A little while ago, I had to admit my stash of fabrics got a bit too big (I’m sure every hobbyist recognizes this) and that I had to throw away some pieces of fabric. I ended up with three big bags of fabric which I could miss. A pretty good clean-up if I may say so myself! All of the fabrics went to the LARP association for the costumes guild and so forth. While rummaging through the big pile of fabrics however, my boyfriend spotted a piece of fabric that he wanted for himself. One of his characters, an air mage and a bedouin like my character, could do with a new costume, and he thought this fabric was just the perfect thing. Since he is not that experienced with the sewing machine, he asked me to make him a caftan, and this is the result:
He seems to be very happy with his new costume, so that’s always a good thing, especially since I would have thrown away the fabric otherwise! If you want to know how I made this caftan, continue reading :).
I made this caftan from a leftover piece of fabric, I guess it was about 2/2.5 meters long, which wasn’t that much for a whole caftan. The only reason the sleeves have black pieces attached to them is that there was no more blue/black fabric left! It doesn’t matter in the end, I really like the effect and I think it makes this garment a bit more interesting than just a plain sleeve. Anyways, I would suggest you buy a bit more fabric than I did, so you won’t get into trouble!
- 3m fabric (I used this black/blue weird fabric)
- 0.5 m contrasting fabric for sleeve pieces and neckline (I used black cotton)
- optional: 3m decorative trim (I used a white trim with small pompoms hanging from one side)
- Matching thread
First, you have to take measurements. The abbreviations in between brackets correspond to the abbreviations on te pattern drawing in the next step.
- Chest Width (cw): Measure all around the widest part of your chest.
- Caftan length (cfl): Measure how long you want your caftan to be, from your shoulder to the hem, and add about 5 cm. Better make it too long than too short!
- Sleeve Width (sw): Make a loop of your measuring tape and put your arm through. Measure how wide you want your sleeve to be (usually around 50 cm)
- Sleeve length (sl): Measured from your shoulder to where you want your sleeve to end.
With the measurements from the previous step, make the pattern for your caftan according to the picture below. You can draw them on pieces of newspaper, but for simple patterns like this I prefer to draw them on the fabric straightaway.
I think this is quite self-explanatory, but here are a few important remarks:
- The orange pieces are cut from the contrast fabric
- The two necklines on the piece to the left are one for the front and one for the back, so cut one of both. Don’t cut the slit in the front part yet! Mark the line with chalk.
- The triangles will form the sides of the caftan and allow for walking space. The measurements of the top and bottom of those pieces is quite random, but make sure that the lower part of the caftan (so front, back and 4 triangles) is at least 2-2.5 m wide or you will only be able to shuffle around. I used 7 cm, because this will give 20 extra around the chest part and that is just right.
- The sleeve is split up in two pieces here, but you can also cut just one piece
- As for the caftan front, do not yet cut the slit in the neck finishing front
- All the sizes mentioned here are for a seam allowance of 1 cm.
After drawing, cut your fabric.
First, sew the shoulder seams of the caftan and the neck finishing. Then, place the right side of the neck finishing on the wrong side of the caftan and make sure the lines for the slit are lined up perfectly. Yes, this is tricky, and I always have to convince myself that it will turn out the way it has to. The idea is, that when you turn the neck finishing to the right side of the caftan, both caftan and neck finishing have their right side showing! Stitch around the neckline. Stitch around the line for the slit at about 2mm on each side. (see drawing, left) after doing so, cut carefully down the line for the slit, and be careful not to cut the stitching!
Turn the neck finishing to the right side, push out all the corners and iron flat. Fold in the edge of the neck finishing, pin and stitch in place. make sure it’s completely flat and without folds! Also stitch along the neckline (see drawing, right)
Stitch the two parts of each sleeve together. Press the seam allowance down, towards the sleeve end. Fold the sleeve in half, right sides together and matching the seams between the two parts. Mark the seam at 6 cm from the top and stitch from the marking to the end of the sleeve (see drawing below).
Then grab the triangles for the sides and stitch them together along the straight edges, this makes two bigger triangles. Fold the unstitched part of the sleeve seam open and place it on the upper edge of the triangle. This needs a bit of patience, because the sleeve is clearly not the right shape to fit here, but it will be alright in the end. Pin and stitch into place.
You now have two sleeves with pieces of dress attached to it. Time to put the whole thing together!
Get the center part of your caftan and match the sleeves with side-pieces, right sides together. Pin and stitch in place on both sides. If everything ends up in the right place, you should now have a nice and wide caftan!
Turn the caftan right side out and press the seams. Try it on and determine the right length for the bottom hem and the sleeves. Pin and hem the bottom sides and the sleeves.
And now for the optional but oh-so-fun part: Putting on the trim! This is totally up to you, be creative with it. I applied a white trim to the neck line, the edge of the neck finishing and on the sleeves at the seam between the two fabrics. Ofcourse you can apply any trim wherever you like, and use those small mirrors, beads, tassels, sequins and everything that comes to mind when thinking of arabic influences. Use your imagination!
I hope you liked this tutorial! Please let me know anything that is unclear, or send me a picture if you made a caftan of your own! As always, requests for tutorials or posts are always welcome, just leave them behind in the comments or send me an email at email@example.com