There are essentially two ways to finish off the top of a garment at the neck, you can create a neckline or a collar. You’ll have to decide which method is best for the garment you are designing.
Necklines are finished edges at the top of the garment neck opening. They are a continuation of the garment itself and don’t involve a separate pattern piece.
The image above includes 12 common necklines. The pink patterns are an original sloper draft, so you can see the changes made to the white neckline pattern.
Asymmetrical patterns are those that differ from side to side. The One-Shoulder neckline is asymmetrical. The Stovepipe and Bateau necklines are built-up necklines, which mean they are taller than the original. In those cases, the sloper was put on the front so you could see the difference.
Collars are very different from necklines. Collars are typically one or more separate pieces of fabric that are sewn to the neck of a garment.
A collar may consist of a collar and a stand or just a collar with the stand built in. Either way, the collar consists of the following elements:
- Collar Edge (Style Line) - The outer edge of the collar where trim may be added.
- Neckline Edge - The inner edge of the collar that is sewn to the garment neckline.
- Stand - The portion of the collar that provides the height of the roll. Might be a separate piece.
- Roll Line or Folding Line - The point on the collar where it rolls over. Essentially the top edge of a built-in stand.
Illustrated below are the basic collar shapes. The collar on your left is a peter pan collar. It is a flat collar that lies on the garment.
The collar in the middle is a shirt collar with a built-in stand. You can see that the collar is raised up off the garment shoulders.
The last type is a standing collar. Basically this collar is a stand without a collar! The entire thing is vertical to the garment.
A convertible collar doesn’t follow the curve of the garment neckline. It is nearly straight across, with a slight curve to it.
Convertible collars can be made with a built-in collar stand or two-piece with a separate stand, like the image.
Men’s dress shirts most often have two-piece collars, the uppermost part that you see is called the fall (shown in red) and the vertical piece surrounding the neck is called the stand (shown in green).
You can close the collar with a button, but when you open it, it acts like a spring and spreads outward. This is because the collar does not follow the curve of the neckline.
The other type of collar is a non-convertible collar. The collar follows the curve of the garment neckline. The garment neckline and the neckline edge of the collar are the same length. There is no separate stand. However, the feature of a stand, the ability to raise the collar up off the garment, still exists in a non-convertible collar.
To make a non-convertible collar, you use the front and back necklines of the garment as shown above. You line up the necklines by rotating one of the patterns and putting them shoulder to shoulder. Then you trace out the combined necklines and add width in the direction of the shoulder lines.
A collar created with the shoulder lines lined up will lay down completely (see image above). There is no built-in stand.
When you overlap the two shoulders, the collar will begin to rise off the garment (see image below).
This is the process of rolling the collar. The more the overlap, the larger the roll and the higher it will crawl up the neck.
The neckline edge of the collar still matches the neckline length, regardless of how much you overlap the shoulder.
What you’re doing is straightening the neckline edge curve of the collar. When it meets the more curvy neckline, it pushes the collar up and then it rolls over the little stand that has been created. That’s how a built-in stand works.
There is a patternmaking technique called 4-to-1 that applies to these types of collars. If you overlap the shoulders by 4" (10cm), the stand of the collar will be 1" (2.5cm). Since the collar rolls at the top of the stand, this would leave you with a bit less than 3" (7.6cm) of visible collar. You can see how the collar lifts in the image above.
You don’t see a lot of jabots these days, but they are very important for historical costumes. They are typically an ornamental frill or ruffle on the front of a shirt or blouse. These are usually made of lace or other fine trim. They can be added to a neckline, or you can incorporate them with a collar.
Dicky, Vestee & Gilet
You probably aren’t very familiar with the terms dicky, vestee and gilet. I thought they were worth a mention, because you may be making garments that could use them.
A Dicky is set into a square or rounded neckline and is meant to simulate another shirt. It is essentially a detachable shirt front, collar or bib. Rather than wearing a complete shirt underneath, dickies were added in the neck openings.
Rumor has it that the Beatles wore dickies, that resembled t-shirts, under their jackets to keep them from overheating. In the 1940s women used them with suits, so it appeared there was a blouse underneath, but it was all for show.
A Vestee is essentially the same thing as a dicky, but it appears to be a vest rather than a shirt or blouse. Only the front portion was sewn in, so it looked like there was a vest, but it had no back. These were worn under jackets.
A Gilet is a sleeveless blouse that is worn with suits and sweaters. The front and collar may be quite elaborate, but there are no sleeves and it may be short-waisted.