Welcome Summer with our Charlie Caftan Pattern!

June 19, 2017   /   byHeather Lou  / Categories :  Feeds
Charlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Closet Case Patterns

I am reaaaallly excited about this one. We are going through a serious heat wave in Montreal right now, when all you want to wear is loose, easy dresses that keep you covered and cool. The launch of our new design, the Charlie Caftan pattern, could not be better timed.

The genesis of this pattern started last year when I made an enormous linen caftan for a trip to France. My mother in law and I wore our caftans all week long and tried to start a caftan cult of two. I’m hoping with the debut of Charlie, a  lot more of you will join us.

While I loved that particular caftan, it ate about twenty yards of fabric – it was basically an enormous rectangle with a neck opening. It was pretty heavy and wasn’t always the most practical thing to wear; it trailed on the ground and I had to be really careful walking up stairs. I started thinking about ways to to take the same idea (easy, comfortable, covered-up up chic) and translate it to today, with an interesting shape and some fun constructions details, without requiring more than a few yards of fabric. Enter Charlie.

Charlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case Patterns Charlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case Patterns

In an ankle grazing length with a deep V neckline and slits at the side seams, the maxi variation of Charlie is covered-up with a few peeks of skin that keep it feeling modern and a little glamourous. The dramatic kimono sleeves and gently gathered waist add visual interest to an otherwise simple silhouette.

Charlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case PatternsCharlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case Patterns

This variation includes ties in the inset center panel for a little bit of waist definition, although you’re more than welcome to leave the ties off for something loose and free flowing. I love the maxi Charlie in a show-stopping print and soft, drapey fabric like rayon challis, voile, tencel, silk crepe de chine, noil, or chiffon.

I am also pretty heady-over-heels for our mini variations.

Charlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case Patterns Charlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case Patterns

I envisioned this as more of a chic, easy to wear summer dress that could do double duty as a beach cover up. We kept the kimono sleeves and the V neckline, but replaced the gathers under the bust with striking diagonal pleats. I love how modern and architectural this feels, especially in a crisp white linen like the one we chose for this sample. I suggest fabrics that have a slightly stiff or crisp hand for this variation to hold the pleats; think shirting, linen, chambray and poplin.

Charlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case PatternsCharlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case Patterns

Our third variation is pretty charming too.

Charlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case Patterns Charlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case PatternsCharlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern // Caftan sewing pattern // Closet Case Patterns

This variation has the same loose fitting silhouette as our maxi, but we’ve eliminated the waist ties and added slightly higher cut kimono sleeves for more modest coverage. This variation looks beautiful in softer fabrics like the gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze we used for our sample.

And did I mention they all come with roomy pockets? I love this pattern so much, and I can see it equally at home on a city street or by the pool. A new summer uniform for sure, especially if you pair it with our Bombshell or Sophie Swimsuit!

A few notes:

In many ways this is one of our simplest patterns so we will not be doing a full sewalong. I do have a few posts planned on fabric, fitting and inspiration, and we will also be doing a full post on how to sew the inset panel since this is the one step that I think could use some further explanation.

Also, someone asked about bra peekage with our kimono sleeves. A bra will definitely show with the lower-cut sleeves when you raise your arms; if you want the mega drama sleeves I suggest wearing a pretty bra you don’t mind seeing or using it it as a beach cover-up. We added the higher cut sleeve option for more modesty, but you can always raise it even higher if you want a closer cut arm.

We hope you love Charlie as much as we do. We’re starting a caftan cult – the only requirement is to wear a caftan and enjoy the summer!


ps. This pattern is named after Charlie, the English brains and beauty behind the wonderful sewing blog, Noble & Daughter. We admire Charlie’s contemporary and deeply personal sense of style, and love to imagine her swanning around her adopted city of New York wearing this modern caftan, paired with some of her characteristically amazing footwear.

pps. How to get your body Caftan Ready for summer (have a body, wear a caftan).

pps. If you love the espadrilles in these photos, you can find them at our new favourite Etsy store Mumi Shoes; everything is handmade in Spain! 

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Ida Clutch Bag

I have something a bit different to show you today, which is this little clutch bag that I made for my sister, who absolutely loves it.  I first spotted it on Instagram when Kirsten from Fifty Two Fancies made it, and instantly though that my sister would like it.


The pattern is called the Ida Clutch Bag, and is a free pattern from Kylie And The Machine.
One of the bags on the introduction page is leather, as is Kirsten’s, and I really loved them, so decided to give it a go myself.  

