Detachable Collars

Your neck will feel naked after you read this.

I have a minor obsession with detachable collars. And for good reason! They can easily transform the simplest of outfits into something a little more interesting and eye-catching. And they’re super simple to DIY! Making one requires zero sewing expertise, and since they’re essentially blank canvases you can design and customize yours to look how you want it to.

All you’ll need for the first part of this DIY is a thrift-store shirt and some scissors.

1. Open up the shirt and lay the collar down flat, like so:

2. Using the neckline seam as a guide, take your scissors and cut as close to the collar as you can (but be careful not to snip the neckband in the process!).

And that’s it! After cutting your way through the neckline you’ll be left with one detachable collar.

That was almost too easy, right? Well, now comes the fun part: decorating it! I’ve put together four different ideas you can use to jazz things up a bit, starting with…

Lace Trim

You’ll need: lace or ruffle trim (enough to go around the edge of your collar), sewing pins, a sewing machine or a needle & thread.

1. Take whatever trim you’re going to use and pin it to the outer edge of the collar, making sure it’s positioned just under the hem.

2. Using the existing hem on the collar as a guide, run the collar through your sewing machine using a straight stitch.

And that’s really all there is to it! Crazy-cat-lady appliqués are optional, but I think they add a lot to the overall look.

Glitter Patterns

You’ll need: a large paintbrush, masking tape, glow-in-the-dark or other translucent fabric paint, fine craft glitter.

1. Use masking tape to section off parts of the collar to make a design. You can experiment with different widths of tape to make grids, stripes, whatever! I decided to keep things simple with a thick line following the shape of the collar.

2. Mix the glitter and the fabric paint together; paint the mixture on the collar in thin layers, letting each one dry a bit in between. I did three coats of glitter for this collar. You can do more or less; it really depends on how sparkly you want yours to be.

3. Once the paint is completely dry, pull the tape off and check out the design! The paint/glitter will likely darken the fabric just a bit and give it a cool two-tone effect.

If you’re not a fan of the glittery look you can totally use this same technique with fabric paint instead!

Googly-Eye Skulls

Seeing as it’s now October and Halloween is just around the corner I couldn’t resist making at least one collar to match the theme! This next design is my own little homage to the season.

You’ll need: a multi-size pack of googly eyes, fabric glue, chalk or a fabric pen.

1. Sketch out the basic outline of a skull on the front of the collar with chalk. It doesn’t have to be perfect—you’ll be covering it up later.

2. Using the smallest eyes you can find, outline the skull and all of its features (mouth, eyes, nose, etc.) with them, securing with fabric glue. After you have your design outlined, start filling it in with more googly eyes, alternating the different sizes.

The end result is kind of wicked awesome, if I do say so myself.

Candy Collar

And last, but certainly not least, in honor of CANDY DAY here at Rookie, I decorated a collar just for the occasion!

I used actual candy for this one, but if you want something a little less sticky and a little more wearable try looking for “candy cabochons” on Etsy. They’ve got tons of these adorable, mini faux candies to embellish your collars (or virtually any other clothing item) with!

And that’s it for today’s DIY. I hope you enjoyed it! If you’re feeling somewhat inspired by all this and decide to make or design your own collar, please let us know! We’d love to see it. ♦
Marlena is an 18-year-old seamstress/blogger from Wisconsin. When she’s not busy turning Care Bears bed sheets into dresses you can find her fangirling over FRUiTS, thrift-store finds, and crafty stuff over at her blog, Self-Constructed Freak.


  • Pashupati October 6th, 2011 7:08 PM

    Anyone else felt a tad stupid discovering how easy it was? I actually fact about making one, and I have sewing skills, but I was too afraid of screwing anything up. (kind of like when you think your maths problem can’t be that simple to solve, and then it is!)
    Thanks, again one great article (DIY is one of my favorite section of the website, it really pushes you into doing things you /thought/ about doing but were too lazy/scared/… to!)

  • Lucas October 6th, 2011 7:13 PM

    Super inspiring & fun!
    Love the glitter one!

  • Jessica Marzo October 6th, 2011 7:14 PM

    this is cute and I love spontaneous

  • Sphinx October 6th, 2011 7:15 PM

    Now I need to find shirts I can cut up! Love the skull idea♥

  • diny October 6th, 2011 7:17 PM

    i am obsessed!!!!! collar is so fetch. i always wanna do DIY for this. but i’ll end up do nothing. crazy lazy.

  • Chimdi October 6th, 2011 7:19 PM

    oh my GOODNESS this is so perfect… I’m definitely doing this!

  • jenjencm October 6th, 2011 7:19 PM

    Omg! This is freakin cute. I am currently in a clothing and design class and I bet I can totally make these. I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the idea Rookie!

  • evacat77 October 6th, 2011 7:22 PM

    Oh my gahhd. This will be my weekend art adventure. Definitely excited to do a skull collar. Then maybe a money collar.

  • burn-your-flesh October 6th, 2011 7:26 PM

    this is so cool

  • marypee22 October 6th, 2011 7:26 PM

    How can we get or make the cat-lady appliques?

  • Marie October 6th, 2011 7:26 PM

    I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!! So awesome Marlena!

  • Kathryn October 6th, 2011 7:30 PM

    best diy ever! super easy and it sounds so fun that if I start making them I won’t be able to stop! eventually I might have a detachable collar for every occasion.

  • Marguerite October 6th, 2011 7:38 PM

    Hehe – im gonna go stock up on glitter right now! — well actually not, but as soon as stores are opened!

  • Angie Bitchface October 6th, 2011 7:43 PM

    hey Marlena! I was really happy to see that you did a post for Rookie!! I kind of want to make one of these now, you make it look so easy! idk if it would be my thang though! and those candy cabochons are DS;SDFSA;SDL;DSKDS;KLSD AWESOME. I may “accidentally” buy a million of them…just to like, have, lying randomly on bookshelves and on top of bureaus in my room and stuff. great post!

  • Ruby B. October 6th, 2011 7:59 PM

    MARLENA! Congrats! I’m so excited for you for writing on the best blogazine ever! AHHH! I love this article, too!

  • back2thepast October 6th, 2011 8:06 PM

    coOLEST diy ever. I’m actually starting to make one right now. this very second. as we speak. I mean I speak. I’m not really talking to anyone. But I am praising this fabulous blogger. i just spent 2 hours of ‘homework time’ reading her blog.

  • Naomi Morris October 6th, 2011 8:08 PM

    ahhh this is so cool and uncomplcated. doing this asap

  • Kailey October 6th, 2011 8:13 PM

    Eee this is like, the best post ever *___* Thank you so much Marlena! Definitely bookmarking this for future reference!

  • Thepunkrocker October 6th, 2011 8:28 PM

    I love this girl so much. THANK YOU! You actually made my life so much easier because now i do not need to search etsy for something as cool as that to wear.

  • Maialuna October 6th, 2011 8:44 PM

    That’s seriously how to make a detachable collar? I’ve been wanting one (or several) for a long time, and now I feel stupid.

  • Jem October 6th, 2011 8:45 PM

    Love this post! I just graduated and I turned all 10 of my school shirts (all schools have uniforms in Australia, and not the good preppy sort…wahh) into detachable collars! My favorite has red gingham bias binding on the edges and love heart studs in the tips.

  • Leilani October 6th, 2011 9:07 PM

    Coincidentally, I made this week my “collared-shirt” week and I’ve worn a collared-shirt each day. I totally just embellished tomorrow’s collar with goggly eyes that I’ve had for ages. Yay!

  • Noah October 6th, 2011 9:12 PM

    Any chance the googly eye skull was inspired by my own googly eye skull from a few years ago as part of the Skull-A-Day project?

  • junebuglove October 6th, 2011 10:18 PM

    YAY! MARLENAS ON ROOKIE! Now rookie is even more extra super awesome! I love your blog!

  • Marlena October 6th, 2011 11:41 PM

    It was! Your googly eye skull is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever randomly come across on the web. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  • necroticbird October 7th, 2011 12:15 AM

    That googly eye skeleton just made my night.

  • Laia October 7th, 2011 1:02 AM

    the googly eyes skeleton is AMAZING!

    also i love saying googly eyes like in that christopher walken snl sketch with the googly eyes on the plants. unrelated but not unimportant!

  • Stephanie October 7th, 2011 3:56 AM

    Oh the possibilities! These collars all look so cool and best of all even though I am so not talented in this department, I may actually be able to make them!

  • cfsizz October 7th, 2011 7:55 AM

    They all look so great! Can’t wait to get my hands on some thrifted shirts!

  • Ine October 7th, 2011 8:56 AM

    Wow this is the best diy-thingie I’ve ever read!!! I’m so inspired right now, too bad i’m in math class… ;)

  • Izzy October 7th, 2011 10:46 AM


  • RockHatesMiriam October 7th, 2011 12:40 PM

    OhMyGawd it can’t be THAT simple! Making one ASAP!! ;)

  • alix October 7th, 2011 12:55 PM

    i love detatchable collars. i have a few old school shirts which may de-collared very soon

  • back2thepast October 7th, 2011 3:18 PM

    I made one!!! It’s yellow and white striped and it had vintage button/pin things on it. People at school today kept lifting it up to see if it was attached to my shirt -__- Hmm

  • Ginny October 8th, 2011 6:16 PM

    I just made one with photos of Bill Haverchuck.

  • Veganpop October 9th, 2011 3:13 PM

    I LOVE this! I’ve been wanting to make SOMETHING forever! Also, at the risk of sounding painfully pathetic, could you do a tutorial on how to best utilize Etsy? I never buy anything from there because I feel like I don’t know what to look for. I’m sure your genius staff doesn’t need my suggestions! I love the site, btw!

  • natasha October 9th, 2011 3:38 PM

    I already have lots of detachable collars, I got them in my early teens, when I was smaller than I am now, unfortunately… I just turned 20 and am pretty tall, while my 13-14 year old self was TINY and those collars don’t go around my neck anymore :(
    BUT now me thinks I’ll be making new ones :D

  • vimari October 11th, 2011 1:39 PM

    great – last collar <3

  • Dana October 14th, 2011 1:20 PM

    The one with cats is my favorite. I’m inspired and thinking of cutting a pair of my boyfriend’s shirts – hope he doesn’t kill me :))

  • Besu October 15th, 2011 9:48 AM

    I made some of my own and love them the perfect finish off to an outfit!

  • ShockHorror October 15th, 2011 1:22 PM

    The googly eye skull is fnatastic!

    I will have to make some of these!