Back Yoke of a Shirt: Easy Tips to Make it Perfect

Everyone needs a little reinforcement. That reinforcement is what helps people achieve great objectives and overcome difficult situations. The same goes for the yoke. It reinforces the shirt so you can handle difficult tasks without worry.

The first easy tip to getting your yoke of a shirt looking perfect is to sew it with a double layer. This trick helps the yoke have the correct fabric weight to drape properly. It also helps cut down on wrinkling.

To learn all about the yoke just continue to read our article. Not every shirt has one but when they do, they are one tough shirt that is hard to ruin. Also, they provide men of different sizes to wear the same shirt.

What is a Yoke in Sewing?


The yoke of a shirt does a fairly essential job in men’s fashion. First, it acts as a hanger and helps create those crisp lines you see in the back of a man’s shirt. Its location is beneath the collar and goes over the shoulder holding the shirt’s backing in place.

To create a yoke you need to factor in 3 elements to help you get it just right. There is the x-axis or the width of the shoulder. Then there is the y-axis or the slope of the shoulder and finally, there is the z-axis or the way shoulders bend frontwards and backwards.

All yokes are not made the same although they have the same purpose. That is because men’s bodies and movements are not all the same. The yoke must make allowances for the changes in the movement without letting the shirt get ruined.

What Does Front And Back Yoke Mean?


All those terms mean is that there is a piece of fabric used in the construction of the shirt that helps the garment drape properly and give it good lines. The location of the front yoke is around the neck area and as you know the back yoke is over the shoulders on the back of the shirt.

The front and back yoke can be made with 2 separate pieces of fabric. This is done to allow for a drop in the shoulder. This allowance helps protect the curved shape the shoulder has.

It is also possible to cut them in one piece making sure the joint for both to merge on the shoulder line. Also, there is a variation where you can use darts with the one piece and those darts would help preserve the curve of the shoulder.

One piece of what may be good news is that the yokes do not have to be straight horizontal lines. Whether it is the front or the back you can bring the yokes to a point if you want.

What is a Back Yoke on Pants?

This is the area just below the waistband. The purpose of the back yoke on jeans or pants is to create the shape and fit of the pants of jeans. This is the area where your rear end sits all the time.

Since not all women have the same body type, there are different types of yokes. This variation helps you find those jeans and pants that will fit your body just right. Keep in mind that your body shape and style may result in you wearing pants or jeans with no yoke in them at all.

The different types of "yoke”

  • 1. The V shape - this is the most common design and it has a lower middle than the outer seams.
  • 2. The Wide yoke - its not a deep V yoke design but it is essentially longer in length which provides a low slung look without having your rear end hang out. This design keeps the comfort and practicality of pants.
  • 3. The Straight yoke - this design parallels the waistband exactly. Your jeans or pants will fall straight down using this design.
  • 4. The Inverted yoke - this is where the middle of the yoke is higher than the outer seams. This design provides a fuller seat.
  • 5. The Upward Arc yoke - this design is basically for women only who want to highlight their rear end.
  • 6. The No yoke look - here the yoke is replaced by darts and used in lighter fabrics.

What is a Split Back Yoke?


The split back yoke is made up of 4 pieces of fabric. It is considered the formal design of a yoke because it has to be tailored to fit the person who is going to wear the shirt.

The four pieces are joined at a seam that runs down the middle of the shirt and that construction makes sit easier for the wearer to move. All three elements, the x,y & z slope are taken into consideration and sewn in just right.

There is one drawback though. When using this type of yoke with pattern fabrics, you have to be very careful when sewing all the pieces together. If you are not then the look of the shirt is ruined and the wearer may not be too pleased.

How to Add a Back Yoke to a Shirt

It is not that hard to add a back yoke to a shirt. All you will need is about an hour of your time, some thread and fabric for materials. For tools, you will need scissors, measuring tape, pins, chalk, pen, ruler, pattern paper and a sewing machine.

The good thing about adding a yoke is that you can add it to any pattern as long as the pattern has a straight back shape. All you have to do is draw a straight line anywhere above the shoulder blades for the back.

Here is how you do it:

  • Step 1 - Copy your pattern that you are going to change (the front and back sloper).
  • Step 2 - On your back sloper draw a straight line from the center back to the middle of your armhole.
  • Step 3 - Now take your front sloper and draw a straight line 1 inch below the shoulder line.
  • Step 4 - Place the front shoulder to the back shoulder and take another piece of paper that is larger than your yoke and trace around it.
  • Step 5 - Add your seam allowance and you are finished.

Keep in mind that the back yoke is usually attached to the pleated or gathered bodice. This requires extra volume added to your back sloper.

How to Draft a Shirt Yoke

Drafting a shirt yoke is very easy to do. You can use the method immediately above as that takes all the work out of doing the deed. Or you can use the following method. There are no hard and fast rules to abide by when selecting a method to draft a yoke.

  • Step 1. - you need to draft the front bodice first. The key in this step is getting the right armhole depth.
  • Step 2. - next you have to decide which neckline you want to have. There is a large selection to choose from but once that decision is over you are on your way to making a good shirt.
  • Step 3. - choose the style of yoke you want. You have 6 to choose from: the simple round yoke, the full yoke, the straight yoke, the side yoke, the square yoke, and the pentagon yoke.
  • Step 4. - make sure you add the necessary seam allowance to each piece. If you want gathers make sure you make allowances for that design touch.
  • Step 5. - mark your points and draw a straight line from the center back to the armhole. Allow for seams here as well.
  • Step 6 - sew away. The design of the yoke will alter some of the steps slightly and your measuring points.

