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.
24 thoughts on “Stitch Sisters free kaftan”
OMG I love the cat fabric- so amazing! And the mismatch actually really made me smile and reminded me of Dr Doolittle’s PushMe-PullMe ☺️. Really lovely kaftans you have made. Maybe this is something I can attempt with basic sewing skills?
It is a fairly easy pattern. The most difficult part is sewing the bias binding round the neck without stretching it out. Use stable fabric with no pattern matching and you’ll find it a breeze. Perhaps make a short one first so you won’t have as much fabric to deal with. Let me know how you get on!
Thank you I think I will give it a try. How did you print out the free pattern? Did you use a web service to print and send it to you maybe?
There’s no actual pattern. If you follow the links you’ll see it’s just rectangles you measure out on the fabric and then cut the neckline as per the instructions. Let me know if you need help. Keep in mind that it’s evening here so if I don’t respond quickly it will be because I’m in bed!
Thank you for responding so quickly. I’ve got a long weekend here coming up in the UK so I might give this a go! I’ve got lots of nice fabric to work with just haven’t done any sewing in a while. I’ve not got enough space unless I work on the floor, and even floor space is limited. 😕
Yes, they take up a bit of room. Looking forward to seeing your version!
It’s amazing how different they look from each other simply due to different fabrics: one for day and one for dressy nights. Those cats are too fun, sorry they gave you such a hard time. I’m off to figure out the rectangles. I have a billowy fabric perfect for a swimsuit coverup. Mine will be a shorter version.
I think this will be the perfect swimsuit coverup. I might need one myself!
I just love your two iterations Sue. Actually, your “vivisection experiment” is very subtle at the base of your cats kaftan – I had a hard time spotting the junction here! I read a previous comment where you mentioned that the hardest part was to avoid stretching out the neckline. Well, next time, I plan to sew mine in two parts, starting at the bottom up on one side up to the center back, and then repeat on the other side. I think it will make each side more even. That’s a fun challenge, isn’t it?
I agree about sewing the neckline in two parts. I’ve just sewn a Bonn shirt and the instructions were to sew the neckline in two parts – from the shoulder to the cb, and I can really see why. I have had such fun with these kaftans and now want another one!
I LOVE your kaftans! The cat one is SO cool (… is it that little bit where they all face the same way?… I think if anyone sees it they’ll think it’s cool… I do! Like a little ‘revolt’ going on on your kaftan!)
And the second one… woah! That’s SUPER COOL! The fabric looks alive, and that slip underneath showing through makes it look even more luxe! Great job 👍🙏👏
I’m hoping my arm heals in time to make one for a friend of mine but not feeling hopeful right now! Fingers crossed!
I love the concept of a revolt on my kaftan! I really hope that you can be healed in time to participate for a prize. If anyone deserves one…
That silk fabric is fab! I adore the colour. You look fab. The cat one is fun too!
I am torn between the two but luckily both can be worn for different occasions.
Sounds like a fun idea!
I’m a ‘word person’ and the k & c debate came up a few times during my editing days. From my research (Australian based) it seems that K is often used when the word first arrives in our English vocabulary from a foreign source. As it becomes more familiar and used it may become more commonly spelt with a C – an Englishisation (totally just made that word up 😂). You see this with cumquat/kumquat, cabanossi/kabanossi (kabanosy) etc. So caftan or kaftan are both correct – depending on how you look at it 😊
I’m a word person too, which is probably why I mentioned it. I didn’t mean to imply that caftan was incorrect, more that I suspect the original word began with a “k” although I have seen it with a “q”! Thanks for the thoughtful comment.
Oh I didn’t think you were implying anything. In fact it interested me that you’d thought about it, researched and had made a decision. I love that! I’m just always fascinated by spellings and usage. I’m probably more addicted to words than fabric! I actually recited classic poetry when I was in hospital last year to control anxiety & fear. I know, weird.
I love both looks. They all look great on you
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Both makes suits you well. The cat fabric is so cute.
thank you Sonja, I went back and bought some dogs too!
No way. That sounds amazing. Looking forward to see that used too.
That cat fabric is fantastic, and both finished garments are lovely!
Thank you so much. The cat fabric did give me headaches – that’s why they are grinning so much!