the not so caftantastic birthday dress

If you sew and you are on Instagram, then you surely know that the latest "it" pattern was the Charlie Caftan by Closet Case Patterns. If you don't, well, everyone was sewing it up and posting fabulous pictures and that is why I chose it. I mean, how fun and breezy does that look?

Despite never loving bohemian styles on myself, I jumped on the bandwagon because it was hot out and other people were looking so elegant and I wanted to join the Caftan Cult. I decided my birthday was a good excuse to ignore my sewing queue and just do something fun. (I stand by that decision.) Pintuck & Purl had the most beautiful Nani Iro double gauze and I splurged on it, because birthday!

Mr. Murray the Cat loves Nani Iro as much as I do.

Mr. Murray the Cat loves Nani Iro as much as I do.

A fabric this special demands a muslin, although I skipped adding the waist ties because that seemed like an unnecessary pain. But that was the real mistake. Untied, it was loose and baggy - it is a caftan after all - but I thought it would be more flattering once I tied it. I thought wrong.

A piece of clothing has not made me look this dowdy in a very long time.

charlie from the front

My waist looks wider, my hips look wider. You can't really tell from the pictures, but the neckline gapes out away from my body. This is not a sewing mistake. I stay-stitched everything, there was no stretching. It just kind of hangs out there since there is no bust fitting. (Maybe it would be better in a drapey rayon?)

It IS a caftan. I'm not really sure what I expected - something flattering? More fitted? Mostly, I just wanted to feel cute, and this does not make me feel cute. I got several compliments on it when I first wore it out, but I think that is the fabric making it look better than it is. Because the pictures below tell me that I am not imagining things.

My pose in the first picture hides several of the issues. And everything looks better from a distance. Here is how the fit generally looks. And you can't even see the copious shoulder wrinkles.

Feeling guilty for subjecting this beautiful fabric to such a fate.

Feeling guilty for subjecting this beautiful fabric to such a fate.

charlie caftan back

It's like a potato sack with a string around it. I'm not sure where I went wrong, or why so many people are having such better outcomes. Maybe because they were expecting a beach cover up and got a beach coverup, but I was hoping for an elegant dress? Clearly, this was not the pattern for me.

I adore Closet Case Patterns, and I'll continue to buy most of the things that Heather Lou puts out, but I need to stick with the styles that are more me (like the Kalle shirt dress which I LOVE and need to blog about) and veer away from the ones that are not.

I really like the parts of this picture that don't involve the dress.

I really like the parts of this picture that don't involve the dress.

This dress has enough fabric that I should be able to cut a tank top out of it. It's going to be back on the chopping block a.k.a. sewing table soon. I love this Nani Iro way much to let it go unworn.

In conclusion, I have to remind myself once again to stay within the parameters of the styles I know that I will wear and love and "to thine own self be true."

hamlet didn't say that clueless

But let's be realistic, I will still experiment and veer away from that occasionally because what is life without a few risks?

collins top pattern review - in the folds

In the past few years, I've realized that I like to wear more neutral easy fitting clothes but I tend to buy crazy fun fabric prints and dressy patterns. Thankfully the online indie sewing community has begun to gravitate away from vintage and more towards practical sewing. When I started (maybe seven years ago?) it was all Colette and Gertie and but a girl doesn't need very many cotton party dresses and I ended up with a closet full of clothes suited for a life I don't actually lead.

I do love a good interesting pattern, especially one that is different from anything ready-to-wear. An interesting basic may be a bit of a contradiction but in my quest to make some sleeveless summer shirts I came across the Collins Top by In the Folds and I was smitten. It's both simple and has interesting construction details. It makes me think of Jil Sander.

No bust darts either! I don't know why I hate the look of bust darts so much.

No bust darts either! I don't know why I hate the look of bust darts so much.

I bought the PDF and decided to use a raw linen that has been in my stash forever. Linen combined with this swingy loose pattern seemed the perfect combination for dealing with the hottest of summer days, and I'm really happy with how it looks. I feel like some cool minimalist Scandanavian.

collins top back

As far as the pattern goes, I have to say this was the most detailed pattern I have ever bought.

Things I really liked about it:

1) You can print your size without any other sizes. If you open it with Adobe Reader you can turn off all of the different 'layers' for others sizes and print the one you want. If you're between sizes you can print two or three of them - just select the layers you want to appear.

2) You can print the view you want. The different pieces for View A and View B are laid out on the PDF so you don't print the pieces you won't be using.

3) Seam lines appear on the pattern.

4) Instructions for View A and View B are separated out so you can just follow one of them without thinking twice about if the steps are relevant for your view.

I can imagine that the first three things I've mentioned are a ton of work for pattern designers and I wouldn't expect them all to take the time to do it, but I never realized how much time I spend trying to figure out at which point I am in the construction of a particular view. Since it's a PDF and there is no need to save paper, duplicating instructions in different places doesn't make much difference to the designer, but it makes it easier for the sewist. I hope to see this again in other patterns I buy.

Things that confused me

1) The seam lines vary all over the place - 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4 inch. I understand having a smaller seam line on the collar but the difference between 5/8 and 3/4 is minimal and it would have been easier to just have a standard seam allowance everywhere except for the collar. It did get me to pay very close attention to the pattern though. So maybe that is a win.

2) There are notches where the seam allowance is (for instance, at the 5/8 mark where they meet up). Maybe to remind you how wide it is? I cut notches without paying attention and then there was very little room to back stitch. I eventually quit cutting notches because I don't find them helpful unless I'm sewing together curved pieces that are hard to match up, i.e. a princess seam, and all of these pieces match up perfectly.

Anyhow, these are small things. I highly recommend this pattern. It should be an easy fit on almost everyone.

I didn't make any significant changes to the pattern. I used a thread loop instead of a fabric loop for the closure, and I hemmed the bottom instead of using bias tape. I did staystitch in more places than were called for. All of the pieces have diagonal or curved edges and I was super worried about the bias stretching out. So if you are a relative beginner, I hope you understand the importance of being careful with bias cut pieces. If not, this is your heads up.

Here are a few more pictures of the finished project. Enjoy my awkward posing, a few interior shots, and a cat.

collins top side view
collins top front view
I thought about ironing for pictures, but it's linen - this is what it looks like.

I thought about ironing for pictures, but it's linen - this is what it looks like.

in the folds collins top interior front
in the folds collins top side view linen
in the folds collins top full back view
in the folds collins top back interior
collins top with cat