How to Measure Shirt Yoke

The steps for this is very simple and the following method is for button-up dress shirts:

  • Step 1. button the shirt up including the top collar button.
  • Step 2. spread the shirt out with the buttons facing you.
  • Step 3. start where the yoke meets the sleeve and roll out your tape measure in a straight line to the exact same point on the other armhole. Make sure to pull the shirt tight but do not stretch it as that will throw your measurement off.

When measuring, you need to make sure to stop the yoke where the shoulder ends and where your arms begin. If you got the measurement correct yet the shirt still feels tight then add some width to the chest. Or you can add some pleats to loosen the fit up a bit.

It is possible to have the yoke width extend past the point where the shoulders end. Some people do like that looser fit. The drawback to this style is that you will end up with some fitting issues in other areas of the shirt.

What is Shirt Yoke Width?


The shirt yoke width is the measurement of the yoke from where one shoulder ends to where the other shoulder ends. You do not want to go past this measurement because it will cause some fit problems when you address other areas of the shirt.

The above method was for the front yoke and to do the back the only difference is to lay the shirt down on its buttons. You still want to keep the shirt tight but not so tight it stretches past its actual measurements.

Also, you do not have to make any allowances for shrinkage at this measurement. This may be one of the easiest measurements you have to take when sewing any clothing item.

Remember the yoke ends at about the end of the shoulder blades so it is not a large piece of cloth you are working with.

How to Cut a Shirt Yoke


The major issue when getting ready to cut your yoke is deciding which style you want to use. For men’s shirts, there are basically only 2 styles. The single which is the most common and less formal of the two styles.

Then there is the split that needs 4 pieces of fabric to complete. The single style is cut from the same fabric as the fabric used to make the shirt and generally, a single layer is used on shirts that come in a solid color.

The split needs to be measured according to the body shape and style of the person wearing the shirt. The single is cut to be one piece of fabric. The advantage of the split yoke is that you can make a yoke piece larger or smaller depending on the shape and slope of the wearer’s shoulders.

The difficult task with the split is to be able to match the pattern at the seam. You have to cut your fabric very carefully to make this happen.

How to Stitch Shirt Yoke


Here is where the rubber meets the road. You have to take your time to make sure you get the sewing part of the yoke done right. This is especially so if you are working with a patterned shirt and using a split yoke design.

The first step is to sew the shoulder seams. Next, you sew the shirt yoke facing with the right side to the wrong side along the back seam. Then, trim the excess fabric off the yoke seam if you do not want any bulk showing.

After that, you need to press the horizontal seam and pres sin the upward direction. Once that is done, you need to roll the front and back in order to match the shoulder seams together.

Now, you sew the yoke and facing at the shoulder seam. Finally, pull the shirt fronts through the neckline and your yoke should be complete with no raw edges showing.

Shirt Yoke Burrito Method


To start this method you need to decide what kind of pleat you want on your shirt. There is the inverted pleat that has a subtle and fluid look to it. Or you can choose the box pleat which is a bit more sculptural.

To use the box pleat means you have to make notches with the two outer ones meeting at the center back. Once you get that done, pin it so it lies flat. Then baste the pleat into place making sure you have a seam allowance.

With that done, you bring one of the yokes towards the top seam of the back shirt with right sides together. Then pin and sew into position. Repeat with the other yoke on the wrong side of the shirt. Grade the seam after stitching it in place. The right side of the yoke should be on the wrong side of the shirt.

The next step is to press the yoke upwards along the seam. Then line up the back yoke with the front shirt following the shoulder seam. Pin and sew into place. After that is done, lay the shirt down on your working table with its front-facing you. The top yoke should be open and laying flat.

Now roll the front and back shirt together without including the top yoke in that maneuver. Keep the roll tight. Once that is done, flip the top yoke over the roll and match the shoulder seams then pin.

Sew the seam with about a 5/8 of an inch allowance making sure to sew the seam only and not the rolled fabric. Then grade the shoulder seams. Now pull the rolled fabric through the neckline and spread out then press very thoroughly.

Finally, topstitch the shoulder seam on the yoke side of the shirt about 1/8 of an inch inside the edge and then stay stitch on the seam allowance just along the neckline and you are done.

How to Iron Shirt Yoke


To iron the yoke of the shirt it is best to start ironing in the proper order. First, you start with the collar. Unfold it and give it a good pressing. Remove collar tabs and begin with the underside before switching to the exterior side.

Next iron the cuffs unbuttoning them and working from the inside out. Do not iron over the buttons. After that iron the front of the shirt with the button side first. Carefully iron around the buttons, then go from top to bottom once that is done. Repeat on the other side.

Now flip the shirt over and go to the yoke. Start at the top with the yoke and work your way down. If there is a pleat iron around it. Finally, do the sleeves starting at the top on one side, flipping it over and repeating on the other.

Some Final Words

A yoke is an essential part of a shirt if you want it to drape well and be durable. While it is an easy piece of fabric to work with, it has an important function that has the wearer looking first-rate.

Not all shirts use a yoke but that will depend on your sewing project and if you like to work with darts.

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