Much googling finally brought me to Leather4Craft on ebay, where I bought some veg-tan goat skin leather for £22.00.  It came as a rectangle of leather, which I stupidly forgot to measure, and is lovely and soft.  There was more than enough for this little bag.
More googling was done on cutting and sewing leather.  I used my rotary cutter to cut it out, and pattern weights to hold the pattern piece down.  I say pattern weights, it was really my phone and some masking tape…

You can maybe, sort of, judge the size of the leather from this photo.  There was enough leather to the top to cut out another pattern piece, and there was a bit left over that is probably about half as wide as the bit that my rotary cutter is sitting on.
Sewing the leather turned out to be a lot easier than I thought, but leather needles are a must.  I practised a dart on some scrap leather first, and my machine handled it beautifully.  Sewing leather is a bit of a one shot deal, you don’t want to be unpicking, and my walking foot was great.

I marked the point of the dart with a pin, which left a little hole in the leather, then clipped the dart ends within the seam allowance.
I marked the dart legs with a pencil on the wrong side of the leather.
I obviously couldn’t use pins on the leather, as they would leave little holes, so I used a mini clothes pegs to hold everything together.  Quilting clips would be great, but I don’t have any.
 This is what the darts look like from the wrong side,
And this is the right side.
The instruction page on the interfacing mentions that the sample leather bag is interfaced (I think it’s in the comments), but I was a bit too scared to try that!  So I just interfaced the lining.  I used a medium weight interfacing for the whole bag lining (Piece B), and then a woven interfacing on top for Piece C.

I added an inside pocket, and made it as big as I could without interfering with the darts.  It’s big enough for a phone.

Next came inserting the zip, and the instructions for it are brilliant.  I didn’t take any photos of it, but here’s what it looked like when it was finished. 
The pin in the photo above is marking the tailor’s tack for the snap placement, which leads me on to attaching the snaps.  I wasn’t looking forward to this, because I was afraid of ruining the leather.  But some more googling showed me how to do it.  
Everything I read called for interfacing, but, as already mentioned, I didn’t want to interface the leather.  So I didn’t use any, and it’s grand.  Here’s what I did.
First of all, I practised on a leather scrap!  The snaps have two prongs on the back that are secured with a little washer.   

I stuck a pin through the lining and leather where the tailor’s tack was (the tack was just in the lining), to mark the snap position on the leather.  Then I used the washer as a template, and marked the position of the prongs with a pen (making sure it wouldn’t bleed through to the front!).


Admire that lovely top stitching!


Then I snipped into the leather using some embroidery scissors.

The prongs on the snap go through the holes from the front, then it is held in place with the washer.  I just put it through the leather, so the snap is not visible on the inside of the bag.

Here’s what it looks like from the right side.

I did the same with the other snap, and here’s what it looks like when it’s closed.

As suggested in the instructions, I sewed the edges of the bag with a zipper foot.  It was tricky to get over the closed end of the zip, and I ended up just turning the hand wheel.

I’m delighted with how this little bag turned out, and leather definitely isn’t as tricky to sew as I thought.

Now I sort of want to make a leather purse…  Have a great weekend,
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New Look 6500 shift dress: a simple pattern that I couldn’t leave unmodified

How much adjustment do you do on a very simple pattern? Do you feel it’s worthwhile to make very small changes to get it just right or perhaps you sew up simple things as is and save your efforts for a special dress or coat.
This simple dress pattern is something that I choose as one of the suggestions for my Sew a Dress class at Hello Stitch in Berkeley. (scheduled again for Sun. July 30 – the first one was great fun. More details at the bottom of this post on all the upcoming classes). As it happens Craftsy asked me to write a longer post outlining all the steps to sew a simple dress, consequently I decided to sew up this pattern and get a lot of things done with one project. Plus I’ve been on a shift dress kick lately. They are such simple and pleasant things to wear. Since it was 107˚F in the SHADE here yesterday I would rather have worn a dress made of ice cubes but since that is not going to happen a shift dress it is.

batik shift dress

I have had this fabric in my stash for a good 5 or 6 years. It’s a cotton batik that I bought in Hawaii, quite a large amount (5 yards) and just never found a use for it. Slightly heavy as a lot of batiks are, so not really good for most dresses plus the vertical stripe had me stumped. I think I found the perfect style for it that uses the stripe best. Plus I can wear my stripes navy blue espadrille sandals – double win.
Here’s the pattern envelope, with a sneak peek of a subsequent version of this dress. Which everyone has gone wild for on my Instagram teases, embroidered denim must be the thing this summer. The envelope says D0569 but all the pattern pieces say New Look 6500 so I’m calling it that. I really like New Look patterns, they come up with some super cute dresses and tops, plus they include all sizes in one envelope and cost $ 3.99 all the time.

