Gussets and collars pt. 2

This post comes in response to comments that were generated by the previous posting Gussets and collars. Please refer to that posting for photos and explanations.

Beverly asks:

I guess I don’t work with shirts enough, but I don’t see a separate stand here. Am I missing something? Or is it part of an all-in-one collar and stand?

Yes, the collar stand is built in with the collar. Many collars have the stand built in. It’s easy to tell which collars have this feature. If a collar doesn’t have a stand built in, it will lie flat meaning that the underside of the collar will lie flat on the body of the garment.

Jinjer asks:

Can you explain what you meant by “this collar is not breaking (and shapes even better on the body). It rolls smoothly around the neckline -yet it has a stand.”

I’m pretty sure I understand “roll” (the collar folds back on itself softly), but I always thought “breaking” was pretty much the same as “rolling.”

“Breaking” and “rolling” are two different effects. A break is where there’s an obvious hard fold line whether intended or not. Roll is a softly rolling turn of cloth forming the collar. Roll is soft, there’s no obvious turning point or fold line; it’s fluid and gradual. A break is a hard fold. Breaks are easier to generate than folds. Another example of break is found on the lapels of a suit. The lapels turn back on a fold line -the so called “revers”; this is a break. If you recall, that end of that hard line at the center front (at the end of the lapels) is called a “break point” which is where the hard fold line of the lapel ends. A hard fold line at the revers is desireable by the way.

We’re so used to seeing collars with break lines that we think nothing of it. Well made collars -unless for stylistic reasons- should roll with no obvious hard fold line at the shoulder-neckline apex; nor a hard fold traveling around the back neck. A well-made “couture” suit will have a rolled collar line, not a break line. Home sewing instructions will often teach people to put their collars on a pressing ham to generate the fold line that by rights, shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Miss Twiss asks:

Where is the grain line on the gusset? Of course it is on the bias, no matter how it is cut. Could the pattern piece be placed differently on this comfortable shirt? Is the grain from corner to corner or from edge to edge?

Assuming that the dotted line in the sketch below represents the placement of the gusset at the underarm side seam, the grainline lies as follows. If you’re a real stickler for detail, you’d flip the grainline for the opposite side.

Nadine asks:

I’m interested in why the centre back facing ends in a point – does it sit better?

The center back facing ends in a point because I was playing around. I wanted to do something different; it was an experiment. It was a stupid experiment because it failed. The point doesn’t lay in place and it’s irritating. I did it that way thinking it’d be easier to turn the facing edge under (I don’t like serged seams showing at the back neck) than it would be with a curved facing line.

Karen V asks:

Is there a particular reason why a back facing is used? I don’t see them too much on blouses these days.

Personally, I think blouses -better quality blouses- should have facings. This isn’t a blouse but a shirt so I guess it shouldn’t have one but I like them. A facing in the back neck acts as a stabilizer to the back neckline. I think 2 layers of collar (4 layers really including turned allowances) is too much to bear for one layer of back neck shell. If I put a facing there, it stabilizes the whole neckline and collar -acting as a stay- and additionally, I fuse that back facing further retaining the shape and integrity of the back neck. Another thing is labeling. I think labels centered on a back facing look much nicer (considering hangar appeal) than labels sewn into the neckline seam. Then, there are those of us who cut all our labels out (scratchy you know). If they’re set on a facing, they’re easier to remove or they’re less irritating as they’re sewn flat on all sides. Better quality goods use facings on blouses.

Another thing. Sewing-wise, it’s easier to sew the collar in if you have a facing. Without a facing, you have to fiddle (one way or another) to turn under the bottom of the collar to sit at the back neckline seam. With a facing, it’s sandwiched, totally different process. This is a good example of how adding a pattern piece can improve your sewing process. It’s a trade off though. On one hand you have a cleaner, easier sewing process meaning you’re more likely to have a great result. On the other hand, you have another pattern piece to make, grade and it uses fabric so your allocation is higher by a nominal amount.

Speaking of the sewing operations that a back facing can simplify, a lining can also provide this function. For example, I see a lot of vests with facings all over the place, necklines, armholes, hem etc and I can tell you this just won’t save much if any money. It’s more work to finish off all those facings than it would be to use a full lining. A full lining uses more fabric but it costs less to sew. Then, there’s the cost of grading. In grading, since you’re charged by the piece, the cost of those facings (a total of 6 pieces) is greater than the cost of the full lining (a total of 2).

Get New Posts by Email


  1. Nadine says:

    Thank you for your answers, Kathleen. That pointed facing does have great hanger appeal – shame it didn’t work out as planned.

  2. Carol Bratberg says:

    Hi: I remember a perfect blouse made from a pattern about 20 years ago. I had a placket down the front, slightly dropped shoulder, slightly gathered, long sleeves and a gusset under the sleeve. I loved this pattern so much and lost it. It was a size 14. cant remember the company that made it and am trying to get someone to make me a pattern if I can draw them a (bad) sketch. Can you help me. I sew but am not knowledgable enough to make myself one. Please reply if you can help me. Thanks, Carol Bratberg

  3. I iron a lot of shirts all the time for the men in my life and I never iron the “fold” into the collar, and I have to say that is drives me absolutely crazy that the collar doesn’t “naturally” fold right. The outside of the collar isn’t even deep enough to cover the seam line of the collar. And I always wondered why the top of the collar is cut straight, it shouldn’t be. I thought that it’s just maybe the brand of shirts that I/we buy/acquire, but when I go shopping I look at other shirts and I see the same thing. Your collar looks great.

    Kathleen said:

    it was an experiment. It was a stupid experiment because it failed.

    I don’t think you really meant to say “stupid” did you, Kathleen? Because you won’t necessarily know the outcome of something if you don’t try it first, right? I think “failing” can teach us so much.

  4. Kathleen says:

    It is a shirt pattern I made for myself. I plan to make it available at some point. Hopefully sooner than later. Stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.