How to draft a bow collar

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My favorite part of my winter coat is the bow collar. This variation on a shawl collar is cozy and warm, since it comes right up to your neck, making it perfect for a winter coat. It works best with an asymmetric closure, but I’m sure you could adapt it to work in the center.

First off: a bit about collars. A collar is usually made of two pieces: a stand, which is a rectangular or slightly curved strip of fabric an inch or two high and as long as the neckline, which is hidden under the collar and raises it up to an appropriate height, and the collar its self, which sits on top of the stand.


These are the pieces of the pattern. You only need one measurement for the collar: the circumference of your neck. Add an inch and a half to two inches to this measurement, since you don’t want your collar to be chokingly tight – this is a coat, it should have breathing room and space for clothes underneath. On your coat, cut down the neck opening until it is as wide as this measurement. If it is already larger, use the neck opening as your neck measurement.

First trace the stand: a rectangle 1 1/2 inches high and as long as your neck measurement.

Next the left side of the collar itself: draw a curve (a half circle, or a slightly flattened half circle) as long as 1/2 your neck measurement. Draw a straight line 5″ up from the top of the circle. This will be the center back seam. Holding the measuring tape perpendicular to the curve, measure 5″ out at several points along the curve. Draw an outer curve connecting these points. About 4″ from the end, start bringing this curve in, so that it meets the end of the inner curve.

For the right side of the collar, flip over the left side. Copy the inner curve, center seam, and outer curve until it begins curving in. Add a straight line extending 4″ beyond the bottom of the inner curve. Draw a straight line up 5″ from the end. Finish the outer curve, keeping it 5″ from the inner curve until it meets this new line.

For the “knot”, trace a 5″ by 5″ square (it says 8″ on the diagram, because that’s what I started with, but I ended up cutting it down to 5, because the knot looked better that way).

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Cut out all your pieces from the main fabric. Cut out all pieces except the knot from lining fabric. 

Sew the two collar pieces together along the center seam. Sew the inner curve of the collar to the long edge of the stand for both the main fabric and the lining, beginning from the left side of the collar. There should be 4 inches of collar left over. Sew the main fabric to the lining along the outer edge of the collar, along the extra 4″, and down the short sides of the stand. Turn right side out and top stitch. Gather the collar fabric at the end of the stand, just before the 4″ flap  (this is optional: I didn’t do this, but I wish I had). Sew the stand to the neck opening of your coat.

So far this has been more or less how you’d sew in any collar. Now for the bow! Fold the knot fabric in half and stitch the long sides together. Turn right side out. Sew one end down along the seam between the stand and the collar, where you just gathered. Fold the “knot” strip up and wrap it around the collar. Iron over the other end and sew it down in the same place at the back. I did this part by hand, because the collar is quite thick at this point, and I didn’t want it to show from the front. Your collar is done!

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