Today we are going to actually see our Kalle shirt & Shirtdresses coming together. Next week we’ll be focusing on sewing seams and finishing hems, but before we can do that we have to assemble the front to back.
I think there is a more complicated method to sew the yoke, but the only one I’ve ever used is the Burrito method, as outlined in Shirtmaking by David Coffin (such a great resource for your sewing library!) This method lets you sew the shoulder seams with a completely clean finish, since everything is encased in the yoke. Let’s get started!
First you need to decide what kind of pleat you want at center back. The box pleat is a little more graphic and sculptural while the inverted pleat is more subtle and fluid.
To make the box pleat, press along the notches as indicated below. The two outer notches should meet at center back, with the box pleat centered on the two folds. Pin into place so pleat is laying flat.
For the inverted pleat you will just do the opposite; the box pleat will be created on the wrong side of the shirt rather than the right side.
Baste the pleat into place within the seam allowance.
Once the pleat is sewn into place we can attach the top yoke. Take one of your yokes and line it up along the top seam of the back shirt, right sides together. Pin into place and sew.
Do the same thing on the wrong side of the shirt with the remaining yoke piece, this time right side of yoke on wrong side of shirt. Stitch in place and grade seam. Sew on top of your existing stitch line so you don’t have any stitching peeking out when you’re finished.
Press the yokes up along the seam. Now line up the back yoke to the front shirt along the shoulder seams. Pin into place and sew.
The shirt will now be assembled along the shoulder seams, but the top yoke will be hanging down in the back. Lay the shirt on your work surface with the front shirt facing you and the top yoke open and laying flat on the table.
To enclose those shoulder seams, roll the front and back shirt together very tightly up towards the shoulder seams. Do not include the top yoke in the roll.
Ensure the shirt is rolled tightly enough that you can flip the top yoke on top and match up the shoulder seams. Pin into place.
Sew the shoulder seams at the 5/8″ seam allowance ensuring you’re not catching your burrito “filling” in the burrito “wrapper”. Grade shoulder seams (the bottom yoke is the one being graded).
Now comes the fun part! Pull the rolled shirt or burrito filling through the neck hole.
Once everything is pulled through you will find the back and front are sewn together with all construction seams at yoke and shoulder concealed between the two yokes. Press everything thoroughly.
To secure, topstitch along the shoulder seam on the yoke side, as well as along the bottom edge of the yoke, 1/8″ away from the edge. Also stay-stitch just inside the 5/8″ seam allowance along the neckline.
And that’s it! Your shirt is now ready for side seams and hems, which we’ll be covering next week.