Lesson 3—Creating the Yoke

Welcome back to our Back-to-School Dress Sew-Along, sponsored by Janome! We are creating an adorable back-to-school dress (sizes 4–8) designed by Alicia Welcher, assistant editor of Classic Sewing magazine. In this third lesson, we’ll create the yoke for the dress. While you may use any machine, our sew-along instructions highlight the new Janome Continental M17 sewing and embroidery machine, AcuAssist app, Embroidery Link app, and many other interactive features. The Continental M17 makes it a creative pleasure to sew this sweet dress! As part of this sew-along, you also have the chance to win a Janome Travel Mate 16 sewing machine, which includes every feature you would need for basic sewing or sewing on-the-go. Visit our sew-along homepage to learn more about these two great machines, enter the giveaway, catch up on previous lessons, and more.

Project Downloads

Note: For best results, please download the files on a computer and NOT a mobile device.

Note: The dress patterns and machine embroidery designs are included in Lesson 1.

Back-to-School Sew-Along Dress YokeIntroduction

This yoke is a great place to experiment with different decorative stitches and to further embellish those stitches with (or without) machine embroidery. The yoke of the cover dress was stitched with a large featherstitch, which is available on most machines, and embellished with three 1/4” red buttons. One of the yokes shown below was stitched with two mirror-imaged rows of stitch BO-52 from the Botanical decorative stitch menu on my Janome Continental M17 and embellished with three tiny machine-embroidered rosebuds. The alternate yoke was stitched with Mirage stitches, also from my Janome Continental M17, and embellished with three tiny machine-embroidered rosebuds.

Decorative Stitching

The Janome Continental M17 has two decorative stitch feet that can be used for all decorative stitching techniques explained here. The F foot is a closed toe foot with a channel underneath to allow the stitches to flow freely under the foot and a red triangle in the front of the foot that indicates where the needle is when in center position. The F-2 foot is an open-toe foot with the same channel underneath and a groove in the center of the foot that indicates where the needle is when in center position. Practice the techniques with both feet to determine your preference.

For All Decorative Stitch Techniques

1. Spray the 14” x 18” rectangle of yoke fabric generously with Terial Magic. Let dry until just slightly damp and press until fully dry. The fabric should be the consistency of lightweight paper. Alternately, you can use several applications of spray starch to achieve the same result.

2. Using a temporary fabric marker, draw a line down the vertical center of the yoke fabric (parallel to the 14” sides). Use one of the following methods to embellish the yoke with decorative stitches.

3. Thread the needle with 40wt. green embroidery thread and the bobbin with white bobbin thread. Attach the F or F-2 foot.

Method One: Mirage Stitches on the Continental M17

a. Navigate to the Mirage stitches menu under Decorative stitches. Select a stitch. Adjust the stitch as desired. With Mirage stitches, you can adjust the length and width of the pattern and the distance between the patterns through the five +/- selections toward the bottom of the screen (see photo 1). You can even combine several of the stitches using the Program/Pattern Combination function located below the stitch length adjustment keys. Test different stitches and stitch settings on scrap fabrics before moving on to your yoke fabric.

b. Once you have decided on your stitch and settings, fold the yoke fabric in half, right sides together, along the drawn line.

c. Place a layer of lightweight tear-away stabilizer under the folded fabric with the stabilizer extending past the fold.

d. Place the fabric/stabilizer under the foot with the fold of the fabric in the center of the foot (see photo 2). Start stitching at the top of the fabric. Ensure that the straight stitches are on the stabilizer only (see photo 3).

e. Carefully tear away the stabilizer. The straight stitches that were only on stabilizer will now be loose.

f. Unfold the fabric and pull the stitches flat (see photo 4). Press well to allow stitches and fabric to lie flat (see photo 5). I used a spritz of water from my misting bottle and laid the fabric face down on a fluffy towel.

Method Two: Mirage Stitches on the Continental M17 with space left for embroidered rosebuds or buttons

a. Navigate to the Mirage stitches menu under Decorative stitches. Select a stitch. Adjust the stitch as desired. With Mirage stitches, you can adjust the length and width of the pattern and the distance between the patterns through the five +/- selections toward the bottom of the screen (photo 1). The sample pictured is stitch M-20 (SL=0.25, SW=7, Distance=5.0).

