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Patternmaking: Collar Roll Height

The first year I worked in technical design, I did not work in the sweaters, knits, and intimates department – jackets and coats was my category. Collars, lapels, chest pockets, cuffs, and epaulets (there are several ways to spell those darn tabs!) are what I measured day in and day out. Just a side story, I still have (and hang as display) the chest piece I had the pleasure of ripping out of a Brooks Brothers jacket. We were knocking off inspired by the construction of Brooks Brothers’ jackets that my department made it a mission to duplicate it as much as possible. Ha! Production almost placed our heads under the guillotine when the cost sheets for the samples came in.

The number one problem we had to fix when the samples arrived was the collars. The plastic bag would open, the garment would be placed on the form, and the tech, in this case her name was Alla (I was her assistant), would walk around the form to take a gander at the fit and the construction. When she (Alla) viewed the garment from the back, eighty percent of the time, the neck seam would be visible. That’s like nails on a chalkboard to a jacket/coat technical designer. Normally, when we sent what is called a “tech pack” to the manufacturers (essentially a booklet telling them how to make the garment – details on construction, fabric, trims, measurements), we would specify three point of measurement (called POMs) for the collar – collar height (from neck seam to collar outer edge), neckband/collar band height (at CB and at front edge), and collar roll height (from fold to collar outer edge). The fitting error – the neck seam being visible – was so common that it got to the point where we would only specify one measurement when sending our tech packs – collar height – and write, in capital letters – NECK SEAM MUST NOT BE VISIBLE. By only specifying ONE measurement, we were saying, “we don’t care what the other measurement are – just make sure the neck seam IS NOT VISIBLE!”

You’d think that after repeated slaps on the wrist, the manufacturers would get the picture. Nope. And the correction for this is so simple!

First of all, let’s talk numbers – on a normal notched collar jacket/coat, it is standard that a collar should extend below the neck seam 1/8”-1/4” and if the height of the collar is 3” (from neck seam to outer edge), then the collar roll height must be AT LEAST 1 5/8” in order to cover the neck seam. Does this make sense?

Now for the correction – let’s pretend that a model is wearing a jacket that has a collar that DOES NOT COVER THE NECK SEAM. If the fit technician (or whatever you want to call the person examining/fixing the garment) were to cut from the collar’s outer edge to the neck seam at several points and open the collar, the collar roll height would decrease and the collar would cover the neck seam, depending on how much each slash was opened. Essentially, this is the same thing you do when you manipulate a notched/normal collar pattern into a peter pan collar – you are slashing and opening it until the collar’s inner edge mimics the neckline and the collar’s roll height is 0″ (peter pan collar do not roll – they lay flat).

Another way of looking at it is that you are making the length of the collar’s outer edge LONGER. On a collar, there are 2 curves – the inner curve (neckline) and the outer curve (the collar’s outer edge). If the outer curve is not long enough to cover the length of the neckline where the collar’s edge hits, the collar will ‘hike up’ or ‘ride up.’ All that is needed to correct this is to lengthen the line of the outer curve.

The same can be said for the opposite. If the collar extends below the neck seam too much (3/8″+), then slash and close the collar in the same manner as shown in the diagram.

Does this make sense?



  1. Reply


    Do you have pics of visible vs invisible neck seam? I’m having some trouble visualizing this without pics of the offending seam vs. corrected seam side by side.

    • Reply


      thank you. i never thought of it from that perspective. i always assumed that the correction was to shorten the collarband and then was disappointed in the results, as well as having to fiddle with long narrow multi-layered collarbands. i know that the upper collar is supposed to correct that (hah!),but it seldom does. great information. thanks again.

      • Reply


        so sorry. i put that in the wrong space, didn’t i?

        • Reply

          Maddie Flanigan

          That’s totally okay – as long as readers can see your comments – that’s the point.

  2. Reply

    Maddie Flanigan

    Good question and I’m sorry for the confusion. In my mind, the post makes sense but that’s because and I have a visual of what’s going on. I really appreciate you being honest and coming forward to say that it doesn’t make sense. There are 3 images below (I apologize about the picture quality – it’s a cloudy morning here in Philadelphia). In the first image (1.jpg – it was the LAST image uploaded), the collar’s edge (indicated my a SOLID black line) does not cover the neck seam (indicated by a DOTTED black line). This is not the positioning of the collar, meaning even if I push the collar down so that it covers the neck seam, it will ‘ride up’ or ‘hike up’ naturally. The second image (2.jpg – this is the second image uploaded) shows me slashing from the collar’s OUTER edge to the collar’s roll line (FOLD). The third image (3.jpg – this is the first image uploaded) shows that once the collar is slashed and opened or once the collar’s OUTER edge is INCREASED, the collar’s roll height is DECREASED and the collar covers the neck seam (the neck seam is NOT VISIBLE). Does this make sense?

    • Reply


      Everything suddenly makes sense now. That’s a really interesting solution, I’ll have to try that out soon.

      • Reply

        Maddie Flanigan


  3. Reply


    Thank you so much for this “fix” and for the extra pics in your reply below. Great explanation.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      YAY! I’ll be checking my comments VERY frequently today (way more than usual) to make sure every ‘gets’ it 🙂

  4. Reply


    Great advice for collar making! I know I learned this in fashion design school but I had completely forgotten the finer points of collar drafting. Thank you!

  5. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    I think the basic core concept is the flatter you want your collar to lay the closer you need your pattern to look like the shape of your neck. If your neckline edge is completely straight it’s going to popup preppy style. Polo shirt collars are completely straight which is why you can pop them like that but the stretch provides the curve for it to sort of lay flat.

    I blame the textbook writers they always seem to have you starting to draft a collar with a straight line for the neckline edge and a right angle for the CB. Drafting in CAD compounds that I think too.

    Great post though I think this is the biggest problem with more commercial sewing patterns which leaves home sewers to think the problem is them that they don’t have enough skill when the pattern leads you to failure. I’m working on the muslin of Collete’s Anise and I have to say on this part I’m really disappointed and I KNEW before I cut it out that it was going to be a problem and it was. For a peter-pan collar it was too flat even accounting for turn of cloth and everyones FO’s show this.

    Sorry for writing a novel.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan


      I love novels so keep writing them! I think you’re on point with your ‘core concept’ – the flatter you want your collar to lay or the less collar roll desired, the more the collar pattern should look like / mimic / resemble the neckline. Because peter pan collar have no roll, they should be the exact shape of the neckline (this is why in all the peter pan drafting tutorials it is advised to trace the neckline when drafting the pattern).

  6. Reply

    liza jane

    Very interesting! I’ve yet to sew a collar that I thought was just right. I’ve always found they sit a little too high for my liking. I will have to try this on the coat I’m about to make. Thanks!

  7. Reply


    Thank you again for a very interesting post on pattern making. That’s making a lot more sense now, and I like to know that I will be able to solutionate this if the problem occurs to me (and I know it will eventually).

  8. Reply

    Amanda Russell

    Maddie, one of the reasons I love your blog is that even if some of the things you discuss are still a bit beyond my skill level, it’s always awesome to learn something new!! Something I would not have noticed – such as the collar showing the neck seam – now is something I will always look for and because of that, you help elevate my visions of perfect fit… there is so much still for me to learn and even though that is sometimes daunting, it’s also very exciting 🙂 Thank you for sharing your expertise, once again XO

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