DIY Kaftan – Free Tutorial, No Pattern!

We love a kaftan. Its the perfect combination of effortless summer style and practicality – loose, breezy and yet somehow classy! And quite frankly, if it’s good enough for Elizabeth Taylor, it’s good enough for us!

         

Last year we saw the release of the Charlie Kaftan from Closet Case, and this year we’ve had the TLC Caftan from Decades of Style. We love them both BUT we also love a super quick make!! And it doesn’t get any quicker than something you can knock up without a pattern! No printing and taping of PDFs, no ironing of tissue paper, no markings to transfer – just cut the fabric and sew!

      

Rachel has been living in her Vogue V9253 dresses and whilst making her latest one was struck by the idea that if there were ties at the waist, we could possibly lose the waist darts/pleats and create a similar shape with just rectangles.

Vogue V9253

Now, obviously it’s not quite as simple as that, and using just rectangles means you are stuck in a bit of a Catch 22 – make the skirt too full and you’ll have too much bulk at the waist and it’ll look you’ve just wrapped yourself in a piece of fabric BUT make the skirt too narrow and you’ll have no shaping at all and you’ll look like you’ve just wrapped yourself in a piece of fabric. So, as Goldilocks would say, getting it “just right” was the tricky bit. We think what we came up with in the end looks as much like a kimono as it does a kaftan – but Kaftan, Kimono, Pot-ay-to, Pot-ar-to…..none of that matters as long as you’ve got a floaty fabric, a deep V neckline and a nice roomy sleeve.

If you’d like to see the kaftan in more detail before you decide whether it’s for you or not, check out our YouTube video where we you can hear more about it and see lots our usual “prancy” pictures!

So, without further ado, let’s get into how you can make your own. It should take you no more than a couple of hours – even less if you’re a speedy sewist – so let’s crack on and sew some Kaftans!

Stitch Sisters DIY Kaftan

         

Fabric: You will need 2.5-4m of fabric. We used some lovely Batik fabric from Doughty’s. We had no idea how much we would use so we bought 4m each and both had over a metre left. (Batik’s are very narrow at just 110cm wide, so if you have a wider fabric you can probably get away with even less.)

Notions: You will also need 1m of bias binding. We used 1″ wide, single fold cotton bias tape, but you could just as easily make your own from the same fabric.

Seam allowance: 5/8″ (1.5cm) unless stated otherwise.

Sizing: 6-22 (see chart)…

The chart below shows the pieces you will need to cut for each size. If you have a one-way print, check the layout to help you figure out which way up to cut your pieces.

Step 1 – Shape the back neckline

        

With your back piece folded in half on the short edge (so that it is the same length but half the width). At the top of the fold, mark the measurements for your size. (For instance, for the size 14 mark 2″ down the fold and 4″ out along the top edge.) Now draw a curve to connect the two markings. Cut along this line to create your back neckline curve.

Step 2 – Shape the front neckline

        

Shape the front neckline in the same way except that you will have two pieces instead of one on the fold. This time you will be marking much lower down the front edge to create your V neckline. Connect your two markings with a straight diagonal line and then cut along the line. (You can make your neckline higher or lower to suit your style.)

Step 3 – Sew the shoulder seams

    

Place your front pieces RST with your back piece, aligning the shoulders. Stitch each shoulder in place and finish your seams as desired (we used pinking shears for speed).

Step 4 – Attach your bias binding

           

Open out one edge on your bias binding and laying it RST match the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the neckline. Start at the base of the V on one side then up over the shoulder around the back neckline and then down the other side of the V. Stitch in place. Trim your seam down and then press the binding to the underside of the neckline. Topstitch in place.

Step 5 – Sew the centre front seam

Matching the bottom of the V and then all the way down to the hem, sew your centre front seam.

Step 6 – Attach the sleeves

        

Fold the sleeve piece in half on the long edge and make a small snip to indicate the centre of the sleeve. Align this notch with the shoulder seam on your kaftan, making sure you are RST. Sew your sleeves to the kaftan body.

Step 7 – Prepare your ties

       

Fold your ties in half on the short edge and stitch one short edge and the long edge with a 1/4″ (0.5cm) seam allowance. Using a loop turner turn your ties so that they are right side out. Optional: you can topstitch all around the outside edge of your ties if you wish.

Step 8 – Baste your ties in place

       

Measure 14″ down from the shoulder seam on each side and position your ties on the outside edge of the front layer. The raw edge of your tie should be aligned with the raw edge of your side seam. Baste your ties in place. You may also want to pin them out of the way so that they don’t get caught in your side seams. (We wanted our ties to sit at our high waist as this is a more flattering silhouette for us, but you can position yours anywhere you like. If you are not sure, why not baste the side seam first and try your kaftan on before marking where you’d like your ties to sit. Then you can simply unpick a few stitch, insert your ties and then sew the side seams again properly.)

Step 9 – Mark your vents

Measure 22″ up from the hem and make a snip or use a marker to show you where to stop sewing your side seams to create your vents. (You can make your vents higher or lower to suit your style.)

