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Starching Detachable Collars

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Yesteryear, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. Yesteryear

    Yesteryear One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    228
    This thread is designed to be a collective resource for detachable collar starching. Feel free to share any methods, tutorials, videos, and tricks you've found helpful while making the perfect starched collar.

    Let's get started, here is a short film from 1932 showing collars being starched at the Castlebank Laundry in Scotland:

    [video=youtube;UJp3V9TL8xs]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJp3V9TL8xs[/video]
     
  2. Yesteryear

    Yesteryear One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    228
    This modern video shows collars being starched at Barker's Laundry in England:

    [video=youtube;k0OOSOk4Ftk]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0OOSOk4Ftk[/video]

    It's great that there are still laundry companies providing this service! Unfortunately these can be difficult to find depending on your location, which leads to the next option- home starching.

    Starching collars at home can be difficult, you need to devise a method for starching a collar without the specialized tools and machinery used by professional laundry companies. There are many ways this can be done, I will share one method in particular that has worked quite well for me. This method yields a rigid collar with a nice semi-gloss finish similar to a professionally starched one. The only ingredient needed is 100% corn starch, and the finishing shine is achieved with just a normal clothing iron. This starching method is described below. Note that this method was created through trial and error, so if you find ways of improving it feel free to share.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Instructions for Home Starching/Polishing 100% Cotton Detachable Collars:

    What you will need:
    *Your washed/dried detachable collars.
    *Powdered 100% corn starch.
    *Clothing iron and board.
    *Collar mold (something to wrap your collar around as it dries- I use a small cylindrical sauce pan)
    *Several clothes pines
    *Paper towels
    *Water spray bottle
    *Hair dryer (optional to reduce drying time)

    Prepare Starch Solution:
    1-Mix an approximate ration of 1/9 powdered corn starch to cool water solution in a sauce pan. Mix solution until all of the starch has dissolved into the water, it will resemble milk at this point.
    2- Put the sauce pan on the stove and slowly heat it up while consistently stirring the solution. In time the milky solution will start to become transparent and viscous. Keep heating and stirring until it is a hazy/creamy substance. It's now finished. Keep the solution warm to prevent it from hardening.

    Starch Collar:
    3- Place the dry collars into the prepared starch solution and mix lightly to saturate.
    4- Allow collars to sit in solution for a few minutes as they soak up the starch.
    5- Remove collars from the starch solution and scrape off the excess with your hand until it stops dripping.
    6- Place starched collar onto a paper towel sheet and lightly dab/press the surface with the towel to remove the heavy starch coating.

    Iron Collar:
    7- right after step 6 take the collar to the ironing board and smooth it out with your finger tips to remove any large wrinkles between the two fabric layers.
    8- Set the clothing iron to its lowest setting, hot enough to boil water but not so hot that you risk scorching the collar.
    9- Right before ironing the collar quickly spray the collar with water to create a layer of pure water separating the hot iron from the starch solution. You don't want to soak the collar through, just wet the top surface. This will allow the iron to smooth the collar without contacting the starch solution, which would cause peeling of the starch.
    10- Quickly slide the iron, point first, across the collar lengthwise- while moving the iron across the collar twist it side to side so that the leading point moves up and down across the collar's height. This is important, as simply sliding the iron across the collar will cause it to bunch up. If done properly you will get a perfectly smooth collar, it may take several tries to get a feel for it.
    11- Now repeat steps 9 and 10 moving in the opposite direction across the collar. It is important to spray the collar between each iron pass to prevent peeling of the starch.
    12- Flip the collar over and repeat these ironing steps until the collar is perfectly smooth.
    13- Finish ironing with the collar's outer (visible) surface exposed for the polishing steps. Make sure you clean off any starch residue on the iron before polishing the collar.

    Polishing:
    14- With the collar sitting smooth on the ironing board allow the outer surface to dry completely. The collar does not need to dry out completely, only the exposed surface should be dry to the touch. I use a hair dryer to speed up this process, it only take several minutes. If you iron the collar before the outer surface has dried the starch will peel and flake.
    15- Set the iron to its maximum heat setting and turn on the steam.
    16- Firmly slide the iron across the collar lengthwise while steaming lightly. Pass the iron straight across this time, since the collar is already smooth the twisting motion is not necessary.
    17- Continually pass the iron over the collar lengthwise with sufficient pressure and light steam. The collar should be developing a nice glossy finish with each pass. Press very hard with the iron and concentrate the pressure towards the back (to prevent snagging the fabric at the front of the iron).
    18- Once a satisfactory gloss has been acquired turn off the iron's steam and pass the iron over the collar several more times to dry off the polished surface. (don't dry the collar through to the other side, ONLY dry the top polished surface.)

