WHAT IS IT?
A yoke is a fitted garment piece at the shoulder or hips. Yokes on the shoulders cover the upper back and shoulders. Yokes at the hips cover the body from the waist to the hip. Shoulder yokes are often made of two layers of fabric, with the raw edges enclosed within the yoke. Yokes provide support around the neckline and shoulders and make it easy to fit the garment. They can also be a design feature, sewn in contrast fabric, on the bias (page link) or cut into an interesting shape. Hip yokes may feature seaming or panels for shaping. Yokes are also used as a contrast to fullness: for example, a gathered skirt with a yoke at the hips or a blouse with soft pleats sewn to the shoulder yoke. Hip yokes are interfaced to support the skirt, while shirt yokes are not interfaced.
Bias-cut yoke on shirt
Yoke on Crescent Skirt
WHEN DO YOU USE IT?
Yokes are great for fitting shaped areas of the body. Sew a yoke to the rest of the garment with a plain seam or a lapped seam (page link). Lapped seams are great for sewing shaped yokes with points, curves or corners that would be difficult to sew with a plain seam.
A yoke makes it easier to fit the shoulders, as there is no shoulder seam to fit and place on the shoulder line. It’s easy to take out extra fabric at the front and back of the yoke lines, too. Yokes are comfortable for activewear, as there’s no shoulder seam to rub on your shoulders. If you wear a backpack, it’s better to have a flat layer of fabric underneath.
Tips + Notes
- Cut yokes on the bias or use contrast fabric to add interest to your projects.
- Use a contrast fabric for the inner yoke for an interesting detail that only you will see.
HOW TO SEW A SHIRT YOKE
Sew the seams, darts (page link), gathers (page link) or pockets on the front and back shirt pieces, not including the side seams. Pin the outer yoke to the back, right sides together, and match the raw edges and notches. Pin the inner yoke to the back, with the right side of the yoke facing the wrong side of the shirt back.
Sew these three layers together with a 5⁄8″ (1.5cm) seam allowance. Trim the seam allowances (page link) and press the two layers of the yoke away from the back piece.
To attach the yoke to the front, pin the outer yoke to the front, right sides together. Twist the inner yoke so that the right side matches the wrong side of the shirt front.
Sew along the front yoke seam with a 5⁄8″ (1.5cm) seam allowance. Trim the seam allowances, and turn the yoke seam right side out. Edgestitch (page link) the yoke seams, if desired. Gently pull the yoke seam away from the shirt front and back along the seam line as you stitch. Press.
HOW TO SEW A HIP YOKE
A hip yoke is sewn like a very wide contoured waistband (page link). Construct the panels of the yoke, and decide whether to sew a regular or a lapped seam (page link). If the yoke is shaped or pointed, a lapped seam is best for producing crisp corners and points. Attach the skirt panels to the yoke.
Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine