Sister Gift – Charlie Caftan

My sister has had a shitty year. When her birthday came around I really wanted to make her something beautiful. While we were on vacation in Hawaii I hit up a local fabric store chain Discount Fabric Warehouse with the mission of finding caftan appropriate fabric for my sister.

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I was able to find a ton of cotton or cotton/poly blend fabrics, but the apparel options were tucked away against the wall. There were only about 20 options in rayon so I selected the print I though suited Kat best. She and I have very different taste when in comes to color. She inherited olive skin that tans easily and looks great in reds, oranges, and other warm colors.

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I wasn’t able to finish her dress before her birthday, but I was able to surprise her at our family reunion. I think she likes it!

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I used the Charlie Caftan pattern from Closet Case Patterns. I made a version for myself last year and found the insert extremely annoying to install. However, this time around everything went really really smooth.

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I measured my sister a few months ago and she easily fit into the size 20. I probably could have sized down, but a caftan is forgiving. I went extra dramatic with the deep sleeves and the only alteration I made was to lower the inset 1 inch so she had plenty of boob room.

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I think she looks absolutely fabulous in her new caftan and I hope she’ll be able to enjoy wearing it through the heat of summer and maybe even on her annual trip to Burning Man. I can’t take away all the crap life is throwing her, but I love my little sister.

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Caftan Season

I’m about 3 years late on the caftan party. You’ve seen the memes and gifs and click bait articles on how to get your body ready for caftan season. I saw them too and giggled. I should have made a caftan in 2014! Three years ago I was pregnant in the summer and was so damn hot all the time, yet 2017 is the year a caftan entered my life.

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My biggest hesitation is that I’m not a fan of maxi dresses in general and I like shapeless dresses even less. But then Closet Case Patterns put out the Charlie Caftan pattern a few weeks ago and the sample sucked me in. It looked glamorous and had some shape to it. I bought it almost immediately and spent a hurried lunch break racing through Michael Levine’s finding the perfect fabric.

And then in took a week for the pattern to arrive and I was having second thoughts. A caftan? Really? Me?

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As you can see I went through with my plan. The fourth of July was so damn hot. It always is, but somehow year after year the heat is surprising in its intensity. I made the Charlie Caftan while sweating and swearing in our non-airconditioned kitchen in the days leading up to Independence Day. The swearing in my opinion was justified. Most of the pattern goes together sweet and easy, but the inset center panel made me want to light my caftan on fire. I was so mad. I figured out how to stitch it in correctly, but it felt like there should have been an easier way. Or at least a clearer way to word the directions.

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Because I don’t love it when strangers ask me if I’m pregnant, I lower the inset panel by 2 inches to my natural waistline. In hindsight, 1 inch would have been perfect, but that’s okay. One caftan is all my life requires. I didn’t make any other adjustments other than blending sizes starting with a 16 at the shoulders and a 20 at the hip. Based on the finished garment measurements this seemed necessary, but again it wasn’t in the end. The pattern said there are 5 inches of ease at the hips on the size 20, but it feels like more.

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The fabric I selected is Cloud 9’s Batiste in the Frolic collection. I loved the scale of the print. Tiny, but also sort of patriotic. One of the employees at Trader Joe’s complimented me on my subtle nod to the 4th of July holiday. The fabric really is light as air but a tad see through so I do need to wear a slip underneath. I picked up two more slips a few weeks ago so I was plenty prepared.

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In the end, caftans just aren’t my thing, but I am glad I experimented. In the last month I’ve worn it twice and it feels like a costume. I think I’ll hold onto my Charlie Caftan as a bathing suit cover up or my next trip to Palm Springs, but for my daily life…just not my thing. Though if my sister reads this…want one? Now that I know how to sew the damn inset panel I could make one again with less swearing.