Thursday, February 18, 2010

How to Sew a Lapel Collar: Classic Shirtwaist McCall's 4769

Shirtwaists have different style collars, but let me walk you through the collar of McCall's 3769, a classic lapel. Many seamstresses, including me, have found this difficult to understand. But I am here to say that it is possible to get this construct through your head! So let's proceed.

1. Have the bodice, collar, and front facings prepared. Actually, with this pattern you'll have the bodice sewn to the skirt as well, because there is a front button-band that runs the length of the dress.

2. Where the dot falls in the corner of the bodice, reinforce and then clip. This is all in the instructions, by the way. It hasn't gotten tricky yet. When you do your reinforcing stitching, you'll notice that it is at the exact 5/8 inch seam allowance line.

3. Do the same thing with the facing. Stitch through the corner dot to reinforce, then carefully clip. Of course you realize that the facing is an exact replica of the bodice front (some of us sew for years before we catch on to these things).

I'm just showing you here how the bodice and facing look alike. Don't do anything to them yet.

4. Pick up the collar. Make sure you have basted these raw edges together to keep them even: the short sides, and the long side that will join the back, but only on the outsides of the dots. The center part of the collar should not be basted.

Remove the facing from your field of vision. Place the collar over the bodice front so that the dot in the corner of the collar matches up with the dot on the bodice you just reinforced and then clipped. You see I am holding the collar here and laying it over the bodice.

5.Keeping the dots lined up on top of each other, swivel the bodice around the corner so that it follows the raw edge of the collar. I've turned up the fabric to show the underside here. I pulled the corner of the bodice down clockwise to get it to conform the to the collar's edge--the slash allows me to do it. A diamond-shape of collar is going to be visible in the pulled-apart edges of the cut. Good!

6. Take a deep breath, thread a needle, and take a minute to hand-baste this arrangement in place with a few stitches. Now no worries that your arrangement will fall apart.

7. Remember how the facing is an exact copy of the bodice? That's right, time to do the exact same thing to the facing. Treating the bodice and collar as a unit now, lay the facing on top as the last layer of a sandwich, lining up exactly to the bodice. Dot lies over the dots of the collar and bodice. Just as you did the bodice, you're going to give the facing a turn around the corner so that it can match up with the raw edge of the collar.

8. And baste that layer in place. Do not fear the hand-basting. A quick few stitches, unlimited peace of mind!

9. All three layers are accounted for--turn it right side out and see if you're on the right track. If you're satisfied, machine-baste it. I just like to check once more before I do the real sewing. After you've stitched it in big stitches on the machine, make sure you haven't made any weird bubbles or puckers that won't press out. Also make sure that you have stitched inside the seam allowance far enough to have fully enclosed your clipping. When you're satisfied, then do the real thing.

When you are machine-stitching, be very careful going past the dot. Leave the needle down in the fabric as you pass by the dot just barely to the left of it. Raise the presser foot and gather the fabric out of the way and around the corner before starting around the next side. That way you won't stitch any pleats into the seam.

There's that diamond-shape of collar again. That's what you want.

10. And really, that's all. A good pressing should make it look crisp. Here's what it will look like on the outside:

And here's what it will look like on the inside. Remember that it's this side that counts, since the dress lies with the lapel folded out--the facing is what will be on view, so if you have to fudge, put the wrinkle on the "outside" where it won't be seen.

11. Finish the collar as the instructions direct--assuming that, unlike me, you still have that page of instructions.

12. Something to check on--when you go to do the other side, it's very important to make sure that on both sides of the dress, the collar merges into the bodice in the same place. There's a mark for this, but if you're not paying attention you may construct a collar that sits back farther on one side than the other. Watch out!


Anonymous said...

Hi! I just found your blog from a click and a click and I have enjoyed reading every post from the beginning. It sounds like you have a very special family - I can feel the love when you talk about your children, your family and life. I love when I come across something that really makes me step back and re-evaluate my own thoughts and actions. Thank you for that! I look forward to reading more.
*I have always wanted to live in an old schoolhouse.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you so much!
I made this dress last year and liked it, but I remember it being quite frustrating and complicated to get that collar right and have been avoiding it ever since on that grounds alone.
I'll have to try it again now sometime soon.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'll be! I've been sewing forever and just realized that I never made a collar like this. I will keep your instructions carefully filed for future reference.


