How to Sew a Kaftan

Updated March 23, 2017

A loose garment that resembles a long robe, the kaftan -- also spelt kaftan -- is a signature fashion piece in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. It is traditionally made from silk or cotton, adorned with multicoloured patterns and usually worn with a coordinating sash or belt. The kaftan became popular in the West during the 1970s and variants of the garment have been seen on fashion pages in recent years. Women can wear a kaftan as a swimsuit cover-up, as a night-out dress when paired with heels, or as a casual dress worn with leggings and sandals. To add one to your wardrobe, try sewing your own by following easy directions.

Measure yourself. Place the tape measure at the nape of your neck and extend it down towards your feet until you reach the desired length. Measure your arm length from the top of your shoulder, starting at your neckline, to where you want the sleeve to end. For accuracy, its better to have someone assist you with holding and reading the tape measure. Multiply the measurement by two to get the exact amount of 45-inch wide fabric you must purchase.

Choose your fabric. Most craft shops and sewing speciality stores sell a variety of material. Choose silk or satin for a dressier looking kaftan, or, for a casual design, purchase cotton material.

Cut the fabric in half to create two equally sized pieces of material. The width of both pieces should be equal to 35 inches after you make the cut.

Cut out two rectangles from the leftover fabric, each measuring 6-by-12 inches. Fold each triangle in half across its length until wrong sides are touching. Press the fold of each triangle to create a crease on both. You will use these pieces later on the neckline of the kaftan.

Choose one half of the cut fabric to serve as the front of the kaftan. Lay it right-side-up on a flat, roomy surface, such as a tabletop.

Stick a straight pin in the top edge of the fabric, in the centre. Starting at the pin, measure 8 inches down the fabric and stick in another pin to mark this length.

Stick a pin 6 inches on both sides of the centre pin you previously placed on the top centre edge of the fabric. Directly on one side of the bottom pin, place a pin 2 inches away and repeat on the opposite side so that three pins are lined up at the bottom. All the pins should form the outline of the neck opening.

Starting with the top pin furthest to your left, began cutting the fabric toward the left bottom pin. Continue cutting in the line of the bottom pins until you reach the last one. Cut upwards toward the top pin furthest to your right. The neck opening should look like an upside-down rectangle, except the bottom will be flat and square instead of pointed.

Pin the two rectangles you cut out previously to the neck opening with their raw edges aligned. Hand stich or sew the rectangles onto the neckline using a 1/4-inch seam. Flip the rectangles inward to the centre until the bottom edges overlap. Gather the leftover fabric from the bottom of the neck opening and attach it to the overlapped rectangle edges with a pin. Stitch the pieces together and cut away excess material left on the rectangles.

Pin the top of the material reserved for the back of the kaftan directly onto the front piece by placing straight pins in inch intervals on each side. Sew or hand stitch the two pieces together.

Sew or hand stitch the sides, allowing room for a 10-inch opening to accommodate the arms. Hem the bottom, armhole openings and back neck opening.

Add embellishments. Some possible additions include sequins, rhinestones or a belt. Or, leave it as is for a simple, casual design.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Sewing machine
  • Straight pins
  • Fabric
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About the Author

Katina Blue has a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for more than 10 years. Her articles are featured on several websites including Money Maiden. She currently writes daily blog posts on