Monday, October 6, 2014

A Square Collar is easy to draft

In my previous post I discussed how to add a box pleat to the centre of the skirt of a basic smocked dress. One of the yoke treatments was to add a square collar. Now I would like to address the collars.

First you want to take a critical look at where the yoke/skirt seam falls to be sure the collar has good proportion. Let me tell you a little story why…

Looks good at first glance.
Years ago when I was learning to smock I bought a pattern for a basic dress with a lovely square collar. I eagerly smocked the skirt and assembled the dress. I found a poly cotton wale pique locally and stitched up the collar adding triple needle top stitching as an accent. I loved the dress and my daughter did also. She wore it for ages and I had to let out the growth tuck hem to allow her to go on wearing it!! 

There was one little problem. The collar was covering about a quarter of the smocking, ouch! No one else seemed to notice. Thankfully it was a geometric design and I hadn’t lost part of a picture smocking motif.
The collar was down to about the pivot point on the armhole - a very nice length for this garment. But the yoke seam was way up there under the collar. I checked and rechecked all my pattern pieces and measurements. The yoke was 1 ⅝” deep and the collar was 2 ⅝” deep in the CF. I trusted the designer and just went ahead to cut and sew.
So years later, you can learn from this experience. Check your measurements first if you are about to make up a new pattern.
See how much smocking is missing when the collar is in place!

Drafting your own collar is so easy.
Start with your yoke pattern pieces. For ease of working, remove the seam allowances. If these are not marked on your pattern pieces, trace off the front and back yokes onto fresh paper.
Unthread your machine and with a shorter stitch length than normal, stitch on the stitching line for all the seams.  This will perforate the paper, making it easy to trim off the seam allowances. Be sure to include the grain line on all pieces. (This way you can see the finished size of the collar and know the direction of the grain.)

For your collar, make sure that the corners are at right angles to the horizontal edge of the new pattern.
It is now decision time. You can make the collar with shoulder seams and simply add back seam allowances (see above). In this style the CB will be on straight grain.
Or, you can make the collar from one full piece of fabric, eliminating the shoulder seams. To make this type of draft, match up the shoulder seams as in the diagram. If you are using a striped fabric, this can create a very interesting chevron effect. Will it be a problem though for pressing this after washing? Adding an interfacing should help.
Do you wish to add piping, ruffles or lace to the collar edge or will trim be added to the interior of the collar (e.g. top stitching or soutache braid or other trim)?
If you are adding trim such as lace edging, you will need to know the width of the trim and subtract that from the outside edges of your collar draft. Piping is usually pretty narrow but to be safe measure and take it into account.
Believe it or not both halves of the collar are the same length - the photo is deceiving!

Collars should always meet at the CB (another good reason for drafting your own from the pattern yokes). If you are adding lace you will need to decide if the lace will go up the CB or end along the bottom edge like the top stitching does.
When you have made all your decisions you can trace off the new collar pieces onto a fresh piece of paper and add back seam allowances. ¼” seam allowances are standard for the collar edges. (Maintain the original seam allowances for the shoulder seams if you are using them.) For ease of stitching the neckline seam on the yoke and the collar should be ¼” also (much easier to stitch on a curve). You might want to alter your yoke pattern in this area to match.
Perfectly straight parallel lines of top stitching!!
A quick note about the top stitching used on my little collar.
I threaded a triple needle (sometimes called a drilling needle) with red and navy thread. People who sewed took a second look and usually comment on my perfect rows of stitching. I just smiled and took the credit!! If you like top stitching, these needles are worth the investment. You can experiment (if you have the wider needle hole) with very narrow decorative stitches. Be very careful to walk your machine through a full pattern repeat lest you break a needle!! If it works them you can add power but still go a bit slower.
My machines are older so I can not help you here. If you do try this please let me know if you can get patterns with these needles.
Hope these notes inspire you in some way.
Meanwhile, keep stitching.....