New Look Shift dress pattern

batik dr front view

Onward to my adjustments: I sewed this dress for the Craftsy post, not as a wearable but as a “photograph-able” item, i.e. something that would really show in the step-by-step tutorial but I had no intention of wearing it. It was actually quite a pleasure to just sew up a dress with no changes, I sewed the size 12 and went from there.
Here is the version I sewed for Craftsy, in a quilting cotton that I had in my stash, I think a remainder from a project I did for someone on Etsy ages ago. And I really loathe this color of green so don’t even tell me that you like this dress on me 🙂 Plus for the most part sewing/wearing garments with quilting cotton is a bit NO for me. With some exceptions they always look a bit off: too wrinkly, too juvenile, too unsophisticated to claim my interest.

green shift dress

green shift dress3

But I include the photo of me wearing this one to show the neckline fit. That neckline was choking me – I don’t like that high round neckline and when you move your head forward it’s so uncomfortable. Good shoe match thought, right?

Back to the blue and white batik version. Can you see the difference in the neckline? It is so much more comfortable for me in the second version. I wanted to figure out exactly how much to open the neck so I made a version of just the top half of the dress in swedish tracing paper – and every time I use that I remember that is has absolutely no give. While it seems like a good idea because you can sew it – putting it on is not so easy. I did put a zipper so I could actually try it on – which worked in the end but it was kind of shredded. However it was good enough to slice and dice a bit, figuring out how I wanted the final neckline to be shaped.

neckline comparison

I cut out the batik version based on my new neckline, and basted it together at the shoulder seams to see if I liked the neckline. It still seemed a bit too high for my preference and also I like the armholes to be more cut in at the shoulder in a sleeveless dress. So instead of cutting more off the edges of the dress I made a one piece facing for front and back, and then used tracing paper to mark a seam line. At the neck I took away a further 5/8″ (total seam allowance now 1.25″) and then on the armholes I think I sewed it at around 7/8″ which makes the armhole a bit bigger all around. You have to be careful that it doesn’t make the armhole too low but this dress had a very tight armhole so there was plenty of room.

batik dress facing new seam

On my next version of this dress (the embroidered chambray fabric)  I’ll show how I make the one piece facing plus this upcoming version is lined so it incorporates facing and lining together.

The original New Look pattern had separate neck and armhole facings which works ok, not my preference but not as horrible as some make it out to be. But there’s a better way. Another option for these simple summer dresses is bias binding but I wanted to show the traditional or basic type of dress sewing.

But we are not done yet! In fact this adjustment should have come up first in my writing but I only remembered to take this picture a few minutes and include it. The bust dart on this dress is both large and high. I measured it on the pattern piece and could see that it needed to be lower so I did that before I did anything else, just a straightforward shift downward about 3/4″. The bust dart is kind of larger than it would be had there been other darts (vertical waist darts)  or other shaping. Trying it on it made the dart a bit too pointy – not my favorite look. So I reduced the width of the dart.

dart adjustment on shift dress

On the tracing paper on the left you can see the faint outline of the original dart, too high. The second placement, lower but too big, and then the final version in the purple dotted line, just right. I sound like Goldilocks don’t I but if you’re going to do adjustments you might as well go all the way until you like the fit.

Batik dr side and back view

Back and side view, you can barely see the dart but that is the ideal, at least for me. Since the side seams were not even in length I split the difference at the top of the seam at the armhole and sliced off about 3/8″ off the side back at that point. Worked out fine.

batik dress front 2

So that’s chapter one on my summer shift dress extravaganza. I have some more complex things in line for my sewing table but not sure what order I will sew them.

Here’s the link to that Craftsy post: The Complete Beginners Guide to Sewing a Dress.

Update on classes at Hello Stitch Studio on Berkeley. The Fit Lab was great – we are going to schedule this class again soon. In July we are repeating Saturday classes for sewing Skirts, Tunic Tops, and a new on starting on Wed 7/26 in the evening is a Button-front shirt class. All these classes are two sessions scheduled a week apart so not a long term time commitment and you will get a project done (or nearly) and learn some new and useful techniques. The Dress class is an all-day one on Sun. 7/30. FYI: I’ve found parking to be surprisingly easy around the studio and it is no more than a 10 minute walk from the Berkeley Bart station so really convenient to get to.

This was yesterday afternoon. Survival mode with an iced coffee. thankfully lots cooler today (ha ha only mid 90’s˚F).


Happy weekend sewing,

today’s garden photo, this white daisy just looks so calm and cool, even in this heat!


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Surprise Watercolor Drawings are a fun way to paint! Kids can make their creations, give them to a friend, and watch as their friend uncovers the magic drawing using watercolor paint! We’ve partnered with Imperial Sugar to bring you this fun activity, featuring sugar glue that you can make at home!   Surprise Watercolor Drawings…

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