A wearable Charlie Caftan toile.

It is such a scary and crazy time at the moment that has thrown everyone’s reality into turmoil. In difficult times I think it is really important to look for the positives and look forward to getting to the other side of the situation. Social media and the internet is a double edged sword. It feels like our only contact with the outside world, yet our feeds are filled with devastating stories of people and our planet that can’t help but make us feel low.

It has bought me some happiness to see positive stories and see what people are making in among the sad news. So today I am publishing this post about my first Charlie Caftan that I made for my big birthday last year. My husband treated me to a family holiday in Greece. This was my first trip abroad since becoming a mum and my first time to Greece. I was very badly prepared for sunny climates. It was a great opportunity to make some new holiday clothing.

I am a big fan of Closet case patterns, I have helped several customers make various styles in my sewing classes. They are always very well designed, well cut and the instructions are good and clear.

I hadn’t helped anyone make the Charlie Caftan in class but I really liked the style. I decided it could work well as a swimwear cover up. It could also work well as a floaty dress that I could wear in the evening for dinner.

With the fit being relaxed and relying on the tie belt at the back for bringing the waist in I didn’t feel it was necessary to make a calico toile. I decided to go for a wearable toile as I was fairly confident that it would be wearable!

Measuring up

The way I always decide on size especially for an easy fitting garment is by first looking at the body measurements to see where I fall. Then I look at the garment measurement (or if the pattern doesn’t include these, measuring the actual pattern). I place a tape measure around myself to see how much ease it has. For this style the main measurement I was concerned with was the bust measurement. My bust measurement is 39″ so falls between the 12 and 14. Looking at the actual garment measurements and knowing I have quite a narrow back I decided to make up the 12 .

Making up

I made view C the maxi version in Lady McElroy cotton lawn, I love the front panel detail. The gathers are actually attached to this panel which requires some accuracy but is well worth the effort.

I hadn’t considered the geometric pattern on the fabric very well. I did my best to pattern match and keep the design inline at the side seams. However the upper part of the bodice is seamed, as this is also grown on to the lower part of the front there is a limit to how much you can match the pattern to the panel. I kept it symmetrical but the seam down the upper bodice distorts the pattern and therefore can’t match exactly to the panel.

The narrow ties are attached into the side of the front panel making a very neat finish.

I like to use a loop turner for turning through narrow tie belts like this. It means you can actually machine stitch across the narrow end and still turn through. I have a youtube tutorial about this method.

The neckline is quite tricky to manage, I think because it is a V shape it is essentially on the bias so despite being made in crisp cotton it is prone to distorting. It took extra care to keep this neat.

It is always lovely to have pockets. This dress has fabulous deep side inseam pockets.

I played around with the length a bit and settled on this ankle length.  This version I planned to wear over swimwear on the walk down to the beach!

The finished version worked out really well. All in all I might only have considered a different print because of the way the centre front fits together but other than that I didn’t want to change anything. I made another for the same holiday, which I will share soon.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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