a right or wrong side. I'll be placing scotch tape on what the wrong side of each piece will be.

I started it on the old machine and the bobbin tension was too loose (it was probably me!) I also have to make a new collar since I constructed it all wrong to begin with. So I'm going to just rip the whole thing out and start all over.

Just having a problem deciphering the instructions at times. One picture for several steps is a bit confusing. I don't have this problem when I take apart the lawn mower LOL

User: johnmouse
Member since: 06-23-2006
Total posts: 22
From: DorothyL
Date: 07-07-2006, 08:05 AM (7 of 12)
You'll catch on. Think of it as a puzzle.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: kmccrea
Date: 07-07-2006, 10:38 AM (8 of 12)
Hello, John!
Welome to the group.
Another thing you can try is to clip your seam allowances to 1/4 inch and make little snips where necessary to make the collar lay flat. Do keep in mind that you do not want to snip into the stitching and that you do not want the collar TOTALLY flat as it does have to curve around your neck.
Trimming the seam allowance does a few things.
1 The smaller width of fabric is more flexible and has more give.
2 It eliminates bulk and makes for a professional looking finish. You don't see the seam allowances on lighter colored garments.
3 Trimmed seams are also easier to manipulate and work with.

As you gain more experience, you'll probably find yourself working with a 1/4 inch seam allowances on your collars, cuffs and plackets anyway. That's what we tailors do. Those 5/8 inch seamlines look enormous in comparison.

A few other tips, use interfacing suitable for your fabric. If you want to retain the hand of your fabric, use a sew in rather than a fusable. Don't be afraid to use the iron and LOTS of steam! Use a press cloth if needed. I find that steaming the collar around the thicker part of a sewing ham works well for "training" the fabric. Wrap the collar around the ham, pin it closed and using generous amounts of steam and heat gently press the collar to the ham. Let it stay there until completely cool and dry.

I hope this helps,
Katherine McCrea
Katherine McCrea
Designer At Large
User: kmccrea
Member since: 05-07-2006
Total posts: 173
From: dsews2
Date: 07-07-2006, 04:03 PM (9 of 12)
Another thing that I find helpful on collars is to cut a scant 1/8 inch off both short ends of the bottom piece of the collar before you construct it. This difference will be taken up easily when you sew the long raw edges together as long as you put the larger piece (which will be the top of the collar) on the bottom when you sew it together - it will look like a flat piece even though the top and bottom are slightly different sizes. This will help the finished collar to lay flat, rather than fan out like wings on the shirt.

Also, if you decide that you really enjoy making shirts, Coffin's book "Shirtmaking" is excellent and you can probably get a used copy online.
User: dsews2
Member since: 09-21-2004
Total posts: 4
From: MrsSnuggly
Date: 07-08-2006, 10:45 AM (10 of 12)
Katherine - that is a great point - I've been taught to clip meticulously TO the stitching but not thru or into it - the fact that a collar should not be completely flat is important. The first one I made I clipped too much and it looked kinda like a sailor collar..... :dave:
Just wondering why you would choose a sew in rather than a fusible - I didn't realize it makes a difference. Will it make a difference if you're using a "Hawaiian" print type material? And what is a "sewing ham"? I have a shirt I want to start and I think these suggestings might come in handy.
Thanks, Brandy~
User: MrsSnuggly
Member since: 05-21-2006
Total posts: 104
From: MariLynntex
Date: 07-08-2006, 01:42 PM (11 of 12)
I was a professional seamstress for a number of years. I have made countless blouses and shirts! You have good advice and with a little practice it will work. One thing everyone forgot to tell you is that at the points of the collar you clip off the fabric across the end of the point. That way you will have a sharp point, not a little curve. And once more, be careful not to clip into your stitching and do grade the seams to half the seam allowance. MariLynntex
User: MariLynntex
Member since: 01-05-2006
Total posts: 107
From: wp88
Date: 07-08-2006, 02:01 PM (12 of 12)
Hi John
I make shirts myself and the Coffin book and video are well worth buying. This shows different methods to fit the collar and stand. Another good tip is on the help pages here with Julie Culshaw who has a detailed shirt construction method. All of these help and after a while you will do what works best for you. These ideas help to understand the manufacturers pattern notes. I am not brilliant at it but make very wearable shirts now and enjoy the process which I hope you will also do.
Have fun
User: wp88
Member since: 03-28-2005
Total posts: 35
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