Runny Yokes

I have been a bit lazy it recording my Pattern Cutting lessons recently, so it’s time for me to try and explain what I have been learning again!

Recently we looked at skirt yokes. For those that are unsure, a yoke is a shaped piece at the top of a skirt that usually comes lower down the skirt than the waistband would. Yokes can also be used on other garments, but here I will just be looking at them on skirts (because that is all I know about!). Yokes are a design feature, used to add more interest to a skirt. Here are a few examples:

1950s Butterick 6499 Vintage DRESS Pattern Stand Up Collar  SLIMMING Yoke Skirt  Bust Size 34 Uncut FF

McCalls 3129 Sewing Pattern Misses Yoke Skirt Medium

To create a yoke, a section is cut away from the skirt block. It is within this cut away section that you can close the darts so that they don’t interfere with the yoke design.

So to start with we worked on the pattern for a simple yoke like this.

As ever, we began by drawing round our block (I am using the block for the front of the skirt), putting in the hip line, dart etc. The desired yoke line was then drawn in, touching the bottom of the dart.

With the Centre Front of the skirt marked (admittedly, it should be a bit nearer the actual CF line!), two balance marks were also added to helped with lining things up when the yoke and the skirt are joined together again in construction.

We then cut along the yoke line, separating the yoke from the skirt.

The next step was to close the dart to remove it from the yoke.

After cutting out the skirt part as well, and then adding seam allowance, you have a skirt pattern with a yoke. The back can remain as it was if you wish, and once you have created a yoke, you can alter the skirt as you want. Read my post on creating a fuller skirt to find out more.

If the yoke / design line cuts through the end of the dart (image below), you can follow the instructions above, closing the main part of the dart in the yoke.

You would then get rid of the small end of the dart by creating ease between the two balance marks when sewing. This may create a slight gather.

If the design / yoke line is below the end of the dart, you can extend the dart point to the design line and then close it. If you don’t do this, by only using the original dart it will cause the bottom of the skirt to open more.

Here you can see the shorter original dart, and the new longer one that reaches the design line.

Close the dart and add all the correct markings – another finished yoke skirt pattern! This type of alteration will create a slightly tighter skirt.

To find out a bit more about yokes in general, check out Gertie’s Style Dictionary.

Image sources


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