The Skirt with a Yoke

Family print fabric - Skirt with a yoke -

Great colors and cool Art Deco-like design – that was my first reaction when I saw this cotton voile at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. I thought it was an abstract swirly motif, which is what made me want to get it. Later I realized that it was a family. Yep. Look at it and you’ll see that there’s a mother, father, and baby – check out the slippered foot towards the bottom of each family. This discovery made me like it less so I put it in the closet, where it languished for about two years before I finally decided to make this skirt with a yoke.

Butterick B5756 cotton voile skirt with a yoke -

I’m glad I finally made something out of the fabric! I like it a lot more than I did before I stuck it in the closet. ūüėČ

I started this skirt back in August and finally finished it in September. I posted about the pocket but I got caught up in my Fall for Cotton project (My Fall for Cotton Project Is Finished!) and writing about this skirt got put on the back burner. The photo at the top is from How to Add a Patch Pocket to a Skirt.

Folks who follow my Instagram feed have seen the various stages of putting it together. I wrote about the lining – Bemberg Lining for a Skirt – a while ago. But I ended up getting regular rayon, not Bemberg because that was what was available. (Note: Bemberg is a high-quality rayon with the feel of silk. It’s breathable, which is why high-end designers like to use it in their garments. Also rayon doesn’t generate static like silk and poly can, which is what makes it a better lining for a skirt. You can read a brief history of Bemberg here¬†at the¬†Fabric and Buttons website of Waechter’s Fine Fabrics.)

The skirt pattern is Butterick B5756, which is still available – though not for long as its current sale price is $4.99 on the Butterick site. I cut size 16.


Butterick 5756 – $1 (on sale at Joann’s)
3.5 yards of cotton voile – approximately $50 (I got 4 yards of it on sale a couple of years ago from Britex Fabrics. I can’t remember what I paid for it but it wasn’t cheap. I used more than the recommended yardage to match the pattern.)
1.5 yards of rayon lining – $15
zipper – $2 (pattern calls for a regular zipper, I used invisible)
hook & eye
matching thread
fusible stay tape (optional, my addition)

The cool thing about making a gathered skirt with a yoke is that you only need to make a muslin of the yoke. You can just adjust the gathering that goes below to make it bigger or smaller. How easy is that?

muslin of skirt yoke - B5756

I put the muslin yoke around my waist, held it together in the back and saw that it fit. I thought I might need to add more to the hips but there’s a lot of ease in this pattern so I didn’t need to make any adjustments. It was a little loose, but I thought that would be OK because I like skirts a little low in the waist. A zipper goes in the center back, which is why there are two separate pieces for the back yoke.

Here are the pattern pieces for the yoke. You cut two of each piece because the yoke is “self-lined” with the fashion fabric. The gathered skirt has its own lining.

Skirt yoke B5756 pattern pieces

This rayon was rather slippery so I made a “muslin sandwich” to cut it. I prewashed both the fashion fabric and the lining in cold water.

Sandwich lining fabric between muslin

My sandwich worked out pretty well but I should have used more pins. The popcorn was good too – nothing like snacking and sewing!

Cutting the lining fabric

Cutting rayon lining between muslin

I thought this could be a good time to try out the Japanese fusible stay tape I bought from Sandra Betzinger at the Pattern Review Weekend in San Francisco earlier this year. I wanted to reinforce the fabric around the zipper. This stay tape is more of a medium weight so I probably should have used something that was lightweight.

Fusible tape on zipper area

For this skirt, you sew the gathering stitches in the fashion fabric, then you pin and baste it to the lining, and then gather the top edge of the skirt.

Pinned and basted gathering at top of skirt

Then you sew the skirt to the yoke – leaving the center back open for the zipper. I didn’t think about how sewing the lining to the yoke would affect how the invisible zipper would look on the inside – not very neat. If I make this skirt again, I’ll have to remember to stop sewing 5/8″ from both ends when attaching the lining to the gathered fabric…

Yoke, lining & zipper -

… to avoid having it look like this. Or I guess you could add another 1/2″ to both sides of the lining in the zipper area so it could cover part of the zipper. I just didn’t feel like unpicking all the stitches (including a bit of the gathering) from that bit of lining behind the zipper. So I left it ¬†as is. No one can see it anyway – except if they see it here. ūüėČ

Zipper & lining -

Here’s what it looks like on the right side. I was slightly off where the center back seams meet. But I don’t think it’s too noticeable because the fabric is busy!

Invisible zipper on skirt -

I really do like this skirt – even though the fabric is far busier than what I typically wear. I like the pocket I added but putting anything heavy in it weighs down the skirt because it’s a lightweight fabric and there is no waistband. I just put one pocket on the right side, which you can see here.

Butterick 5756 skirt with a yoke - photo by Kofi -

For some reason, my husband tends to cut off my feet in some photos. I think this is the only back view I’ve got.

Back of skirt -

The lining! I’m glad I went with red instead of blue. Thanks to Brooke of Custom Style, Catja of Gjeometry¬†and Samina of¬†Sew Everything¬†for chiming in on that post!

Skirt lining - photo by Kofi -

And here are more photos from that warm September day in Berkeley.

Skirt with yoke - photo by Kofi -

Cotton voile skirt - photo by Kofi -

Cotton voile skirt - photo by Kofi -

The skirt is a bit loose at the waist so when I walk, it shifts a bit so I have to pay attention and make sure the side seam doesn’t move to the front. That’s a little annoying. If I use this pattern again, I could bring it about an inch for a closer fit. I have this same problem with some bias cut skirts I’ve made too. These are all skirts without waistbands so maybe that’s part of the problem. Have you had this issue with any skirts you’ve made? What did you do to fix it? I’ve thought about adding a little rubberized strip along the side seam at the hip but I haven’t tried that yet.

