Sewing without a pattern -
A Woman's Caftan
The caftan is a long, loose, shirtlike garment with long, wide sleeves, often fashioned of striped cotton or silk. It is derived from garments common throughout the eastern Mediterranean and North African countries and, coincidentally, resembles the Japanese kimono in its basic outline. The word caftan was used originally to describe a type of luxurious coat worn by men in the eleventh century. features of the Moroccan man's djellaba, a full, long-sleeved woolen cloak with a hood, also enter into the styling of westernized caftans.
The caftan shown here is essentially the same shape as the kimono coat in the last project, but its greater length and softer fabric give it a different look. Instead of being a coat style, sashed at the waist, it is designed to be slipped over the head. The neckline, high and round, has a deeply cut center opening in front. Bias binding is used for ornamental trimming.
This ankle-length caftan was made for a woman 5 feet, 6 inches tall who wears a dress size 8. Her measurements: neckline = 14 1/2 inches; length of arms = 22 inches; desired length finished = 54 inches.
Body Measurement Guide
Neck- Measure around the top of the collar bone, past the point where the neck joins the shoulder, and around the most prominent vertebra at the back of the neck. The width of the neckline across the front is half of this total.
Sleeve Length: Measure the length of the arm from the neckline atop the shoulder to the place where you want the sleeve to end.
Bust: Measure under the arms around the fullest part of the bust and across the shoulder blades i back, then add 2 inches for ease.
Waist: Measure from the base of the neck to a point just above the bottom curve of the spine; then measure horizontally around the torso. Hold the tape measure loosely so the finished garment will fit comfortably around the waist.
Making this caftan requires 4 yards of material, 45 inches wide, and at least 3 yards of 1/2 inch wide, double-fold bias binding, available wherever sewing supplies are sold. If you choose a printed fabric, allow enough extra yardage to match the repeat of the pattern. Match the print while folding the fabric to assure a continuous flow of the design across the front and back seams. save the extra fabric for cutting out the facing of the neckline.
The sleeves and body of the caftan are similar in shape to those of the kimono. The neckline, however, is rounded. The extra inches gained by eliminating the front overlap make it possible to lay out front and back sections along the selvages of 45 inch wide material.
To draw the caftan neckline curve smoothly, draw a diagonal line connecting the neckline marks from illustration H, at left. Draw another diagonal crossing the midpoint of the first, as shown above, and mark a point 3/8 inch below the intersection to locate the center of the curve. Join this point to the upper right and lower left marks with a curved line.
The procedures for folding and pinning the fabric, making the diagram for the caftan, and using the neckline as a pattern for the facing are similar to those described for the kimono. To locate and measure the neckline for the front (the upper left-hand corner in figure H, above), measure a distance of 4 inches across the top and 2 inches down along the left selvage. Connect the two points with a diagonal line (figure I ). Then draw a continuous curve freehand, close to the diagonal line. To ensure a smooth curve you can draw a rectangle as shown; then draw a second diagonal line in the opposite direction. using the point where the diagonals intersect, measure 3/8 inch down along the first diagonal line (this will be the deepest point of the curve). Draw a curve connecting this point with the upper right corner and the lower left corner. Cut out the neckline, allowing 8 inches for the center front opening.
To make the back neckline, start in the lower right-hand corner, and follow the directions for the front neckline. Although the distance from the neckline over the shoulder to the tip of the sleeve is 22 inches, the same as for the kimono, this garment when finished seems to have longer sleeves because the woman's arms are shorter than the man's.
The cut of the garment under the armpit controls the width of the garment and its comfort. As the right angle moves up and closer to the body, the width of the sleeves and the width of the sides diminish. Conversely, as it moves down and away from the body, the widths of the two increase. If the caftan sleeves are cut too skimpily, the sides of the garment will pull up whenever the arms are raised and extended horizontally. There should be no problem with a sleeve that measures at least 14 inches in depth along a line perpendicular to the shoulder line. This line corresponds to the distance between the neck point and a point about 2 or 3 inches below the bottom of the bust in average women's sizes. It is easy to make the garment smaller without narrowing the sleeves by bringing the side seams closer to the body. If you have any doubts about the measurements you want, work out the proportions on graph paper before marking the fabric.
To make a caftan that has the pattern matched at the seams, match the pattern of the printed fabric (it will be repeated at regular intervals) when you fold the fabric before cutting it.
Use commercial bias binding to enclose the raw edges of the caftan and its neckline facing. With wrong sides together and the bias binding face down on top, stitch 1/4 inch from the edge.
After sewing the first side of the bias binding, fold the binding over the raw edges of fabric, turn the binding edge under and stitch along the fold.
Lay the back sections of the caftan right sides together, and stitch the center back seam; then sew the front seam in the same manner, leaving not only the neckline opening unstitched but also a few inches extra below it. Then, after you have bound the front of the neckline, you will be able to catch the raw edges of the binding in the center front seam and avoid having to square off this binding at the point where it finishes off the neckline. Join the front of the caftan to the back, right sides together, at the shoulder seams; then pin and sew the under-sleeve seams and the side seams, using the same two steps described for the kimono on the previous page. Join front and back facings at the shoulder seams, and finish the outside raw edge by double folding and machine stitching.
Double-fold bias binding comes ready made with one fold slightly wider than the other. The wider portion goes on the inside of the garment. Baste the facing in place along the raw edge of the neckline, wrong sides facing. Sew around the front closing first. Then when you finish sewing the front seam up to the neckline, you can catch the raw ends of the front binding underneath. Turn the caftan right side out, fold the binding over the raw edges of the neckline, and topstitch the binding close to the edge to completely encase the raw seams. To keep the front opening closed, add ties.
To make these 15 inch long streamers from the binding material, keep the binding folded, and stitch along the open edge. Attach at the top front of the neckline. Bind the sleeves and finish the garment by turning up the hem. Notice that the caftan can be worn backwards, because there are no bust darts to interfere with the flow of the fabric.
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