Why my Collar is Sticking Out like Bird Wings: Notching the collar seam

Previously I have posted a pattern review of McCalls 5754 Poncho/Cape and said that I had plans to make another in wool.  I cut the project out and then it lay in my UFO sewing basket until December.  Originally I had planned to have it done in time for fall and I am annoyed with myself that it won’t be appropriate until next fall, but better late than never.

Once upon a time I had the original photo I showed my foster sister, of the collar sticking out, but it must have been inadvertently deleted during all of the Christmas picture-taking.

So I sewed it up and then found something else to be annoyed about.  The collar stuck out like wings from my neckline.  Thankful to live in the post-modern era with deluxe technology I snapped a pic with my digital camera to show my foster sister.  (This really beats dragging the offending garment back and forth for her to see. Because I was raised by my great-aunt and uncle, my foster sister is much older than myself and also happens to be an excellent seamstress who had stopped sewing around the time I began.  I thought for sure she would have a fix-it.)

Expecting consolation, I show her the image on the digital. 

“Your collar is too tight,” she says flatly.

Not exactly feeling validated, I begin to make my case. 

“It can’t be too tight.  It is a plus-size.  The neckline is actually a bit too large for me.  I NOTCHED!”

“Your collar is too tight.  Get into it and loosen your collar.”

I begin to wail piteously, “But I have already bagged and closed up the lining.  I notched!  Well, it went kind of straight-like at that part of the collar and I didn’t notch a lot there.  But I’ve already bagged and closed up the lining!”

My sister looks me blandly in the eye and says, “Uh huh, get into it and loosen the collar.  It’s too tight.”

So much for a fellow sewist’s sympathy.    How could she be right?  What a bummer thing to have to rip back part of the lining.  Aarrgh!  I mean I notched.  How many notches did this thing feel entitled to?

Apparently a lot.

Over the next few weeks I kept looking at the cape on the mannequin and wishing the solution lay elsewhere, but after some thought  decided she had to be right.  I ripped out my hemstitched lining opening, turned the cape inside out, and notched the collar again.  The collar and facing are both woolen.  That made for a thick seam in the front area where the cape closes.  I notched one side every inch, and then staggered my notches for the other side.  It worked.  The collar now falls as it should.

This is what I mean by staggering the notches on the collar raw edge.

Thick fabric means a thick seam, which means more notching than you might normally do. My advice is to check out the lay of the collar before closing the lining.

The collar now lays against my shoulder as it should. It turns out I made the fix more tedious in my imagination than it was in reality. It took only about 15 minutes.

Next Post: Thursday, January 20, 2011:Starting on my Spring Sewing Resolution


Side Seam Zippers Puckering at Bottom



Except the kind of pucker I am dealing with is not so pleasing. 

 My side seam zippers are puckering at the bottom. 


Unless I tell every pattern with side seam zips to kiss off, I will have to confront this problem.

But I have sewing amnesia. 

I don’t remember being bothered by unsuccessful side seam zips in the past, but come to think of it, they are a distant memory.  I have avoided the side seam zipper for years.  Not intentionally.  I have grown so disgusted with pants patterns that I have not needed a side seam zipper since I haven’t gotten beyond a muslin in pants fitting.  On skirts I like to use a back zip because my waistline fluctuates and it easy to nip in at the sides without dealing with the side zipper.

Times have changed.  I have a pants pattern that I like and I need to make a side seam zip in a closely fitting garment.   

But I am perplexed as to why they are puckering at the bottom.


Yes – I have interfaced. 

Pattern Alterations

I do have a standard side seam pattern alteration.  My hips are much straighter than most patterns so I eliminate much of the curve.  I thought that would make zipper insertion easier.  It hasn’t.  


Is there a trick to side seam zippers? 

Has anyone else confronted and solved the pucker problem?

Next Post: Thursday, July 1, 2010; McCalls 5695 Girls Smock: Pattern Review

The Second Rendition of Simplicity 2929: What to do with a Wadder?

I started out with Simplicity 2929 sewing it in a lightweight denim. 


During my fitting my husband said I looked like Moses coming down from the mountain. 

