Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Nancy Zieman Collar


I started watching Nancy Zieman on public TV maybe about 20 years ago. In those days it was all about garment sewing. She was the only game in town and I consumed every word she uttered, taped every program, and bought every book. I truly have learned so much from her, much that has stuck with me for many years. Her approach is to use the simplest methods to get the most professional results. She is not into couture but more making it look like couture. Ever since I saw her do this collar I have been using it pretty much ever since.
My current project pattern, like most,  has you put the collar together stitching the three sides not attached to the neckline first. Not Nancy! With her method you sew only across the long outer edge of the collar.
  Grade this seam and press as sewn, then open, then to the undercollar side.  You will then understitch the undercollar using a triple zigzag stitch. Make sure you set up your presser foot so that you don't stitch over the edge onto the upper collar. Give this another good press.
Love that stitch. This will prevent your undercollar from rolling out on the outer edge as well as give you a really flat edge. Once the long edge is all understitched, put right sides together again, matching the unsewn corners. This is where you will now check to make sure all edges are even and equal. Are they? If so, and that's rare, put right sides together and  proceed to pin the short ends of the collar together. If  not, like most collars I have sewn, a bit of the edge is off, it is time to fix it. Ever see collars that have uneven points when you look straight at the garment? Nasty. Fold your collar in half matching the long edges and corners. Trim the edges so they are equal. Your collar needs to be perfectly symmetrical. Double check front and back. If you are doing a tailored garment, like a wool coat, where you need to favor the undercollar, once the edges have been evened, cut the undercollar back a fat 1/16th of an inch across the neckline edge only. When you install the collar you will still match the edges but the undercollar will be pulled a hair tighter, preventing roll out. On a thin shirt fabric the zigzag understitching alone should take care of any undercollar issues. Once all even, pin the sides and stitch starting at the neck edge. A half inch from the point dial your stitch length down to 1.5. You don't want to secure the end with back  stitching. Actually you don't ever want to do that. It makes lumpy, uneven seams. So always go to a shorter stitch length to finish off the seam. In the case of a collar where you will be trimming very closely this is doubly important.

Once the short seams are sewn, grade them, cut the fabric away at the points at an angle. Press as stitched then press open. I use the handle of a wooden spoon to press these seams open. Once pressed open, turn right side out, admire your sharp point and flat seam, and press again. Thank you, Nancy!....Bunny

15 comments:

  1. I love this technique. You forgot to mention folding the sewn seam down when you start stitching so you begin right at the stitching line. Incidentally, I just used this technique to sew a jacket lapel point and it worked fabulously.

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  2. I'm with you! I found this technique in one of her sewing books and never use another. It produces a perfect collar everytime.

    Good post.

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  3. I actually personally prefer to sew from the cut neckline TO the outer edge SA. It just seems easier to sew starting from a less bulky edge. The zigzag understitching makes the collar automatically wrap to the undercollar so it is simply a matter of folding on the outer edge SA. I double checked my Nancy books and it seems this is probably a different way of looking at the same thing.

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  4. Thank you for this post. I am definetly trying this technique on my next collar.

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  5. Bunny

    this is a really great method, will have to give it a try for my next blouse.

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  6. I love NZ too. She's on 5 days a week here and I DVR the show. Unfortunately, most of it is crafty stuff I end up deleting but once in a while I catch a gem that I watch to conclusion.

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  7. What a great technique! I've never seen this one. Thanks for the tutorial. I'll definitely be trying this one next time I have a collar to make. :)

    KathyD

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  8. Collars are my downfall--I am going to try this!

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  9. Bunny, which NZ book is this featured in? I am about to attempt a silk collar on a silk shirt, and I want to achieve perfection.

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  10. Thank you thank you thank you...:-) I am saving this post and will practice this technique.

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  11. You can see the technique in "The Busy Woman's Sewing Book", pages 29 and 30. That's a great little paperback book that I highly recommend.

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  12. I just bookmarked this. Recently I got a couple of Zieman's books as hand-me-downs from a friend who doesn't sew anymore, and I was amazed at how many of the tips were still relevant, and were also just the way I think. Made me feel in good company. :)

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  13. Thanks for this tutorial! I am about to make a dress with a collar and this will be handy.

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  14. Wow, I'm so glad I found this. I'm making the Hot Patterns Superfantastic Shirt and the directions are sparse to say the least. I will try this way with the collar. Thank you.

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  15. I discovered this in her 25 Best Sewing Tips Book. LOVE this method! Love your blog, too, BTW.

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