[singlepic id=253 w=320 h=240 float=left]As promised and only a week (or two) late! Here’s a tutorial for making embellished collars from upcycled mens shirts. These are a great way to use the decorative stitches on your sewing machine if you have them. They are also fun to wear in cool weather to keep your neck warm and fashionable.
The tutorial also contains other ideas for embellishment if you don’t like the one in my example.
1. Start with a men’s shirt
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Tips for finding a shirt: I scour the salvation army for mens shirts in colors I like, or there is always basic white. In my area they cost anywhere from $1 to $5 and sometimes they are half price! I prefer mens shirts over womens because (a) they tend to be better quality, (b) they tend to be cheaper at the thrift store, and (c) there are more to choose from with the top button and fold over collar that work best for this project.
Yuck warning! Be Careful about stains on the collars – men seem to get hot under the collar and ruin their shirts with sweat stains so look out for that when shopping!
2. Cut the collar from the shirt
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use sharp scissors and cut the collar from the shirt leaving 1-2 inches of shirt which will become a ruffle later on. Save the rest of the shirt for other projects. (maybe some wrist cuffs to match your new collar? or a wallet? or a skirt?)
3. Remove the button, tags and collar stays, trim the top collar
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Your trusty seam ripper will make quick work of the tag and button removal. I remove the button for stitching and replace it later but you can leave it if you prefer. If there are plastic collar stays, they should slide out.
As far as trimming the top from the collar – you have design freedom here. Sometimes I cut that part off completely, sometimes I leave the points in front and trim most off the back, or you can just leave about an inch all the way around. Different designs will sit differently on your neck.
4. Remove interfacing between layers (optional)
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If you decided to cut the collar in step 3, you may need to trim the interfacing away so it doesn’t show on the finished project. You can also just trim some interfacing from the edge and leave the rest to support decorative stitching later on.
5. Collar before embellishing
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Now let’s check your work – here’s the collar as blank canvas. You will be wearing the collar upside down so that the shirt part will actually form a bit of ruffle at the top of your neck ruff. You may wish to trim the ruffle part to suit your taste – somewhere between 1-2 inches is what I usually leave on there. You may also decide to cut away the button plackets if they are too stiff on the ruffle edge. (I left mine on in the photo above)
6. Embellish with stitches
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This is where your own creativity really comes in! If you have decorative stitches on your machine, try them out! Here are other options I’ve thought of, or create your unique decorations for your neck ruff.
- applique a pretty ribbon around the middle of the collar
- make bias tape and stitch it to the top and/or bottom edge, or in the middle
- use a wing needle with heirloom stitches
- free motion embroider a stipple or other pattern
- use varigated thread or heavy top stitch thread to make the stitches really pop
- hand embroider the collar
- use iron on appliques or graphics to decorate the collar
- apply lace, soutache trim or even couch some yarn on there
- sew on beads, or beaded trim
For my example, I used several decorative stitches in beige and purple to compliment my collar, and put stitching on the top and bottom of the collar as stay stitching so the edges will fray up to the stitches. I like the shabby, frayed look. But you could certainly finish your edges a different way.
7. Embellish the front closure
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There are lots of options here too. I put a DuhBe rose on many of my collars (tutorial is here) or you can use a purchased flower, a bow tie, ribbon, a pretty button, or a brooch.
Sometime I keep the button closure, but I’m starting to prefer snaps. Attach a pair of snaps to fasten the collar, then use another pair of snaps to attach the flower to the outside of the collar. This makes it easy to detach the rose and put the collar in the laundry.
Here are are a few more collars I’ve made to give you more design ideas. You can try one of these, or unleash the artist within you to create unique collars in your own style!
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