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Saturday, May 4, 2013

MeMadeMay 2013 - Kaftan tutorial

It's MeMadeMay, which means that every day day in May, crafty people everywhere are committing to wearing something we've made every day in May.

I wore a kaftan that I made today - and have posted a quick tutorial as to how I made them.  Let me point out that I'm not the world's most precise seamstress. 

I don't like to follow patterns, and I really am pretty unconcerned about the finished product being perfect.

I do like to have fun while I sew, and I like for my projects to be fairly quick and painless.

One of my favorite things to make right now are Kaftans.  I make them in dress and shirt length.  I thought I'd share my method with you - in case you'd like to try one for Me Made May.

Make Me Sisters kaftan Tutorial:

  • Fabric: About 1 and 1/2 yards of fabric, about 40 inches wide, depending on how oversized you would like your kaftan to be. I've been using stretch knits in cotton, rayon, bamboo, and blends.  I think this would work well with voile, linen, and other lightweight, flowy fabrics.
  • Thread: matching or contrasting
  • Etc.: Straight pins, scissors
To start, gather up your materials and find a helper.  Mine is Olive, age 3.

Lay the fabric out, folded selvage-to-selvage.

Fold the fabric to the length you want the kaftan to be.  I made mine dress-length.  I held the fabric up to me, and just cut it so that it'd fall a little bit above the knee.

Cut along the fold line.

Remove the selvedge.

Also cut along the fold that is opposite the selvage.

Cut a neckline.
It's easy to get too low a neckline, so cut it so that it's higher than you think you'd like it to be. You can cut through wither just the front layer for a scoop or V neck, but sometimes I also like to cut through the back layer.  This makes a shaped neckline at both front and back - it's fun to play with different looks!

Lay the kaftan out flat.

Cut a piece of fabric for the neckline trim.  This can be anywhere from about 1 inch (2.5cm) to as wide as you like.  On this dress, I used a thinner piece, maybe aout 2 inches (5 cm.)

I recently found Cal Patch's great tutorial for Tshirt necklines on Craft Stylish.  If you'd like to make a really nice-looking neckline, read that!

Here's what I did, which is based on Cal's tutorial.

I stretched my neckline binding while holding it up to the neckline of the top.  I cut it when I had laid out enough binding to go around while stretching.

You can see that it's quite a bit shorter than would be needed to go around unstretched.  This is what makes the neckline kind of suck in and hold the whole thing together - and keep the neckline from stretching out like the knit fabric wants to do.

Sew the shoulder seams. Starting at the hemline, sew the side seams, leaving space for an armhole.

Then, I turned the kaftan right side out, sewed the neckline into a loop, folded it in half lengthwise (check out Cal's neckline tutorial!) and stitched the neckband to the top edge.  I just use a normal zig-zag stitch for this.

After adding the neckline trim, it's ready to wear! You'll probably have a few strings to clip, but I just leave the hem and armhole edges raw.  The knit doesn't unravel, and it just rolls up so that you don't even see the raw edges.

I've made a whole pile of these.  Here's a shirt-length kaftan out of the same fabric: