A sailor collar is a distinctive style of collar design consisting of a wide, flat collar with a dickey and a tie in the front. If you have seen the tv show Popeye, the Sailor Man, or Japanese shōjo manga series Sailor Moon, you have seen it a lot. I have had this collar style on my kids’ clothes and never questioned it further, but learning its history has been quite enlightening.
In this article I will cover:
The sailor collar is square-shaped in the back, and the front is usually shaped as a triangle with a V neck. The front shapes are tied together in a knot – I think this is its most distinct feature. It is usually decorated with fabric trims like braid or piping. The original sailor collar is mostly seen in boy’s shirts. It is also a feature in women’s sailor dresses and natutical themed clothes of both genders. Modern versions of the collar shows many variations in size, pattern and shape.
The sailor collar is usually sewn onto the neckline of a shirt or dress. Alternatively, It can also be added as a detachable element.
Other names for this collar are Dixie cup collar or sailor flap.
History of Sailor collar
The modern day sailor collars are inspired by the collars worn by Sailors.
Sailor collar is usually associated with naval uniforms for a reason. The sailor collar has a rich history dating back to the 19th century when it was initially introduced as part of naval uniforms. This was one of the prominent elements of British naval uniform design and was considered a practical collar (giving protection from the sun and wind via the bib) then and allowed sailors to easily identify each other while they are doing their duties with others, because of its distinct shape and striped pattern.
It was later adopted by the US Navy. The sailor collar is an iconic feature of U.S. Navy uniforms. It is used in Navy’s working uniform, Service Dress White and Service Dress Blue uniforms.
A Middy blouse is a type of women’s top with a sailor collar. It was popular in the early 20th century. Here the sailor collar is called a Middy collar
Today’s Sailor collar
The detachable dickey style of the sailor collar allows you to customize your look and achieve different styles. The dickey and tie are elements that can be easily added or removed, providing options for both formal and casual attire. It has a timeless and classic appeal. You can add a nautical flair to your clothing with a collar made in the exact color and cloth of the maritime soldiers.
Or change the color and pattern to customize it as your own. Customize your sailor collar with different fabrics, or in terms of the style and placement of trims.
The classic sailor collar is square-shaped at the back and triangular at the front. It may be sewn as part of the neckline or added as a detachable element. You can change this design and give your own customized appeal.
How to sew Sailor collar – pattern drafting tutorial
Step 1. Draft the pattern for the sailor collar on paper.
Draft your front and back bodices. Follow this pattern for bodice making if you do not have one. Keep your front and back bodice (both folded by the middle) together at the shoulder seam. Overlap the shoulder seam about 1/2 inch at the outer side as in the picture.
Keep this in this position and trace this to another paper. (So that you do not have to cut your master pattern for the bodice)
Step 2. Mark the sailor collar pattern
Start marking your collar on this new bodice pattern.
Mark 11 inches down from the shoulder point on the back to make the bib on the back. Mark this 7 inches wide from the side. On the front side mark 14 inch from the shoulder point in a slanting line.
Mark the lines to get your collar pattern
The sailor collar pattern isolated. Cut it out.
Step 3. Cut out the pattern pieces.
You need to cut 2 such collar pieces. Remember, the pattern is marked on folded fabric.
Cut the pattern on fabric.
Step 4. Cut out the front bodice with a v neckline.
Cut out the back bodice with slightly curved neckline.
Cut out facings for the front and back necklines
Step 5. Join the two collar pieces
Keep the two collar pieces rightsides together. Sew them together along the outside edge and also the bottom edge inside about 2 inches. Red line in the picture below is the stitching line.
Clip the seam allowance and corners. Turn the collar rightside out.
Step 5. Join the bodices together and the facings together
Join the front and back bodices at the shoulder seam.
Join the facing for the front and back bodices together at the shoulder seam.
Step 5. Join the bodice and collar
Keep the collar (rightside down if you have such a right side) on the bodice neckline
On top of the above, keep the facing rightside down.
Sew them all together with a very small seam allowance. At the point of the V neckline, take extra care to get a point and a small stitch across before pivoting to the other side. Clip the seam allowance and understitch the facing and the seam allowance at the back.
Bring the sailor collar to the front. You may want to top stitch the edges of the collar, or leave it as it is.
Tie your sailor collar at the front.
How the flap looks on the back.
How to sew a detachable Sailor collar (free size)
Here is a basic detachable sailor collar that you can make in a similar way. Change the length and width on this as per your preference.
Cut out two fabric pieces in the dimensions of the pattern.
Keep these two collar pieces, rightsides to the inside and sew all along the outer edges – neckline edge and the outside edge (just leave 3 inches unstitched somewhere).
Turn the fabric rightside out through the space left. Top stitch the collar, closing the hole you have left as well.
Related post : Make detachable collars.