Last year, I discovered the value of a good sewing challenge with the “Sew Bibs” challenge. It made me realize that deadlines motivate me to get sewing projects done. It’s also super fun to share your completed garment with a bunch of people sewing the same thing at the same time. Nowadays, anything that can make being stuck at home a bit more fun is appreciated, such as the Werk from Home Along challenge and most recently Caftans and Cocktails, hosted by Meg of Cookin’ and Craftin’ and Loni, of Havin’ Sew Much Fun. Deciding what to make for this challenge was easy, as I already had the Closet Core Charlie Caftan Pattern and this rayon challis from Workroom Social in my stash!
Size traced and sewn
- Size 12
- View C with higher sleeve
- Shortened front and back 1″ (due to not enough fabric)
Views B & C feature a gathered bodice, below an inset panel. To achieve that, the center front is sewn together to create the V neckline and then the bodice panel is inserted. The goal is “to create nice, sharp 90 degree corners around the perimeter of the bodice”. The instructions also say to check on the right side to make sure there is no puckering. I kind of failed at all of that.
This was one of one of those projects where I kept making dumb mistakes. Let’s just say I had to get my seam ripper out A LOT. Inserting the bodice panel was the trickiest bit though. While my bodice panel corners are bit more rounded than squared, I think it looks fine. It was pretty much smooth sailing after that.
I bought this fabric specifically for the Charlie Caftan and initially thought I was going to make the mini (shorter version), but my recent Sallie Maxi Dress—which I love—caused me to change my mind and decide to sew the maxi view of this pattern as well. Closet Core Patterns are drafted for someone 5’6″ and I am 5″ 10″, although I did not have to add any length to the skirt of my Sallie Maxi Dress. I had also seen some versions of the caftan maxi that were more ankle length, so I wasn’t too worried about the length. Unfortunately, I had based my yardage on the fabric requirements for the mini, so was about an inch short to make the full maxi. In the end, I think it turned out fine though!
With the amount of ease in this pattern, grading between sizes wasn’t totally necessary. I checked the finished measurements and the hip ease seemed sufficient. Due to the gathers the front is wider than the back. That said, the back seems very narrow to me in comparison. While everything fits fine, it feels like the narrowness of the back causes the pockets to pull back in a weird way and the hips to not lay as flat as I would like them too. It looks fine in these pictures and does not take away from the comfort of this garment. I do think I will widen the back if I ever make this again to see if that helps with some of these issues.
There is a lot going on in the world right now, there’s no denying that, but in the past six months, sewing has proved to be more important to me than ever. The joy I experience from the process of sewing and completing a garment are helping to get me through these dark and sad times. Being forced (somewhat) to sew from my stash more, has caused me to try some new styles and silhouettes, like maxi dresses for example. While it’s not always easy, I am trying to lean more toward the positive and see the growth that is still happening literally (via my garden) and figuratively (with my sewing practice), during this time. I recognize how fortunate I am that I am healthy, employed, and have stable housing. All of those things allow me the time, ability, and brain space to have hobbies. Doing things with my hands, like gardening and sewing, has been crucial to my mental health this year.
Sewing challenges like Caftan and Cocktails are fun any time, but especially right now. It give us sewists something to do and keeps us connected in a time when we feel most isolated. Personally, it gave me a reason to make a cucumber martini and swan around my front yard in a caftan on a sunny summer day, which didn’t hurt.
Thank you Meg and Loni for hosting! I’m squeaking in at the tail end, but I really enjoyed this challenge. I’m also super excited about this latest addition to my wardrobe.