When it's so hot that all you want to be is naked, a floaty kaftan is the next best thing.
Crazy easy to make, but with just enough technique to keep you from getting bored while you sew, our cover-up will leave you looking as fabulous as any one of these iconic kaftan wearers.
What you need:
- Fabric - we used a vintage silk sari - you'll need a length of fabric that is double the length you want it to be from shoulder to hem (approx 280cm and ideally a narrower width of about 115cm)
- Bias binding - either homemade or shop bought
- A length of twisted cord for the waist tie (optional; you could also use a length of binding made from the same fabric as your kaftan)
- Your sewing machine and usual dressmaking tools and supplies
Take your length of fabric and hem the two raw widths. No need to hem the selvedges!
Fold the length of fabric in half widthways, and cut a shallow semi circle from the middle, about 10" wide. This will be the neckline.
Finish the raw neckline with bias binding. For help with this, see our Polly Top video tutorial, and skip to 5:36. Alternatively, if you prefer the binding hidden on the inside (like we did for this kaftan), use the method outlined here.
With wrong sides facing, and using the diagram as a guide, stitch the side seams, leaving about 15" open at the bottom for side seam splits.
Start your side seams about 10" down from the shoulder, and approximately 20-30" apart from each other, dependent on your bust measurement. You'll want to allow about 6" - 10" of ease onto your bust measurement. My side seams were 21" apart, giving me a total finished bust measurement of 42"; my bust is 34".
This construction creates a kimono sleeve that continues down the side seam like wings.
The last thing we need to do, and the fiddliest part of this project, is create the casing for the waist tie.
Start by marking out where you want the kaftan to cinch on your body. This will be your waistline. I opted for a slightly empire line, 12" down from the shoulder / neckline. Sew two little buttonholes at the centre front along this line - this is where the waist tie will pop out to the front - kinda hard to see from the image below the diagram, but they're there if you look for them!
Prep the casing by cutting a long strip of fabric 1 1/2" wide and long enough to encircle the waistline of the kaftan, with a little extra to overlap. Fold and press the raw edges in by 1/4".
With your kaftan inside out, pin the casing into place along your desired waistline.
Where the two ends overlap, fold the short raw edge in for a neat finish. Top stitch the casing into place along both folded edges. You will have to stop your stitching when you get to the side seams and restart on the other side so as not to trap the "wings".
Open up the buttonholes and use a safety pin to feed your waist tie through and out the other buttonhole.