Stitch Sisters Kaftan | a free patternless pattern

When you hear the word 'caftan' (or kaftan), what vision comes to mine?  A loose, formless fitting sort of dress snugged in at the waist with a belt?  Lots of voluminous fabric floating about?  That was my first thought, until I saw the new patternless pattern by Stitch Sisters and was pleasantly surprised at the nice 'fit' achieved simply by sewing a bunch of rectangles together.  No muu-muu look here!
This pattern was brought to my attention when 3 of my Instagram friends sent out an invitation to join in on their 'sewingsansfrontieres' challenge to be completed 9.4.2018.  Sewing without borders is the loose translation and I loved everything about the thought behind this challenge immediately.  Suzy sews in Spain, Helene sews in Canada and Sue sews in Australia..... around the globe holding hands in friendship..... that's what the sewing community is all about, isn't it?!  So definitely I was in.  So then..... what was this Stitch Sisters Kaftan patternless pattern......?
When you go to their patternless pattern link you will see a couple of charts...... a sizing chart and a fabric measurement chart.  No pattern.  All rectangles.  Completely out of my comfort zone!!!!!  I do not like cutting rectangles out of fabric like this.  Nope, not at all.  You even follow their instructions for cutting out your neckline... no template.  Noooooooooo!!!!!  Too easy for something to be out of whack resulting in a less than par garment.  I began to question this whole project, but ever up for a challenge and a learning experience.... onward I plunged. 
Wanting this to be a quick project, so I could continue sewing the ever-growing-sewing-queue, a few fabrics from the stash were auditioned with this animal print rayon challis chosen.  Purchased from the last trip to my only-open-once-a-month textile outlet center All About Fabrics, it cost all of maybe $5.00.  And it was a huge pain to cut out rectangles as it slipped all over the place.  Using my rotary cutter and straight edge accompanying ruler helped.
This print is different than what I usually choose to wear, and with the softness and floatiness of the challis thought it'd make a great caftan to sashay about in.  Though in reality there is not a lot of sashaying ability in this pattern as it is quite close to the body for a more flattering fit....and that is exactly what I like best about it!
Knowing I'm not too keen on other garments I've made in the past that have a voluminous amount of gathered fabric, I paid close attention to the sizing chart and the fabric widths, so I made the smallest size on their chart.  Perfect for me.  Great 'fit'. 
Raised the neckline 1".  Perfect.
Their blog post shows step-by-step instructions throughout the process.  They have you use bias binding to finish off the neckline installed in a little different way than I've done before.  It's applied and top-stitched all before you stitch the middle seam...... and at this point my attitude wasn't the greatest, so I simply pinned that middle seam at the neckline the best I could and stitched.  And be still my heart, the top-stitching lined up pretty near perfect!
Dealing with severe fabric limitations.... I'd only purchased a little over a yard of this print, I modified my caftan to only 40 5/8" long front and back pieces using the short sleeve measurements they provided.  Didn't like where the sleeves were hitting my arms, so lengthened them by adding a 2 1/2" black knit folded in half (that added 1 1/4" length and finished the edges off at the same time) that lengthened the sleeves fine and added a cool black accent that I really like.
At this point I was completely out of the animal print fabric and used the same black knit, cut 2" against the grain (so maybe 2" x 55"?), selvedges cut off, then stretched and stretched until it sort of coils in on itself.  Cut that in the middle, knowing I would still have some stretch when tying even though it did not add up to the measurements suggested..... knotted the ends and have ties I really like.
They provide 5/8" seam allowances in all the measurements, so after I'd sewn the side seams, went back in, unpicked and re-stitched from about 2" below the ties the 5/8" seam grading out to 1/4" seam allowance from above the hips on down.  Not a big difference, but enough.
With the 40 5/8" length, I sewed a 2" blind-stitched hem on my machine.  Not sure I'm thrilled with this length..... it's a little long feeling on me..... but wanted it more on the longer, lounging-ish side of dress.
Originally planned this to only be an about the house, comfy dress.... but am so pleased with the results it may be worn out and about sometimes too.  Not sure if this is advertised as a 1-hour make..... but I would plan on it taking more around an afternoon or so.  This was a busy week for me, so after the bulk of the work was done one afternoon, the rest was completed in snippets of time.  It was fun to see it all come together this way!  This was a good project and I am very pleased. 
I noticed while wearing the dress this day, as well as in some of the photos above, that it looks like the front is shorter than the back.... it is not.  I've measured and re-measured and all is equal and correct.  I think the dress is pulling back at the neckline, pulling the neckline and front of the dress up a bit.  Doesn't bother me at all.  Just thought I'd mention it in case it was noticed in the photos here.  Now where's that sewing queue?!!

Happy Sewing All!  :)


  1. This looks so good on you Lisa! I kind of feel bad for not joining in with this challenge, but I really have enough of this kind of summery wear in my wardrobe and I'm trying to be more thoughtful in my makes.
    Autumn clothes are on my radar now. I've seen so many lovely kaftans around and your ranks in the top few as far as I'm concerned. I love the fabric and black edging xx

    1. I hold your opinion in high regard and very much appreciate your kind compliment. Thank you! xx

  2. I usually dislike animal print fabrics. Why I don't know, but I've always felt that way. Up until this garment of yours. Couldn't be more attractive! (Could it be the model? No, I'm not buttering you up for anything!) I, too, like the black edging. I would never have imagined a "kaftan" could look as stylish as this dress does.

    1. To be perfectly honest.... me neither!! Thank you so very much Mama Pea for your oh-so-kind compliment!! :)

  3. This looks lovely Lisa. Not Kaftan like at all. I think you will enjoy wearing this - although I have to admit to a chuckle at the idea of you not liking cutting fabric into rectangles - why? Because you were a quilter. The irony is delicious! I hope you don't feel offended!

    1. Oh my goodness Sarah Liz..... how I laughed out loud at your keen observation! Such irony!!!! Not offended at all and think it is absolutely hilarious! Somehow rectangles for garments are different than rectangles for quilts?! Okay... I'm ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing) now!! Thank you so much!! :)


Thank you for taking the time to leave a note.~Lisa