Yokes and gathers, part I

There are some design features that I’m just a sucker for. They may fall in or out of favor with prevailing trends, but I’ll seek them out. Yokes are one and gathers are the other, and providence help me if a pattern has both.

Recently, two (!) such patterns crossed my sewing table. The first and more successful one is Simplicity 3964. I have searched high and low for this out-of-print pattern on and off for a few years with very little luck until 1. I finally found a size-too-small version on Etsy that I bought anyway and 2. shortly after, I won the right-sized version from Philippa’s amazingly generous Sew Grateful giveaway. (Thank you again, Philippa!)

crabandbee.com | Simplicity 3964

I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I started tracing and sewing the instant it was delivered…

crabandbee.com | Simplicity 3964

I used an embroidered white cotton from Our Fabric Stash for the body and sleeves, and some plain white cotton lined with the embroidered fabric for the inset and yoke pieces. Both fabrics are pretty rumply, but I don’t mind it on this top.

crabandbee.com | Simplicity 3964

I needed the length of the larger size through the shoulders, but had to take out quite a bit of ease at the top of the side seams. There is still quite a bit of ease in the back, even though the bust is pretty fitted now.

crabandbee.com | Simplicity 3964

You can see the back ease in action as I kick somebody’s emptied vodka bottle out of the frame. Thanks for the action shot, Nathan! (Semi-related side note: I’m sure you all saw, but I laughed HEARTILY at Katy & Laney’s 1st anniversary blooper reel.)

crabandbee.com | Simplicity 3964

The back is closed by ties, but it looks like even my gigantic dome could fit through the neck opening. The visual break provided by the ties is kind of nice, though.

crabandbee.com | Simplicity 3964

I took my time on the inset point, and sewed one side of it at a time instead of pivoting. I think this made a world of difference. I love this design, and it looks just as I would have hoped. Even though it’s distinctive, I plan on making a tunic or dress length version.

Stay tuned for Part II! And now I must take a poll; what design features do you love beyond reason or trends? Have they stayed the same through the years?


71 thoughts on “Yokes and gathers, part I

  1. Super cute top! You’re right, that yoke is amazing! Don’t think I do have any design detail favourites, but you’re making me think, it’s time to get some!

    1. It was acquiring these two patterns that made me finally realize that a lot of tops, tunics and dresses I like have one or both of these details – maybe your design details are lurking in your closet and pattern stash!

  2. Nice combo of fabrics in this top. I can see why you like gathered yokes, they really suit you. I think I’m more concrete about design features that I won’t wear then ones that I will. Drop waist dresses, gathered yoke pants, stuff like that.

    1. I like that approach! It sounds like you’re open to new design features except for the ones you’ve tried and disliked. (Whoa, gathered yoke pants? I may be avoiding those as well, although I’m not sure I’ve seen any!)

  3. Love this top! I have an undying love for popovers and am working on making my first one, so we’ll see how regular they become in the rotation. I’ve only been sewing for a little under a year so I haven’t really figured out all my trends yet!

  4. What a gorgeous top. I love how delicate and fresh it looks. As for favorite design features…goodness…I’m not sure but it’s worth a think.

  5. The top looks great. Funny, I’ve been thinking about this top recently too. It reminds me of the beginning of my sewing life when Built by Wendy was all the rage. I’m also a sucker for a good yoke and asymmetrical designs. It can be high-low skirts, asymmetric hems on shirts, a zipper placed off-center in a jacket.

    1. I think I started sewing just after the Build by Wendy patterns had gone out of print – otherwise, I would have bought this one in a heartbeat!

  6. Lovely top. It feels very 1970s to me, which I like!

    I definitely have the answer to your question – Peter pan collars. Whatever shape, size, or fabric, I’m swooning.

  7. I about flipped when I saw the top you were talking about. I’ve been looking for that one for a while also. Im so envious at the moment. My go tos are more about texture, give me an eyelet, swiss dot, or subtle embroidery and I go gaga for it. Color blocking is also up there for me.