Though he was deserving of every ounce of the withering glare he received,  he was right.  This pattern in this fabric overwhelmed me.  The neckline interfacing was irritating as I mentioned in an earlier post, and I had to concede that this design is not for me.

What was I to do with the thing?


I hung it on the dress form a few days.   

The skirt was a simple A-line.  I decided to cut a yoke from the remmants and used  Butterick 5041.   The top I cannibalized for children’s clothes which I will review later. 

It would have killed me to through away the entire dress.  Now I have a passable lightweight denim skirt for summer. It pays to wait a few days before you wad.  

Next Post: Saturday, June 26, 2010; Butterick 5219 Scoop Yoked Tunic: Pattern Review

Sewing Snit: Too Stiff Interfacing

Interfacing Irritation

This is my second rendition of Simplicity 2929 sewn in a lightweight denim.  Though the pattern calls for it I toyed with not interfacing it at all.  I wish I had gone with my initial instinct.

Here it is – an example of too stiff interfacing.


You will first advise me to use a lighter weight interfacing.  I used sheerweight and I still got chicken wings.

Too stiff interfacing is dorky.  But no matter how low I go in interfacing weight, often the result is too stiff.  I have stopped using it in many instances and liked the result. 

However, having started sewing during the “just so” era, I have ambivalence about chucking the stuff altogether.  

What are you using for interfacing? 

 Does it have a brand name?

And if you love your interfacing – where do you get it?

Next Post: Thursday, June 24, 2010; What to Do with a Dress that Makes Me Look Like Moses Coming Down from the Mountain

Interrupting the Regularly Schedule Program . . .

‘Tis the Season

For This

Sorry folks, my seasonal allergies have kicked in.  I am not sewing or writing or doing much of anything.    After this has past I will get back to the program and publish the article promised last post.   I expect to be up and running by Thursday – I hope.  

Until then my life will consist of ibuprofen, allergy meds, nasal washes and me holding the side of my head wishing it hurt less.

My Apologies.

Next PostI hope? Thursday, May 13, 2010: Getting Rid of the Armhole Gap in Tanks 

Whoops! My Mistake: Sergers Don’t Staystitch

I learn something new from every garment I make.  Recently I tried out Vogue 1124 by pattern designer Sandra Betzina.  I have a full review in an earlier post, Betzina Vest: Pattern Review but I wanted to take a moment to pass on something useful for other sewers who might want to try the pattern.

If you are new to sewing, or in my case, not new, just impatient – you will be tempted to skip staystitching.  This is one thing that I did not understand as a young sewer and frankly thought it too boring to even bother with.

Staystitching is a row of straight stitches done on only one layer meant to hold the shape of a curve.

Like every good and useful thing on this earth it has a purpose.

To keep a curved seam from stretching out of shape.


A stretched out seam edge is like a stone rolling downhill.  That one stone bumps up against others and before you know it you have an avalanche. 

For example, a stretched out neckline messes up the shoulder, which messes up the collar, which messes up the front placket, which messes up your button placement, and to your chagrin, you end up with a dorky homemade looking garment.

Back to the pattern. 

For this particular pattern you cut a circle for the armhole.  Then you were to staystitch the curve, then finish as desired. 

This is what the armhole looked like originally.

My great idea was to serge that puppy up and get it over with.  I was going to just turned that serged edge under, anyway, why not let the stretch of the knit take care of the finish?

Bad idea

The knit edge did indeed stretch nicely into the armhole and I had a clean edge. 

But…my armhole had grown substantially.  Down to my waist.

Here is what the armhole looked like after I got done with it. The victim of yet another bad idea.

The vest kept slipping off of me and in disgust I threw it away.  I’m sorry I did that because in retrospect I wish I could show it to you.

My advice:

Instead of considering staystitching a mindless task before you get to the fun part, begin thinking of it as a gift from God because we are blessed to have such an easy way to solve so much trouble using just a few little stitches. 

So Don’t Skip Your Staystitching!

The Results are well worth it.

Next Post: Thursday, April 1, 2010; Hanky Hems