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How Do Collars Work?

Ok, that's a weird question.  A collar simply circles your neck and sits on your shoulders, right?  Do they actually need to "work"?

Well, yes - sort of. 

Collars are such an important element in blouses, tops and dresses.  They draw the eye upward, towards your face, and frame it in a flattering way. 

But how, exactly, a collar does that depends upon it's shape.  

I'm not just talking about the shape of the points, or the outer edge.  I mean the shape of the collar neckline in relation to the shape of the bodice neckline.  Those shapes determine how the collar lays on the body, and how it encircles the neck. 

Some collars sit flat on your shoulders, like a classic Peter Pan. Others sit high up on your neck - a shirt collar, for example. 

How are they different?  How do you make a collar sit up and fold back like a shirt collar?  How do you make it lay flat, if that's what you prefer?

The answer is, one collar is relatively straight and the other is curved, to follow the neckline of the bodice pattern.

In this video, I show you those differences, and why they work the way they do .  

A Peter Pan collar, which lays flat all around the neck (along the front, back and shoulders) is very curved, and follows the neck shape of the bodice to which it is shown.  A sailor collar or bertha collar also lays very flat against the body.  

A shirt collar or convertible collar, on the other hand, is almost straight.  I cannot lay flat against the body; the outer edge of the collar simply isn't large enough.  It stands upright around the neck, and can then be folded in half.  But it sits quite high on the neck itself, especially in the back. A true, tailored shirt collar also has a collar stand, but the stand itself is not the reason the collar stands upright on the neck.  The collar stands upright because it is straight. 

It is important to understand these concepts so you know how to design the collar you want to achieve.  You can't get a collar to lay flat against the neck if there isn't enough curve around the neckline.  You won't get a collar to stand if there's too much curve at the neckline. 

This doesn't mean that the collar has to be either very curved or very straight.  You can go somewhere in-between.  You'll then have a collar that, perhaps, has a somewhat higher roll than the Peter Pan, but not as much as a shirt collar.  You could add the roll just at the back neck, but keep the collar flat at the front, by taking a bit of shape out of the back collar only (I demonstrate this in the video).  

The possibilities are endless - it's a matter of trial and error, and don't be afraid to experiment!

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