Janome Continental M17
Photo 1

b. Fold the yoke fabric in half, right sides together, along the drawn line.

c. Place a layer of lightweight tear-away stabilizer under the folded fabric with the stabilizer extending past the fold.

d. Place the fabric/stabilizer under the foot with the fold of the fabric in the center of the foot (photo 2). Start stitching at the top of the fabric. Ensure that the straight stitches are on the stabilizer only (photo 3).

Photo 2
Photo 3

e. Carefully tear away the stabilizer. The straight stitches that were only on stabilizer will now be loose.

f. Unfold the fabric and pull the stitches flat (photo 4). Press well to allow stitches and fabric to lie flat (photo 5). I used a spritz of water from my misting bottle and laid the fabric face down on a fluffy towel.

Photo 4
Photo 5

Method Three: Single line of decorative stitching
a. Place lightweight tear-away stabilizer to the wrong side of the fabric behind the drawn line.

b. Choose a decorative stitch and adjust the length and width as desired.

c. Stitch on the drawn line. Carefully remove the stabilizer from the back of the stitches.

Method Four: Double line of decorative stitching
a. Choose a decorative stitch and adjust the length and width as desired.

b. Draw a second line 3/8” away from the first line. If using a different stitch, draw the second line approximately the stitch width from the first line. Do not use a stitch with a width greater than the maximum stitch width of your machine. Stitches with side-to-side movement will not work well in this application. In the sample, stitch BO52 is 9mm wide; 3/8” = 10mm.

c. Draw a horizontal line 1/2” from the top of the fabric, intersecting both drawn vertical lines (photo 6).

Photo 6

d. Place lightweight tear-away stabilizer to the wrong side of the fabric behind the drawn lines.

e. Place the fabric/stabilizer under the foot with the vertical line in the center of the foot and ensure that your needle will enter at the drawn horizontal line. This is very easy to do on the Continental M17 as it has a thumb wheel just to the right of the needle that can be used to lower and raise the needle to check exact placement. Check the orientation of the stitch to ensure that you are stitching on the correct line.

f. Stitch, keeping the drawn line in the center of the foot.

g. Mirror-image the stitch. Place the fabric just as before, but with the remaining drawn line in the center of the foot.

h. Stitch, keeping the drawn line in the center of the foot. Do not worry about where the stitch is falling. If you start both lines of stitching right on the horizontal drawn line and keep the vertical line in the center of the foot, it will work.

i. Carefully remove the stabilizer from the back of the stitches (photo 7).

Photo 7

Tucks

Note: Tucks can be completed before or after embroidering the rosebuds onto the yoke. In the scalloped leaf sample, the tucks were completed prior to the embroidery. In the Mirage stitch sample, the embroidery was completed first.

1. If wide decorative stitching was used (as in the scalloped leaf sample), measure 1/2” (3/4” for narrow decorative stitching) from the outside edge of the decorative stitching and draw a vertical line. Repeat on the other side of the decorative stitching (see photo 7).

2. Fold the fabric wrong sides together on the drawn line and press.

3. Stitch 1/4” away from the fold, creating a 1/4” tuck. Repeat on the other side.

4. Press the tucks away from the center decorative stitching (see photo 8).

5. Draw a line 1/2” away from the first fold (photo 8). Fold the fabric wrong sides together on this drawn line and press. Stitch 1/4” away from the fold, creating a second 1/4” tuck. Repeat on the other side.

Photo 8

6. Draw a line 1/2” away from the first fold. Fold the fabric wrong sides together on this drawn line and press. Stitch 1/4” away from the fold, creating a third 1/4” tuck. Repeat on the other side (see photo 9).

7. Fuse the 14” x 12” rectangle of fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the embellished rectangle.

8. If you did the embroidery prior to the tucks, place the yoke pattern onto the embellished yoke fabric as before and trace the remainder of the yoke onto the fabric.

Optional Embroidery

1. Place the yoke pattern onto the embellished yoke fabric with the center front of the pattern aligned with the center of the decorative stitching. Pay attention to where the stitches will fall once the dress is constructed and adjust the location of the pattern appropriately. Trace the yoke pattern onto the embellished fabric (photo 9). If doing the embroidery prior to the tucks, only trace the center of the neckline and the lower edge (see photo 12). There is no need to trace the entire yoke at this time.

