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Prepare the collar

If using a woven fabric, apply interfacing to the wrong side of the entire collar piece. Fold the collar in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Then press a 1/2" (1.2 cm) fold toward the wrong side along the edge that is not notched

If using a knit fabric, interfacing is optional and not recommended for heavy weight knits, such as fleece or sweatshirt knits. Optionally, you can serge the un-notched long edge of the collar for a cleaner finish, as this edge will be visible on the interior of the garment after finishing the collar.

Attach the collar to the bodice

Open the bodice neckline so that it is laying flat, with right side of fabric facing up. 

Align the edge of the collar right side facing down (right sides together) along the neckline, aligning the notches at center back, and sew with a 5/8" (1.5 cm) seam allowance.

If using knit fabric, serge or trim the seam allowance down to about 1/4" (6 mm).

If using woven fabric, grade the seam allowance down to about 3/8" (1 cm) and clip into the seam allowance at 1" (2 to 3 cm) increments to give the neckline more flexibility.

Press the collar away from the bodice and the seam allowance toward the collar.

Attach the zipper to the bodice

Optional, if sewing with knit fabric: apply a 1/2" (~1 cm) strip of fusible interfacing to the wrong side of fabric along the edges of the Front Bodice and collar to stabilize those areas before installing the zipper.

Lay the zipper face down along the exterior of the front bodice, with the zipper tape aligned with the bodice and collar edge. Align the bottom of the zipper with the notch near the bottom of the front bodice. The top of your zipper should align with the notch in the center of the collar. If it is too long you will need to trim the top of your zipper to fit (do not trim from the bottom). Click here for a tutorial on trimming a zipper to fit.

My zipper was too long, but I trimmed it using the steps in the tutorial linked above after I attached it to the bodice.

Sew the zipper tape to the bodice. I like to sew this first line of stitching with a regular presser foot so that the stitching is offset a bit and will be concealed later when we attach the bias tape binding to finish the zipper. If you are skipping the bias tape, you would use a zipper foot and sew your stitching about 1/8" (3 mm) from the zipper teeth.

Stop your stitching at the top of the zipper about 1/2" (~1 cm) from the notch at the collar. This will allow you to turn the top of the zipper into the seam allowance at the top of the collar when it is finished.

Remove the opposite side of the zipper. This is where I trimmed the zipper. Then fold the top of the zipper over and into the seam allowance at the top of the collar.

Fold the top of the collar over the top of the zipper, right sides together. Maintain the fold you pressed in the collar edge in step 7*. Also fold the bodice hem over the bottom end of the zipper in the same manner*. Sew the folded ends together along the zipper tape seam to encase the ends of the zipper. Trim the corners to reduce bulk.

*NOTE: If using knit fabric, your collar and bodice hem will not have a fold along the bottom edge. The serged edge will remain flat.

The folded edge of the collar just slightly overlaps the seam where the collar is attached to the bodice.

Do the same thing at the bottom, with the folded edge just slightly overlapping the bottom edge of the pocket.

With a zipper foot, sew the folded ends together (this time you will get closer to the zipper tape, about1/8" (3 mm) from the zipper teeth).

Cut a strip of single fold bias tape the length of the exposed zipper, plus about 1" (2.5 cm). 

Note: you can make your own bias tape and here is a blog post with tips on making and installing bias tape!

I made my own from fabric scraps.

Open one folded edge of the bias tape and align it right sides together with the front bodice edge, sandwiching the zipper between the bias tape and the bodice. The top and bottom of the bias tape should overlap that hem and collar folds by about 1/2" (1.2 cm).

Sew the bias tape to the bodice edge along the same seam line you used to attach the zipper previously, aligning the bias tape fold in the seam allowance. Clip the corners to reduce bulk at the collar and hem.

Turn the collar and hem right sides out to expose the zipper. Flip the zipper so that the zipper tape and bias tape are now on the interior of the garment. Press the fabric away from the zipper teeth.

Here's how this looks from the interior:

Topstitch the bias tape down on the interior of the bodice to conceal the zipper tape and keep the fabric pulled away from the zipper teeth. Stop the topstitching at the bottom edge of the pocket.

The bias tape ends should be concealed in the hem fold on the interior.

Repeat the zipper installation for the opposite front bodice. To align the neckline, pockets, and hem on either side of the zipper, re-attach the other side of the zipper before aligning it along the opposite bodice edge.

Once you have it aligned and pinned in place, you can unzip the zipper and sew the tape to the opposite bodice edge, repeating the same steps for concealing and finishing the zipper tape.

Finish the collar

If using a woven fabric, the folded edge of the collar should overlap the collar seam by about 1 to 2 mm on the interior.

If using a knit fabric, the serged edge of the collar will lay flat over the collar seam, overlapping by about 1 to 2 mm on the interior.

Pin the collar in place and topstitch from the exterior along the neckline, making sure to catch the collar edge on the interior (you can also insert a garment tag during this step). If using a very plush or fluffy fabric--like faux sherpa fleece--it may be easier to hand-stitch or baste the collar down on the interior before topstitching.

For this version, I decided to "stitch-in-the-ditch" on the exterior where the collar attaches to the bodice so that the stitching would be hidden from the exterior (but also catch the loose edge on the interior of the collar). I moved slowly for this step, removing pins as I went.

For this fleece version, you can see that the collar edge is flat (no fold) on the interior. I also left off any edge finishing, like serging, since this fabric will not roll. But for a knit that is prone to rolling at the edges, it is recommended to serge along that edge for a neater finish, before topstitching the collar down.

March 10, 2021 — Casey Sibley