Step 10 – Sew your side seams

Matching the seams where you joined the sleeve to the body, sew the underarm and side seams in one go. Start at the top of the sleeve, pivot at the underarms (this is easiest if you make sure your seams are pressed towards your sleeve) and then continue down over your ties and stopping at the markings you made. (You may need to snip into your seam allowance to release the fabric at the underarm and prevent puckering when you turn it through to the right side – to do this snip close to the stitches where you pivoted going up to but not through the stitch line.)

Step 11 – Hem your vents

   

Press under your 5/8″ (1.5cm) seam allowance from where you stopped sewing to the hem. Then press the raw edge into the fold to create a double turn narrow hem. Top stitch in place starting at the hem on one side. When you reach the top of the opening, stop pivot and sew a few horizontal stitch before pivoting again and continuing down the other side.

Step 12 – Hem your front and back

   

To create your hem on the front and back, press under 1″ followed by a second 1″ and then topstitch in place.

Step 13 – Hem your sleeves

Hem your sleeves the same way as you did the front and back, with two 1″ turns topstitched in place.

That’s it, you’re done!!

Now try your kaftan on decide how you like to wear it. Rachel prefers to wrap hers around the front, then around the back, and back to the front to tie in a knot. Nikki prefers to go around the front and then tie a bow in the back.

       

We would love to see your kaftans! If you follow the tutorial please share a picture in the comments below. Or if you share on social media, please tag us (@sodburysewing @shesewsvintage) and use #stitchsisterskaftan

Thanks for visiting our blog. If you haven’t already, make sure you submit your email address in the sidebar so that we can notify you of new tutorials!

Rachel & Nikki x

42 thoughts on “DIY Kaftan – Free Tutorial, No Pattern!”

  1. Thanks so much for this, I have a batik that I bought in Thailand last year that I may just use for this. Look forward to see what you come up with next. Also nice that you have such a wide variety of sizes.

  2. Thank you for the free pattern, can’t wait to give it a go, already imagining myself wearing it on a summers evening, in the garden, with a g and t in my hand. Just been on Doughty’s website, how am I supposed to choose just one batik, so many gorgeous colours?

    1. We know – its so hard ! They have SO many lovely fabrics. Think we may join you in the garden, wearing kaftans, with a G&T !!

  3. I love this kaftan! Already raiding my stash to see what will work best to make one. Planning on seeing if I can adjust it to make a just-below-the-knee length version. Thanks for sharing it, and also for the great range of sizes. The blog is a great idea!

      1. I made it today! It’s great, though I made it a wee bit toooo short so might cut some more off the length and wear it as a top. It was great to check fit though, which was pretty perfect (I’m a 16-18 and used the 18). I’ll post a pic soon & tag you guys (I discovered the fabric’s all dusty from some recent building work so it needs a wash). The pattern is fabulous and the instructions are great though – I will definitely make another one!

  4. Congrats on your new blog, I’m so excited for you two (and all of us that will enjoy)!
    Thanks for the pattern and all the details to go with.
    Checking my resource center for fabric.

  5. Thanks for such an easy pattern! I’ve been longing to make a simple Caftan/Kaftan but I’ve put it off simply because I was too lazy to figure out the maths of the pieces. Now I have no excuse. I think I’ll whip one up for my upcoming birthday, so I can swan about with a glass of bubbly and toast myself. Cheers!

  6. You are both my heroes! I subscribe to your YouTube channel and enjoy all your episodes. Now a blog. Brilliant! You go directly to the top of my blog list. Thank you, both, for being inspirational and practical

  7. Thankbyou so much for the pattern, I love it x I have made a mistake on the neck its puckered. Can you perhaps explain where i have gone wrong. Im a learner and would appreciate your help x ty

  8. Looks fab! This would be a good “duvet ” project ??! Think it would be helpful to have metric measurements available too. Love your videos really looking forward to this blog xx

  9. Hi Rachel and Nikki,
    Thank you for this pattern, I tried it last weekend and it was so easy to follow. I made a top rather than a kaftan but loved Rachel’s tie suggestion of wrapping around from the front, all the way around to tie at front sides. Tucked into high waisted trousers it looks so stylish yet was such an easy make. Already planning more, may have to do a bit of fabric shopping 😉 x

  10. Hi Stitch Sisters thank you so much for your free tutorial kaftan no patrern so easy and you guys are a bundle of Joy and great advise on sewing patterns and fabrics ??

  11. Thanks so much for the pattern. It looks great. Do you think African wax would work? I’m worried that it might not have enough drape.

  12. Hi thank you so much for this. I am going to give this a go. It’s straight lines reckon even me a baby sew lady can do it. Will share my design.
    Thank you so much

  13. Before I give the Vogue 9253 a go I’m going to try your Kaftan/Kimono. Just been to Abakhan and bought some Jacquard Spandex in mint green for £1.05 a metre. Yes £1.05

    Not much stretch in it and a lovely pattern.

    Looked at instructions. Question: should I attach the ties as suggested or make one big large tie and leave loose to wrap around?

    1. Hello, sorry to have missed your comment. It might be a bit late now but a separate tie is a great idea, then you can wear it loose if you choose without the ties hanging around. