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Jun 11, 2013

The madras shirt: adding collar and buttonholes

This was the sorry state of my living room today, but I did manage to get some sewing done, adding collar stand and collar to my madras shirt as well as buttonholes and buttons.

The undercollar and inside collar stand are gray cotton interfaced with a lightweight woven interfacing.  The patchwork madras itself is not interfaced (though I normally interface the out-facing fabric) since it has all those bulky crisscrossing seams.

When you're cutting a collar stand and collar, it's important to make sure both ends are identical.  I always check them against each other even if I've cut my fabric carefully.  As you can see below, the edges of my collar stand were not quite identical when I took this photo.

I'm going to sew with just a 3/8" seam allowance (I cut half of the seam allowance off the collar stand and collar pattern pieces since it's easier to attach them to the shirt with a narrower seam allowance) and then turn right side out: I must make sure I'm going to end up with a collar stand that's even on both sides.

Here's my inside collar stand attached.  I stop and press at every step; you can't take shortcuts with a collar and expect accurate results.

With the collar stand attached, I once again check to make sure both ends are identical.  This is the time to trim or make any other last-minute adjustments.

After I've attached the upper and under collar, right sides together, but before I turn it, I press open all the seams on my June Tailor board.  This makes the turning so much cleaner.  I also trim the corners and remove bulk where necessary.

Next I turn the collar right side out, making sure that none of my undercollar shows out from the edge of the upper collar, and topstitch at roughly 1/4".

As I did for the collar stand, I check to make sure both edges of the collar are identical in shape and in width.  Then I attach the collar to the outer stand.

Finally, I stitch the inside stand to the outside stand along the outer edge (with the collar already attached to the outside stand) and then turn the outer collar stand right side out and topstitch it along its lower edge.


I explain this method of attaching shirt collars, which I learned from the Margaret Islander video "Shirts, Etc.", in more detail here.

Next came buttonholes, which I made with my vintage Singer buttonholer, the old-style one that allows me to adjust the width of the stitches and the size of the hole, along with the length of the hole.  And no metal templates.

I still have a few more tasks ahead: sleeve cuffs, hem, and perhaps collar buttons.  But the hardest parts are over, thank goodness.

I didn't expect to like this shirt very much, but I really do.  You'll be seeing more of it in the weeks ahead for sure.  Madras rules!

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. Thanks for the detailed description of how to make a collar; i have been wanting to make a shirt for my partner but i am daunted by the thought of making the collar. Your step-by-step commentary was very helpful and I feel more confident already!! And I do like this shirt; glad it's going well and turning out better than you expected!

  2. Thanks for all the pictures and instructions, I appreciate it. Love the shirt and madras plaid just says summer.

  3. It is turning out to be a gorgeous shirt!

  4. It's going to be a very nice shirt. The colors are beautiful and should go with a lot of bottoms, especially a with those white linen pants you made.
    Your old Singer makes very nice buttonholes. How old is old?

  5. Love it! So this is how to make a collar. I never thought that it was that easy. Thanks for sharing this for it really helps. Hope to learn more.

  6. Nicely done Peter!

    Summer dog collars with the scraps?


  7. Always wanted to know how to sew a collar with a collar stand, and there it is !
    thank you Peter !

  8. Very helpful, thank you for taking the time to take pics for us!

  9. There are several ways to sew a collar and stand, but your method is by far the best AND gives the most professional finish. I've written it down step by step and I keep it in the envelope of my TNT shirt pattern. That way when I want to make a shirt it's right there.

  10. You do such nice work. Love this shirt. Rhonda M.

  11. I don't know if you have done the pocket on the shirt? Instead of having the pocket shown, have it as slit on the shirt and have the pocket on the inside. So you can use other fabric and save what Madras fabric you have. Saw this option on a polo shirt last night.

  12. Thank you for the detailed tutorial. I read this post several times before I figured out what I was looking at in photo #8, two photos after the one with the June Tailor board. If I'm correct it's the inside out view of the outward collar stand where it meets the button placket (or facing).

    Your buttonholes are just gorgeous!


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