A yoke top – but not in time for Easter!

This yoke top, designed by Lauren Guthrie has been on my ‘to-do’ list since seeing it in Issue 5 of Love Sewing magazine in September last year. I wanted to wait until the Spring to make it and as the post title implies, I finished it recently, just after the Easter weekend. Just in time for this lovely  weather we are were having!

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The skill level is described in the magazine as 3 hearts (think it might be on a scale from 1-3) which I would agree – it was challenging in parts. I recall the need for some Vienetta eating and watching of The Bachelor at one point! Everyone needs some guilty pleasures right?!

The bodice can either be gathered at the seam line with the yoke as shown in the main magazine picture or it can be pleated. What attracted me to the pattern, apart from it being a really pretty top, is that it offers a lot of opportunity for customising in terms of mixing and matching fabrics, piping etc. So many ideas!

Fabric and notions

I bought the fabric that I used for the bodice and collar from Guthrie and Ghani (a coincidence that it happens to be from her shop – not an intentional part of the garment plan!). I bought about 1 1/2 metres of it at the time as didn’t know what to make with it but just loved it.

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On a return visit to G & G I had decided on my design of my yoke top – a contrasting yoke section with piping along the horizontal seam.  I chose this plain blue cotton for the yoke, some pale blue bias binding for the piping and some yellow bias binding for finishing under the arm holes.

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I did originally plan to have the collar blue aswell but I made a hash of cutting out the pieces from the blue fabric and didn’t leave myself enough to cut the collar out on the bias – so I used the patterned fabric for the collar instead (which actually I rather like!).

So here it is…

Yoke top Lauren Guthrie April 2015

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The sew

I was very baffled when I came to work out what size to cut as I could not find a size chart in the magazine or printed on the template pattern sheet. A quick google on the Love Sewing website gave me the  information that I needed – it looks to me as though the size chart was an omission in the magazine. Here is the link to the size chart on their website.

I cut a size 10 from the pattern – you will see later that I needed to make some adjustments at the end as it did turn out too big for me.

French seams

I followed the pattern instructions to sew the 2 side seams as French seams. I have only sewn French seams once before when using chiffon. For those of you who might not know, French seams are a way of sewing a seam so that the raw edges are fully enclosed. They are useful for working with lightweight fabrics and also give a very tidy finish! It feels quite strange to begin with as you actually sew the first part of the seam with the wrong sides of the fabric together, not the right sides together. I won’t attempt to explain them but Tilly and the Buttons has done a good tutorial on them here. I did take some pics though to demonstrate…

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Sewing the first seam with wrong sides together
Pressing the first seam open
Pressing the first seam open
Sewing the second seam with wrong sides together, fully enclosing the seam allowance from the first seam.
Sewing the second seam with right sides together, fully enclosing the seam allowance from the first seam.

It appears that there are different suggestions about how much seam allowance to include in the first and second seams. I used 2/8″ in the first seam and then 3/8″ in the second. I think it depends on how much seam/bulk you want showing on the inside of the garment. As long as you take this into consideration and they both add up to the total seam allowance in the pattern (in this case 5/8″) then you will be ok. Hope this makes sense! What I can also tell you about French seams is that it does make it more tricky to adjust the fit at the sides at a later stage, as I found out…….(more on that later!).

Armhole edges

This was the first time I had used bias binding to finish off armhole edges (an alternative method to using facings) so thought I’d include a couple of pics of how I did this…

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With right sides together, I sewed along the fold line of the binding closest to the edge, the sewing line being approximately 5/8″ away from the raw edge
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I then folded the bias binding over twice so that the binding was on the inside

 

The next stage is working from inside the garment, to sew along the inner edge of the bias binding to secure it and fully enclose the raw edge (as I am about to do in the second picture above). I started to sew with yellow thread as that matched the binding, but then I realised that I didn’t want the yellow to show up on the outside of the garment. Equally if I used blue thread, that would show up on the yellow bias binding and potentially look even worse. A lightbulb moment occurred (may seem a simple step to some but took a while for me!) to use yellow thread in the top spool of my machine and blue thread in the bobbin – best of both worlds! You might be able to see this here…just…

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And hey presto this is the result…

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Blue thread on the outside…
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and yellow on the inside!!

Gorgeous!!! Little did I know that I would have to unpick these beauties later on to adjust the fit….. 🙁

Collar, yoke and piping

I love the design of the collar. It lies really nicely and is such a lovely feature. I did find the construction of the collar and yoke quite challenging but taking it step by step I managed it. The piping insertion along the seam went ok but finishing off the edges at the armholes and trying to conceal them neatly was tricky for me and wasn’t particularly great in my opinion (don’t look too closely!).

I said don't look too closely....!
I said don’t look too closely….!

Buttons

The pattern uses 4 buttons but I think I used slightly bigger buttons so chose to use 3. I opted for self covered buttons like I did in my Delphine skirt which you can read about here– you will realise I am a fan of these buttons!DSC_1691

 

I did have some issues with the fit of the back of the yoke but realised this after sewing my buttonholes so had no option but to move the buttons over a bit. I did however still want to maintain a vaguely straight line of buttons (!!) so there is still a little excess in fabric at the back.

The final fit and adjustments

Once completed I did the done thing and wore it continuously for a few days! It did however feel a bit on the big side under the arm holes and around the bodice. I could have totally left it at that as it wasn’t a major issue but for me I find that clothes that are a bit more fitted seem to flatter my body shape more, particularly around the middle. And as i am somewhat of a perfectionist, I wanted to be totally happy with it. The picture below from the first set of pictures taken probably shows what I am talking about?

