How to Make Yoke Patterns in 5 Steps and Integrate Them in Your Designs

Check out the step-by-step instructions below and learn how to make a pattern without any hassle!
Jean Chaney
Jean Chaney
Research Writer
Jean is the brains behind her fashion label. She's a whiz with a needle and thread, and has been sewing since she was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. Jean has always read more
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Isabel Misner
Isabel Misner
Expert Consultant
A professional seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step read more
Last updated: August 29, 2023
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Many people find ‘yoke’ a queer name for a garment’s part. It is common on men’s shirts but can also be found on skirts, dresses, tops, trousers and coats. Essentially, a yoke is the horizontal panel near the shoulders and waist. It is the piece normally used for shaping in these areas as dart values used can sometimes get absorbed in the seam line. Quite simply, a yoke makes a garment more interesting.

There are different variations of yokes. Yoke patterns used mostly depend on the shape of the shoulder line or waist line required. For instance, yokes on shirts, tops, dresses, or coats can sometimes be cut as one piece such that the back and front pattern pieces merge along the shoulder line. This article has all the information about yoke patterns including how to make one and all the variations you could try.

Measurements You Need to Take

The measurements you need to take for a yoke pattern vary across the 6 different styles. The most important measurements to pay extra attention on are bust measurements and the armhole depth. You will also need to take the yoke width measurements. Here is a general yoke pattern measurement guideline that you can refer to;

Bust measurement in inches Armhole depth
26 6 ¼
28 6 ¾
30 6 ¾
32 7
34 7 ¼
36 7 ¼
38 7 ¼
40 7 ½
42 7 ½

Making a Yoke Pattern

The main issue with making a yoke pattern is choosing the style you want. There are six styles to choose from. It’s much easier for men because they get to choose between two styles, the single and the split. The single is the more common and less formal of the two. It is cut from the same fabric used to make the shirt.

The split style needs four pieces of fabric to complete and is usually measured according to the body shape of the wearer. Here is how to make the basic single yoke pattern.

What You Will Need

  • A pair of scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric marker/chalk
  • Fabric of choice and matching sewing thread
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Pattern paper
  • Ruler

Step-by-Step Guide

There are different ways of drafting a yoke pattern and there aren’t any hard rules when it comes to drafting a yoke pattern. Here is a simple step by step guide;

Step 1

How to Make Yoke Patterns in 5 Steps and Integrate Them in Your Designs

Begin by making a copy of the front and back sloper pattern.

Step 2

Next, take the back sloper and square a straight line from the center back to the mid-hole. Pay extra attention on getting the correct armhole depth. This should make your back yoke line.

How to Make Yoke Patterns in 5 Steps and Integrate Them in Your Designs

Step 3

Take the front sloper and draw a parallel line at least an inch away from the shoulder line.

Step 4

Place the front shoulder on the back shoulder along the shoulder line. Grab a larger piece of paper larger than the yoke area you just created and trace around it with a pencil.

Step 5

Finish by adding the usual seam allowances around the edges.

If you want to finish your design with pleats or gathers, be sure to add some extra volume to your back sloper. The back section of the yoke is usually attached to the gathered or pleated bodice.

How to Make Yoke Patterns in 5 Steps and Integrate Them in Your Designs

To add the gathers or pleats, decide how wide you want the area to be. For instance, for a finished box pleat that is an inch wide, you will need at least 2 inches of fabric. Basically, you just need to add double of what you’re finished pleated area will be. The same goes for gathers.

Now that you are done making the yoke patterns, you can cut out identical pieces of fabric for the yoke; one for the front sloper and the other for the back sloper then pin and sew.

Yoke Variations

There are 2 main classifications of yokes; plain or basic yoke and the decorative yoke. The classification is based on their patterns and decorations. The plain yoke is also popularly known as yoke without fullness. The decorative one is commonly referred to as yoke with fullness. The plain or basic yoke has got a simple structure and can be placed on the front and back part of a shirt. It is suitably cut and joined based on the shape of the garment, its use, and the wearer’s age.

A decorative yoke is more interesting. It is made with tucks, frills, pleats, or gathers according to the preference of the wearer. The frills or piping can be stitched to the edge of the yoke. Contrast color materials can also be used to make a decorative yoke.

There are sixdifferent styles of yokes that fall under the plain and decorative yoke categories. They include;

  • Simple round
  • Full round yoke
  • Straight yoke
  • Square yoke
  • Pentagonal yoke
  • Side yokes

You can sew, knit, or crotchet any of the yoke styles to your garment. Crotchet yoke patterns are quickly gaining notoriety. You can easily design and make a crotchet yoke sweater. All you need todo is choose a suitable stitch pattern, a crotchet hook, and yarn. The same goes for a yoke knit. You need the best knitting needles, a yoke pattern, and yarn.

Final thoughts

Yoke patterns are the simplest to make if you have the right set of tools, materials, and a little technical know-how. Yokes are a part of a garment and can be made with any type of fabric. Besides sewing, you can crotchet and knit a yoke pattern to your garment. Unlike many other garment patterns, the yoke pattern comes in various styles that you can use to create the best designs.

Yoke patterns are available commercially and can make your work a tad easier, especially if you are a sewing, crotchet or knitting newbie. If you are looking to sew a yoke pattern, you can give the popular square-neck top with yoke pattern by Butterick patterns misses’ a shot. The McCall’s patterns M7357 is equally a great option. It comes with pattern pieces and sewing instructions. If crotchet or knitting is your forte you can try the Encircled: circular yoke sweater paperback. It doesn’t have seaming or complicated shoulder shaping, thus super-easy to work with.

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