Male Pattern Boldness is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!

Feb 7, 2011

Men's Shirt Sew-Along 7 -- Let's get our collar on!

Friends, today is a very big day in our Men's Shirt Sew-Along.  We have a lot to cover so let's get to it!

Our goals today are:

1. Craft our button loop

2. Attach our collar and button loop to neckline

3. Attach facings/inside back yoke piece

4. Stitch back yoke closed

1. What can I say about the button loop?  The directions Sarai has provided are clear, it's just a matter of doing it.  I use a loop turner, you can use a safety pin -- there are many ways to turn that button loop.  Depending on your fabric, the loop may turn easily or require extensive massaging.  You're pulling the top of the loop through the cylinder of fabric in order to turn the whole thing right side out. Give it a try and be patient.  It may take a few tries.

I don't press my loop; I want it to remain tube-like.  Put it aside for the time being.

Now on to the collar.

2.  A few things about stitching the collar to the neckline.  It must be centered, with notches lining up.  We'll be basting it to the front sides and outer back yoke, which we attached yesterday.  When in doubt, take a measuring tape or ruler and measure: is the center of the collar at the center of your yoke?  Does the collar edge of each side end at the small circle -- the one you copied from the pattern piece, remember? -- which on the left side is next to a larger circle (marked "loop" on the pattern piece)?  The collar must not extend past these small circles.

If you interfaced the upper collar, make sure that's the side that's facing up.  My inner collar is gingham, my outer collar is the blue and white pattern, so it was clear.

Baste your collar to the neckline, stitching at 3/8", and then attach your loop at the large circle on the left side.


3.  Now things get harder to illustrate so please pay attention.  Please read the instructions carefully first.

We are now going to attach our inner back yoke/front facings unit to what we've just completed.

Make sure you understand what we're about to do and why.  The collar we've just attached to the outer back yoke and right and left front has raw edges.  We want to enclose those raw edges between our facings and the inner back yoke.   That's what those facings are for. 

First, with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, pin the whole megillah together:  we're talking front facings pinned to left and right shirt fronts (illustrated on p. 14 of the instructions), continuing up and along the facing extensions (the parts of those facings that curve and jut out) and then across to the inside back yoke (at the neckline) and down the other side.  These are many layers of fabric.  Pin carefully.  Poke around under the layers to see what's what.

OK, so here is one of my facings pinned.

The curved upper part of the the facing gets pinned on the top of the collar.  My thumb is where the facing extends to cover the raw edge of the collar. 

Look at the upper corner of the facing -- on the left side you will see the button loop and the edge of the collar.  Check the other side too.

When you're done pinning, it should look like this:

Breathe.  Do you see what's going on here?  We're stitching around the entire neckline as well as down the facings.  When you turn down the inner back yoke and facings, the raw edge of collar and button loop will be fully enclosed.  The rest of the inner back yoke will be free and floppy.  (Sorry about that!)

When you're ready, stitch slowly at 5/8".  Stop often and reposition your various layers (with your sewing needle in the down position) to avoid puckering.   If you run into problems, rip the seam out and try again.  I found this part to be the most difficult of all.  Some may want to start at the center and work your way out to each edge and then, separately, down the vertical front facings.  Do what is easiest for you.

If you flip the inner back yoke down it should look like this:

Clip the collar seam down to reduce bulk and clip curves where necessary.

You can also clip the corners of your facings and facing seam allowances (we'll cover that again tomorrow).

4.  Finally, we want to attach the inner back yoke to the shoulder seam.  In the photo below, I am holding the inner back yoke in my hand (with the seam allowance folded up) and the shoulder seam is below it on the left.

In the next photo, I've matched the edges with my hand: you'll be stitching the inside yoke to the shoulder at 5/8".  Turn the seam allowance under to match the seam allowance of the shoulder seam (this is the seam that connects outer back yoke to right and left fronts).

Again, we're going to attach the shoulder seam of the inner yoke from underneath (wrong side up).  Please review the instructions (p. 15).   NOTE: The instructions state "You will not be able to stitch all the way to the neckline." This is true.  If that eensy gap (where my finger is poking) bothers you, you can stitch it up by hand.

Breathe.  How does it look?

Now one last step (pp. 16-17).  We're going to stitch the inner back yoke down.  We do this by rolling the rest of the shirt between the inner back yoke and the outer back yoke.   You'll want to start by rolling the back up toward the yoke seam.  You'll make what looks like a big burrito.  Do not eat.

Stitch the yoke bottoms together at 5/8". 

Turn right side out (you can pull the right and left fronts out from their respective sides) and TA DA!

Kids, if you're still with me, give yourself a big hand (heck, throw in a foot).  If you're not, don't worry, you'll get there.

If you have questions, review the instructions and illustrations, and ask me either here or on our Flickr group.

The worst is behind us.



  1. I noticed that when you trim and clip the inner seam collar edge, your clips are diagonal. I haven't seen that clip style before. Does the diagonal clip make it easier/better?

  2. a good way?

    Gloria, I think people find it easier to control and therefore less likely to go through the stitched seam.

  3. Tip on the loop: Make the loop longer than called for. It's easier to handle and simply cut off the excess after turning. I also steamed and stretched mine so it wouldn't stretch beyond being useful once it was used a few times.

    And the inner finishing of the shoulder and yoke seams IS crazy but it works, and it's the neatest inside finish you'll ever get on this type of shirt.

  4. The instructions are a LOT clearer than my blog, Maggie. Start there.

  5. ".... the small circle -- the one you copied from the pattern piece, remember?..." lol
    Goofus never transfers his pattern markings when preparing his project, he waits until he reads about the dot in the instructions while assembling, and then runs to dig out the pattern again to find out where that darn dot is and how far he supposed to stitch.

  6. Actually, that's what I do too when I'm not leading a sew-along!

  7. Tip on grading seam allowances: When each layer is clipped separately to short but slightly different lengths the bulk is reduced even more than cutting all at the same time at the same length. There will not be a bump of fabric to contend with as the collar is turned, ironed and top-stitched. It just lays flatter.

  8. Oh NO! Have just completed my second version of McCalls M4518 with a collar like this one. It made me want to kill myself. I'm not looking forward to this! It's so tricky to control all the layers and avoid accidental gathering!

  9. Question, is this normal sewing for a muslin? Just curious, because I thought that a muslin was basic piecing to determine fit of the pattern to one's self. It doesn't seem like it would be that easy to alter your muslin to perfect the fit with all of the steps being taken.

  10. Thanks, Doreen. Good point!

    Anonymous, no, this isn't standard for a muslin. We're taking the opportunity to practice some shirtmaking techniques as well as a few unusual construction methods that are new to many participants. These shouldn't interfere with using the muslin to check fit.

  11. Peter, you are doing a SUPER job with the photos!

  12. Will you be showing us how you flat fell the sleeve sean once it's attached to the shirt?

    Why do my comments keep disappearing?

  13. Thanks, David!

    Yes, Tabatha, coming up soon.

  14. AHHH Collar catastrophe!! I sewed it to the wrong side (SERIOUSLY?! How did I do that?) and didn't realize until my facings didn't work out right. After much cussing and ripping of seams (and the helpful eye of my sweet husband) I'm back on track. Whew!

  15. I guess I meant crazy counter-intuitive. It does a number on the spatial processing area of my brain and seems a little abracadabra. Your photos and explanations are very helpful, thanks so much.

  16. The burrito thing looks like it will never turn out, doesn't it?
    Q: the raw edges of the collar that are semi-exposed under the facings on the inside front (i.e. that are not enclosed in the yoke)... what to do with them?

  17. Man, today's sewing was confusing (less so with Sarai's instructions and your extra photos and directions), but it was totally worth it--my muslin is actually looking like a shirt now. So exciting!

    I was getting really frustrated trying to turn my loop right side out (I'm using pretty thick flannel), so I ended up cutting a new loop piece, folding its edges in (lengthwise) to meet in the center, folding this in half lengthwise, and then topstitching as close to the edge as I could. It doesn't look quite as nice this way, but I just couldn't struggle with that little safety pin anymore!

  18. Following along is getting shirt's construction is quite different.

  19. Just turned out my little shirt sausage and it worked! I think that's the most satisfying bit of sewing I've ever done:) Thanks for the clear instructions!

    I noticed the instructions don't mention trimming seam allowances for the yoke...not necessary?

  20. Not necessary, no. Whether it's preferable or not is another question. Not a big deal either way.

  21. Peter! I was so close with my burrito, but somehow I left the seam allowance from the shirt back (I thought it was funny as I attached that I kept moving it away), but I think I understand what I did wrong. So close, but I am moving right along :)

  22. I'm waaaaaaaay late for the band wagon, but I'm using this sew along and making this for my husband to wear on our Tula cruise in a few weeks, and I seriously couldn't have done it without this! And I'm happy to report the collar was easy, this burrito thing had me flummoxed but I persevered and viola! Thank you for such a wonderful sew along! I'm already thinking of tackling another!!!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails