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Tonic Tee Upgrade: Collar by Christine Haynes!

Posted by Betsy C on

The Tonic Tee is great as a free pattern, but you know what would make it really great? …a collar!… and what would make it even more awesome?… A tutorial on how to do it by the lovely Christine Haynes!

I have recently had the pleasure to team up with Christine for her variation on the Tonic Tee courtesy of Sewing Indie Month. Christine is the master of sweet, girly collars and I love that she took the time to show you how to make it. She is a busy gal and I appreciate the hard work and great detail on the step-by-step guide.


Hello Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick blog readers! I am Christine Haynes, an LA-based sewing instructor, author, and pattern designer. I’m super happy to be here today with this guest post, thanks to the fantastic Sewing Indie Month!

For this celebration of indie pattern designers, we were paired with fellow designers for interviews and tutorials. To be honest, I didn’t know of the SBCC site, but am I so glad I do now! Not only does Betsy design super cute clothes for a large range of sizes, but in chatting and getting to know each other, it turns out that we went to college at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago together! Can you believe that? Small world indeed.

If you don’t know my design style, suffice it to say that I’ve never said no to a cute collar. So when I was discussing with Betsy what kind of project I might do, I of course thought that her super cute Tonic T-Shirt needed to be even better with the addition of a Peter Pan collar!

So my job here today is to show you just that: how to draft a collar and sew it onto the Tonic! Ready? Here we go!

Step 1- Download your free Tonic T-Shirt pattern and tape the pieces together. Or, you can order a printed version for a small fee and have it shipped to you. Once you’ve got your pattern, cut out the size of your choice. At the shoulders of the front and back pieces, draw a line across the shoulder at the 3/8” seam allowance.

Step 2- Fold the shoulders on the line drawn in step 1.


Step 3- Place the back piece down on paper. This is best done with pattern weights or similar item. Trace around the shoulder and neck, as well as down the center back fold. 

Step 4- Place the front piece down on the paper, lining up the shoulder with the shoulder back. Trace around the neckline and down the center front fold. This gives you the curve of the neckline, as well as the center front and center back.


Step 5- Use rulers and a French curve to draw the shape of the collar that you’d like to put on the shirt. I made mine based on the collar from my Emery Dress pattern. Remember that the area around the neckline will be sewn at 3/8” seam allowance, and that you will lose some by sewing the upper and lower collar pieces together. I added in 5/8” around the outer curve of the collar for my seam allowance. At the center front, draw a line straight down for the 3/8” seam allowance around the neck. That way the two sides of the collar will meet at the center of the shirt in a perfect point when sewn to the neckline at 3/8”.




Step 6- Cut out your collar pattern piece.


Step 7- Lay the pattern piece on the fold of your fabric and cut one out. Repeat and cut out a second collar.


Step 8- Lay the pattern piece on the fold of interfacing and cut one out. For knits I like to use a lightweight knit fusible interfacing. It allows the fabric to still move like a knit but gives the collar stability.


Step 9- Place the two collar pieces right sides together and sew along the seam allowance you included when drafting the pattern. I used a serger for this step, but you could also use a regular machine since this seam will not need to stretch. If using a regular machine, be sure to trim the seam allowance down to 1/4″ after sewing.

Step 10- Turn the collar right side out and press along the outer edge. I like to ever so slightly roll my seam to the back, which creates a very slightly uneven line around the neck since the collars are the same size. Simply trim off the extra fabric around the neck to even them out.


Step 11- Pin the wrong side of the collar to the right side of the neckline of the top. Be sure to butt up the center front edges so that when sewn at 3/8” seam allowance the center front of the collar meets perfectly. Sew all the way around the neckline. Again, I used a serger, but if you use a regular machine, use a stretch stitch for this as the neck hole will require stretching. Trim off the extra seam allowance to 1/4″.


Step 12- Open the neckline and press the seam allowance toward the inside.


Step 13- Stitch the seam allowance to the top front, which will land just under the collar. This is much like understitching, except that instead of sewing to the lining, you are sewing it to the front to roll the collar to the right side and hide the seam allowance on the inside. Again, this will require a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch.


Step 14- Press all the way around the neckline and you’re done!!!

Thanks to Betsy for having me on the blog today!


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  • Wow! That looks cute !

    Wynn on

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