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Caveat Emptor: Yokes - Split Yoke vs. One-Piece Construction

Discussion in 'Andy's Fashion Forum' started by Alexander Kabbaz, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Tech and Business Advice Guru

    United States
    New York
    East Hampton
    [SIZE=+2]Yokes: Split Yoke vs. One-Piece Construction[/SIZE]

    The foot bone's connected to the calf bone; the calf bone's connected to the thigh bone; the thigh bone ... While this, as the kindergarten ditty goes, may be true, it does not accurately reflect the importance of the parts of the body. When it comes to covering the torso, the single most important body part is the shoulders. Shoulders are the hanger from which every top garment drapes. If the shoulder part is not properly constructed, no amount of fussing with the rest of the shirt, blouse, jacket, or coat will properly correct the related problems. In most shirts and blouses, the shoulder part is called the "yoke".

    [​IMG]

    Let's get one thing straight: Shoulders are not! In some 30+ years of making bespoke shirts, I have never seen a straight pair of shoulders. Shoulders curve forward. They curve backward. Often one curves more than the other. They slope as well. Believe it or not, shoulder slope from ranges from under an inch to almost four inches! Though this is more the province of the way the tops of the front and back are designed, in the more extreme cases of less than 1.5" or more than 3", corrections need to be made to the yoke as well. In addition, some people have large, protruding shoulder blades while others are virtually flat.

    How does this affect the design of the yoke? Logically: If the shoulders curve forward, the yoke must be designed to curve forward. Rearward curve? Rearward yoke. Different curves? Different yoke curves on each side. Large shoulder blades require a different method. Here, the rear side of the yoke must be curved outward to allow extra room for the blades.

    How is all of the above affected by whether a one-piece or split yoke construction is used? Quite simply, it is not. However - and it's a big however - picture this: One shoulder curves forward 1" and the other curves forward 2". When the asymmetrically designed one-piece yoke is placed upon the fabric for cutting, one side will curve forward off more stripes than the other. Though the shirt will fit well, the asymmetry of the stripes will show, often glaring at the beholder as a mistake.

    Now look at the split yoke diagram #2. Notice how the center seam has been cut at an angle. By doing this on only one side, the shirt maker can cause one yoke to effectively curve forward more than the other ... but still permit cutting the stripe pattern equally for both sides.

    Proper fitting without making the shirt appear distorted is just one advantage. Another lies in pattern design. By virtue of their construction, one-piece yokes force the stripes to be cut straight all the way across as in #1. The split yoke permits "chevronning" of the stripe pattern as shown in the photo below and illustrated in the diagram above as #3. Many find this quite attractive.

    [​IMG]

    This upward pointed "V" also enhances the body's shape by creating the illusion that the wearer is taller and wider-shouldered. Unless, of course, the matching of the stripes is not done correctly ... in which case the whole thing just appears shoddy.

    [​IMG]

    In the photo above, one can see not only how boring the one-piece straight-cut yoke appears in comparison, but also that the pattern maker did not allow for the protruding shoulder blades thus causing the wrinkle labeled "F".

    Tradition, for the reasons outlined, dictates that a split yoke is a sign of high-quality construction. However, in many cases, shirtmakers will resist departing from the one-piece yoke. The split yoke requires additional sewing and careful pattern-matching. The one-piece yoke is easier to sew as there is no center seam to match and join. There isn't much more to say on this oft-debated subject. One piece - easier. Split yoke - Harder. Draw your own conclusion.


    [SIZE=-2]Copyright ©2010 Kabbaz-Kelly CustomShirt1.com | Photos Copyright ©2007-©2010 Alexander S. Kabbaz - All Rights Reserved - Reproduction Prohibited[/SIZE]​
     
  2. misterdonuts

    misterdonuts Senior Member

    917
    Belgium
    ANTWERPEN
    ANTWERPEN
    In a RTW shirt, I think it's just a gimmick. Also I have seen examples of 3-piece yoke construction: split on the outside, one piece on the inside. At least it made me smile.
     
  3. Xenon

    Xenon New Member

    86
    Thanks for this AK

    I think the chevronning looks really good and justifies the presence of split yoke even in RTW.

    I have shoulders that have literally almost no slope, they just jut out. I tried to measure slope using a straight edge resting on protruding vertebrae at neck base and arrived at a 3/4" to 1" drop. I also have large shoulder blades. All of this results in every single RTW shirt (and suit) having excess fabric at neck base and it looks pretty bad. The worst offenders seem to be the italian designer shirts (armani, canali, zegna ect). The italian suits seem even worse. Some (not all)of the english shirts seem much better in this area. Why would this be?

    As a consequence I tride some local MTM and the result is not any better than some of the best fitting RTW english shirts (still not ideal). I just ordered a shirt from mytailor.com yesterday (in DJA 200) as they seem to offer some adjustment to this area with thier diagrams of shoulder shape and I thought my shirting choice would lead them to pay more attention. Am I expecting too much from MTM?

    Ultimately, does this mean my only option is a bespoke (or better yet Kabbaz) shirt for a perfect shoulder fit?
     
  4. Matt S

    Matt S Connoisseur

    United States
    NY
    New York
    Is there any advantage to the split yoke in RTW apart from the aesthetic? Is there more give to the split yoke because it is on an angle?
     
  5. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Tech and Business Advice Guru

    United States
    New York
    East Hampton
    It's not only a gimmick. If the person making the marker (the 60'-100' long "pattern" from which RTW shirts are cut in bulk) is really good, the split yoke can save a considerable amount of fabric. Aside from that it serves no functional purpose which cannot be performed by a one-piece yoke.

    Anyone with the cojones to call their product MTM should be willing and able to adjust the slope of the shirt. If they aren't, find a new maker.

    Of course. When should we meet for measurements? ;) :devil:

    No.
    No. It is not on an angle. It is cut on the straight grain of the fabric exactly the same as a one-piece yoke.
     
  6. misterdonuts

    misterdonuts Senior Member

    917
    Belgium
    ANTWERPEN
    ANTWERPEN
    That makes sense. Thus, a sign of a more economically produced RTW shirt.
     
  7. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Tech and Business Advice Guru

    United States
    New York
    East Hampton
    Sadly, just one of many. You may note that on many of the non-gauntlet button shirts there is no folded small piece of fabric on the side which would have a button. It just has the fabric rolled over like the shirt hem. And that there is about seven feet of shirt front below the final front button instead of the buttons going all the way to the bottom. Those darn buttons & buttonholes are costly! ;)
     
  8. misterdonuts

    misterdonuts Senior Member

    917
    Belgium
    ANTWERPEN
    ANTWERPEN
    I've seen plenty of people wearing double cuff shirts with BOTH sides of the gauntlet finished like the hem. It really does look objectionable. Do you think I'm going around in the wrong neighbourhoods?

    Do your shirts come with instructions on how to pee? By the time I unbutton my fly and unbutton one or two shirt buttons, it might be too late. Or, do I need to resort to zipper flies? So hazardous, those things...
     
  9. PedanticTurkey

    PedanticTurkey Super Member

    Thank you for this series of posts, I'm really enjoying them.
     
  10. jamgood

    jamgood Advanced Member

    Re: RTW. In addition to the exterior split yoke coupled with interior one piece yoke (some Itai RLPL) there are also fake split yokes ('80s-'90s Gitman, dunno about contemporary). When held to a light the fake splits are revealed by a very narrow seam shadow where the one piece has been sewn to simulate a two piece seam, as compared to 1/4" or more fabric inlay shadows each side of a real split yoke. Both the exterior and interior yokes are faux seamed, thus two thin line shadows are visible against a light source.

    Aesthetically/estehtically, a chevron split yoke provides a straight stripe paralleling the front yoke seam. A one piece or horizontal stripe split yoke makes for angular lines intercepting the front yoke seam. Or am I full of it?
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010

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