Pop Quiz 481: What’s wrong with this collar? pt.2

Well, I certainly got tons more responses on this one than I imagined. For the first question -What is causing this fold at the neckline?- we had quite a few correct responses with Maura first out of the chute. The answer is, the neckline is cut too high (small). By the way, here’s a better photo of the collar.

We had several correct responses to the second question -How do you fix it?- I should have elaborated though. It is impossible to fix this particular garment, only the pattern of it. The way to correct this style is to lower the front neckline (more on that further down). Several participants said the collar was too straight but if I were correcting this style, the only interim change I’d make to it would be to make it longer retaining the degree of slope and curvature of it for the next iteration to see how it came out. The reason you couldn’t correct this particular garment is that in correcting the neckline, you’re lengthening it and then the collar wouldn’t be long enough to sew into the longer neckline. This technically a modified mandarin collar and I’ve made so many of these I could do them in my sleep.

Speaking of descriptions, some were describing this as a “funnel” collar and I haven’t heard that used much but that term lends the impression of a stove pipe and would not agree this collar to have been intended to look like that. Others described it a “bishop” collar which also didn’t ring any bells but in retrospect, imagine this would be like a cleric’s collar. I guess it depends on whichever noun you learned first as to how you describe it. In any event, bishops, mandarins (how I learned it), clerics collars all have a degree of slope toward the neckline. If you saw the photo of the entire jacket, you’d see it was a fifties style swing jacket and in those days, it was very common to have [what I learned was called] a mandarin collar that sloped inward toward the neck rather than standing straight up -in the front anyway. It wasn’t unusual to have collars like this that did not stand up at all but were actually a pieced upper portion of a bodice front and back, a sort of small ringed yoke around the neck rather than a collar at all.

The third question -Is the retail price unreasonable -listed at $118?- is very subjective and boils down to value. Regardless of what you’re paying, this is an oversight that should have been corrected and yet Phat Chick reports in comments:

When exiting the store, I saw a large wall display of the same designer label jackets, probably the new Spring collection. Virtually every jacket on the wall had the same ugly fold–it was like a bad dream…

Of the comments left, JC’s assessment of value vs execution resonated most with me:

For $118, I think the price point is spot on for what the designer might have intended these materials to be used for. But, the execution just isn’t there to support the business and design proposition.

There is also some side debate on question #1, What is causing this fold at the neckline? the collar being cited as the reason for that fold and several mentioned the collar is too tight. I don’t think this is something we can determine from the photo I used. Toward that end, I got some more from Phat Chick. You can see there’s plenty of room with gapes off to one side (right). Also, the gaping on one side is related to the angle of her head, not any bad pattern cutting.

In any event, I don’t think the collar is the core problem although it’s possible it’s not helping matters. Kimberly brought up an interesting point saying the back neck curve may be too deep but again, you won’t know until you look at the hard copy (see section on Fundamentals of fitting, pg 165, fig. 5.50) and would necessarily include an examination of shoulder slope. Speaking of the latter citation, one thing no one brought up was the hang of the sleeves of the jacket but then again, you would have needed to click through to Phat Chick’s entry; it appeared to me the sleeves were set at the side of the body rather than towards the front (ibid pgs 166-168). It looked similar to the sleeves of this jacket I wrote about before.

Another side topic was a discussion of fabric weight. For a variety of reasons, I think this is immaterial, no pun intended. Perhaps it’d be an issue if the garment was constructed of materials varying in weight but this was all the same shell fabric. Likewise, we have no idea what interfacing was used (or not used) nor where it was or should have been applied for primary structural integrity. Note to kindred: interfacing should have been applied to the neckline and center front of the front piece. I also like to place interfacing in the back neckline and maybe even shoulder line but again, it depends on total fabric weight and the degree of crispness to the hand (this did seem to be firmly woven but light weight “swing” coat), drape and whether the jacket needed that in the shoulder line to retain its shape.

As far as corrections, again to the collar, several parties mentioned the collar appeared to “strangle” the wearer but that was due to the effect of photo and head positioning. Besides, we can’t see what was going on with the back neckline. Several suggested the collar should be slashed and spread to make it stand out away from the neck but again, that’s something I’d shy from doing right off the bat because that’s really a design decision and not something a pattern maker has the right to make. Not to say one could not suggest it of course but it seemed to me this collar design matched the silhouette of a fifties style swing jacket and opening up that collar would give it more of an Asian influenced look (closer to a stand up “funnel”), departing from the designer’s intention. Understand I’m not saying you’re wrong if you said it needed this, just that I would check in with the designer before making this correction.

