I'm Erin. I love to sew pretty things for my children. I haven't bought an actual pattern in over ten years now. Read more...

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Wednesday
Feb262014

blue dot yoke skirt

Original Pattern Size: 9 (hip 28")

Required Pattern: Basic Pants

Required Reading: Drafting Pants Styles

As I stood in my local thrift store a few weeks ago, looking over the racks and racks of barely used clothing, this thought occurred to me:  If I were to sew new clothing out of used clothing for the rest of my life I would never even be able to use up a fraction of the fabric that was in that store right then.  And more was waiting in the back room for space on the racks to open up.  Even more was waiting in the cars that were lined up waiting to donate at the back of the store.  

Here's a little something I've figured out from refashioning a thing or two over the years.  Some of the best fabric is made into ready-to-wear clothes.  Some of the most gosh-awful fabric, too, but try to find a decent shirting fabric in a fabric store.  Maybe you've been successful at this, but the best shirting I've found is already made into shirts.  And people, for whatever reason, donate clothing that has an awful lot of wear left in it.  

It does take a bit of creativity to make something new from an already-made garment.  But...dare I say it...after a while flat fabric just doesn't present much of a challenge.  And as a plus, in many garments, all the notions are included; zippers, buttons, even piping can be used again.  

If you're still afraid to wade into your thrift store and find some of the best fabric and ideas ever, maybe this little skirt can help convince you.  

I found this size 8 ladies' halter dress from Land's End one day, and loved the fabric.  Here it is looking very sad and frumpy on my paper tape dress form:

I'm sure it would be lovely pressed and with a cute sweater and ballet flats, but that's not what it's here for.  It's going to be a yoke skirt for my 10-year-old in short order.  It's a lovely...poplin, I would say, 97% cotton and 3% spandex.  

I knew I wanted to keep the zipper, so I went ahead and ripped that out of there. 

And you know, as I go through taking clothes apart to make new clothing, I learn things.  Like this cute little zipper-end cover they've got on there.  I like that quite a lot.  I'm going to keep it in this skirt, and probably use it on other things in the future.  Thanks for the tip, dress. 

Okay, first things first.

Pattern:

For a yoke skirt we use the top portion of the pants pattern.  How to do this is all (cleverly, and with cute drawings) illustrated in Drafting Skirt Patterns

I wanted a 4" yoke, and a 20" total length.  So I needed 16" of skirt below the yoke.  Aha, methought, I'll just cut 16" off the bottom of the dress, and won't even have to hem my skirt.

So I did:

That'll form the whole lower part of the skirt, now we just need yoke pieces.  

I'll get those from father up on the dress:

In all, I'll need four back yoke pieces, and two front yoke pieces cut on a fold.  We're going to line just the yoke portion, so that's why we need doubles of all the pieces.  That zipper we saved earlier will go right down the back, so we need to leave the back seam open at the top.  

So here we are:

Of course, there's also the skirt piece that goes below the yoke.  Most of our work will be with the yoke, though. 

Construction:

1) Join the front yoke to the back yokes at the side seams.  Do the same for the second set of yoke pieces.  One of these will be the lining.  

You see some extra seams there?  Those were in the dress already when I cut the pieces out.

I've also cut a piece of stabilizer fabric that's the same shape as the yoke pieces.  It's just a medium-heavy weight piece of cotton, heavier than quilting cotton, that was in my stash.  This helps the yoke keep its shape through wear and washing.  I just grab whatever I have a big enough remnant of that's this slightly heavier weight.  It doesn't matter what color it is, you'll never see it again once you sew it into the yoke of the skirt.  I have a very proper, ladylike gray wool pencil yoke skirt that I made from a thrift store find, that I wear to church and act very grown up in.  Nobody knows that it's got a strip of green plaid stabilizer fabric in the yoke.  No one can tell that beneath its demure gray exterior, my pencil skirt has a green-plaid soul.  (There's a lesson in there somewhere.) 

2)  Now put the two blue-dot yoke pieces face to face, and then put the stabilizer fabric against the wrong side of one of them.  

Sew the waist seam, through all three layers. 

Now, if we press and trim the waist seam, and open it up so that the right sides of the blue fabric are facing my floor here, we get this:

And we'll want to sew the stabilizer fabric to the layer of blue fabric behind it at the yoke seam.  Now the stabilizer/blue piece (the lower part in the picture here) will be the outside of the yoke, and the lonely blue yoke hanging out at the top of the picture will become the lining.  

3)  Here's the skirt piece, not abandoned after all:

I've opened the center back seam there to the spot where the zipper will end.  Now we'll put gathering threads around the yoke seam.  

After which, we'll sew the skirt to the yoke at the yoke seam.

What we're looking at here is the inside of the skirt, now sewn to the yoke at the yoke seam there, with the lining still hanging loose out the top.  

4)  Now we'll put in the zipper.  This one was the invisible kind, for which I currently haven't got a tutorial, but which, if you're using a new one, comes with instructions.  

Make sure that the yoke seams match across the zipper at the center back.  That makes it look all tidy.

5) Now we're going to sew a guideline right along the seamline at the raw edge of the lining like this:

Now, fold the zipper tapes back toward the seam allowances like so:

And pin 'em down like that. 

Now we'll pin the lining down over the zipper thus:

Folding the lining up on the guideline at the bottom edge. 

Using a zipper foot, sew the lining to the outer yoke at the center back here, sandwiching the zipper in between the layers.

Do this on both sides of the zipper.  Clip the corners like so:

And turn the whole thing right side out:

See how the top half of the zipper tape's all enclosed?  Very nice. 

6) Fold the yoke lining under on that guideline we sewed earlier, and pin it to the yoke seam.  

Make sure you match the vertical seams in the lining and yoke.  Use lots of pins here.  

Edgestitch through all layers, from the right side, catching that fold that you pinned underneath, butnot breaking your sewing machine needles on the pins which are now hiding under there too.  

7)  Give it a good press, and then all that's left is to decide what it goes with.

Needless to say, maybe, there are a ton of ways to vary a yoke skirt.  Two layers of skirt, one shorter than the other or maybe even different colors or fabrics, pleats instead of gathers...you could even make the bottom layer a built-in slip...and so on.  They're relatively quick to make too, and look a little more polished than, say, an elastic waist skirt (not that I'm hating elastic waist skirts in any way).

So, how many yoke skirts are waiting for you down at your local thrift store?  Go, I can't wait for you to find out. 

~E~

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