This fresh floral tutorial takes its inspiration from the Marc Jacobs Fall 2016 ready-to-wear catwalk. There were a few dramatic looks featuring coque feather collars but I wanted to add a fresh floral twist, so used autumnal hydrangea that I picked from the garden a few weeks ago when we photographed this tutorial. You'll be lucky to find hydrangeas that are still growing with a good colour at this time of year, but you can get them all winter from your local florist in deep reds, purples, greens and blues, all of which look lovely with the coque feathers and would go with the Marc Jacobs palette.
There are so many feather trims to choose from so don't be afraid to try this with an alternative colour or style. Feather trims make great collars because they naturally want to curve in a circle and sit around the neck. This is a fairly easy project once you get to grips with using the floristry tape and only requires basic sewing skills but it makes a big impact.
What you'll need:
2 large, 3 medium or 4 small hydrangea heads.
Around 40 cm of black coque feather fringe.
A small black hook and eye.
Black cotton thread and a needle.
A selection of small brooch making pins around 2cm long.
A few glass headed dressmakers pins.
Some green Stem-Tex floristry tape.
Clear nail polish.
Hold your coque feather trim around your neck to see how tight or loose you want the collar. Remember you can always cut a little more off later on in this step, but you can't add it back on, so err on the side of caution and make it a little larger rather than too tight if you're unsure of the exact length you want.
Use a dressmakers pin to mark the point on the fabric binding that you need to cut.
Cut through the fabric binding of the feather trim using sharp scissors. Try on you collar for size. The ends of the trim should be comfortably touching at the base of your throat in the centre.
Immediately paint a very thin layer of clear nail polish on the cut ends of the fabric binding to prevent fraying.
Turn your collar over so that the back is facing up.
Pin the the hook and eye on the fabric binding at opposite ends of the feather trim . You can try on the collar at this point to check the hook and eye are in the right place. Just be careful not to scratch yourself with the pins.
Sew the hook and eye in place. This will also hold the fabric binding together at the cut ends.
Cut off a sprig of hydrangea from the flower head as illustrated in the photo above.
Cut a finger length piece of Stem-Tex tape.
Hold the stem of the hydrangea sprig along the top of the brooch pin and wrap the Stem-Tex around both the pin back and the stem, making sure the tape sticks to itself. The key is always to tape the stem tight enough for it to be secure, but not so tight that it crushes or breaks the stem.
Pin the hydrangea brooch to one end of the feather trim's fabric binding, on the side that will be facing out. The flower heads should be pointing towards the centre of the throat and sit right on the edge of the trim end.
Repeat the above steps again on the other side.
Repeat this process adding more hydrangea brooches all around the collar, making sure hydrangea flowers hide all the brooch pins, until they circle the neck.
When dark coloured Autumn/Winter hydrangeas dry out they may go brown or retain their colour or even become skeletal over time. When you've finished wearing the collar it may be worth hanging it up or keeping the brooch pins a while and seeing how the flowers dry, as you may find you like the result just as much and can wear the collar again. Even if you don't like the dried hydrangea you can of course keep the collar to wear for another time and re-use the brooch pins.
Feel free to make the hydrangea sprigs larger or smaller to work with your outfit and hairstyle. If you are wearing your hair down and you have mid length to long hair, you may only want to do a section of hydrangea right at the front of the collar.
Autumn/Winter dark coloured hydrangeas are usually fairly hardy and will look good cut and out of water for hours and even overnight. You may find that some colours don't dry in the same way and simply go limp. If in doubt ask your florist for some advice or experiment by cutting off a small sprig the day before to see how long it stays looking healthy out of water.
You can get coque feather trim from trimmings companies such as from Barnett Lawson.
If you want to create more drama you could sew on 2 pieces of wide ribbon to tie around your neck instead of the hook and eye, which was another key look in the Marc Jacobs collection.
Don't worry if you can't get 2cm brooch pins, if you need to use slightly larger ones that's ok too, or if you really can't find any then a small safety pin will do as a replacement.
There may be an element of trial and error with the Stem-Tex but you'll soon get the hang of using this tape and knowing how heavy handed to be.