Closet Case Patterns: Charlie Caftan

You know that feeling. The email pops into your inbox, nonchalantly announcing the arrival of just another pattern. Except it’s not just another pattern. It’s a Closet Case Pattern. You click the link and there it is – without having realised until now, this is the dress that you’ve been wanting to own for your whole life. The Charlie Caftan.

Charlie Caftan Pattern / Kaftan Pattern | Closet Case Patterns

And now you have a pattern to make it. Before you’ve had time to inhale, you’re already on the website and the pattern is in your basket. Within minutes, you’ve downloaded the PDF, and despite your loathing of cutting and sticking, those A4 pieces are making their way through the printer. You MUST make that dress.

The fabric in your stash is ideal. It’s the perfect pairing and you can already see yourself sauntering along a windswept cliff walk, your dress billowing in the breeze.

this is the fabric for THE dress of dreams

All sewists have been there – right? We know the rest of the story – you cut out the fabric that night, and by the following evening you’ve sewn it up and posted it on your instagram story.


Not if you’re sew slow Sarah. You piece the PDF together, you iron the fabric, then inexplicably, you wonder if you should use a different fabric. You decide you must toile it first with a cheap fabric. In the picture it’s really drapey, and you have a cheap viscose that you could use. It’d look great. But then you have a crisis of confidence. You know you hate cutting drapey fabrics and the last attempt with a similar viscose was a complete disaster – the fabric pieces don’t even closely resemble the pattern pieces. You just need to lay it all out on a big table to cut it well. But you decide your table isn’t big enough.

You re-read all the blog posts on working with drapey fabric. The answer is spray starch.  You don’t have any. So you go out to buy some and spend ages starching it. But then it’s still drapey, and the table is still the same size, and then you decide that maybe you shouldn’t try this pattern with this fabric because it might just be a disaster, and you’ve been waiting to make this pattern your whole life, without even realising it, and if it is a disaster, you might never make the pattern again.

You’re exhausted. And suddenly it’s too late to make this gorgeous dress, because it’s quickly turning to winter and this is clearly a summer dress.

This is the lead in to my Charlie Caftan. I still haven’t made THE dress of dreams, because (and this might sound familiar) I ran out of time before my holiday!

As I’m somewhat shorter than the average pattern is designed for, and given the low vee of the neck on this dress, I was pretty sure it’d need some adjustments. There was no option really than to make a toile.

Toiles could possibly be the most divisive subject in the sewing community (other than what the most divisive subject in the sewing community is…). And they take SO. MUCH. TIME. There are few things I dislike more than wasted time. Wasting beautiful, long-hoarded fabric on an ill-fitting garment is however, one of those few things. And so a toile it was. I had three weeks, and although still confident that I could make a toile, tweak the fit, then make the real garment in that time (plus 5 others!), the little nagging voice inside my head, screaming that I am SEW SLOW Sarah for a reason, persuaded me that making it out of Calico could lead to the heartbreak of no dress for my holidays.

A wearable toile in a cheap fabric it would be. The few wearable toiles I have are some of the most worn items in my handmade wardrobe – I made my Kalle toile from cheap cotton picked up in Sri Lanka.

My much-loved Kalle is actually a wearable toile

I’m at a weird stage in my sewing career, where, thanks to some wonderful sales (shout out to John Lewis post-Christmas) my ‘cheap’ fabrics are better described as high quality, high demand luxury fabrics, marked down to an absolute bargain price. The wearable toile fabric is a gorgeous Kokka cotton.



To cut a long story short. I love it just as much, if not more than I thought I would. I just managed to finish it before my holiday. Constructing it was a breeze, the only difficult part was inserting that centre panel, but there are some great instructions on the sewalong – I found it more fiddly than complicated.


There are some definite fit issues to balance my short little frame that I need to tweak before I make the next version.

The neckline is a little fudged to take out some of the gaping in the top – I’ll shorten by a couple of inches next time

But I will definitely be making another version. The dress is every bit as comfortable and flattering as I’d hoped. And ready in time for Me Made May.

A happy ending 🙂

Now to make the maxi-version in the perfect fabric…

Perfect for a breezy balmy evening


Let me just screw in this imaginary lightbulb…
Yellow door!
Gorgeous Charlie
Yellow door shot for Me Made May
Finishing Me Made May in my Charlie Caftan

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