Welcome back for day 3 of the Colfax Sewalong. Today we will be focusing on the yoke and neckline. The yoke is really the focal point of the dress, so if you go slowly and follow the directions carefully today then the rest of the dress should come together really quickly. Let’s get started.
Step 1 – Make sure that you have transferred all notches and symbols from your pattern pieces to your fabric. Prepare your front and back dress pieces by staystitching the armhole and neck edges at 3/8” seam allowance. Sew all of these seams from the shoulder down. The neckline stitches should be done in separate stitches from each shoulder, meeting at CF and CB.
Step 2 – Sew each of the darts on the dress front and press the allowance down towards the bottom of the dress. It’s best to press these on a curved surface such as a tailor’s ham or rolled up towel to get a nice shape to the dart.
Step 3 – Fuse the yoke interfacing to the wrong side of your yoke piece, being careful to center it within the circle markings and 1/4” from the top. Pretty much you are leaving the seam allowance without interfacing to reduce bulk.
Fold the edges of the yoke towards the wrong side by 1/4” on sides and bottom (leaving the top flat). Press.
Step 4 – Pin the right side of the yoke to the wrong side of the dress front, matching circle markings and notches, and making sure that the top of the yoke is flush with the neckline of the dress. Pin generously. Be careful to make sure that you are putting the correct sides together in this step. Otherwise you will end up unpicking very very small stitches down the road (I know this from experience.)
Step 5 – Reduce your stitch length to 1.5 on your sewing machine. Starting at 1/4” seam allowance, stitch down one side of the cutting line marked on the yoke piece, reducing the seam allowance as you go until you are at 1/16” at the bottom.
Pivot and stitch just below the bottom of the line for 1 or 2 stitches.
Pivot and stitch back up the other side in the same manner as the first.
Return your stitch length to normal. Starting just outside of center front and stitching out in both directions, sew along the top of the yoke at the neckline at 1/4” seam allowance. Backstitch securely at both ends. The reason that we need to stitch out from the center is because we will be cutting down the middle in a few steps. The stitch would be too weak and without backstitching if we didn’t do it this way.
Step 6 – Pin the shoulder seams together with wrong sides touching (This is opposite than normal. Because the neck binding is on the outside of the dress, the seam allowances for the shoulder will be covered and therefore it provides a cleaner finish by having them on the outside of the garment.) Stitch at 1/2“ seam allowance.
Trim seam allowance to 1/4” and press open.
Step 7 – Prepare the neckline facing (note that this is thinner than the armhole bindings) by folding it in half lengthwise, wrong sides facing, and pressing. This first press is just a guideline. You will not be folding it again.
Open it back up, fold each of the long raw edges back towards the middle fold by 1/4” and press.
This is what your neck facing should look like. Just like single fold bias tape.
Step 8 – Turn your dress inside out. Starting and stopping about 1” in from the edge of the yoke, pin the right side of an unfolded edge of your neckline facing to the wrong side of your dress neckline, matching raw edges.
Stitch in the crease at 1/4”.
Step 9 – Cut down the middle of the neckline slit, snipping very carefully close to, but not through, the stitches at the bottom.
Trim the seam allowance and clip each of the neckline corners to help you get a nice point once turned.
You may also want to trim the seam allowance of the neckline all the way around to reduce bulk.
Step 10 – Turn the yoke to the front of the dress through the slit you just created.
Line up dots and press flat, gently rolling the seam so that the inside of the dress is not visible at the neckline or slit.
Be careful to get a nice point at the center front corners. Pin in place. Press and pin down the facing around the rest of the neckline, slightly rolling the seam towards the inside of the dress so that it is not visible.
Step 11 – Edgestitch carefully along the outside edge of the yoke, starting and stopping at the neckline, pivoting at all corners.
Edgestitch carefully along the open edge of the neck facing, starting and stopping at the yoke. Backstitch securely at all ends.
And this is what your neckline and yoke should look like.
That’s it for today. Tomorrow we will focus on the side seams, armholes, and pockets if applicable.