Thread Theory

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Fairfield Sew-Along: The Collar


Fairfield sew-along

Today’s post will cover the last big hurdle when sewing a button up shirt: the collar.  On Friday we will be left with the comparatively simple tasks of hemming and adding buttons.

Before we get started sewing, I just wanted to remind you about the discount that accompanies this sew along.  Receive 15% off the Stonemountain & Daughter shop with the coupon code FAIRFIELD15 !

Let’s begin:


First, let’s stay stitch along the shirt neckline using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  This stay stitching serves two purposes: 1) It prevents the neckline from stretching out as we work with it and 2) it allows us to clip into the seam allowances without the fear of fraying beyond the allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (72 of 81)

Clip every 1-2″ along the neckline up to your stay stitching.  This will allow you to lay the neckline out flat and fairly straight.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (73 of 81)

Now to assemble the collar:

Pin the upper collar and under collar with right sides together.  You will notice that the under collar is very slightly smaller than the upper collar – this is to provide enough room in the upper collar for the collar to curve gently over the collar stand.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (74 of 81)

Stitch around the two sides and the long top edge of the collar using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Leave the bottom of the collar (where the collar attaches to the collar stand) free of stitching.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (76 of 81)

Grade the seam allowances and trim the corners to reduce bulk.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (77 of 81)

Turn the collar right side out and press.  When I press collars I like to gently push out the corners with a point turner (or chopstick) and then ever so slightly roll the seam towards the under collar.  This will ensure that the seam doesn’t roll to the upper collar during later steps.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (78 of 81)

Pull the two remaining raw edges so that they are even and the upper collar is relaxed and slightly bubbled.  Baste the raw edge closed using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (81 of 81)

Finish prepping your collar by top stitching 1/4″ from the collar edge around the two sides and the top of the collar.  Don’t forget to complete this step!  I have forgotten to do this a couple of times and forgot to take a photo of the stitching this time :P.  I don’t know why this step slips by me so frequently!  Here’s a photo of a finished collar so you can see the 1/4″ top stitching:


Now we can attach our collar stand and collar to the shirt!  Exciting!

Pin one collar stand (the interfaced stand if you only interfaced one of the two collar stands) to the shirt neckline, right sides together.  Align the notches with center back and the shoulder seams.  The collar stand should extend exactly 1/4″ beyond either end of the shirt neckline (this is the seam allowance).

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar

Stitch across the neckline using a 1/4″ seam allowance:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-3

Grade the seam allowances (I trimmed the neckline seam allowance and left the collar stand allowance whole).  Press the allowances towards the collar stand.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-4

Pin the collar to the collar stand so that you can see the upper collar.  The under collar will be against the right side of the collar stand.  The collar will fit between the two notches.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-5

Baste the collar in place using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-6

Prepare the remaining collar stand by pressing under the 1/4″ seam allowance along the bottom of the stand (this is the part that attaches to the shirt).

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-7

Pin the remaining collar stand atop the collar so that the right side of the collar stand faces the upper collar.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-8

Begin at one end of the collar stand exactly where the stand extends beyond the shirt placket.  Stitch around the collar stand using a 1/4″ seam allowance and end exactly at the other shirt placket.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-10

Here’s how it looks from more of a distance:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-11

Complete the collar by carefully pinning the folded edge of the collar stand over your neckline seam.  I like to use quite a few pins for this job to make sure the collar stand won’t slip or stretch.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-12

You can choose at this point to baste the collar stand fold in place and then stitch from the right side of the garment or you can stitch from the wrong side of the garment.  I usually stitch from the wrong side of the garment because Matt wears his shirts open at the collar – this means the most visible stitching is either tip of the collar stand on the inside rather than the outside.

Either way, edge stitch 1/8″ from the collar stand edge around the entire stand.  If you like, you can tuck a garment tag into your collar stand bottom before you edgestitch:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (94 of 99)

Finish your collar by giving it a thorough press.  I like to encourage the collar to shape nicely by pressing on a tailor’s ham so that the collar rolls over gently and the collar stand takes the rounded shape of the wearer’s neck.  You can see the bend in my collar in the photo below:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-13

I encourage you to explore a different method of creating a shirt collar with each shirt you make.  There are many interesting methods, a few of which are well documented online.  They all use the same pattern pieces so you can work with all of them while sewing up a batch of Fairfield Shirts.  Pick the one that suits you best or meld together your favorite elements of each for your own unique method!

Here are some resources for different collar construction methods:


How did it go?  Does your collar look super professional?  I hope you are proud of yourself!  This is some pretty fiddly and precise sewing you have accomplished!

7 thoughts on “Fairfield Sew-Along: The Collar

  1. Thanks so much for the sewalong! I’ve gotten as far as the collar and am having a hard time figuring out how to tell which is the top side of the collar pieces. They’re not symmetrical so it seems that it would make a difference…

  2. Thanks for walking us through the steps so patiently!
    I am nearly done with a muslin of the fairfield, and found the instructions so far to be clear and well illustrated. So excited to finish my first button-down, and pretty keen to start on the actual garment. I love the neat finishes, no serger in sight… 😉

    Alas, the collar has me stumped. Maybe you can help…
    When pinning the first collar stand to the neckline, the stand does not extend beyond the neckline, not by a long shot. It doesn’t even reach the neckline, on either side.
    The notches align with the shoulder seams, with a bit of coaxing. So the problem might be in the body front panels?
    I definitely cut out the same size in all parts, and am pretty certain that I am attaching the collar stand along the correct side (opposite the note on the pattern: collar attaches here).

    What could have gone wrong?
    I am super confused… Thanks!

    • Hi Anne,
      The collar stand requires a considerable amount of easing between the shoulder seam and the front placket. I find it helpful to pin at the shoulder seam and then to pull the collar stand so it extends beyond the neckline 1/4″ and then ease the excess neckline as I sew. If this is too daunting of a task, you could try cutting a collar stand that is a size larger. It will attach to the neckline with less easing needed and you will still be able to attach your original collar to it (it will just extend beyond the collar a touch further). We drafted the collar stand to require easing in this area of the neckline to discourage the collar from flapping open when it is left unbuttoned.

      All these tips aside, you are right that the problem could be due to the way your folded the front button placket! You might want to check this area carefully. Check that both the right and left front are the same width. If they aren’t, one of the plackets is not folded quite right.

      Please feel free to email me with more questions or photos of your work in progress! It can really help me to problem solve if I see a photo of the problem.
      Best wishes and happy sewing,

      • Hi Morgan,
        Thanks for your reply!
        I just went for it and it worked out fairly well. Not perfect, but all the more reason to be glad to have started with a muslin. Getting used to the concept of “ease”…
        Thanks for the advice regarding the plackets – mine turned out not to be equal, so I know to pay extra close attention to the markings and steps.


      • I’m glad that it worked out ok! I bet by the time you make your actual shirt you will have the technique down and your easing will be perfect :).

  3. Thank you for this detailed post. I have made my husband well over 50 shirts using Kwik Sew 2777, but can always use new tips! Something I find extremely useful is using my dressmaker’s dummy to pin the last collar stand on before topstitching. It shapes the stand better than using a ham, I find.

    • That’s a great idea to use your dressmaker’s dummy for shaping! I always find the curve of the ham to be a bit too sharp when pressing my collar and collar stand.

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