B5403: Changing the Curved Yoke

I think that within every post I’ve written about this pattern, Butterick B5403, I’ve indicated that I don’t like the curved yoke.   The way it falls on me, my first reaction is that  something wrong is happening. Closer examination proves that there’s nothing wrong at that particular point. It’s just the yoke curving. So once the fit of B5403 was near perfect, I decided to change the yoke.  I copied both the pant leg and yoke so that if I do anything terrible, I can always refer back to the tissue that did fit.  Next I drew an angled but straight line across the top of the leg and the bottom of the yoke. I folded the tissue towards the interior of each piece along that line.  When finished the yoke and top of pant leg looks like this (but without the text):

Normally I would be adding seam allowances.  My feeling was that the pattern already contained the seam allowances along these edges. My trims were very small, at maximum a 1/4″ curve here and there. I decided to risk it and make a pair of shorts with this as the new yoke.

Did you catch the reference to “shorts” instead of pants?  We had a few sweltering days of heat last week which made me remember that I had donated all my shorts when they came out of storage.  At that time (about 6 weeks back) I had laundered, pressed and hung all the summer clothes on hangers in my closet. Except for the shorts.  I didn’t even want to place these in the closet since I had so much time to replace them before they were needed.  Well that “so much time” has disappeared and I was sweating in my long pants.  With a pant pattern that fit, I decided to adapt it for shorts.  This is a very easy process.  I drew in the horizontal line at the knee and folded up into the interior of the leg (both front and back) anything below that line. I needed to fold the leg down so that it wasn’t obscuring any of the crotch or hip shaping. Then I secured the folded up portions with a straight pin.

Next the hem. I can’t simply cut the hem areas as is, unless I plan to bind the edge, leave it to frey or other treatment that doesn’t require folding  up the cut fabric in a hem. I could just wing it and leave a little more width at the hem during cutting. But I think I to be able to use this pattern for shorts again and again.  My solution is to cut a strip of paper longer than the pants are wide at the designated hem and twice the depth of my planned hem. My planned hem is 1.25″ and the width of my pants where I folded up the leg was about 12″. So I cut a strip of tissue 2.5″ wide by 14″ long. I designed one of the long sides “the bottom” and aligned it with the bottom of the leg. I made sure the tissue was hanging out on both sides of the leg, and then taped the upper edge to the interior of the pant.  When I want shorts, this flap of tissue will be folded down. When I want long legs, I fold the flap up and the tissue inward along the inseam and side seam (so that I don’t inadvertently trim it off).  OK to many words. Here’s what the pattern alteration looks like:

So then it was onto making a test pair which would test both the change to the yoke and the leg length.  I can tell you immediately and without showing any pictures, that the leg was too long. The leg tick marks on B5403 fall 2″ below my knee.  I considered leaving it at that length because I sometimes wear a knee support and would like to cover it. But I decided that during summer, comfort was my primary objective and so I repeated the above process, 3″ higher on the pattern.  The end result is a short that is comfortable for me wear.  Keep in mind that I have passed the 6 decades mark and am seriously though not morbidly over weight:

I’m in the range where my doc says “just don’t gain any more”. All the other numbers doc’s like to look at, are within tolerable ranges. Even my cholesterol. Since it is a family hereditary condition to be way over, that’s a surprisingly good number. But back to shorts.  I chose a test fabric that I’ve used to tweak the fit of the JSM. While the JSM version fit, the fabric was terribly uncomfortable to wear and those pants are already in the trash. The fabric is a stiff cotton/nylon combination. It doesn’t have a bad hand when looking at the flat fabric or even on the bolt. But during wear it has absolutely no give. None. Zilch. Double Zero. This particular fabric really constrains movement and as you can see above my approx 20 pounds of excess flesh appear more like 40 or 60. I did the minimum I  could do during construction. So there isn’t much top stitching. The pockets are bound along the edge with purchased bias tape. The pocket does not have a facing. The pocket back is serged finished, aligned behind the leg (with its finished bound pocket edge) and then stitched into place. This is a V8 moment.  I serge finished and then stitched into place with two lines of stitching instead of using my cover stitch machine.  If I had used the cover stitch, that would have been a one pass job.  I like this finish and will remember to use it in the future with the cover stitch machine.

You can really see how loose this pant is. It makes a fine short. I get all that air circulation goin’ on which helps when we have sustained high temperatures.

I was concerned that the back crotch would be too short because I didn’t add  a seam allowance which I changed from curved to angled back yoke. In actuality I think the back crotch length may be a bit long.  There are bubbles on the back beneath the waistband. Usually that indicates that the yoke is trying to cover even higher and can’t because the waist band is stopping the yoke and the decision would be add length to the waist band thereby placing it higher on the body, or shortening the back crotch length. The waistband is in the right place and is the correct length for me and where I want the waistband to sit. That would make me say the back crotch is too long.  However, I’m not too sure.  The back crotch still feels tight as it crosses the curve of my behind. That could be either a crotch length issue or an ease issue.  It is a crotch issue. The crotch felt this tight when there was 2″ of extra ease. The tightness is not a ease issue, it an issue of where the curve starts and stops.  It’s also a fabric issue because the last pair made from a cotton/linen blend were perfectly comfortable.   I’m not sure if I will be wearing these or not.  They felt fine during fitting. They look OK/good in the pics.  My question is during actual wear, will that fabric be too constricting for shorts as it was for trousers?  Don’t know yet. But these are finished and ready for the next day of hot weather.

1 thought on “B5403: Changing the Curved Yoke”

  1. I am wondering if the crotch issue is one of the shape of the crotch curve? The few times I’ve tried to fit pants, I’ve needed to have a back crotch line that was more like a letter “L” rather than the way the pattern seemed do go at more of a slant like a playground slide, if that makes any sense… kind of more like ” I_) “, and less like ” \_) “

Comments are closed.