    Shaping the Collar:
    18- Now flip the collar over (the polished side is now facing the ironing board). If you accidentally dried the collar out through to the other side in step 18 simply mist the unpolished side with a spray bottle to wet it again. Just don't allow the polished side to get wet or else the shine will be lost.
    19- Lightly pass the iron over the unpolished side with light steam to heat it up, then fold the inner band up along the fold line (you may need to use the edge of a ruler to create a crisp fold depending on how the collar is made).
    20- Again lightly pass the iron over the collar several more times to press down the fold and heat it up once more for the curling step.
    21- With the collar still steaming from the iron place the collar mold (small saucepan) at the center of the folded collar and pull the ends up around the cylinder.
    22- Now clamp the collar into place on the collar mold with the clothes pins, secure them on the collar ends to prevent clamping on the smooth turndown fold.
    23- Wait approximately 24 hours for the collar to completely dry.
    24- After the collar has dried out completely it can be gently peeled off the collar mold.

    It is now finished and ready for use! :D

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  3. BruSwain

    BruSwain New in Town

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Thanks, Yesteryear, for these videos. Goes to show how machine- and labor-intensive it was/is, and all for small pieces of cloth!

    In your instructions you mention dipping the collars into the starch solution only until they're damp; I've read elsewhere that some makers soak 'em for 24 hours; do you think the amount of time makes much difference?

    Bruce
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  4. Yesteryear

    Yesteryear One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    228
    Thanks,
    Well, this isn't exactly what I meant. I said "allow collars to sit in solution for a few minutes as they soak up the starch" so that when you take them out of the starch solution they should be thoroughly saturated. I also stir and shake them around in the solution so they can soak it up even better.

    I personally don't think it will make much difference how long you let them sit after they have become saturated, but it wouldn't hurt to experiment.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  5. Yesteryear

    Yesteryear One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    228
    Here is another tutorial on collar starching done by Mark Collins. These are for clerical collars, but the same process should apply here:

    [video=youtube;yilarp07ALk]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yilarp07ALk[/video]

    I tried this method at one point. It worked well, but the finished collars are flat rather than rounded. This caused them to crease a bit when wrapping it around the neck or putting it into a collar box, which I personally didn't like. I'm just putting it on here as another method to consider.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  6. BR Gordon

    BR Gordon One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,152
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I attempted to starch and polish my collars a couple of time, with moderate success. The main problem is while polishing the collars I scorch the outer edges slightly. Since the edges are thicker than the body of the collar, the majority of the pressure is on the edge. How do I solve this problem? My only thought is that I need more padding on the ironing board. Does anyone have another solution?
     
  7. BruSwain

    BruSwain New in Town

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Try putting a thin cloth (e.g., flour sack towel) over the collar when ironing at high heat setting. No promises, but it should help.
     
  8. esteban68

    esteban68 Call Me a Cab

    Some of the old starched collars especially the winged dress ones have so much starch still in the that several washes are needed to get all the old stuff out!
     
  9. BR Gordon

    BR Gordon One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,152
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Having a thin cloth to protect the collar will not allow a proper polish to be applied. I believe that I've solved the scotching problem. I'm working on my wing collars and, as Esteban mentioned, they require a lot of starch. I'm attempting to get enough starch into the collar. I'm confident that the next collar will be satisfactory.
     
  10. Eddie Derbyshire

    Eddie Derbyshire Practically Family

    Messages:
    849
    Location:
    Riddings, Derbyshire, UK
    I've got a turn-down collar that I have NEVER been able to get the starch out of. It's like the ghost of the previous launderer lives on in the damn thing!
     
  11. esteban68

    esteban68 Call Me a Cab

    I have a similar one like it's full of semolina!
     
  12. Eddie Derbyshire

    Eddie Derbyshire Practically Family

    Messages:
    849
    Location:
    Riddings, Derbyshire, UK
    Haha!
     
  13. BruSwain

    BruSwain New in Town

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Recently found on eBay nine vintage Slidewell collars, new old stock, "Newmarket" model. Since never used they were in great condition but as is typical with these had some yellowing due to age. I sent them to Barker's (Bournemouth, U.K) after some email correspondence with them suggesting their process would restore the collars to whiteness. Received them today and Barker's did a top-notch job on them and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. The cost was not onerous, about $65.

    So here's a shout-out for Barker's to any Loungeniks who like me wear detachable collars but haven't the patience (or skill) to launder and starch 'em ourselves.
     
  14. BR Gordon

    BR Gordon One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,152
    Location:
    New Mexico

    Did the $65 include the cost of posting both ways?
     
  15. BruSwain

    BruSwain New in Town

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I just checked pounds to dollars and I was off by about ten bucks, so it came to around $75, which included return shipping. It ran about $17 to mail the collars from the U.S. to the U.K. This venture wasn't necessarily cheap but I don't think unreasonable, especially considering I'll get a lot of mileage out of nine collars. They're worn only occasionally and it could literally be years until I'll need to have them laundered again.
     
  16. BR Gordon

    BR Gordon One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,152
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I finally achieved something acceptable, not perfect, but something I will wear.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Anva

    Anva New in Town

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Germany
    I followed the instructions above but my collars do not become really stiff. What might be the problem here?
     

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