Sunday, December 1, 2013

Tutorial - Peter Pan collar and cuffs

Are you ready for the first tutorial DIY for the 4 little DIYs for 4 little dresses series?

First up is a simple favourite - Peter pan collar and cuffs. The idea of this tutorial is to teach you how to modify an existing dress. Either one you've bought new or second hand or something you've had in your wardrobe for so long and needs a new lease of life. 

Ideally this tutorial is being done on a dress or top that already has facings or finishes, which you can unpick and layer the collar between, but not all garments are made in this way and can be tricky to resew - so were going to sew the new pieces on and press them so that they are neatly hidden away. 

You will need;
  • A dress to work on
  • Plain white cotton - approx 1/4 meter
  • Iron-on interfacing
  • Tracing paper
  • Scissors, sharpie and your normal sewing kit
Approx time - 3 to 4 hours.
Skill level - Beginner

1. Begin by laying the garment flat and tracing over the collar opening and shoulder edge with a sharpie. 
2. Sketch in the round part of the collar and connect the lines. 
3. Cut out your sketch and check that it matches the curve of your dresses collar
4. Do the same for the back side. Line up the front and back pieces to make sure they are the same width. 

*Before you add the seam allowance, I found that it helps to add an extra 1.5 cm to the length of the pattern piece. This is important to do, as when the garment is flat, it looses the volume compared to when it is worn. If you have a dress form tracing the collar edge is much easier. 

5. Measure the width of the sleeve cuff by wrapping the tape measure around.

Right click to enlarge image in a new tab

6. Draw out your cuff piece by drawing the bottom line first. Draw the two side edges but angle them out slightly so when the cuff is finished it will flare out.
Remember to add extra length, before adding the seam allowance
7. Cut your pieces of cotton and interfacing out - cut 4 from the cotton and cut 2 from the interfacing. Indicate on the cuff pieces the inside edge by making a small notch into the fabric
8. Iron on the interfacing

9 & 10. Pair your collar pieces together and sew the seams
11. Iron the seams out flat and then sew the top and the bottom pieces of the collar together.
12. Leave the inside edge of the collar open

13. Trim the bulk of the allowance down, either by making notches or trimming it away to only a few mm.
14. Turn out and use a point turner or anything kinda pointy like a plastic knife or dried out pen to poke the corners out.
Press flat

15. Do the same with the cuff pieces - Sew only on the sides and outside edge. Press

16. We'll start now with attaching the collar. Turn the garment inside out and pin the collar on the inside of the collar with the raw edge facing out. 

17. When applying the second half of the collar, allow it to overlap slightly. This is because once the collar is turned out it will separate a little and you want the collar to still meet in the middle without a gap.
18. Sew the collar on being careful of the thick layers of fabric

19. Once the collar is on, you can trim away some of the sewn edge. I trimmed away at the shoulder seams and anywhere it was too thick.

20. Get your iron ready and turn the collar up and over the edge of the neck. Ideally it's only the collar that should be folding, not the dresses collar. You can try this, but it will just expose the stitching line

Collar done! 

Now for the cuffs

21 & 22. Turn your sleeves inside out and find the seam line. The middle of the cuff piece will need to line up with the sleeve seam.
23. Pin the cuff outwards facing (see image) I find this method works better as its doesn't add as much bulk when we do it the same way as the collar
24. Sew the seam

25 & 26. Remove the sleeve from the machine and turn inside out
27. Bring the sleeve out and around the sleeve edge and press to hold its shape

28. Sit back and admire your work! 

How did you find that? If you'd like to make any additions or ask any questions please ask in the comments below.

Now also something exciting, as I already have this style of dress, I will be selling this one as used in the tutorial for the bargain basement price of $30 AUD plus postage. 

Example of postage fees - AUD $6.95, GBP ₤13, USD $18. Exact postage will be calculated upon inquiry

The dress would fit a size 10 to 12 and is made from black ponte de roma fabric and is handmade on a domestic machine. As a result there are some imperfections in the sewing work, but these do not affect the total look of the finished garment.

Length from should to hem is 90cm
The following measurements are taken flat and doubled 
Bust - 96cm (38")
Waist - 94cm (37")
Hips - 104cm (41")

Email me if your interested and I will send you a paypal invoice - your chance to own a genuine Sewingthe60s dress as made by me!

Anyway! I hope your enjoyed your weekend. I will be posting a little bit more about the Peter Pan collar later this week

Take care! xo


  1. Thanks for the tutorial Cat! I am a huge fan of your blog!

    Just had a question for you regarding peter pan collars. I have always had trouble getting the collar to sit flat. In some tutorials they suggest overlapping the shoulder seam of the front and back collar piece slightly and I am wondering if that is where I am going wrong...For a flat peter pan collar, is it best to avoid this?

    1. hi there! usually to get the collar to sit flat, i make notches in the seam allowance so that when it folds over all that extra bulk of fabric has somewhere to go. Also pressing the collar is pretty important too - if you can buy a tailors ham, or use a bundled up towel to act as support while your pressing the collar flat, once its cooled it should sit properly. You might have to iron only a bit by bit, but hang it on a coat hanger to cool as well. One other thing, are you making one side of the collar as one whole piece? ie two pieces all together or 4 pieces?

      Cat xo

    2. Thanks for the advice :-) . Yes! I love my tailors ham. I have never thought of allowing it to cool on a coat hanger. Cool! Yes 4 pieces in total. I had a zip in the dress at the centre back.
      Kath xo

    3. oh interesting! I normally sew with a 2 piece - like in photo number 12. Well in that case, if pressing and trimming away the bulk doesn't work, you could always hand sew in some anchoring stitches to the underside of the collar to pull it down? I've been reading Couture Techniques and its interesting to read about all the completely random and sneaky things couturiers do to get things to sit just right! So i would say this was an acceptable means to an end!

    4. I ended up sewing some anchoring stitches on the back. Next time I will try the 2 piece method! Its interesting... It just goes to show that whatever enables you to create the desired effect is probably fine. There are just so many ways to achieve the same result. Its fun to try them all and see what fits best!

  2. Great tutorial Cat! I do love a peter pan collar, although I've opted to leave them off of a few dresses I've made recently but I'm planning on adding one to the dress I'm making at the moment.

    1. thanks! oh i know how you feel - im sorta sick of them for now! After this i don't think i have one planned to sew for a long time. Hopefully we can see your dress soon!

  3. Super tutorial, you make everything look so straightforward. I'm lusting after than green table you're working's gorgeous! x

    1. thanks! sometimes i think im just talking crap! That lovely green table is actually my ironing board! It had green budgies on it! you can see a better pic here

  4. Super sweet, and so inspiring for anyone bored with their wardrobe! A gal could transform all her old frocks with this tutorial! Nice one, lovey! XXX

    1. thanks Helga! Hopefully there is a sudden rise in Peter pan collars soon! ;) haha

  5. I love the idea of this series, thanks for the inspiration :)

    1. Yay! I'm glad you like it! Hopefully i can get the rest all sorted out over the Christmas holidays :)

  6. Thank you so much! I've been looking for a pattern to modify a dress for a costume (Suzy from Moonrise Kingdom) and this is perfect!


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