Peter Pan collars are too charming. Maybe it’s because they remind me of my little girl clothes of the past, or even because they are named after a boy who can fly and is friends with fairies. Regardless, I have never been able to walk away with my credit card in tact once I spot one. With tuition and rent bills filling my mailbox, however, I have learned to put down the hanger, and leave the store Peter-Pan-less. My indulgent behaviour in check, I came up with a more practical approach to achieving this darling look. Borrowing tips and tricks from various do-it-yourself guides (and after a few interrogations of my fashion design friends), I came up with my own recipe for adding a little Peter to any garment. Professionals please keep in mind that this is a girl with little garment-making know-how, describing to like-minded folk, the simplest way (in her eyes) to achieve a DIY collar.
Materials: Fabric for collar, interfacing, thread, paper, pencil, fabric scissors, an iron
Step 1: Trace the Neckline of the garment that you wish to Peter-ize. For this I used just a regular blank piece of paper and pencil. I stuck the paper inside the dress and aligned it with the shoulder seams, then I traced away. This will give you the neckline on the front of the dress. Repeat with the back of the dress so that you have the shape of both the front and back. Once you have both front and back necklines, cut and paste them together so that you have an oval-like shape. You now have a starting place!
Step 2: Using your imaginary neckline for size, do a rough sketch of what you want the collar to look like, on another blank sheet of paper. For this part I drew a few different variations, cut each out, and tried them on the dress to see which size I liked best. There is nothing worse then getting to the end stretch and realizing you don’t like the size. Once you have a shape you like, in the words of Joey Gladstone, “Cut it out!”
Step 3: Now is the exciting part, or if you’re like me, the nerve-wracking part. Pin your pattern to the fabric and cut! Okay. Before you do this, take a deep breath and remember one crucial thing: leave a seam allowance (this means leave about an inch or inch and a half of fabric around both the outside and inside of your pattern, so you have a little something to work with). Before removing the paper pattern though, I like to just dot around the pattern itself onto the actual fabric, so that I have a perfect guideline of where I need to be sewing. Repeat this step on both your fabric that you chose for your collar, and the interfacing.
Step 4: So you should have two collar-like pieces in front of you. Pin these two pieces together, with the backside of each fabric facing outwards. This should be fairly simple to figure out with the fabric you chose, but might be a little tricky for the interfacing. The outward side of the interfacing should be a bit shiny. This shine is the glue that will fuse the two fabrics together and give you a stiff collar.
Step 5: Dust off your sewing machine, and sew ONLY the outside edge of your collar. After this is complete, you can trim down the outside seam allowance (be careful!) and then flip the fabric so that it is right side out. Press, press, press and let that glue do it’s job!
Step 6: Your collar should now look a little more like you had imagined. The final step is a tricky one, and I opted for a hand stitch after wrestling with my sewing machine. The outside of the collar should be finished, and you are left with just the inside oval, and the inch of seam allowance that you left of this edge. Because the neckline is curved, you’ll have a hard time trying to sew the collar to the garment as is. What you need to do is cut little slits (or tabs as I will call them) about a half inch apart into the seam allowance, so that your collar can curve with the neck.
Step 7: To make this next step easier, I pressed all of the little tabs that I had cut into the seam allowance to the underside of the collar. Now, it should be like you can just hook the collar on top of the neck of your garment. Pin the little tabs in place, on the inside of the garment, so that the outside part of the collar sits flat. Once pinned, sew along the inside of the garment, on top of your little tabs. I’m not sure this is the most aesthetically pleasing way to affix the collar, but it did the job for me (and I figured no one would be seeing the inside of the garment anyway). After it is secured, you can trim the tabs so they look a bit more presentable (on the rare occasion they do see the light of day).
Step 8: You can never press enough! Laying the garment flat, press the front and back of the collar, so that it sits nicely in place. Trim a few threads here and there, and you’ve got a collar that will bring Captain Hook out on the prowl.
- Casie Brown