Heather said...

Wonderful tutorial! I just picked up two shirtwaist patterns last week while thrifting and they are complete but the instructions are not nearly as clear and detailed as yours. After seeing shirtwaist dresses featured in Land's End and other catalogs I am determined to make one for my daughter for spring! Thanks for the tutorial! said...

So talented! Absolutly Fabulous! Love the dots!

Unknown said...

Thanks, I have a pattern for a shirtwaste also. I have been afraid to try it. Maybe I will! I was just drooling over the cobbler apron you had in your shop, kicking my self for not grabbing it, maybe another will eek its way into your shop. wink, wink.
Have a wonderful week.
p.s. still loving the baby quilt!

barbara said...

Love these instructions, Anna, they're so clear and helpful, plus those colorful dots are so pretty! I will be looking out for that pattern, it's so flattering ...

MushyWear said...

Great tutorial. Easy to follow. I too will have to try a collar like this. Your instructions will come in handy. I love reading your blog too. Lots of neat ideas and splendid pictures!

Lisateresa said...

I can tell this is going to be Greek to me until I actually do it, so I'm going to have to get going, terrified or not! :)

Hana said...

Thank you for the instructions! I hope I'll find them helpful when I gather my courage to attempt a lapel collar!

Good Thunder said...

Thank you thank you thank you! It seems kindof not scary now to try this again- I usually sit for hours snipping and pulling and basting and ripping out again for this kind of collar... I love that fabric by the way!

Peace of Jesus!

good_to_be_home said...

This was so nice of you, to do such a detailed "how-to"....keep up the good work!

Margo said...

That dress must be for Bella. It's lovely fabric.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the step by step instructions.

Aurora F. said...

Oh how I love the internet! I am a very novice sewer, in over my head with this very pattern. I got stuck at "reinforce to small circles," Googled "reinforcing sewing bodice," and this post was at the very top of the list to save me from my confusion. Thank you so very much. My hero!

Eleece said...

Hi! I've been waiting for this tutorial and am so pleased that you have posted it! Unfortunately, my sewing machine quit this afternoon:( Since I may be looking for a new one, I am curious to know what kind you use. And do you know if the mechanical, electronic or computerized is best? I'm crosseyed from reading reviews. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Eleece said...

Hi! I've been waiting for this tutorial and am so glad you have posted it. Unfortunately, my sewing machine quit this afternoon while I was sewing:( Since I may be in the market for a new machine I'm curious to know what type of machine you have and do you know if mechanical, electronic or computerized is better? I'm crosseyed from reading reviews. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Willy said...

I have the McCall's 4769 and spent hours trying to figure out the collar.
The instructions were more cryptic than helpful.

After reading your tutorial I got it right on first try!
It makes sense the way you explain it and is really easy to understand.

Thank you very, very much!

Leah H said...

Ha! Well I'll be! I bought this pattern today, and was looking at reviews for it. Many people mentioned struggling with the collar and I was trying to find a review where someone had figured it out. I followed a link here, and was pleasantly surprised that I get to learn how to do it from my favorite sewing inspiration lady. I forgot you did this! Thanks! :)

Missy said...

So glad I found your tutorial! This collar has been giving me so much trouble for the last couple of days! I'll will definitely be sure to reference your post in my blog :)

Angela said...

Thanks so much for posting this tutorial! I was so happy to find it. It helped me understand this part of my dress pattern! I was stuck, but I've figured it out and mt dress has finished nicely.
Thanks again. Your blog is really beautiful and informative.
Take care,

Unknown said...

I have been trying to get into sewing lately, and the hardest thing for has been making shirt collars. When I first started, my husband asked me to make him a collar shirt, and the five I've made since the first, have all turned out to be disasters. Hopefully, your new technique will help me master collared shirts. It would be a great victory for me, if I were finally able to make a collared shirt!

Sara Welsh |

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