Charlie Caftan

Like everyone else in the sewing world I fell immediately in love with the Closet Case Patterns Charlie caftan and decided that I was not going to go through the summer without one.

I wanted the long version which takes a fair amount of fabric and I didn’t have anything suitable in my stash, but fortuitously I found this lovely piece of viscose at a local op shop for $6 so I was set. But then came all my troubles as this is the shiftiest piece of fabric that I’ve sewn for a while and in spite of multiple pins and every pattern weight I own, and using a blade to cut it out, I finished up with some quite misshapen pieces. Although I had quite a bit of fabric I had to do some pattern matching which meant I didn’t have enough to cut the front and the back on the fold, so I put the back on the fold and did a seam at the centre front. With the gathers and busy pattern I think I just got away with this. Then my brain went AWOL and I accidentally cut one of the inset panel cutouts too long. I had to patch it. Then I found it impossible to sew that inset piece over the top. I just could not get it sitting right. In the end I pressed the seam allowance all round it and simply sewed it over the top, simultaneously adding the inside one as well. Having wasted possibly two hours or so sewing and unpicking, it finished up taking 15 minutes to get it right. Then I found the sewalong which would probably have helped, but maybe not given the aforementioned shifty (not what I was calling it!) nature of this fabric.

As I was struggling with the caftan, dragging around lots of fabric, and generally getting into a terrible mess, I thought back on all the blog posts about it that I had read and didn’t remember a single negative comment. Then I put the caftan on and although I found the neck is really a bit low for me, the caftan is exactly what I wanted, so I was thrilled.

I was less thrilled with my pattern placement on the bodice. I was concentrating so hard on the horizontal that I completely missed the fact that I had those vertical stripes and they aren’t quite symmetrical. I didn’t really notice until I put the dress on for the first time and then chose to ignore it. But it’s there!


I wore it to our Gardens by the Bay excursion in Singapore, and can I just mention how these gardens have matured since our first visit a few years ago, although I’m not too certain about the Lego garden in the photo below!


Although it’s got all kinds of strange light effects going on, I do like this photo of me with Tom.


and all of us… (minus Archie, of course ;( )IMG_0850

The caftan is comfortable, floaty, showy and vaguely elegant. I wore it on Christmas Eve night  and felt quite well dressed, except I forgot that I was going to be walking up and down stairs which meant that I was gathering great swathes of fabric into my hands. No matter. It’s a marvellous addition to my wardrobe and I intend to wear it at every opportunity!

I did much better with the pattern placement on the back, getting everything nice and square.


Next time I’m going to make it just a bit shorter, or I may even chop a couple of centimetres off the bottom of this one. I really like this dress though, it’s easy and cool and I can’t wait to make a short version inspired by handmadebycarolyn‘s white one.



24 thoughts on “Charlie Caftan

  1. I love visiting Singapore with you – especially nice to know that my guide is the best dressed woman there! Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas excursion! Love your caftan – does look so comfortable.

  2. How fun is this post – love how you recount your sewing adventures, turning a simple caftan making into an action novel with a happy end – yes, this caftan looks cool and elegant on you, perfect for your trip to Singapore. My only concern with this design would be some possible bra flashing with such a low armscye. Not that it matters so much, after all!

    1. Lol, Hélène, it did have a happy ending, but almost didn’t. I do flash my bra sides and could raise the armscye but that would bring other issues, so I decided to leave it alone and live with the flashing!

  3. This is lovely – the “shifty” fabric is a great colour / pattern 🙂

    You are making me want to make this now…I have promised myself no more dresses (need things I will actually wear) but in the hot Sydney summer maybe I need this!

    Lovely work and worth the effort!

  4. You look so happy, at ease and however quite elegant in your caftan, Sue! All of the fiddling with the shifting fabric has worked out. I liked reading your sewing story. I cannot see any pattern missmatch. What a gorgeous picture of you and Tom!

  5. That is a beautiful print! Too bad the fabric gave you such a hard time. But in the end I think it was worth it, the shifty fabric is perfect for this kind of dress 🙂

  6. It looks good Sue, and no-one I’d going to notice any ‘pattern placement’ irregularities. Enjoy the dress – and Singapore!

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