Closet Case Patterns | Charlie Caftan
An unseasonably warm November and December in Wellington made me realise how desperately I needed loose, blousy garments to cope this summer. Closet Case Pattern's Charlie Caftan was the first to spring to mind as an appropriate number, and thank all the celestial bodies, it's perfect!
Process and Progress
I've had this glorious Celestial Cranes cotton lawn knocking around in my stash for a few months now, waiting for the right project. Obviously it needs something that will give full dues to it's expansive pattern, and I originally intended some sort of kimono jacket, but it's such an amazing print I became convinced that there was a better way to use it, so kept the scissors at bay.
Charlie Caftan's Version A is described on the website as "modern and architectural with striking pleats beneath the bust", and, with it's large areas through the skirt combined with the rectangular detail in the bodice, I decided it was the perfect match. The soaring cranes could sweep through the skirt, and the geometrical pattern could be broken up into more abstract forms through the bodice.
It wasn't until I bought the pattern that I realised the front was split down the middle necessitating some pretty nifty pattern matching (my first thought: fu--u-u---u-ck), but after scratching my head for most of an afternoon, I nailed the cutting and pattern matching, and I'm totally unashamed of how much I'm gloating about it!
Regarding the pattern, I found it good to work with, but would highly recommend using the excellent tutorials on the website for inserting the centre panel and finishing the centre panel. The diagrams in the pattern are really good, but the detail you get from these tutorials is so far beyond what's in the pattern. There's also a very useful tutorial for sewing the neckline (my Achilles heel!) and although mine's still not perfect (it gapes a little), it's a damn sight better than my usual efforts!
Fit and Finish
I graded the pattern from 12 through the bust and waist to 14 at the hips. It has an extremely generous fit and, although I'm at the top end of the measurements for a 14 at the hips, there's plenty of room—I actually wouldn't want it any larger. I wonder if I could go down a size through the bodice but it's comfortably loose and breezy, which is a key requirement of this dress!
I also chose the higher sleeve; I'd love to have a beach version with peeky deep sleeves, but as a gal-about-town dress I wanted a smidge more cover. However, you still get a bit of peeky action with the higher sleeve so if you're particularly looking for coverage, go higher! (There's another excellent tutorial for this on the website.) Worth considering as well, the neckline does finish quite low, but I don't feel to exposed as the V shape is narrow enough that not too much décolletage is showing. Also worth noting, Charlie has some seriously capacious pockets, which makes my heart sing!
I found, without the ties, that it was quite tent-like in profile, a silhouette that doesn't suit me. (You can see how it sits on my dressform, Clem Fandango, below.) Therefore, I added a couple of darts in the back for shaping. I borrowed them from the D&D Airelle blouse, and (adapted them in a slightly haphazard fashion) extending them in length and width so they went higher up my back. It's not perfect, but I think it suits me a lot better with the extra shape.
Final word, I love it. I'm thrilled with how the fabric pattern and dress design have come together. I would highly recommend Closet Case's Charlie Caftan for all your scorching-summer needs. The combination of a generally well-written and diagrammed pattern, along side the excellent tutorials, makes me feel very confident to make more Closet Case Patterns. Last bits of advice: look at the finished garment size and consider this when selecting your size as it is a roomy dress, and make use of those very generous tutorials. I will make this pattern again, probably in the very near future, if La Niña keeps stretching her hot, dry muscles.
Notes to future self for future makes
- As thrilled as I am with the fabric, I wouldn't want it at all heavier or stiffer. If (when) I make one in the future I'm going to try something with a bit more drape.
- I would love to try make a version as a top, maybe stopping at about the bottom of where the pleats fall to.