The last comment (as of this writing) is one of the most telling yet most debatable, Michelle said:

The solution to the problem is that this designer needs a new technical designer and pattern maker

It may be true he or she needs another pattern maker but in the end, it is the designer who is responsible for every result that comes out of the work room. If it doesn’t look right, he or she must send it back until it is right. Likewise unfortunately, one can’t know if the pattern maker did want to correct it but was not given the approval to do so. Sadly, that happens just as often.

However(!), there is one element that leads me to believe better pattern work should have been rendered. Here are some hints as to what that might be:

I first asked myself…If I were to take off the collar piece… would the center curves at the neck and the center folds of the fronts line up?

Two snaps are needed on the collar’s under lap, one above the button and another below to prevent the collar from pivoting on the button shank and from it’s own weight collapsing (while pivoting) to a “V” shape. This “V” ing of what should be circular is what creates the look of the top edge of the collar being too tight on the neck.

Below is the answer I was hoping for because other than the neckline being too high, the CF pattern at the neckline juncture suffered from a fatal pattern design flaw. This is a mistake you should only make -once- in school. The first (and only) person to correctly address this did not leave a comment but she sent me a private email with a sketch to illustrate. Rita Yussoupova (one of our Russian pattern makers who visits regularly) said:

Here is the generic sketch that we sent to vendors for reference for pattern corrections when we had a garment with similar problem. We suggested to correct the neck line shape, so the CF placket overlap is horizontal NOT at the angle. We also suggested to give the neckband a little more curve shape at where it fits into Front neck line. Most of the time we would get garments back with much better neckline/collar appearance.

Summary:
I would have scooped out that front neck, lowering it because it does look too high. I would have lengthened the collar to match the neck sewing line but would not have altered the slope (straightening) of it. I would have squared off the CF neckline from the CF button stand line over to the finished edge as Rita illustrated. In keeping with Ken’s suggestion, depending on the crispness of the goods, I may have recommended a snap on the under side of the finished center front at the neckline to help maintain the shape of the neckline and prevent any subsequent buckling in that seam.

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8 comments

  1. Maura Townsend says:

    As an experienced seamstress, I have to say that it is possible to fix the coat.

    However, it is not worth it to do so.

  2. Esther says:

    Thank you for the explanation! I have been doing what Rita suggests in her drawing for a long time without knowing why I was doing it. Funny.

  3. Kathleen says:

    I’m no slouch either especially in the coat department but Maura but I’d love to know how you’d fix this -meaning correcting what was really wrong with it, not by creating a subroutine or work around or with patching.

  4. Maura Townsend says:

    Well, sure. It’s possible, especially given that she purchased a coat of a larger size than she wears. Extra fabric, from the unneeded ease makes it possible.

    However, as I said, possible does NOT equal worth the effort!

    It would have to be picked completely apart, refit/recut to both the actual intended style and her figure, interfaced where necessary, possibly have the buttons changed out, probably re-lined, and in other words – it would be less trouble to draft a whole new pattern without trying to alter it, and make a bespoke item.

    So, yeah, it’s not really save-able. Certainly not worth it to actually do.

    I’m for redrafting and starting fresh, really.

  5. dosfashionistas says:

    Ahhhh. The second photograph makes things much clearer. Were there others I should have looked at elsewhere? I always was one to gallop away with too little information.

    What I wanted to say is that the technical sketches point up a rule I was taught in my very first pattern making class (’61), which is that all corners of a pattern should be right angles at least as far as the seam allowance width. Every time I spout that lately people look at me like “Huh?” Is that not taught any more or did I have a teacher who had a bee in her bonnet about it. I have found it useful as a rule of thumb more than an absolute, but I would be interested to hear what others were taught.

  6. Trish says:

    dosfashionistas, I teach apparel design and right angles are my most vocal issue… even shoulders, etc… how else to make a beautiful garment? People who look at you like you are crazy just do not know how to make great patterns!!!! Stand your ground.

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