  8. Such a lovely match of pattern to fabric on this make ;o) I’m a sucker for patterns that give various options – sleeve variations etc. I can easily convince myself to get a pattern if it is versatile.

    1. I am with you on this one! I can be easily swayed to purchase a pattern if I could envision it as a blouse and tunic and dress, with sleeve multiple lengths or sleeveless to stretch it into multiple seasons, for work but also casual (and then it becomes a design challenge! Can I make garments different enough that nobody would guess they come from the same pattern? Hehehe.)

      I also have certain garment styles that I like. A skirt where I don’t have to wear my blouse tucked in. Pants that could be made up in denim or suiting. I also seem to like blouses/dresses with shoulder gathers or tucks.

      Such a cute blouse! Very you and perfect for spring and summer. Look forward to seeing your tunic or dress version :-).

      1. I forgot to say that I also particularly like it when the gathers or tucks are in the shoulder! And I like your approach to really getting the most out of a pattern. I feel the same way, and it’s a mix of frugality and the desire to get the most out of the work I invested in getting a pattern to fit!

  9. this is so pretty and it would definitely make a great dress. It’s reminding me of Victory Patterns stuff for some reason. I’m a bit of a sucker for an interesting collar detail.

  10. I really like yokes as well but I love me some pleats or pin tucks! Colorblocking and lace are things I like as well.
    That is a lovely blouse!

  11. Oh I really love this! Such a cute pattern & not one I’d ever seen before. Quite imaginative for a modern Simplicity pattern! I also really like the crumpled effect of your fabric- it adds such a carefree vibe & looks perfect for summer fun 🙂

    I think if I had to choose my favourite design details they might be gathers and buttons… even buttons that are purely decorative are ok in my book!).

    1. Thank you, Barbara! I was hoping it wouldn’t be too twee – it actually looks like a baby dress on the hanger! – but I think the big inset gives it some balance.

  12. This top is so adorable! Love it. Would you believe I have this pattern in my stash but have never used! That’s going to change now. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  13. It does indeed look very ‘you’! Very cute pattern.

    Me, I’m drawn towards princess seamed bodices (mainly because I dislike sewing darts), kimono sleeves (see also setting in sleeves) and above all yoked pockets in dresses and pants. My holy grail out-of-print pattern is the Lisette Portfolio, the pockets are a dream.

    1. Thanks, Katie! I never thought of princess seams as a way to avoid darts – excellent point. Also, I emailed you – I may have what you need!

  14. Oh gosh I can see why you started it straight away. I just adore this and it looks great on you! I am starting a search for this top right now!

  15. this is so beautiful. i don’t usually sew high necked tops, but his one has me wanting to give it a try again. its perfect.

    1. Thank you, Kelli! I generally like lower necks too, because I’m long through the upper chest, but I think the inset on this pattern is magically flattering.

  16. This is a really great top. I’m really into yokes and pintucks right now. Also, always a sucker for beautifully finished seams on the inside of the garment. Most people don’t notice those details but I love it when they do!

    1. Ooh, pintucks – good one! I attempted my first one with the Mathilde pattern, and I loved them. Have you tried it? It’s got a yoke, too!

  17. This top seems like spring to me! I Love it.
    I recently found some built by wendy patterns at a thrift store for 50 cents, which as a sewer I could not believe. Not this one unfortunately, the yoke is awesome.

  18. I love gathers and yokes too and I’m a sucker for wrap/surplice bodices as well. Though its not a design feature, I have a serious, serious soft spot for anything with strawberries, hearts or rainbows. Totally my inner 80s child there.

    This is a lovely little top on you! I think the yoke is so perfectly placed and you’ve made it in a very sweet fabric. So summery and simple, yet interesting!

