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Shorten collar for a short neck

Published Sep. 10, 2005

If you have a short neck, you may think you are limited to collarless styles and open necklines and that you must avoid wearing collars of any sort, including mandarin styles.

That is not so. You can wear collars, but you may need to reduce their width or, if this is still too high, cut down the neck and reduce the width of the collar.

Let's take a look at Vogue 7263, a mandarin-style overblouse with a pair of pants included in the pattern. Cut out the pattern in your fashion fabric but cut out the collar in a scrap fabric.

Because you know you have a short neck, alter the collar pattern and cut it out of a scrap fabric first to see whether the alteration works without further adjustments.

The notched long side of the collar is the side that attaches to the neckline of the blouse. No adjustments will be made on this side, but the opposite side of the collar, the unnotched edge, can be lowered, which will result in a mandarin collar that is not so wide.

In your scrap fabric, cut down the unnotched edge of the collar { inch, tapering back to the original cutting line by the ends of the collar.

Interface the back of the single collar piece cut in the scrap. To avoid constructing the whole collar, cut off a | seam allowance from the top of the collar and the ends to simulate the size of the collar after the two collar pieces are sewn together.

Baste this scrap collar onto the neckline. Clip the neckline a bit so that it will resemble the actual finished garment.

How does the neckline look and feel? You can trim down the collar an additional quarter-inch if you need to but with the understanding that further adjustments must be made in the neckline before the collar is attached.

If the collar is still too high on you, even after you have adjusted the width, the next adjustment comes from the neckline.

Trim down the neckline on the garment a quarter inch, which will result in a bigger neckline that will need a slightly longer collar. Before you cut the neckline down on the pattern, measure the seam line on the front and the back neckline on the unaltered pattern. Now draw a seam line down a quarter inch lower than the original and measure this new neckline. The difference between the two is how much you will need to lengthen the collar.

Vogue 7360, a fitted blouse with princess seams, is great looking on a wide variety of figures but especially good on the full-busted figure since alterations can be made easily in the bust to eliminate the front from pulling up and the waist taken in to create more of a shape.

The collar on this blouse is already small, so you can't really shorten the collar by more than a quarter inch, but the neckline itself can be lowered a quarter inch, allowing the collar to start lower on the neck and resulting in a collar that lies flat.

Sandra Betzina is host of Sew Perfect on Home & Garden Television. Send e-mail to