I am reaaaallly excited about this one. We are going through a serious heat wave in Montreal right now, when all you want to wear is loose, easy dresses that keep you covered and cool. The launch of our new design, the Charlie Caftan pattern, could not be better timed.
The genesis of this pattern started last year when I made an enormous linen caftan for a trip to France. My mother in law and I wore our caftans all week long and tried to start a caftan cult of two. I’m hoping with the debut of Charlie, a lot more of you will join us.
While I loved that particular caftan, it ate about twenty yards of fabric – it was basically an enormous rectangle with a neck opening. It was pretty heavy and wasn’t always the most practical thing to wear; it trailed on the ground and I had to be really careful walking up stairs. I started thinking about ways to to take the same idea (easy, comfortable, covered-up up chic) and translate it to today, with an interesting shape and some fun constructions details, without requiring more than a few yards of fabric. Enter Charlie.
In an ankle grazing length with a deep V neckline and slits at the side seams, the maxi variation of Charlie is covered-up with a few peeks of skin that keep it feeling modern and a little glamourous. The dramatic kimono sleeves and gently gathered waist add visual interest to an otherwise simple silhouette.
This variation includes ties in the inset center panel for a little bit of waist definition, although you’re more than welcome to leave the ties off for something loose and free flowing. I love the maxi Charlie in a show-stopping print and soft, drapey fabric like rayon challis, voile, tencel, silk crepe de chine, noil, or chiffon.
I am also pretty heady-over-heels for our mini variations.
I envisioned this as more of a chic, easy to wear summer dress that could do double duty as a beach cover up. We kept the kimono sleeves and the V neckline, but replaced the gathers under the bust with striking diagonal pleats. I love how modern and architectural this feels, especially in a crisp white linen like the one we chose for this sample. I suggest fabrics that have a slightly stiff or crisp hand for this variation to hold the pleats; think shirting, linen, chambray and poplin.
Our third variation is pretty charming too.
This variation has the same loose fitting silhouette as our maxi, but we’ve eliminated the waist ties and added slightly higher cut kimono sleeves for more modest coverage. This variation looks beautiful in softer fabrics like the gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze we used for our sample.
And did I mention they all come with roomy pockets? I love this pattern so much, and I can see it equally at home on a city street or by the pool. A new summer uniform for sure, especially if you pair it with our Bombshell or Sophie Swimsuit!
A few notes:
In many ways this is one of our simplest patterns so we will not be doing a full sewalong. I do have a few posts planned on fabric, fitting and inspiration, and we will also be doing a full post on how to sew the inset panel since this is the one step that I think could use some further explanation.
Also, someone asked about bra peekage with our kimono sleeves. A bra will definitely show with the lower-cut sleeves when you raise your arms; if you want the mega drama sleeves I suggest wearing a pretty bra you don’t mind seeing or using it it as a beach cover-up. We added the higher cut sleeve option for more modesty, but you can always raise it even higher if you want a closer cut arm.
We hope you love Charlie as much as we do. We’re starting a caftan cult – the only requirement is to wear a caftan and enjoy the summer!
ps. This pattern is named after Charlie, the English brains and beauty behind the wonderful sewing blog, Noble & Daughter. We admire Charlie’s contemporary and deeply personal sense of style, and love to imagine her swanning around her adopted city of New York wearing this modern caftan, paired with some of her characteristically amazing footwear.
pps. How to get your body Caftan Ready for summer (have a body, wear a caftan).
pps. If you love the espadrilles in these photos, you can find them at our new favourite Etsy store Mumi Shoes; everything is handmade in Spain!