Photo 9

2. Place the collars on top of the embellished yoke block, wrong side of collar to right side of block. At the center front, the piping should touch at the 3/8” seam allowance. It will overlap slightly within the seam allowance (photo 10). The shoulder markings should fall 3/8” below the drawn shoulder line of the yoke.

Photo 10
Photo 10

3. Use this placement to determine where you would like to embroider the rosebuds. Mark the embroidery center for each rosebud. Remove the collars and set aside (photos 11 and 12).

Photo 11
Photo 11
Photo 12

4. Hoop sticky tear-away stabilizer in your choice of hoop. You can use a smaller hoop and stitch each rosebud separately, or you can use a larger hoop and stitch all rosebuds in the same hoop. For my Janome Continental M17, I used hoop RE20d for my size 4 dress and embroidered all rosebuds in the same hooping.

5. Adhere the yoke to the stabilizer with the vertical center of the yoke aligned with the vertical center of the hoop and ensuring that all marked embroidery centers fall within the embroidery field.

6. Set the machine for embroidery using the positioning marker embroidery foot and the straight stitch needle plate.

7. Pull up the design, single rose, and ensure that the machine is in Ready to Sew mode. Attach the hoop.

8. Touch the positioning marker key on the screen. This will activate a light at the needle drop point on the yoke, indicating where the center of the design will stitch.

9. Use the jog keys to position the light at the intersection of one embroidery crosshair (photo 13).

Photo 13
Photo 13

10. Stitch the design using the following colors. Note: Colors 2 and 3 are stitched separately so that you can add shading to the flower if desired.

Color 1: Green
Color 2: Red
Color 3: Red

11. Carefully remove the excess stabilizer from the back of the design. Press well, face down into a padded surface (photos 14 and 15).

Photo 14
Photo 15
Photo 15

Piping

1. Locate the piping for the yoke. Ensure that the seam allowance has been trimmed to 3/8”.

2. Place the piping to the yoke, aligning the raw edge of the piping with the drawn line of the yoke. Only place piping to the outer edges of the yoke. Do not put piping in the shoulders or the neckline.

3. Glue piping in place. Clip the seam allowances at the corners to allow the piping to turn the corners nicely (photo 15).

4. Using a piping foot or zipper foot, stitch the piping to the collar with the needle positioned slightly away from the piping cord.

5. Cut the yoke out on the drawn lines (photo 16).

Photo 16
Photo 16

6. Remove 3/8” of piping cord from each end of the piping.

That’s all for Lesson 3! Join us next week for Lesson 4, where we will finish the dress!

More About the Janome Continental M17

JANOME CONTINENTAL M17Janome is proud to introduce the Next Generation Combo machine, which combines the top features of their most decorated machines to maximize your creative potential. The largest sewing area in the industry is matched with the largest embroidery space. High-Definition Quilting, and the Fastest Sewing speeds, are just a few of the 100 reasons to love this new model. The 10″ high-definition color touch screen, plus ergonomically located line of sight screen, make stitch changes and embroidery easy and enjoyable. Introducing new features such as the Thumbwheel function means you can delicately control the needle position to finish those intricate sewing projects.

Over 1,200 built-in embroidery designs and the largest embroidery hoop in the industry at 30″ opens up a whole new world of design capabilities. Five included embroidery hoops to use with built-in programs from monogramming to sashiko and everything in between. Janome original features such as AcuFeed, QuiltBlockAdvisor, and Artistic Digitizer are included. Let the Continental M17 take you to the highest level of your creative abilities.

Janome m17 stitchesHi-Definition Sewing Features We Love
The Continental M17 combines great convenience features you have come to expect from a Janome machine but also a few industry firsts. The newest feature is the Thumbwheel located to the right of the needle, this allows you to raise or lower the needle without reaching for the handwheel. Boasting 850 built-in stitches including 13 different style buttonholes, plus 3 fonts, give you an incredible amount of options. 9mm zig zag means you have extra stitch width, combined with 91 different needle positions for bolder, more distinctive, and fine-tuned designs.  The variable zig-zag provides precise control over stitch width via the knee lifter. The floating mode function will conveniently adjust the pressure to the presser foot while feeding fabric to protect delicate or high pile fabrics like velvet. Other features such as the metal cloth guide which provides a solid guide to achieve perfect hems, and the Automatic Built-in Needle threader are two more extremely useful standard features to allow you to achieve Hi-Definition Sewing.

Check back next week to learn about more of the features we love on this machine!