06 Jun 2017 • • by Heather Lou

Sewing Super Sharp Collar Points on Shirts

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

This week we are talking about installing the collar for our Kalle Shirt & Shirtdress. I am going to show you two methods for doing so, but in the meantime I thought it would be fun to take a little detour to discuss how to sew sharp collar points.

If you've made a few shirts, you've probably struggled with getting nice, sharp collar points. I wanted to experiment to see what got the best results, so I tried three different methods. The first one is commonly called for in shirt pattern instructions; as you approach the corner, you use a short stitch length to square it off with 1-2 shirt stitches. The second method is the one most commonly employed by professional shirt-makers, at least according to David Coffin in his Shirtmaking book. In the last method, you sew the corner stitch over a piece of thread and then use that thread tail to pull the corner clean out.

Here is a quick look at my results.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

The fold-over and thread tail method are the clear winners here. I believe I got the sharpest results with the thread tail method, but I am going to show you both techniques and you can choose the one that works best for you. Since I have never gotten great results using the square off method, I won't be explaining that one any further.

The Fold-Over + Turn Method

If you are sewing shirt collars this way, simply sew your seam allowance normally, pivoting at the corner. Trim the entire seam down to 1/4".

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

It isn't necessary to trim too closely around the seams, but you do not want to remove a bit of thickness. I graded the interfaced seam down in the below example; if I wanted to remove bulk even more, I would cut  my interfacing to the size of the finished collar and not apply any along the seam allowance at all.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

Next, fold over the edge of the corner right at the point and try to crease the edge with your finger.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

Next, fold over the seam along the stitch line and crease it in place.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

Repeat for the other side.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

Now you'll need a pointy pair of tweezers. I find the ones that come with most sergers work well - it's important they have a long, pointed edge so you can get right into the corner. Push the tweezers into the corner and try and grab this little folded over area of fabric as you hold it steady with your fingers. The tweezers should be grabbing the right side of the collar on the other side.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

Hold the tweezers tightly and then flip the corner to the inside. The collar should naturally align along the crisp folds of fabric you made into a nice point.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

If you're having trouble getting the point entirely out, David Coffin recommends using a large needle to nudge the point out - just be careful you don't use too much force or you may nick a thread.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

I find the tweezer method gives pretty good results, but it's a little fiddly. I am super happy to have discovered the following technique. It gives super sharp corners and is pretty easy to sew, one of those sewing moves that feels like magic.

Getting Perfect Collar Points Using a Thread Tail

This method is done at the sewing machine, but I like to mark my stitch line before I get  there so I know exactly where to pivot my stitching.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

At your sewing machine, sew the seam allowance normally, but switch to a short stitch length before you get to the first corner (around 2mm). Right before you make the stitch that you will pivot from to turn the corner, cut a length of thread. Leave your needle down and raise your presser foot. Bring the piece of thread in between the two collar pieces on either side of the needle until it is touching the needle itself. Use your left hand to keep this piece of thread taut.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

Put your presser foot down and sew one stitch, leaving your needle down. You have just sewn over your thread tail.  Now, pull the thread on the right side over to the left, around the base of the needle. You should now be holding  both threads in your left hand.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

Leave the needle down, and turn the collar so you are ready to sew the next side. Pull the thread tail as far to the left as you can so it is out of the way when you begin stitching. Now sew one stitch. You have now "trapped" the thread tail in between the two stitches that meet at the corner.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

Continue sewing, and repeat the same steps as above for the other corner.

Once your collar is stitched, grade your seams and trim close corner without cutting your stitch line.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

Now here's the fun part! Gently pull on  your thread tail and turn the collar right side out. Don't pull too hard, or you risk popping a stitch or pulling the corner too far out.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

You'll find you've created a remarkably sharp collar point! Press into shape and you're good to go.

How to sew sharp collar points // Closet Core Patterns

Hopefully, you'll get great results sewing your next collar with one of these methods. What is your favourite way to sew collars?


See all posts in our Kalle Sewalong series. Get the pattern here.


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