I love a nice collar! It finishes a garment, it frames the face and done well is possibly the most important part of a garment. Most collar finishes are suitable for both men and women. Here is a diagram from Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting.
Collars can be divided into four main types
- Stand and fall collar, which stands around the neck and then folds or rolls over
- Standing collar, which fits upwards from the neck
- Collars cut in one with the garment.
- A flat collar, which is attached to neckline and lies flat on the shoulders.
The Stand and Fall collars
This is the classic stand and fall collar. The stand usually, and the collar always, are cut separately from the rever, the lower part which folds back from the front. To my mind on jackets and outwear this is the best sort of collar although it is theoretically harder to achieve than collars cut with the garment. Many commercial jacket patterns have no collar or a collar cut with the front, (like View B below) but I find these an uncomfortable compromise. Learning to make a proper tailored collar which is pad stitched to make it roll effectively is one of the marvels of making your own clothes and gives a vastly superior appearance when compared to ready to wear. Look carefully at the break point. This is also a focal point and you want to ensure it occurs at the most flattering position – on this jacket it is below the bust. Also the size of the lapel
Collars cut in one with the garment
Classic roll collar
The roll or shawl collar is cut in one with the garment. This look is very popular on dressing gowns, smoking jackets and tuxedo jackets. It is a look I am very fond of and it is fairly easy to construct. Sometimes the style-line is notched to make it appear to be a rever collar. Sometimes a contrast fabric is chosen, as in View A, so that the front facing forms a feature as it rolls to the outside. If the fall is larger it would be called a shawl collar. Many “easy” Big 4 patterns have collars cut in one with the garment and this might include a rever front (the front of the jacket just folds back into an extension, with no collar stand at the back.
The shirt collar can be made in one, or the collar and stand can be separated. On an informal shirt like this, the collar is usually interfaced but still fairly soft.
I like a convertible collar as you can choose one of two positions on the finished garment, if carefully constructed. It needs a button and loop under the collar to hold the right front under the left front collar (its beginning to sound like a yoga position!). It is the sort of collar you can button up if it starts getting chilly. I love the hats, especially the little upside box one.
The Nehru collar, is a type of standing collar, where the stand is evident, but without a fall. This style includes Mandarin collars, polos and the standing straight collar that was popular in the sixties. I don’t think this is yet an acceptable look for men for work.
These sit flat (or almost) on the shoulder. When designing one it is drawn on the front bodice so it is relatively easy to draft. Although they are currently fashionable, I consider it the least satisfactory collar, and would tend to reserve them for children’s clothes.
Obviously these collars, terribly popular for little boys for the first few decades of the twentieth century, were based on what sailor’s wore.
I have actually made up this pattern, and I hated the look on me. The full skirt and the wide collar jutting out slightly over the sleeve made me look enormous.
Peter Pan and Eton collars
Again, borrowing from little boys’ outfits the Eton (actually the school wore very stiff collars which were attached to washable shirts) and slightly smaller Peter Pan collar has gone in and out of fashion. My mother always said she “couldn’t bear” the Peter Pan – I have no idea why. They are a simple collar to draft and can look quite fresh. Even my son Gus (who hates looking at pictures of vintage patterns) immediately associated the look with Moonrise Kingdom.
Which collar styles do you like wearing, and making?