Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Caftans - Simple comfort

A couple of years ago on a trip I purchased a couple of caftans, loose, flowing, simple and practical garments.  One was of rayon, which I love, and the other of, I think, polyester.  The rayon is black with huge, colorful vines and flowers on it, very striking.  The other is green and black spiky leaf patterns, beautiful to look at, but I won't get a polyester one again, no matter how beautiful.  I don't like the way the fabric feels and it gets static.  The rayon is lovely and flowing, light in weight, breathes well and very comfortable.  Normally I don't buy these types of fabrics, but the simple, comfortable garments and bright colors swayed me.

I've been thinking for a while that I'd like another caftan or so, but in other fabrics.  I understand that simple garments of this sort have been around for a very long time, so I did a little reading about them and decided that I'd try one out of linen, in a much heavier fabric.  I purchased 4 yards of a heavy weight, black, linen, serged the cut edges and washed and dried it several times so the fabric would do any shrinking before I made it up.  When I was ready I took out the serged stitching along one cut edge, pulled loose threads to get a true to grain edge and trimmed off any sticking out warp threads.  Using the measurements taken from the rayon caftan I cut out a rectangle of fabric to make my new caftan.

I took time to think overnight how I wanted to do the neckline, and ended up deciding to do a simple scoop of about an inch in the back, about 3 inches deep in the front, with a slit descending from the center front scoop another 4 inches or so.  This will give me enough room to slip it over my head, but not a wide open neck.  With the fabric folded so the outside corners were together I cut them into a semi-circle, giving a nice rounded corner at the outside bottom edges.

I am making a 1/4 inch folded over hem around the outside, and will do a narrower hem around the neckline.  So far I am doing this all by hand, as I can do the stitching while riding in the car.  Yes, I could do it pretty quickly by machine, but only if I'm at the house with it!  So it will take me much longer, but I don't really care.  I enjoy hand sewing and it is possible to do a very nice, nearly invisible hem by hand.