Sunday 2 June 2013


Tutorial: Yoked Knit Sundress for the '30 Days of Sundresses Series'

I'm super excited to share a new dress design today as part of the Melly Sews '30 Days of Sundresses' series.  A whole month of sundress tutorials for girls and women from a huge crop of talented bloggers!

Illustrious company, eh?  At least I'm going at the beginning so my oh-my-god-how-can-I-top-that levels are relatively low.  I say relatively low as this post is following Andrea's, who made a super cute Easy Wrap Tunic!  So what am I bringing to the table?

This tutorial will show you how to adapt a knit tank pattern (or a t-shirt if you prefer- I haven't added sleeves but the principle is the same!) into a yoked dress with contrast trim.  If you don't have a pattern that you like you can always trace one off an existing garment.  The bits you'll need are the bodice section through the armholes; I'm using my skater dress pattern because I'm nothing if not predictable.

1 starting pattern

Trace out your bodice piece from the neckline through to the arm curve.

 2 draw yoke

First, draw a curved line from a point about half way down your armhole to the centre front fold.  This becomes your stitch line.  I used my french curve to do this; where it hits at centre front should be at a right angle.

3 add seam allowance above

Then draw a seam allowance line above this curve.  The original curve line in black becomes your stitch line.

4 draft dress

To make an a-line dress I extended from the armpit down to dress length at an a-line angle, and then a gentle curve to the centre front.

6 add sa back

Using a separate piece of paper, trace the upper bodice section and add the seam allowance below the curve.  This is your yoke.  As above, the black curve line is your stitch line.

8 front pieces

Cut both along the seam allowance lines.  You'll now have two pieces; the upper bodice and the main body of the dress.  The upper bodice has the seam allowance below, the lower section has the seam allowance above.

8 trace back

Use your yoke piece to draft the back piece.  It should be identical to the front piece except for the neckline.

10 pieces cut

Now you have three pieces: front bodice top, back bodice top, and two identical lower portions.  The lower portion will be cut twice for both the front and back.  Cut out your pieces.

11 sew yoke back

For the back, I did a simple join between the upper and lower pieces without a trim.  Right sides facing, match centre back of the upper and lower pieces and pin along the curve.  You will find that there is a triangular wedge of the lower portion that will hang over the edge of the yoke, this is because you are aligning stitch lines rather than edges.  Once sewn and pressed toward the top, the wedge disappears and the arm curve is nice and smooth.  

12 follow curve

Sew along the edge carefully and following the curve.

13 press to top

Press seam allowance towards the top. Wedge gone!

14 topstitch sa

Topstich the seam allowance to the upper bodice. I use a 3.2 stitch length to avoid the stitch breaking from stretching.

15 topstitching done

All done with the back, set aside.

16 baste trim

For the front I added a contrast trim between the yoke.  I used a strip of fabric (pressed on the fold) of the same height of my neck band for uniformity.  Rather than measure a precise length of trim, I sewed a strip on using gentle stretching so that it followed the curve and then I trimmed back to the original piece afterwards.

 17 trim excess

Baste the trim to your lower section within the seam allowance, pulling the trim only ever so gently.

18 trim excess

Trim away the excess.

19 press front

Now sew on the yoke as you did the back of the dress.  Press towards the top with all your might.  The contrast strip will try its best to flip up.  Press the bejesus out of it so that the seam allowance is facing up but the contrast strip is facing down.

20 topstitching

Topstitch the seam allowance to the upper bodice. Then topstitch the strip to the lower section, very close to the edge.  Again, I use a 3.2 stitch length to avoid the stitch breaking from stretching.

21 front done

Finally, sew up the rest of the dress as you would normally do.  For me (as I prefer to sew in neckbands and armbands in the flat) the process is: sew one shoulder, sew neckband, sew other shoulder, sew both arm trims, sew side seams, and hem. You're done!

snow white yoked sundress full 2

Thanks very much for having me, Melissa!

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  1. I LOVE that fabric! Where can I find it?

  2. Such a great detail. Thanks!

  3. This looks great!

  4. I'm with Sarah. This dress is adorable. Are you going to sell those fabrics in your shop?

  5. So cute, fabric is great!!!! Love the details.

  6. I love this, it's gorgeous. And this week I have a meeting in Preston that just happens to be one street away from Abakhan and I might just accidentally fall in on the way back to the bus stop and there may be an incident with some knit fabric and my debit card. Maybe. Whatever happens it's all your fault.

  7. Very cute, the yoke looks great

  8. La-la-love it! Thanks so much for participating in the series.

  9. This dress is so beautiful! The fabric combination is so fun.

  10. This is officially pinned for morning reader, when my eyes and head are much less tired and much more ramped up on caffeine. I love yokes (especially now that I know they are not, in fact, yolks). Oh yes. This tutorial, at a glance, looks beautifully detailed, so a big thanks for that!!

  11. What a beautiful fabric choice. I LOVE it. I wonder if this would work with a heavy-weight knit or even fleece, and wear a long sleeve top under it for cooler weather. We've just hit winter here in Australia ... Hmmm, think ill give it a try! Thanks!!

  12. This is so great! And Ermahgerd, I need that fabric.

  13. Oh my that is such a beautiful dress!! Thanks for the tutorial! I love how you explained the yokes. Pictures really help. Fantastic fabric!!

    Seamingly Smitten sewing patterns

  14. Amanda! This is amazing <3

  15. LOVE this. I'm going to make one for my daughters, my mother and I. I hope my grandmother wants one as well.

  16. Fabric is great, thank for the tutorial