Swan Shirt: Bellini collar adaptation October 05 2015

It's been a little while since I spotted this swan collar by RED Valentino. (It's unclear to me whether Diane Kruger is wearing hers with a trench over, or whether they made a swan trench at some point, because I couldn't find any evidence of one online).

Here's a picture of the dress I think she's wearing, but I can't be sure.


Anyway, I thought the swan collar looked like a lot of fun, so of course I decided to try making my own version using my own Capital Chic Bellini shirt pattern, which already has several collar options which are ideal for embellishment. 

Based on the scallop shaped collar, I drew a swan head shape. (If you already have the Bellini pattern - you can download my swan collar pattern here if you want to try it).

It was a tricky shape to cut with a rotary cutter but I managed!

I cut the eye shape and the beak shape from some black and red fabric scraps I had lying around (I couldn't find anything orange, sadly). Note that I cut the edge that will be applique'd as per the template (you can see I've already cut the paper edge below) and then just cut straight to the edge of the fabric scraps (for a seam allowance).

I pinned the black eye piece to the collar on both sides, using the placement guide you can see in the background (it's included in the file download). I actually trimmed it to the seam allowance of the collar, but that wasn't totally necessary. I basted them together in the seam allowance, and then very carefully, using a very small, tight zig zag, I applique'd it to the white collar fabric.

On top of that, I applique'd the red beak piece. Sadly, I think my freehand topstitching skills could use some work - though it was very fiddly with tight corners and thin, delicate fabrics.

The second one wasn't that much better.

 On the reverse of the undercollar, I marked the stitch line in feint pencil to help get it nice and accurate.

Here it is ready to sew. Note that you only need to sew from the top of the swan head to the opposite point on the other head (pinned edge), leaving the edge that's joined to the shirt open.

I did manage to make them fairly symmetrical.

After trimming and clipping - you can see the edge that's left open to join to the shirt.

Here it is after turning - not too bad!

After that I joined it to the shirt in the way set out in the instructions.

The rest of my shirt is plain ivory. I was careful to ensure the amount of overlap made the swan heads touch when I put the buttons on. I actually moved the top buttonhole closer to the edge of the placket so it would be hidden by one of the swan heads.

Here's the finished shirt - not a patch on Valentino, but a lot of fun to wear, all the same!

I'm wearing it with my Capital Chic Champagne skirt.

 It's been great over the summer as the blouse material is pretty lightweight.

I've worn it with various skirts, even white cullottes, but sadly the weather is fading now so I'm not sure how much more this will get worn until next summer.


I'd love to see if you make the swan heads using my pattern - please tweet or email me your pictures and I will share them here. I'm considering a green shirt with mallards as well - maybe! ;-)