A 3-Seam Caftan Tutorial.

We still have a lot to tell you about our whirlwind “Lucy and Ethel take on the LA Fashion District” trip (Liz shared part I yesterday) and I will be back with another round of that (including fabric pics) on Thursday….but in the meantime I have one of the easiest dresses on the planet to make—3 seams and NO hemming.  Yes!  Seriously, the perfect for summer.

At the end of our pattern drafting class, both Liz and I got obsessed with caftans.  She made the Endora top using the caftan principle, and I decided to make summer maxi dresses for me and for Hannah.
The best part about a caftan is….it’s basically two rectangles!  So there are only 3 seams to sew if you are using knit (which I completely recommend).  Because most knit doesn’t fray, the arm holes, the neck and the hem are all left unhemmed and they still look super cute!
They also can be made in any length!  I am planning a kelly green knee-length one, and the directions are EXACTLY the same.
Do you want to make one (or 5) for summer?
Here’s what you need.
Supplies:
For mine I used 2 yards of knit.
Elastic Thread (optional–I used this to pull the waist in on Hannah’s; but didn’t on mine.I will always wear it with a belt)
Hannah’s was a scrap so I am not sure how long it was….but I am guessing a yard would do most girls.
In the tutorial I am showing you how I made the little girl’s one, but it is EXACTLY the same for a woman’s.  All you need is a width measurement and a length measurement.
And you are ready to start!
Here’s what you do……

And you are done!
On my maxi dress, I decided to leave it unshirred (that’s not a word, but you get the idea) and just pull it in with a belt….which is an even FASTER dress to make!
So, what you do say, are you going to be wearing a million caftan dresses this summer too?
I totally am.  Comfy and cute….and I think one of the easiest things I have ever sewn.
~Elizabeth
PS –If you make one…I would love to see it.  Will you put it in the flickr group on the right-hand side bar?

89 thoughts on “A 3-Seam Caftan Tutorial.

  1. This is amazing. I think as a beginning sewer I may actually be able to accomplish this. Your tutorial is fantastic. :)

    Jess @ The Delightful Crafter

  2. MADE AND LOOKS like the caftans I wore back in the late 60s and 70s.. like wearing a tent.. very comfy.. hide a multitude of sins. GREAT FOR HOME WARE….. I do hope they will not be worn in stores and on the streets again. I would look like very one was in their pjs.

    NONNIE
    Just call me old fashion, I miss the days ladies wore dress in public.

  3. WOMEN POWER AT WORK!! Great job. If we have women run the government, I do not think we would be in the mess we are today.

    1. AMEN……EVEN WITH ALL THE PROGRESS WE’VE MADE FROM THE KITCHEN TO THE BOARDROOM, THEY (THE GOOD OLE BOYS) STILL BELIEVE WE WE CAN’T HACK IT! SERIOUSLY, WE NEED TO GET A WOMAN IN THERE COME 2016……….

  4. Can you explain the part where you fold it width wise for the neck whole. I guess I am not understanding why you folded it.

  5. E Arts….I fold it in half width-wise for the neck hole for two reasons. First to find the exact center of the caftan and also to make sure the neckhole is even on both sides.

    (If you cut it on the fold, your neckhole will be even on both sides.)

    Hope that helpe!

  6. E Arts….I fold it in half width-wise for the neck hole for two reasons. First to find the exact center of the caftan and also to make sure the neckhole is even on both sides.

    (If you cut it on the fold, your neckhole will be even on both sides.)

    Hope that helpe!

  7. Brenda,

    If your fabric has a print (on the front and not on the back) it has a “right side” and a “wrong side”—when you sew step 4 you want the “right sides” (the side with the print) facing each other. When you sew you will be looking at the “wrong sides.”

    If your knit is a solid….you don’t need to worry about “right sides” or “wrong sides.”

  8. Brenda,

    If your fabric has a print (on the front and not on the back) it has a “right side” and a “wrong side”—when you sew step 4 you want the “right sides” (the side with the print) facing each other. When you sew you will be looking at the “wrong sides.”

    If your knit is a solid….you don’t need to worry about “right sides” or “wrong sides.”

  9. Oh my… Saw this on Facebook yesterday and fell in love with it! I ended up on crutches yesterday as well but I have a wedding to attend tomorrow. I did not think what I had planned to wear tomorrow wouldn’t work with crutches. This is excellent! I used tube knit (I don’t know what else it call it) so it cut out the side seams. I made two in about 11/2 hours.

  10. This is so cute. I do embroidery and I have some lace necklines so I’m going to do one with one of those. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Many Blessings
    Terri

    1. Most knits don’t fray so it’s not needed. You could forward fold over or do facings if you want. Or even edge it on a server or with an edging stitch.

  11. I’m also a beginner sewer and though I’ve made a few dresses I can see this is going to be so simple to make. I also haven’t tried shirring yet so this is going to be my first shirred project!

  12. Wow!! Wow!

    Just became your newest follower, (you have so many!) and you’ve inspired me to get off my duff and start sewing again! Going down to the LA District with my daughter in law next time she’s out!

    Thank you for sharing – I’m really excited to have found your site!