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So I chose to take in the top at the side seams. Remember those lovely French seams and bias binding under the arm holes – that was what I had to take apart and hence the sad face! This was a bit of a faff (lesson learnt on making a toile next time!). To summarise, after unpicking the bias binding over both side seams and unpicking the French seams I took in the sides (can’t remember exactly how much but felt like quite a bit). I chose to do a straight forward seam this time and overlocked the raw edges. I snipped a section out of the centre of the bias binding, sewed the 2 ends together and reattached the binding. All in all I think i did quite a good job and although it doesn’t look as intended by the pattern, it could have actually meant to be like that!

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And I am now much happier with the fit – PHEW! Anyone thinking “can’t tell the difference?”…don’t go there… I can!

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Next time

  • Make a toile to check the fit! It’s so disappointing when you have to unpick all of those lovely pieces of sewing – something which you could have avoided doing by taking more time initially to check the fit. However I am absolutely still learning and getting the right fit is one of my biggest challenges and areas for learning. I haven’t actually made a toile yet but have plans to make a jacket soon so will definitely be attempting to do one for that!
  • Try the pleated variation and maybe omit the piping (but I do love piping!).

Well if anyone is still here reading then well done to you! I am so looking forward to wearing this top more when the weather hopefully sorts itself out! I have been wearing it with a white cardigan which looks really nice and ‘Summery’.

Has anyone else sewn this lovely top and how did you find the sew?

Lorna x

Want to leave a comment on this post? Click on ‘Leave a reply’ under the post title! Thank you x

14 Comments

  1. Emily Young
    April 30, 2015

    Hello Lorna!
    This is fabulous and so easy to follow. What a beautiful top. You’ve inspired me to give it a go after my skirt. Keep them coming this is so wonderful – great style to this blog.
    Love, Emily x

    • Lorna
      April 30, 2015

      Ah Thank you Emily! I would absolutely recommend to have a go at this top. It is definitely worth the challenge and I think I will get lots of wear out of it! Go for it! X

  2. Emma Foulerton
    April 30, 2015

    This is a beautiful top, I love following the pictures to see how you have worked through the pattern. Great use for the gorgeous material – good choice!

    • Lorna
      April 30, 2015

      Thank you Emma! I agree the material is fab. I initially thought of making a dress with it but thought that might be a bit much as the print is quite bold. I’m pretty sure I have got enough left over to make a skirt for the summer…watch this space! X

  3. Tina
    June 30, 2015

    Thank you so much for doing this. I’ve been wanting to do this pattern for ages but didn’t understand it and could not work out what the seam allowance should be so your blog is a great help! I’m going to make a toile as suggested. I’ve cut my fabric ready and it will be full “sew ahead” this weekend! (No doubt with lots of unpicking and a few choice words!) Thank you for taking the time to do this.

    • Lorna
      June 30, 2015

      I’m so glad it helps! Yes a toile I would definitely recommend. Not only will it hopefully master the fit, it will allow techniques to be practised and mistakes made without cutting into your lovely fabric! Will hopefully save some time in the long run too. Would love to see your version when it’s finished! Good luck!

  4. Sewing Princess
    July 20, 2015

    Congratulations! you did a great job on this top. I just discovered your blog as I was writing my own post on this same pattern. I also found it runs big. I really like how you combined your fabrics…much better than my version!

    • Lorna
      July 20, 2015

      Thank you for your lovely comment! I’ve just looked at your version and it’s fab! I love how you have up cycled a man’s shirt for the fabric and used the button band down the back. It’s a really lovely make and good to see another version of it! I also love your bi-lingual blog. I have taken a few Italian evening classes in the past but it’s definitely not up to scratch to reading your Italian entries! Grazie e Ciao!

  5. Karen
    September 16, 2015

    Hi, I discovered your blog while searching about this Yoke Top, because it’s my next project (wish me luck). Just one question, what is the seam allowance for this and is it included in the pattern, because I have the book, but I cannot seem to find anything regarding seam allowances 🙁

    • Lorna
      September 16, 2015

      Hi there. I’ve just had a look at the issue of Love Sewing that had the pattern in and it didn’t specifically say, so I think I would have used the standard 1.5cm (⅝”) seam allowance and presumed it was included in the pattern as it didn’t say anything else to the contrary! If you would like clarification then just contact Lauren Guthrie and ask her. I have emailed her before to ask a question and she is extremely approachable and helpful! Good luck and would love to see it when you’ve finished. I love this top. I wore it loads over the summer!

      • Karen
        September 16, 2015

        I have emailed Lauren in the meantime, and her reply was the same as yours 🙂 She really is so helpful and quick to reply. I’m quite scared of starting this pattern to be honest cause I’ve only done a few projects so far mostly dresses for my girls and the Bettine dress by Tilly, but I’m determined to give it a go cause it’s so pretty. Thanks again for your help.

        • Lorna
          September 16, 2015

          Phew! Am pleased I gave you the right info then! I would say go for it but don’t rush it. Depending on what material you are using, it might be worth doing a toile to check the fit first especially if you are a little nervous. You can then hopefully achieve a good fit before cutting into your final fabric. It will also give you the opportunity to practice some of the techniques! I would suggest not doing piping along the seam like I did in my version- keep it as simple as possible! I did find that part quite tricky. I love the Bettine dress – it’s on my to do list!

          • Karen
            September 16, 2015

            I was planning to do the piping as well … go big or go home lol, but now I’ll think about it. I’m planning to use cotton fabric because I’m not confident sewing other fabrics yet 😉 Thanks for all your tips and keep it up, I really enjoyed going through your blog and seeing what you created!

          • Lorna
            September 16, 2015

            Thank you Karen. I have got some catching up to do but watch this space for a few summery dresses I have made recently! 🙂

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