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This guest post is by Lauren Durr.
There was this idea floating around my head of a v neck caftan that was easy to slip on over my head while at the beach or pool. This caftan had enough shaping without having to tie or belt anything to get the DRAMA of a caftan but with the comfort I demand out of my me made wardrobe.
I first started looking at old sewing patterns and there were one or two that almost fit my idea but not quite. Then while looking at a 90’s vintage one (I am still tracking it down) I realized I already had a pattern, drafted to my own data points, that could be the foundation of this dream caftan.
The Easy T Class: A Draft Your Own Adventure
A few years ago (wow time flies faster than my kids running to the pool in the summer!) I drafted my first EasyT from SewHere.com, I think it was my first of their “draft yourself” patterns. “Draft yourself” can sound like an advanced concept when you have grown up with cutting out tissue patterns, but I promise the instructions make it fool proof.
The EasyT directions and worksheets make the math simple and show you how to fit something to your specific data points aka measurements. I had already drafted EasyTs for woven and knit fabrics as well as had a bolt of Calcutta fabric (a kind of gauze with a decorative weave) so why not try to make my imagined caftan a reality?
Constructing the Caftan
It’s wasn’t a hard sew, but I did have to think through how I wanted the parts of the dress to behave. I chose to cut my already-drafted woven pattern in pieces to get the look I wanted. The center front and neckline sections were cut away from the shoulder and side and seam allowance added. That way I could double the center front for gathering. The side portions remained as originally drafted, with a wide dolman sleeve.
While planning, I realized the v neck would need a facing but I didn’t want to have something flip out or be topstitched down. Top stitching wasn’t the visual in my head, so self-facing was what I settled on, it was not difficult since the center front had now been reduced to a smaller pattern piece. The self-facing worked well because it created a bit of weight to keep the top half from sliding up or out. Then I gathered the bottom of v neck section and simply stitched the faux waist placket to the seam allowance.
I also wanted pockets because if you are going to make something to wear, you need to have pockets. I choose to put them in the center front almost kangaroo pouch style, thinking the added weight would keep the deep v neck down and not splayed open. It worked. But now having worn it, I think I would rather have them on the side seams as that’s more ergonomic.
The dolman sleeves are easy to modify to something more fitted or something more flowy, I stayed with something in between since I will most likely wear this while dragging kid-supplies to the beach or pool. There are places where I need to adjust, like the math I did for gathering in the front, it makes the point of the v bubble out, but I know what I should do to fix it now and I can’t wait to try again.
It feels so good to sit down and sew once you have a draft of anything in your measurements, it also seems less risky to cut it up and put it back together. I’ve made knit tee dresses, tee shirts and now a caftan with just this one pattern and a little bit of guts.
What pattern do you have that has made you a variety of garments?
Lauren Durr is a Los Angeles based creative educator and entrepreneur. She began crafting when she was 12, sewing clothing she couldn’t find in stores and mixing beauty products in her mother’s kitchen. In 2002 she graduated with a BS in Art Education and it’s been a blur of color and adventure ever since. In 2007 she started Ritual Bath, a bath and body company, but by 2008 she was packing up her small family and and even smaller business to move cross country. Now focusing on her sewing with Lauren Makes it Work, she helps others learn how to create with a sewing machine. She helps them cut through body image BS by making, altering or editing garments for the body they have right now.