Combined Yoke

Sarah Holden of One Pattern Many Looks: Blouses  spends a bit of time discussing and making yokes in the Bodice Variations Lesson.   I thought the information interesting and helpful, but I’ve done all of it on my own.  I was particularly struck by her suggestion to stay above the bust dart in front and to make sure your curve touches the tip of the shoulder dart in back. Those two guidelines greatly simplify creating a yoke. You can of course draw your line anywhere; even very low as Louise Cutting has done with several of her shirts. But then you’re going to have to deal with darts. While theoretically you can move a dart anywhere, in real practice with real fabric and real bodies,  the end result is not always perfect. Sarah’s suggestion avoids the pitfalls of Yokes + Darts which is especially helpful for the person who hasn’t ever created a yoke or an old-hand like me who doesn’t want my garment ruined because the darts didn’t move prettily.  Once again, Sarah demonstrates that she is the Master of the Green Curve. I’m amazed at how she can slide that thing around. Worth watching the two segments just to see her in action with the curve.

I’m following her advice to watch each lesson in turn.  I understand she’s expanding on previous information. For me, she’s filling in blanks in my personal knowledge and tying it all together. (Sarah is really good at explaining why not just what to do). But I didn’t make any samples.  I’m not particularly hankering for a yoked blouse. There are other garments and techniques I’m eager to do.  So I watched and listened to the yoke lessons but did nothing with them until… well I think lightening struck.  Several weeks ago I purchased  B5863 Connie Crawford’s collection of summer tops:

At the time I was over-my-head in love with Connie Crawford’s draft. I was thinking this pattern offered me a wonderful selection of summer top with minimal alterations. I fit View B first thinking it would be easiest. Despite my issues (and some lessening of love) I wanted to start on View A immediately. When looking at the pattern pieces,

Back over laps front along the notches.

I couldn’t see how I would make changes to the shoulder slope and upper chest. I just drew a blank. I emailed Connie Crawford for advice. She was once again, quick to respond and gracious but this time not helpful. Her email  congratulated me on fitting my sloper (5215).  According to her, Butterick had not used her draft but instead created their own which had an error making it impossible to fit most plus sized ladies . But she continued, if I had made View B successfully, I wouldn’t have any problems with the other two versions. Huh? I had shoulder sloper, armscye and upper chest issues which I had solved on standard looking pieces.  I wasn’t sure how to make those same changes to the odd-looking pieces above.  Obviously, I asked Connie the wrong question. Or maybe I was guilty of writing too much confusing the issue.  I drafted several replies. Trying to clarify my problems.  Each draft was worse than my original email. In the end, I deleted all the emails (including Connie’s reply), folded the pattern and traced pieces and put them away. I was hoping that someday, someone else with my figure issues (because I’m not unique; lots of women have similar issues) would have the solution.

BOOM! I’VE GOT IT!  About a week after viewing the yoke lessons my left brain said, “You know, that’s really just a combined yoke.  Yeah, a yoke created from the front piece and attached to the back at the shoulder.”   Thank God for left brains.  They may be a little slow to find the answers or at least to pass it on but when the left brain speaks….

I traced a copy of my Sleeveless Knit Sloper . Yes I’ve made that into a separate sloper. On me there are obvious big difference between sleeveless and sleeved bodice fit. I don’t want to work my way though the issues every time I want a sleeveless top. So I made a sleeveless sloper and reinforced it with what I hope is the last of the craft interfacing. (Craft Fuse by Pellon).  I don’t mind the weight or stiffness but the ‘fuse’ was worthless. (Yes, I read and followed instructions. After my first fuse failed, but still I read and followed….) I love having a sloper. It is so easy to trace the outside lines and then dot critical interior points. One catch, because I’m putting my tracing paper beneath the sloper and tracing around it, the sloper can change in size and shape.  So after tracing around the sloper, I cut the tracing lines off.

First I tried laying the pieces of View A 5863 on top my sloper tracing.