I do like my skirts to have some ease – then I don’t have to worry about things getting tight after a full meal and dessert. Heheh.

Do you have any favorite skirt patterns? Do you favor an A-line¬†style, gathered, pleated or straight skirt?¬†I like patterns with full skirts because they look best with my hips and because I have a big stride when I walk. Straight skirts aren’t really my thing unless I can walk in them without shortening my stride.


The Sassy Librarian Blouse – Craftsy Class

I bought my first Craftsy sewing class a while ago – the Sassy Librarian Blouse by Christine Haynes – ¬†and finally downloaded the PDF pattern and began viewing the lessons in March. I was already a fan of Christine’s. I bought her book Chic & Simple Sewing back in 2009 and made several things from it. So I knew her Craftsy class would be a good buy – and it was – particularly because I was lucky to buy it when it was on sale but the class is still worth the current full price of $29.99 because you not only get the pattern but step-by-step instructions from Christine.

There are two views of this top Рa sleeveless version with pin tucks and one with release pleats and sleeves.  But you can easily make your own variations of the two styles Рput a collar on the sleeveless version or leave off the sleeves on the other one.

Sassy Librarian Blouse This was also my first PDF pattern. All of my previous experiences with sewing patterns have been with printed patterns from books, indie designers, or from the Big Four (Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls). I had a lovely cotton voile that I got at Fabric Outlet in San Francisco last fall and I wanted to get sewing.

Taped together PDF pattern for the Sassy Librarian Blouse by Christine Haynes
Taped together PDF pattern for the Sassy Librarian Blouse by Christine Haynes

I didn’t like the thickness of the taped together pattern pieces so I decided to trace them on to pattern paper. I wrote about tracing this pattern in this post “A Review of Sewing Patterns I’ve Traced,”see the last few paragraphs. (Also, here’s a post on tracing “Tips on Tracing Sewing Patterns” that may be helpful to you.)

It was an interesting experience watching the video lessons. Christine takes you though every step of the making the top – from pinning and cutting your fabric to marking darts and pleats as well as topstitching and understitching. She offers plenty of useful tips along the way, talking about her own sewing experiences.

Ironing a bust dart over a ham
Ironing a bust dart over a ham

It was nice to see how she marked darts. I definitely learned some additional sewing techniques from her lessons, such as remembering to use my ham to iron the bust dart. I forget to use my ham sometimes!

Overall, the class was quite informative because Christine goes into great detail about construction and finishing, which will definitely make the finished blouse look great. She’s very detail-oriented and precise, offering excellent reminders of things to watch out for and things to avoid and why (i.e. don’t sew over pins or you could throw off the timing of your sewing machine).

You can see the three-step zig zag on this collar facing.
Understiching the facing. You can see the three-step zig zag on the right.

I learned about using the three-step zig zag stitch to finish my seams and facings. I never liked using the regular zig zag stitch because it tends to bunch up but I confess I never used the three-step zig zag. It works great! So thanks, Christine for mentioning that stitch!

My only problem with taking the class is that there are no written instructions so you have to watch each lesson. You can’t really skip ahead without missing something. There are a total of 12 lessons (not including the introduction) and each lesson is divided into anywhere from two to seven parts.

Each part is titled so it’s easy to go back to a section if you need to repeat the instructions or demonstration. For example, “Pattern and Cutting” is broken down into View One or Two, The Fabric, Pining the Pattern, Interfacing, and Cutting Out the Pieces and is 17:55 minutes long.¬†The longest lesson is the Buttons and Bows – 39:35.

I used the Craftsy app on either my iPhone or the iPad as I watched the lessons. The class opens to where you last left the lesson so you don’t have to remember where you were – a handy function.

Occasionally I found myself getting impatient. Making this top took longer than I thought it would because it’s very stop and go: You watch part of a lesson, then you pin, sew, or iron, and then watch the next step, etc. I didn’t do the buttons until May – my incentive to finish was to wear it for Me Made May. I ended up wearing this top twice in May, once on Day 8¬†and the second time on Day 29.

The cool thing about Craftsy classes – especially if you buy a brand new class, is that you can interact with the instructor and other people taking the class. So if you get stuck or have any questions, you can get answers right away.

At a certain point, instructors are no longer answering questions but there is a discussion section in each Craftsy class and you can see what questions people posed in a particular lesson. So if you do have a question, you can just scroll through other people’s questions and see how the instructor answered them. And if you don’t find an answer, you can pose your question and other Craftsy members who made the top may reply to your query.

Also, as you’re watching a lesson and you want to make note of something, you can click on “Add Note” and then insert a note at the very moment in the video. Then the next time you make the top, you can go to your notes and see what you wrote. This is a nice feature.

Here’s what my finished top (View 1) looked like. I’m wearing a vintage wool beret:

Sassy Top - finished

I confess that I did NOT make a muslin. I was impatient. I just wanted to get going. However, I do have a smaller than average bust so I should have taken then into account before I cut my fabric. What I ended up doing was bringing in the side seams a little so it wouldn’t be too loose in that area.

When I make the top again, which I’m certain I will, I’ll make a real bust adjustment and give myself a little more ease in the hips.

My own variations on this top were that I made it sleeveless and I made covered buttons. Here’s my post about the covered buttons for this top: “Tutorial: Centering Fabric on a Covered Button.”

And here’s another photo of the top. I’m wearing another vintage wool beret. Berets seem to go well with this top.

Sassy top with grey beret

If you’ve made this pattern, let me know what your experience was like!