August 02, 2023
Guest post by Victoria Watkins
Hot weather means breezier clothing, and the 160 Hawaiian Mu’umu’u pattern is one of the breeziest in the Folkwear catalog. I recently sewed my own mu’umu’u to fight against the heat and stay stylishly comfortable. This pattern makes a really cute dress that is flattering and fun (and cool) to wear. And it has pockets! Today I’ll share some tips on sewing the sleeveless collar/yoke assembly in the mu’umu’u pattern, because it can get a little tricky.
Before you do anything, make sure to look at the instructions closely. One sneaky potential mistake is to sew together the pointed back “V” of the yoke and facings together. If you’re a more intuitive sewist, you may naturally do this. However, the V point needs to be left free in order to complete later steps. I made this mistake before reading the instructions closely, and I had to unpick it and start over.
If you choose to interface the pieces, do this before any assembly. The curves of the yoke and facings can stretch, so I was careful not to let them stretch on the bias before I was able to staystitch. I am not the biggest fan of fusible interfacing with lighter weight fabrics. This time, I chose to use a plain white cotton fabric as interfacing, and it worked nicely! I needed to gently hand baste the interfacing to the main pieces, but it worked without issue.
After interfacing one side of the assembly, I made sure to stay stitch each individual piece (yoke, dress neckline, and armholes and facings) along the inner curved edges. Stay stitching is when you stitch just inside the seam allowance, usually with a smaller stitch length than normal, so that the fabric doesn't stretch when you are putting your pattern together. If it stretches when being manipulated (pinned, pressed, moved around, etc.) then the pieces may not fit together correctly when it is time to put them together. Necklines and underarm seams are often stay stitched so they don't stretch out before facings or collars are added. I was very deliberate and careful with this process, because I was present for the testing and development phase of this pattern, and I remember having issues with the yoke not lining up, due to stretching out before assembly. This time, stay stitching worked great!
After sewing the assembly pieces together for both the yoke and the facing, I laid both of them out, right sides together. The first stitch is made along the inner curve of the horseshoe shape, continuous from one end to the other. Be sure to clip, trim seams, and to press (understitching if you chose). However, after you treat the seams, you’ll need to open it back up to the same right-sides-together orientation for the next step. You can see in the photo below that I have understitched the yoke assembly and have turned it so that right sides are together again.
There are notches marked on the pattern pieces that indicate where to create a line of stitching on the outer edge of the yoke assembly. This stitching will make the top of the armhole, built into the yoke. I sewed these on both sides, and trimmed the seams. It helps a lot to clip about a half inch into the fabric where the notches are, so that the yoke sits nicely once turned right side out. The easiest way to flip the yoke is to pull the pointed ends down and through the unstitched open curve of the front piece.
This next part may be the trickiest. You’ll need to open the pointed ends of the yoke assembly up flat and place them right sides together. Grab the points of one facing side together and turn them sideways. You’ll have the right shape if you end up with something that looks like a mermaid fin! Take extra care not to twist everything into a piece that won’t lie flat when completed.
Sew along this V as directed in the instructions. I recommend reinforcing the point of the V with another line of stitches around the point. Or, you could make your stitch length smaller for the immediate area around the point of the V, then continue as usual.
Once you’re done, you should have a completed yoke assembly that is ready to be sewn to the rear of the dress!
Now you just sew this yoke into the dress, closely following the instructions (and notches) in the pattern. And the dress is nearly completed.
I love the one I made and I am enjoying wearing it out, even in this summer heat! Are you planning to make a 160 Hawaiian Mu'umu'u? I highly recommend this pattern - it is a fun sewing challenge and makes a great dress with several options.