How to sew a caftan

Written by erika marie
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Kaftans are a versatile garment to wear for either casual or elegant occasions. The loose fit and flow of the kaftan make it comfortable for entertaining at home or as a beach cover-up. Make it ankle length or knee length, out of lightweight fabric like cotton, challis, silk or sheers, depending on your style and the occasion. A kaftan is cut and sewn without a pattern and requires only basic sewing skills to complete.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • To sew a kaftan, you will need the following:
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Double-fold bias tape
  • Embellishments

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  1. 1

    Measure from your shoulder to the floor and multiply this number by two. Divide this number by 36 to find the yardage required.

  2. 2

    Purchase the yardage along with other sewing supplies needed.

  3. 3

    Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, with right sides together. The folded edge will be the shoulder of the finished kaftan.

  4. 4

    Fold the fabric again, this time lining up the selvedge edges. Use a protractor or hand-draw a 1/4 circle, 4 inches wide, at the fold line to create the neckline opening. Cut out the circle.

  5. 5

    Open the previous fold with fabric still folded at the shoulder. Cut a 6- to 8-inch slit down the centre of one side of the neckline opening. This will allow room to pull the kaftan over your head. This opening will be in the front of the kaftan.

  6. 6

    Cut a piece of double-faced bias tape to fit around the neckline and slit.

  7. 7

    Pin the bias tape around the neckline, starting at the center back, going around the neck, down the slit, back up the slit and around to center back. Ease the tape as you turn it around the curves and slit. Stitch the bias tape in place.

  8. 8

    Measure 10 inches down from the shoulder fold along the selvedge edges and mark with a pin. This will be arm openings.

  9. 9

    Stitch from the marking to the bottom edge of the fabric to close the sides.

  10. 10

    Stitch a hem along the bottom of the kaftan.

  11. 11

    Add any trim, gems, buttons or embroidery to the finished kaftan, if desired.

Tips and warnings

  • 45-inch wide fabric will create long sleeves. 36-inch wide fabric will create elbow-length or shorter sleeves.
  • Use a dress pattern, if preferred, to cut the neckline opening.
  • If you want slits on either side of the kaftan, mark them before stitching the sides.
  • Then, stitch the sides from the arm opening up to the top of the slit.
  • If you cut the selvedge edges off the fabric before sewing, stitch a narrow hem along the arm openings and slits.
  • Use caution when using a sewing machine.

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