After reading Coco’s sewing blog, I was inspired by her beautiful caftan from McCalls 7597 and decided to give it a try. Admittedly, I was rather naive in thinking that it would be an easy project. Perhaps if I had chosen a solid fabric, it would have been, but I didn’t; so I had to struggle and learn.
I wanted a sleeveless dress that I could wear alone, under a knitted sweater or under a lined leather jacket. I opted for view D, but without a contrast bib and shortened to fit my 5’4″ frame. What I didn’t realize, until I had already chosen my fabric and started to lay the pattern pieces out to cut (size 6), is that matching design lines takes careful consideration and lots of thoughtful time. Obviously, had the front bodice been one piece, it would not have required any matching, but as any experienced sewer can see, and which I failed to consider before selecting the fabric, the front requires several different pieces. In my excitement to make the dress, I failed to consider this. Doh!
As a result, I had to spend extra time lining up each of the pattern pieces so that I did not adversely affect the lines of the fabric, especially on the front bodice. After cutting out the front, I placed it over the remaining fabric to see which orientation and section of print looked best for the front bib portion. I ended up taking photos of each of the options and then chose the one I liked best.
Thankfully I took the time to make a muslin and realized that I needed to make some changes to the pattern for it to fit me.
- Decreased 4 cm from back yoke width
- Pleats under the bib instead of gathers
- Added hidden pockets, drafted from Charlie Caftan pattern
- Used French seams
- Handstitched store-bought bias tape for armholes and hem
I really enjoy wearing this dress. During the warmer months in Paris, I wore it with sandals or oxfords, depending on what I was planning to do during the day. As the days grew colder, I covered up with a hand-knitted sweater or leather jacket. I like the loose, comfortable fit of the dress and the useful pockets I added where I can stash my iphone or keys.
In hindsight, I am glad that I chose this fabric for the dress. Although I had originally thought that I had made a mistake in my fabric selection, I now realize that because of my fabric choice, I learned and improved my sewing skills more than I would have with a ‘safer’ fabric. I would definitely make another dress using this pattern-maybe one with a tie in back and gathers in the front, but for that, I would want a thinner and more drapey fabric than what I used for this one. I used a cotton blend for this dress and it was the perfect fabric for this style.