Thursday, July 6, 2017

How to Make a Simple Caftan Complete with Dramatic Photo Finish

making a caftan

I am not a seamstress, like by a long shot. I'm short on patience and there's a good bit involved in sewing for real. But even I can make a caftan so if you want to give it a whirl and have limited sewing skills, I'm your girl. Seriously, no pressure.

What you'll need: 


Around 3-3 1/2 yards of fabric depending on your height and how long you want it to be.

 A word about fabric: If you aren't an experienced sewer, start with a heavier weight fabric like the ones here. At the very least the weight of a cotton broadcloth. Some of the flowy fabrics or material that stretches can be tough going for a new seamstress because they shift around so much. 

Trim like rick-rack, fringe, tassels, pom poms, or braiding. For the neck and arms you'll need about 2.5 yards. If you want to go down the front, across the bottom hem, or sides add in the extra measurements.  

Thread to match your material or trim. 

Scissors, measuring tape, sewing machine. 

material, thread, measuring tape, trim

Here's a very basic how-to.

The pattern.   

Here's the recipe for a caftan: A giant piece of fabric folded in half with a hole cut out for your head and seams along both sides leaving openings for your arms. Okay, they are basically shapeless. That's why the colors, patterns, and trims are the most important and fun part of this project. And this little DIY gets bonus points for your only having to know how to sew a straight line!




That's it! Now you can make all sorts of changes. You can make it a v-neck or square.  For this one, I created a v-neck. You can make it super loose or tighter, you can make it short and sassy or long and dramatic. Guess which one I like. 

Here's how to find where to cut the neck hole:


 Fold the fabric like in the video and then make your cut on that corner where all the folds come together.



The first ones I made I just cut a hole and stitched the edges down. That's fine but you can also add an inner facing. 




Well, not exactly like this because yours will turn out better. If you have legit sewing skills, feel free to make fun.

Next, I stitched the right sides together around the neck hole.


Press the seam open. Now turn your neckline right sides out.



And press. Honesty, ironing is the secret to sewing.


On this one I added some cording as a trim around the neck and stitching it in place helped hold the facing flat.


Here's another photo of this.


 I thought this would look chic being so plain but it just looked like this caftan washed up on a boat dock somewhere. I had this darling turquoise and gold chevron grosgrain so I stitched it on using the machine. That facing isn't going anywhere now. 


Hem the edges (sides). This takes the longest of anything. Do both sides. It will take forever. Watch your favorite series from season one episode one or something.


Now measure from your shoulder to wherever you want the length to be. Add a couple of inches for a hem. Now stop and measure again before cutting! Then cut if it is too long.

 A word about length:  In this kind of fabric our caftan should either be so long that it brushes your ankles or short and sassy. There is a length that will make it look downright Biblical and that is someplace around the bottom of your calf.  If you end up looking like one of the three wise men in the church Christmas pageant, don't say I didn't warn you. Once you move on to lighter fabrics they can be any length and will look great.


Fold under once and then once more to create your hem. Stitch in place.

When you get to the corners where you meet the side hems, create a little fold like you are wrapping a present. Stitch.


 That's about it! You can add trim to the arms and to the bottom hem or all the way down both sides. It's your caftan! Do whatever you want!

The last step in the process is using the timer on your phone to snap some dramatic photos of you in your caftan.


One problem with a retired husband is that sometimes he wants to know what I'm doing. "What are you doing?" is a classic husband question. Right up there with "Where are you going to put that?"


 Usually I run around like a squirrel and hope he doesn't notice me. Because sometimes it's hard to explain. But you get it, right?


How do we not have a pool? This caftan would look amazing by a pool! Or, you know, on a yacht.

Now the other great thing about this is that if you decide caftans aren't for you (are you on crack?)  you can cut it off short for a beach cover up. You could cut it down the front and add a sash for a summery robe. Heck there is so much fabric that you could remake the whole thing into pillows for your patio furniture. About four of them.

In the next post I'll be covering How to Style Your Caftan.


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