    Blessings,
    Donna

  13. When you pick the knit fabric you want to use for this dress, be sure you pick a DOUBLE knit. Single knit fabric will “curl” across the cuts at the top and bottom of the dress. Don’t be discouraged, however, if you just fall in love with a single knit fabric. You can still make the same dress but you’ll need to do some kind of neckline and hem treatment to tame the “curl”. To keep “stretch” in the neckline, you might consider applying a strip of coordnated swimsuit knit …or you could just cut a strip of self fabric to apply, turn under, top-stitch, and trim close to the topstitching so the “excess” inside is never going to roll or peek out.

  14. Went out today and bought fabric to make two. Was looking for additional colors, like a nice Tomato Red, Burnt Orange or Rust Knit, since I intend to make about 5. Will let you know.

  15. Yea! I bought some sarongs in Mexico and the Caribbean and will use your pattern to make some swimsuit coverups out of them. Thanks so much!!!

  16. Where did you find knit fabric? Its kind of hard to find. At least it has been for me.
    I like the idea of using clothes to make patterns.
    What do you make your patters on?

    by the way, great job.

    Rhyanna

  17. Yanique,

    If you use an interlock (or knit) fabric—you don’t have to sew the neck or arm holes. Knit will roll a bit (mine have rolled to the insides which is perfect!) so you don’t have to.

    I am showing a cotton one soon and will show you how to hem the neck and arms if you want to.

  18. Yanique,

    If you use an interlock (or knit) fabric—you don’t have to sew the neck or arm holes. Knit will roll a bit (mine have rolled to the insides which is perfect!) so you don’t have to.

    I am showing a cotton one soon and will show you how to hem the neck and arms if you want to.

  19. I am a TOTAL newbie at sewing but even I THINK that I just might be able to do this. I do, however, have a question. I don’t totally understand what you mean when, in your instructions, you write, “Now cut two rectangles to these two measurements.” Could you please clarify that for me? I understand which measurements you’re referring to but I don’t quite follow the cutting the rectangle part. Thanks! Michele
    (PS- I’m also kinda new at posting and/or receiving comments,too. So could you possibly reply to my question via my email? It’s [email protected]. Thanks again!)

  20. Thanks for this tutorial! I love it, it will be great for me as I am pregnant and it can allow for my belly!

    I assume the shirring is done right around and not just at the front??

    And would it still work the same if I used one long rectangle, folded it and cut the neck hole, instead of sewing two rectangles together and cutting the neck hole…or would it sit funny??

    Thanks again!

  21. This looks like a neat project. Do you mind if I pin it up on Pinterest? I’m keeping track of the projects I want to tackle that way, and hey, it means others will come and see it too :).

  22. I am a true beginner. I haven’t made anything yet but this seems like its simple enough to be my first. I have been watching several tutorials and considering classes but in Atlanta the classes are very expensive. Hoping for a little luck with this ..thanks for detailed instructions.

  23. Amazing tutorial! So easy to follow! Saw this, this morning, went to the store and found knits on sale 50% off! Bought 3 different colors, came home, had a completed caftan in under an hour! I got my 3 year old’s approval with a simple, “it’s pretty!” Quick, easy, beautiful! Thanks!

  24. Just finished making my second one. Can’t wait to wear it for date night tonight. It’s actually my first time wearing a belt too.

  25. just stumbled upon your blog and am so excited!!! such cute ideas and they don’t seem to hard so I’m not intimidated. Thanks!!! xoxox

  26. Going to be planning and sewing my next summer wardrobe this winter and definitely going to make a few of these only shorter for every day wear around the house. Love dresses in the summer, so much cooler. Thank you for the tutorial. Take care.

  27. Instead of cutting and sewing it at the top, over the shoulders, could you just leave it folded in half, and cut out the neck hole –therefore having no shoulder seams?

    1. This only works on solid fabric. If you have a contrasting weave or print it will be upside down on the back. The two rectangles are so the fabric is right-side up on both front and back. If you want to match the print you also need to get extra so you can cut the second rectangle near the pattern repeat.

  28. What if I wanted to make it long sleeved? Any idea on how I would go about that? And also how about fitted sleeves? Thank you. Been wanting a caftan but to purchase and pay shipping it winds up being at least $75!!

  29. I just bought a sewing machine, and haven’t even turned it on. But this is definitely going to be my first project. Thank you for the great tutorial.

  30. This is GREAT! I’m 6 feet tall and a dress like this from a specialist shop would cost me between 60 and a 100 quid. The fabric’s going to cost me £5.50 and the design suits my ‘straight lines only’ comedy sewing skills. Fabulous! Thank you!

  31. I’ve been looking all over for a pattern that would work with a costume I’m making for Halloween. Although the sleeves aren’t quite long enough, it’ll be perfect for my costume and who cares about sleeve length anyway? It’s still 60 in October here and I know I’ll definitely be comfortable wearing this around school. Thank you so much!

  32. Wow! Just found this tutorial. These are what I need to wear around the house instead of the very comfy, but VERY thin fabric, more than I wanted to pay, lounge dresses I got a couple of months ago.

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