February 7, 2012

little felt collar: a tutorial

We got a letter home a few days ago from Evie's school reminding us of the uniform policy. I suspect there has been a bit of a mid-winter rebellion when it comes to the uniforms, some of the girls in her class have started wearing pink and purple tights, especially toward the end of the week when clean uniform pieces are thin on the ground. I know I've been tempted. But Miss Evelyn loves her uniform, for whatever reason. I'm not sure if it's the ease of not choosing in the morning or the "this is my school costume" thing or the fact that when she isn't in her uniform, we let her wear whatever she wants, which she really loves (striped tights, plaid skirt, flower shirt, color block sweater! Whew! We are into patterns!)But whatever it is, she has no objections to putting on her uniform each morning.
But when I looked over the note I realized that we had, without knowing it, been breaking the "rules". Light blue collared shirts. Collared was underlined. Woops. When the cold weather hit I picked up some long sleeved t-shirts for her, which, since they are t-shirts, have no collars. I'm not super stressed about it, we could always layer up the T under her collared shirts, but when I saw this on Pinterest I couldn't resist.

The original pattern was far too big for my little bitty girl, so I thought I'd share how I drafted a pattern for one her size, just in case your little girl needs a pretty felt collar. I used a heavy, 100% wool felt for this because it's what I had in the house. But if I had it to do again I'd probably go down to Purl Soho and get a sheet of the nice soft wool felt they have. Its thinner so I think it would drape a little better.
You'll need to start with some kind of collared shirt or dress that fits well in the neck - not too loose or too tight. For Evie's, I used one of her party dresses with a Peter Pan style collar. Pin one side of the collar, as flat as you can, to a piece of paper. Use plenty of pins so that it stays smooth. Trace around the outside of the collar and then use the pin to prick through the fabric into the paper along the inner edge. When you unpin, connect the pin pricks to make the half collar shape.

It's less crucial that the outer edge of the collar is the shape you want, that's easy to alter, what you really want is the inner curve and some idea of how wide you want to collar to be. In a pinch, you could even use a t-shirt to get that inner curve and then just play around with the shape of the collar itself.
Once you have the basic shape of the collar down, you can add that cute scalloped edge by tracing the curve of a teaspoon along the edge. Start at the back and work toward the front, this way you can add a little to the front edge as necessary to make the curves end evenly. I left a little tail where the fronts would connect, but you could bring the curve right to the edge if you like.
Try the paper pattern on a few times to make sure its the right shape and then pin to your fabric and cut the two pieces out.
Evie and I went button stash diving and came up with a few possibilities for the front and the back button, somehow I knew we'd pick the flower as soon as I spotted it in the bag.
Stitch the front edges together firmly and then sew the button on.
Instead of a ribbon to connect the back which would, frankly, be a disaster with a five year old, I used a shank button and a loop of elastic.

She likes.
Now, whether it will stay on all day is anyones guess, but at least I sent her to school all uniformed up.