My friends Hélène (@hportemanteau) and Suzy (@sewing_in_spain) and I are currently running a challenge to make a kaftan from the Stitch Sisters free pattern.
We did have a bit of a discussion as to the spelling of kaftan/caftan, but historically I think kaftan is correct as it is probably derived from the Turkish “kap ton”, meaning “covering garment”, which is quite apt, as this kaftan does cover a multitude of sins.
Suzy has found four sponsors to donate six prizes for the challenge which ends on 4 September, so it’s not too late to make this very simple kaftan. It is reputed to take less than two hours to make but I have to say that it took me longer because of my own stupidity.
My first kaftan used this rather lovely viscose which I bought from Textile Traders in their dying days.
I knew that I would have to do some pattern matching but I was slightly unprepared for a centre front seam that looked like a bit of vivisection had been happening (Island of Dr Moreau anyone?). I posted this picture on IG and almost everyone said that I should leave it, but I just couldn’t.
I didn’t take a photo of error number two, but suffice it to say that I must never sew at night as I managed to cut the back neckline out with the cats upside down! This meant that I had to recut the neckline making the back shorter than the front so I pieced together a little strip to bring the back into line with the front. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough fabric, so my pattern matching isn’t perfect. Can you spot the problem?
I could have gone shorter, but I really didn’t want to, and this seems to be a better option and I figured that no-one would notice. Mark couldn’t see the problem even after I pointed it out.
I also cut out the ties as one wide piece of fabric, thinking I’d just cut them up the middle to make the two. Then I went away for a few days and forgot that this was the plan, so when I sewed up the tie, it was twice as wide as it should be and I only had one of them. I considered making a belt, but finished up piecing a second tie together and really like the wider tie.
Having made this one I immediately decided I wanted a long one and shopped the stash. I rejected anything that needed pattern matching as those cats severely scarred me, so I finished up with this gossamer thin silk that was given to me by my friend Sophie when she visited her home in South Africa. It is truly beautiful and I’ve been saving it for something special.
Of course, this fabric is not without its problems, being light and very shifty. I used French seams throughout as I wanted to honour the gift. An amusing aside here as I had a little email exchange with Hélène, who is French and told me that what we call French Seams, the French call coutures anglaises, and then Suzy, who lives in Spain, chipped in with the Spanish – costuras muertas – dead seams. This made me feel that we were really doing an international challenge!
Back to my kaftan; I made the ties slightly wider than the pattern dictates and decided that, whilst I like the cat kaftan tied at the front, I really like this one tied at the back.
I did mention that the silk is gossamer thin, so I had to make an under tunic from white cotton tissue knit. I just used my t-shirt block, extending it a bit and omitting the sleeves – a bit like a long vest. I didn’t finish any of the edges. You can see it under the kaftan and it showed up best in the photos where I had the ties at the front.
This fabric rather surprised me; I had no idea it would gleam like it does. It has quite a silver cast to it. I note that in the photos that the hem looks really uneven, but it isn’t. It might be the way that I tied it, or it might be the wind blowing it around.
I now keep finding fabric that I think will make wonderful kaftans, but decided to see how much I wear these two before I make more. I’m also participating in several other activities that require my attention.
Are you tempted to make this very simple and easy to wear kaftan? If you are, you can find it here, and we have four amazing sponsors who between them have donated six prizes. The closing date for the competition is 4 September, 2018, and the prizes are:
- $25 voucher from Fibers to Fabric which is an amazing online store selling authentic Indian Fabrics, buttons, trims and haberdashery. They are based in Mumbai, Maharashtra
- Sewhouse 7 is offering their brand new pattern the Montavilla Muumuu to two lucky people. Make sure you check it out.
- Athina Kakou is offering a copy of her ebook “Sewing your Dream Wardrobe” which is probably a compulsory read for me.
- French Navy Now is offering two pdfs of her newest pattern, which has not yet been released.
The prizes will be drawn randomly and winners notified soon after. You will need to be on Instagram and tag @sewinginspain, @hportemanteau and @suestoney. Please also use the tags #sewingsansfrontieres and #stitchsisterskaftan.
I hope some of you join in, it would give me such a thrill to know that people all over the world are sewing this lovely kaftan.