So, what is a kaftan (or caftan?), anyway? It's a variation of a robe or tunic, is usually maxi-length with lots of loose, flowing fabric and voluminous sleeves. It's also been the choice garment of many-a-pregnant woman in recent years, as it's literally the most. comfortable. item. of. clothing. ever.
The pattern is Butterick 6226 - it's one of a handful of maternity patterns I ordered from Butterick, but it's the only one I actually got around to making (the rest of my makes this summer were non-maternity patterns that I already owned, slightly hacked to be maternity-friendly).
The fabric is a gorgeous ikat print from Girl Charlee... it's a cotton/spandex/rayon blend, is light-medium weight and to me, it's a perfect print for this pattern (aren't ikat and kaftans just made to be together?) I cut a size 8 for the bodice pieces, and a 10-12 in the skirt pieces, figuring I could just gather the skirt more to make the two sections fit together (rather than grading); this worked out fine.
I really wanted to make the full-length maxi (View E) but alas, didn't have enough fabric, no matter how I placed it. I ended up going with my second choice , View D, and had to do some wonky cutting placement to even fit that one! In retrospect, I think View D (shorter length) was the right choice for more frequent wear...the maxi version, while fabulous, is a bit too "vacation chic" for everyday wear. And I planned on wearing this as often as possible.
So, construction. It's your typical Big 4 pattern, with instructions that are decent enough if you've sewn a few things before. There are lots of little pieces that make up the bodice...two small side bodice pieces, two fronts, one back, and a casing. I feel like it could have been made simpler with fewer pieces, but it does have a nice fitted bodice in the end, so I guess it was worth it.
We're doing some home renos right now and I don't have my full sewing room set-up, so I had to sew this with my regular machine rather than my serger. I used a walking foot to help stabilize the fabric feed, and a regular zig zag stitch (even though my machine has a stretch stitch, I prefer a regular zig zag). While I missed the speed and neatness of the serger, making a knit dress on the sewing machine wasn't all that bad. I had very limited trims and notions around though, so had to use white broadcloth in place of interfacing for the neckline, and a regular navy ribbon as stay tape for the back of the casing, which worked just fine (but yeah, this dress is not winning any awards for prettiest guts!)
So there's one really weird feature about the design of this dress, which I didn't notice until I was at that step: The bottom seams of the sleeves are not joined! Each sleeve is just a large rectangle and the design would have you leave the bottom sides open and flapping in the wind. I didn't take any pictures of the dress this way, but trust me, it was pretty ridiculous looking. The sleeve would always fall to either the front or back of my arm, which exposed the wrong side of the fabric and looked sloppy. So, I decided to sew the bottom seam up. Because of how the sleeve attaches to the two small side bodice pieces, you can't continue that seam all the way to the bodice. I stitched from the end of the sleeve until I was about 2 inches away from the bodice...this leaves a little triangular gap under the arm, but I think it looks kind of cool/intentional - or at the very least is not super noticeable. It also functions as a nice air vent, and keeps me cool, which is what kaftans are all about. ;)
I have to say, I really like the casing and tie...it helps cinch the empire waist, giving some definition to an otherwise very loose and flowing dress, which, when pregnant, can get very close to muumuu territory. It was also nice to work with an actual maternity pattern and not fuss with changing waistlines and sizing of a non-maternity pattern to fit the bump. All in all, I'd recommend this pattern as a maternity make, as long as you sew up those sleeve hems.
Here I am at 38 weeks...almost time! This is the last make I'll be posting before baby...it's been really fun finding patterns that work for the ever-growing bump, but I'm looking forward to eventually having a waist again and getting back to sewing my way through my existing pattern stash. Key word being eventually! ;)