This was *supposed* to be my project for our gulf coast trip. Something nice and simple that I could easily make in the weeknights leading up to our departure with no stress and no last-minute-itis. It got done in plenty of time and I would have had a nice leisurely night of packing were it not for that darn muffin top compelling me to make a new swimsuit.
Many years ago I made a beach cover up that I really like. It's just a square of poly chiffon with a long, diagonal slit cut out of it. It can be worn as a poncho, but I generally wear it as one shoulder; because the slit is on the diagonal the points of the square hang interestingly asymmetrically. However, it doesn't really cover the booty, and for a family trip I figured I should go for a little more coverage.
I don't buy poly chiffons. Chiffon is such a bear to sew that if I'm going to work with chiffon it damn well better be silk. I didn't think I had any left in stash, having purged it all over the years, but then I found this piece. I loved the colors and print so much I couldn't bear to get rid of it. I made Simplicity 2594 out of a it a couple years ago (and bias poly chiffon? fuggeddaboutit. The grain is all kinds of messed up on that blouse.)
I didn't have enough length to make another square, as planned. I could only make a rectangle. So I decided to go caftan. Thank goodness this otherwise difficult fabric tore. I just tore me some straight edges and went to town.
Although it drives me crazy that Burda always publishes a "pattern" for a rectangle, in making this I realized that there is some design involved, albeit extremely rudimentary, and that there are decisions to be made.
The dimensions I ended up with:
-36 inches across the shoulder (apparently I had exactly one yard of full length fabric left)
-Total finished length: 29.5 inches from the shoulder fold to the hem
-Side seam: 9 inches down from the shoulder fold, 7 inches in from the side, and 7 inches long (it ends a little above high hip so there would be no issue of decreased mobility)
My fabric was 60 wide, which I folded in half, the fold forming the shoulder line. I finished the side edges using the serger rolled hem. The hem is the selvage edge. Once the side edges were finished, I folded the selvage under twice and stitched it down. The edge finishes were very quick and easy.
If anything about a rectangle can be said to be tricky, the neckline was the only difficult part. I have a small head, so others might need a slightly larger opening. I folded the fabric into quarters to find the very center, then cut a slit 11.5 inches long. I created a little extra room for the head and a slightly more graceful shape by slightly rounding the neckline, as shown in the photo at right.
I finished the neckline with a serger rolled hem, but I wanted to make sure the corner wouldn't fall apart under the needle, so I dabbed Fray Check in each corner and let it dry before taking it to the serger. I started in the center of one edge of the slit; when I got to the corner I pulled it so the fabric was as straight as possible and continued the serging line.
The result is a nice clean finish. I just cannot stop being in love with a serger rolled hem. So far, the corner has held nicely through many puttings on and takings off.
My innovation was to add a button and rouleau loop that can be used to create different looks for the caftan, taming the flowiness of the fabric and creating a narrower silhouette.
The button and button tab are placed 16 inches down from the shoulder fold, or 13.5 up from the hem on the same plane/layer of the caftan (which can be either the front or the back). I used a shank button and stitched around the serger rolled hem, which is sturdy enough to support the button's weight.
While the rectangle in and of itself isn't entirely glamorous, I was quite pleasantly surprised by how much I kind of love this caftan. It can be worn five(!) different ways, as shown in the thumbnail at the top:
1. Free Flowing
3. Buttoned in front
4. Buttoned in back
5. Inside out
I can't decide which way I like it best. Maybe buttoned in back? Though it creates a little bit of a weird dual-length apron look in the back with a much shorter hemline at center back. I like the tamed volume in the front though.
While I was at the Gulf (in Fairhope, Alabama, for the curious), I wore it belted, which is always a safe bet. I felt quite Ibiza, minus the strobe lights.
I actually like the caftan so much I'm almost considering making one out of opaque fabric to wear as real clothes for the Fall. I think it would look cute with my jeggings...
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.