    1. Thanks, Sunni! I’m with you on the rainbows; my childhood bedroom was decorated in rainbows and rainbow hearts, and I kind of miss it…

  19. It’s so lovely – you’ve done a fabulous job on the yoke. Wish I could wear more white but I’m just too grubby (I’ve already spilt chocolate on 2 of the white stripes on my most recent stripey dress. Sigh.) Anyway, I digress! I do love a kimono sleeve, and a neck tie collar, anything with a 60’s vibe and the knowledge that a pattern’s sleeves are wonderfully drafted will suck me in!

    1. I’ve been wanting to try a tie collar! I think I could get into them. I’m sorry to hear about your chocolate disaster! I’ll admit to feeling some nervousness about wearing this before taking a pic of it.

  20. Super cute top! It looks awesome in rumply white. Not sure if I have a favorite design feature, but now you’ve got me thinking… maybe raglan sleeves? I do really like my Wiksten Tova dress and this top of yours, so maybe I should try more yokes!

    1. Hooray for yokes! I also love your Wiksten Tova dress 🙂 I’d like to try more raglan sleeves, too – I have a feeling they could become a favorite.

  21. This is so lovely and summery! I love the yoke and the little cap sleeves. I don’t think I’ve got a favourite design feature as such though I do like clever pleats and tucks in fabric & seeing shirring always makes me happy!

  22. That’s really cute! Girly, but still fits your style! Now you just need on in every colour for summer… 😉

    1. Sometimes I surprise myself! It is a bit girly compared to a lot of the rest of my wardrobe. I can definitely commit to at least a blue dress/tunic version!

  23. I’m really glad you enjoyed making up this pattern. Like everyone else, I’m really feeling summery vibes when I look at you in it! Such a neat sew too (I’m really trying with neat finishing at the moment and sometimes struggling so those little details, like the perfect point, are things I’m noticing in the sewing of others). A design feature I still love is batwing/dolman/kimono sleeves. I have a secret adoration for Fame-style sloppy tops (with the aforementioned sleeves) and even (ahem!) leg warmers tucked in to my boots in the winter if it’s really cold. My teens think it’s hilarious, but I don’t care 🙂

    1. Thanks, Philippa! I could see myself making this pattern at least a few more times for myself. I’ll bet a leg warmer craze will hit sometime soon (seems to come around every few years!) and your teens will realize how cool (and practical) their mom has been all along!

  24. Oh it’s beautiful! I adore that embroidered cotton – such a pretty, simple design. It’s perfect for what you’ve sewn it up into. The pivot is wondrous – sewing one side at a time is definitely better than pivoting – I learnt that when I was in Baltimore and had a few pointy seam turns to sew!
    ps I received my goodies from your sisters online shop during the week, thanks for getting her to throw in a few little samples – you’re a dear!

    1. Ah, good to hear that others stitch one side at a time! I’m about to tackle the gusset on Vogue 1387 and it’s a good reminder not to try and pivot. I’m so glad you got your P&W package! 🙂

  25. Oh, I so like this! The fabric you picked is perfect for it and it screams “summer” to me. There’s still ice on the ground here this late in the game so your top is taking me to a happier place. As for a trend I stick to, I’d have to say I’m all about scarves. Summer or winter, voluminous or small, I love them all, all the time.

    1. It’s always a good time for a scarf! I haven’t been able to wear this top much, because it’s been pretty cold (although no ice like you!), so it’ll be a sign of spring when it gets into regular rotation!

  26. I love this pattern. I made it a few years ago with some stash fabrics and I think my fabrics may be a little too stiff… and I embroidered a rather twee (in hindsight) keyhole on the inset so it doesn’t get worn much out of the house. I do love the style though and have been meaning to give it another go. I love your version in white.

    1. I hope you do make another! I’d love to see it. Funny you should mention embroidery – I’ve been thinking the inset would be a great place for it, too! I’ll exercise caution. 🙂

  27. As soon as I saw your top I recognized the pattern! I bought it when it first came out and used it a couple of times. Your top makes me want to do it again! 🙂

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