Walmart Caftan #2

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.


My Walmart Collection: CAFTAN

On the way to the hot tub.

I know lots of people have negative feelings towards Walmart.  I know a few who refuse to step foot in the store or even stop in the parking lot.  They have their own good reasons but for lots of America, Walmart has provided a less expensive purchase venue or in my case a venue to purchase a cheap, perhaps-disposable item for short-term use. I was working for the Govt after Katrina and sent to Louisiana for computer support. At night I stayed in a fairly nice hotel.  I had two complaints

  1. Other guests did not understand that ‘commercial grade’ laundry equipment was not the same as ‘handles 5 loads at once’.  They were always marking the hotel laundry machines as broke when the truth was they needed fewer clothes in any given load.
  2. My room was freezing cold.  I’m sure the staff had at one time been berated because a guest insisted he didn’t leave the heat up and was forced to endure a stifling hot room until it cooled because of staff incompetency.  Myself, I like the warmth.  I set the temperature at 65.  The staff turned it down to 50. They absolutely were not going to be beat up over a hot room. Consequently,  I froze.  It took a while to warm up the room that was hovering near meat-preservation levels.

I did ask the management to let Housekeeping know that I was a bit cold-blooded and would appreciate it if they wouldn’t turn the A/C so low.  That worked for a day or too and then I was back to freezing and hunting for extra quilts to cuddle in during the month of August.

The best solution presented it during one of my quick trips to Wally World picking up a few incidentals i.e. toothpaste stuff like that.  I rounded the corner and saw this caftan.


I knew immediately I wanted it. At a price of $9.99 I couldn’t afford to leave it there. It was a 100% polyester satin. Soft and smooth on the face. Not quite so smooth on the interior. But I didn’t care. I was so happy to be able to get off work; go to the hotel; take a shower and slip this on.  It worked well during my stay and was in good condition so I took it home instead of throwing it away.

Over the years, I’ve found this Caftan to be superior for travel. It packs down into a little space. Serves as a bathrobe, extra layer in the hotel and a decent cover up between spa and room.  (What fat, elderly lady wants to wander through the lobby in a near naked condition?)  I’ve had it for what, about 10 years? But it hasn’t looked really good the last 3-4.  It was a cheap fabric and snaged easily. But it is the most useful and comfortable caftan I’ve ever owned. Partly that’s the travel friendly status, but also the proportions are just right for me. It’s not so long that I trip walking up or down stairs; but covers me completely.  Not so wide that I find it in the chips and dip, but again if I’m cold I can pull my arms inside and be completely warmed. The neckline is not too low but both wide and deep enough to easily slip on and off. I examined the construction carefully and made my own.

My fabric is again a polyester satin but it has been permanently crinkled.  The crinkles are almost a half-inch deep. I considered several fabrics and decided upon poly again because of the fade factor. Hot tubs are always chlorine baths. I lose more swimsuits to fading and rot than actual wear.  Since the first poly caftan survived so well, I decided to repeat the fabric.  I had 3 yards to start with and about 4″ left over.  Two pieces  41″ wide and 50″ long are cut. The shoulder is sloped 1.5″ from the neck.    Armscyes 9″ deep neckline about 7″.  Necklines can be changed to suit yourself.  The original was a self fabric strip along the V-neck with a big back neckline facing.  I’ve used a cotton/poly knit band 2-3/4 wide which finishes at 1″ (I used 3/8″ SA).  The two pieces are serged along the long shoulder seam then the neckline is finished.  The long outer edge is finished next.  I used a 3-thread rolled hem with plain old serger thread.

Fold the garment wrong sides together at the shoulder and pin carefully so that the hems are even. Then measure 9″ down from the shoulder and 4″ in from the rolled hem. Start at the armscye  and straight-stitch  to about 4″ before the hem which would be over your feet.  This forms the Flange shown above, the armscye and the hem vents.  The original was back stitched at the beginning and end of that seam. Me, I prefer to play with my decorative stitches and used the triangle from Menu 9:

I mirrored the triangle at the bottom so that they seemed to point at each other kind of like this


Well I like it.

I created a paper pattern because I know I’ll want to make others in the future. Total time is about 3 hours and I have a pattern for future use!

I love this garment so much, I have to add one more jpg