weekend diy: how to sew a caftan

weekend diy: caftan

Young Frankk necklace, handmade blouse, American Apparel shorts

Earlier this month I received some beautiful fabric from my Nashville friend Allison who runs Shutters and Shuttles - hand woven fabric with a subtle dappled stripe pattern in cream and mint. I knew the soft fabric would be perfect for a loose, airy caftan top.

A basic caftan is one of the quickest sewing projects out there - it is essentially fabric folded crosswise with seams on the sides. It can work as a maxi, a mini dress, or even a top depending on how much fabric you work with.  When I started the project, I intended to sew the caftan as a dress but then I fell in love with the shape as a blouse and ended up chopping off a lot of the extra length. See below for measurements.

Note: I've numbered the steps that go with each photo, reading the photos from left to right.

1. You will need.. single fold bias tape and 44 or 45 inch wide fabric (depending on your frame and how wide you want the caftan to be, you might need a smaller or larger width). For a long caftan, use 3 1/2 yards, for a shorter caftan (around knee length), use 2 1/4 yards. For a blouse, use about 1 1/4 yards.

weekend diy: caftan weekend diy: caftan

2. Fold your required fabric in half using a crosswise fold - in other words fold it width-wise, not length-wise. Measure the fabric then cut. The top fold will be the shoulders of the caftan. Finish the two raw edges at the bottom with a simple rolled hem at each edge.

3, 4. With wrong sides together and right sides facing out, stitch your side seams. Stitch from the very bottom of the caftan to where your arm hole will start. I left about 10 inches from the shoulder for my arm hole. I also stitched three inches away from the very edge (selvage) of the fabric, but you can leave as much extra fabric there as you'd like. If you don't want to show off the selvages of your fabric, use a rolled hem on the side edges like you did the bottom part of the caftan.

5. Cut your neck opening. Make sure it's in the center at the top of your garment (where the fabric is folded) by folding your garment in half length-wise and cut from the folded center. I cut a 12 inch opening.

6. Finish the neck seam with single fold bias tape. To read how to finish a seam with bias tape, see my tutorial here.

weekend diy: caftan weekend diy: caftan weekend diy: caftan weekend diy: caftan

This is a great project if you have some fabric with a narrow width that you don't know what to do with. Also, there are fun options if you make the caftan dress - add an elastic casing at the waist just beneath the armholes, or even loop a belt inside the caftan against the back of your waist and out of the caftan through the arm holes and secure the belt in front at the waist.

If you like this fabric, don't hesitate to check out Shutters and Shuttles' other woven wares here.