I was thinking maybe I could just add a dart where the shoulder line should be. My sloper and the pattern pieces didn’t match well.  There was over an inch of additional ease at the side seams. The shoulders were nowhere near in alignment and angled differently. Of course waist and hip were in the wrong place (no BWL yet.) I finally looked at it and said why don’t I just copy the “yoke” onto my sloper?   That didn’t work either because my sloper was shorter from bust point to shoulder than was 5863.  I decided to imitate the curve of the yoke using my own curve.  I measured down the side seam of my front sloper the same amount as the back yoke of 5863 and drew a curve.  Didn’t like that curve. Drew a second curve. Second curve looked OK

I realized immediately, I’m not going to finish with exactly or even very-close to the same style as 5863.  First off, my sloper is sleeveless. 5863 is an extended shoulder maybe cap sleeve (I haven’t viewed the sleeve lessons yet.)  The shoulder line is a big difference. Secondly, my stab at replicating the curve is commendable but the end result isn’t exactly the same. Hardly close. Nonetheless, I want to work with this concept. So I proceeded. I added marks along the curve so that I could match up the sections later on.  I trimmed the front along the OK curve. Overlapped back and my front yoke at the seam line and taped those together. Then I added 1/4″ seam allowances along both sides of the curve.  I think I  should warn you, my finished pieces look really weird:

Front ——————————————-Back

That hook like thing at the top of the back, is the attached front yoke.  Looks really weird to me but I have much more confidence that this will work than I ever did with the original pattern pieces.  I know that I don’t conform to the standard measurements.  For any pattern to fit me it has to be altered. At the very least I will need a back waist length alteration (BWL). Other than a strapped or  tank top, I always need a narrow shoulder alteration (NSA) (I don’t wear strapless anything. My girls have long since succumbed to gravity. It’s a side-effect from avoiding death at an earlier age.)

I chose an ITY knit.  Bright red and soft mint wedges on a white background are cheerful even if they aren’t my colors.  I cut my fabric. Generally I stabilize the shoulders; especially for knits.  No shoulder to stabilize on this one.  I bound the neckline and  yoke edges.  I intended to bind the neckline and serge the yoke edges together in a seam. But as I looked at the shapes, I realized that binding and overlapping at the yoke would offer a little room for adjustments.  I used a silk jersey for my binding.

I bought this silk jersey when I raided remnants.  I know I bought it because it was silk jersey which I’ve never played with. But when it arrived I asked “what was I thinking”.  It is such a bright, odious orange. I asked DH if he’d like a scarf for hunting. He took one look and said if he wore a scarf it would be wool not a woman’s negligee.  I kept the silk jersey because it was silk for heaven’s sake. I confess I was totally relieved to find a use.  BTW, silk jersey is wonderful to work with. I will buy this stuff again.

Once the neckline and yokes were bound, I over lapped and stitched them and the side seams using water-soluble thread. I was stunned at the first fitting. I knew it should fit. I used this exact pattern with a techno/athletic knit.  But I wasn’t sure about the ‘hook’ of back/shoulder/front yoke combination. I was stunned that it worked. Interestingly, the garment feels a little close. I though the techno knit was more stable than the ITY and I would need to take-in the side seam allowance. Nope. Think I’m going to add a little ease to my sleeveless sloper.  I also think the shoulder is a little too narrow. I prefer my sloper to end  1/4″ beyond my shoulder so that the finished armscye will be right at or just slightly beyond my own shoulder.  I was planning to bind and turn under the armscye but opted to add a narrow ribbing of the same silk jersey.

Overall, very pleased. My left brain was correct. It’s really is just combined-yoke styling. Starting with my sloper eliminated fitting issues due to standard measurements but fabric is still a consideration.

I kept the pieces even though I don’t think I will use this exact same style again.  I would like an extended shoulder/cap sleeve effect like View B of 5863. Maybe when I get to Sarah’s sleeve lessons?




4 thoughts on “Combined Yoke

  1. I enjoyed reading this today! I love the top on you and the fit is perfect. The contrast ribbing on the V neck, armscye and yoke adds interest to the upper body area & detracts from any weight gain in the lower front body area. 🙂 Adding interest without adding bulk is always a winning combination (for me anyway). I saw a similar top the other day and thought about making this one:



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