What is a yoke in sewing terms? #LearningToSew #DollClothesPatterns

The Chelly Wood doll holds up a vintage McCall's 9449 doll wardrobe pattern, which says near the top of the envelope, "Wardrobe for chubby baby and toddler dolls" and is also noted as being for the smaller size of dolls, which is indicated to be 12 inches to 16 inches tall. The patterns shown are as follows: view A = a red long-sleeved dress with cuffs overlaid by an orange jumper (in the American understanding of this word) with a V-shaped yoke; View B = a dress with long sleeves that end in ruffle cuffs and have a ruffle cuff neckline along with a squared yoke bodice; View C = a white pinafore over blue long-sleeved dress with ruffle collar and ruffle cuffs (identical to the long-sleeved dress shown in view B; View D = a long bathrobe with ribbon tie; View E = a sleeveless nightgown that is floor-length, shown in white with red trim to match the red check bathrobe; View F = a beret and matching blue coat that has pockets in front; view G = a long-sleeved red dress with a white collar trimmed in lace (also having the ruffle sleeves but these ruffle cuffs are also trimmed in white lace).
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

Almost exactly one month ago, for Martin Luther King Day, I posted a blog post about this McCall’s 9449 doll clothes sewing pattern. In that blog post, I talked about how rare it is to find vintage patterns with representation of African American dolls on the envelope’s cover art.

Well, it’s now February, and here in the US, we celebrate February as our Black History month. So today I thought I’d revisit this lovely little pattern, and talk about one of the features of the patterns inside it: the yoke.

A yoke is an extra layer of fabric that adds thickness to the garment, and can often make an attractive stylistic feature to the garment while also giving it a certain sturdiness that makes the clothing last longer. If you look at our sweet little African American baby doll model, pictured in Figure 1 below, you’ll see that the top of her dress is a separate garment piece from the rest of her little orange dress.

Three photos are shown. Figure 1 is a close-up of the view A image from the McCalls 9449 doll wardrobe pattern. The "jumper" style dress is shown in orange with a V-shaped front yoke. By "jumper," this is the American version of the word. Figure 2 shows the jumper dress on a Baby Alive. The V-shaped yoke was sewn using a teal blue printed cotton fabric that has tiny polka dots in the colors navy, turquoise blue, yellow, and lime green. The bottom half of the dress, under the yoke, is made of a textured polyester fabric in navy blue. The bloomers are made of fabric that matches the yoke. The third photo shows the Baby Alive doll from the back, wearing the jumper. In back, it appears to be all navy blue, without a yoke. The dress overlaps quite a bit in back.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

In Figure 2, you can more clearly see the yoke because I’ve made it out of a different fabric than the rest of the dress. The V-shaped polka dot fabric at the front of the dress is the yoke. The navy blue bottom part of the dress is sewn to the V-shaped polka dot fabric.

In Figure 3, you can see that there’s no yoke in the back. However, it should be noted that a yoke can be used at the back of a garment as well. Western shirts often have both a front and back yoke.

Have a look at Figures 4 and 5 to see what a finished yoke looks like on the front (figure 4) and back (figure 5) of a typical western shirt or denim jacket:

In the image for Figure 4, we see where a Western style cowboy's shirt has a yoke that comes to a point in the front of the shirt, just above the pockets. In figure 5, a cowboy has his back to us, and his shirt or brown denim jacket has a yoke line stitch running across his back, just above the point of his shoulder blades. In figure 6, we see fabric cut from McCall's chubby doll dress patterns from the McCalls Chubby Baby Pattern 9449. The yoke makes a shape like a heart or a cat's head (with the cat's ears or the heart's curves forming the shoulder seam areas).
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

In figure 6, we see how the V-shape of the front yoke for McCall’s “Chubby Baby Doll” pattern number 9449 comes to a point, to exactly match up with the V-shape at the front of the lower half of the dress.

When we sew the yoke to the dress, they will be joined at the front of the dress, to form a pretty V-shape, like we see on the doll in View A of the pattern envelope:

The image shows a close up of the McCall's 9449 small baby and toddler doll pattern published in 1968. This image was part of a vintage pattern discussion on the ChellyWood.com website on Martin Luther King Day, in January of 2023. The patterns were shown to fit modern-day baby alive dolls.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

The dress and pinafore in View B in the McCall’s pattern‘s envelope, and the nightgown in View E, use a C-shaped yoke instead of the more traditional V-shaped yoke. But you would sew them in exactly the same way, layering the fabric to give the garment a sturdy lining, as you can see in the image below:

Here we see a front yoke which includes the collar and top portion of a doll's dress. We are seeing the yoke from the wrong side, and we can see that it has been stitched at the collar. A woman's hand lifts up the blue fabric with tiny polka dots, to show that two pieces have been sewn together at the neckline, keeping right sides together.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

Perhaps you’d like to see what the patterns, themselves, look like when I first take them out of the pattern envelope. Here’s an image of that:

Here we see the McCall's chubby baby doll pattern number 9449 laying on a surface with dress front and back pattern pieces lying nearby. The dress front is shorter than the dress back piece, but the yoke, which lays near the dress front piece, once attached to the front piece, will make it comparable to the size of the dress back piece.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

I guess you could say the yoke has a little “shelf” at the bottom of the pattern, to make it easier to attach it to the lower half of the front of the dress. Not all yokes look like this, as I just said, though, so this little “shelf” won’t always be a part of the yoke’s pattern.

Most of the commercial patterns I display and talk about here on ChellyWood.com, like this adorable little baby doll clothes wardrobe pattern from McCall’s, are also available for sale on eBay. However, if you’ve never purchased a pattern on eBay before, it’s a good idea to read the article I wrote called, “Tips for Buying Used Doll Clothes Patterns on eBay.” It will save you time, money, and will likely prevent buyer’s remorse.

And by the way, if you use the links I’ve provided to make your eBay purchase, this website will receive a small commission, which helps fund the ChellyWood.com website, so I can continue to provide you with all the free patterns and tutorial videos offered here.

To read more about my free sewing patterns and tutorials, please visit the “Helpful Tips” page.

For my free doll clothes sewing tutorial videos, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, ChellyWood1.

Maybe you already own some great commercial patterns, but you really wish you could alter them to look just a little different. If so, my Creative Spark class, “How to Alter Doll Clothes Patterns” may be just what you need to make your commercially designed patterns into the pattern you see in your imagination.

Are you worried that you won’t have time to take a course in doll clothes pattern alteration? You’ll be happy to learn that, for any class on Creative Spark, you don’t have to follow a schedule. Just sign up when you’re ready.

It’s a one-time fee for the course, and there’s no specific time limit to finish your course. You can just take your time and learn at the pace that suits you. So please go have a look at my paid courses on Creative Spark, using this link.

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Chelly Wood and the ChellyWood.com website are not affiliated with the pattern company or companies mentioned in this blog post, but Chelly finds inspiration in the doll clothes designed by these pattern companies. To purchase patterns from Simplicity, McCall’s, Butterick, Vogue, or other pattern companies shown and discussed in this blog post, please click on the links provided here. These links below the “Disclaimer” section do not help raise money for this free pattern website; they are only offered to give credit to the company that made these patterns.

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