Jan SAL: Combo Collar on Smock Neckline

Switching over to sewing techniques at long last, here’s my plan:

I’ve got three ambitious garments to make, each one no doubt full of surprises, since each will be filled with ideas and details I’ve not tried before. So regardless that I’m also sharing these in a SAL, I’ll be approaching each one in the same way I would ordinarily, as a series of sample-making challenges, absolutely required before I plunge into using my precious fashion fabrics, none of which I ever have in enough quantity to spare for many samples. I need to know with as much detail as possible what the challenges will be with each of these details, plus I won’t know exactly how to cut each one until I’m certain how much seam allowance each detail will need, on every edge. I’ll be sharing here and in the next few days the main collar, placket and pocket-detail samples I’ll need to complete for each of my three garments, making every effort to get these done before I need to switch to another project towards the end of this week. When that’s done, I’ll continue to post at my blog with links here, as I actually tackle each garment in the real thing fabric, over the next several months. I hope you’ll drop in as your interest and time allows. I’ll also continue to comment on anybody’s posted shirt muslin projects, if you’d like, whenever I can, for as long as anybody’s interested. Just tag me in the post if you’d like my input.

So, to start, here’s my sample for the collar I plan on my wool-blanket smock. It’s what I call a “combo”-type collar, which some people call an “Italian” collar. I call it a combo because it combines a convertible collar undercollar with a shawl collar’s cut in one collar and facing. You’ll see what I mean in a moment if you haven’t already read about these in my new book, or elsewhere.

The first thing to note about my sample-making process is that I usually start with a scaled down collection of pattern pieces, since there’s usually no need to try everything out at full scale. Nor do I usually use the fashion fabric, simply because I don’t have much of that as a rule, but also because I want to work out the exact sewing processes I’ll be cutting them for as much as possible separately from the “handling-my-fabric” challenges, at least at first, Obviously the fabric is crucial to how any technique will go, so I’ll get to that stage eventually, but fabric handling tests are generally not about details as much as about seam types and trimming, etc., not where to clip and how layers will sit and that sort of thing.

Scaling pattern pieces is wonderfully easy when you have them in digital formats and a program like Illustrator to handle them with. I’ll show how I do it next time, since for this all-rectangles project I don’t yet have a digital version, just some measurements. So for this I just folded some paper and eyeballed the position of things, looking at my original muslin. Here’s the little mock-up I started with, 11 inches wide based on my starting piece of paper:

The lower three pix show the sample folded at CB with the collar arranged in its basic retangular shape without distortion, and with the shoulder seam sticking up away from the table so the symmetrical fronts can lay together, the back is flat, and the neckline reveals its simple straight line after the center-back wedge is added. To draft the upper collar that will cut across all these pieces I slipped a scrap of paper underneath with carbon paper between the sample and the paper, then traced the edges that would join at the collar edges and ran a tracing wheel over those that would be left free inside the garment. I added a deeply curved center-back extension that drops down below the neckline wedge, since this seemed a perfect place to have such a thing, and curved the inside edge of the what will be the facing portion of the pattern, deciding that my first curve was too narrow and that I needed another one. This edge could of course be shaped any way I wanted, even extended over to the side seams. As you can see, the collar itself is cut on the CB fold, all in one piece, then gets placed right sides together against the unfolded neckline going down into the facing as deeply as you want, which in this case will be a little beyond the upper edges of the front cross-overs.

At this point, all you need do is join the outer edges, then clip into the corners and turn the upper collar to the garment inside…:


…and then decide how and where you’ll secure the free inner edge, which can be as minimally or emphatically as you want. I note that the points where the collar’s inner edge crosses over the little shoulder-line wedges may require clipping or trimming to wear smoothly, but I’ll have to wait for the full-size, try-on-able version to find that out. What I really needed to know I got from the sample, and that’s that I’m good to go as expected for this step; my patterns ans stitching plans so far are working:)

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