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I Am Officially A Caftan Convert

For the longest time I thought that caftans weren't really for me....then I made one and there was no turning back!

The caftan or kaftan robe originated Asia and has been worn for thousands of years. Its orgins are uncertain, but it is believed to have first appreared in Mesopotamia. Historically is is made from silk, cashmere, cotton or wool. It can be worn with or without a sash- and is often decorated with ribbons and buttons, featuring fabrics with many colours and patterns.

The French fashion designer Paul Poiret popularized the caftan in the early 20th century. In the 1950's Christian Dior and Balenciaga adopted the caftan design as a loose evening gown. During the 1960's and 70's more ethnic styles became popular. Street styles were also developed and appeared as hostess gowns for casual at-home entertaining.

My caftan, No. 940 by Grasser Patterns, is designed with an ankle length, oversized silhouette. There are decorative details found on the front placket and the cuffs. The neckline is gathered and it is highlighted with a collar band or bias binding. The caftan features a dropped shoulder with a sewn in sleeve. Each cuff has a button and loop closure.

There is a considerable amount of ease through out the caftan design. You may wish to size down 1 or 2 sizes if you don't want it to be too full. The volume is a wonderful element of the caftan design, forming soft pleats and dramatic draping. Light weight fabrics like silk, viscose or polyester will be your best choice. Choose a fabric that will hold its shape without being too heavy. My fabric is a vintage 1970's sari that features the main border print in the front bodice. I was thrilled to find it at a summer market and very happy to give it a new life as a caftan.

This Grasser pattern is relatively easy to sew. It does have a few more complicated details. Take care when you are sewing the front placket. I shortened the depth of the neckline so that I didn't have to wear anything underneath. The original opening is very deep and runs well past the bustline which may be too revealing for some. The original pattern does not have the triangle placket detail sewn down, but I preferred to topstitch all the way around mine so it would not roll up.

The neckline needs to be gathered evenly so that the binding can be sewn in place. Take your time creating this effect and you will be really pleased with the end results. I used a contrast premade bias binding to give the collar more support and a nice contrast colour detail.

I love wearing my caftan and I think it will be a go to choice for those occassions when I want to be comfortable but still want to feel chic and fashionable. This is an easy piece to pack for travelling and it will prove useful for evening drinks on the patio, walks along the beach of a trip to the pool. I am definitely a caftan convert and I have a much deeper appreication for the reason why this design have been around for as long as it has... comfort and casual elegance. After all, there is Sew Much To Design.

Happy Caftan Creating,

Lou Sheffer


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