Normally, the basement is comfortable needing only a space heater in the winter and a fan during the summer. But a few weeks ago when I was thoroughly cleaning the Stash Room, I wanted full-blown arctic air conditioning. I did not give in to the urge. Instead, dripping sweat, I went upstairs and showered; looked around for something cool and unrestricting to wear. Surprisingly, my first Walmart Caftan didn’t do the job. Oh it was freedom; and I felt so much better after a shower. But this was one of the very rare times when polyester was too hot for me to wear. Also dealing with the mental drudgery of cleaning, I decided a side project of a rayon caftan would be a good idea.
I had created my pattern with the first caftan (link above) by measuring the purchased garment and plotting points on tissue. I chose an interesting woven, rayon fabric. It has blue, purple and white threads. From a distance I see periwinkle. Up close, distinctive coloration and a plaid effect.
I really wanted to concentrate on finishing the Stash Room, plus this big expanse of fabric needs to be broken up or I look like a theater curtain coming at you! I used this Iman
blouse for inspiration. (Hurry if you like it. HSN has it on sale.) I didn’t copy it stitch by stitch but rather the color combination of blue with large white embellishments and white trims/touches. For me, the embellishments had to be machine embroidered. I mean it was the only way I would feel like I was sewing when I was really deep into cleaning. I chose a neckline embroidery from a now defunct vendor (so not available).
Because this a caftan is a really big piece of fabric, I repeated the center motif twice directly below the first
My Viking Ruby happily stitched away for 2 days. I needed 2 hooping for the 30,843 stitches. It might have been possible to stitch this out in less time but not fewer hoopings (with my machine). I generally set the speed to medium or slow. Just don’t like the way the highest speed can sling things about; and I stopped one days embroidery when one hoop was finished. Began the next day’s embroidery with the next hooping. It’s only a 2 color design. I don’t think an embroidery needs 10 color changes to be effective and attractive. But I do like BIG.
I finished the caftan just a few days ago and took pictures with the ever accommodating Mimie modeling:
I finished the V-neckline with white, french binding which I turned to the inside and top stitched with white thread. This is a very loosely woven rayon. V-e-r-y. I had cut the fabric and then serge finished the front’s edges — because I knew the front would experience some handling during hooping and embroidery. Two things surprised me .
(1) My serger did not like this fabric. It skipped stitches. My HV S21 never skips stitches. It might curl the edges but not refuse to form stitches. I even changed the needles.
(2) The serging fell out of the fabric! After serge finishing, I embroidered. Then carefully folded the fabric and placed on a hanger until I could get back to sewing the garment. When I started pinning the front and back together, I noticed that the serge finishing had absolutely fallen out of the fabric in places. Some long places. Well, the longest was a 6″ chain. No I didn’t just miss that edge somehow because when falling out, the serging took some warp with it.
This directly affected my finishing choice for the long side edges and bottom hems. I serge finished the back as well. Serged the shoulders; pressed them to one side and top stitched. I turned the side-and-bottom-hem, serged edges up once stitched. Turned up a 2nd time and stitched. To me that’s a twice-turned, narrow hem.
Currently, this baby is in the wash– I need to melt away the rest of the water-soluble stabilizer– and although I didn’t have it when needed last (cleaning the Stash Room), I now have a nice, loose, cooling caftan for the next time.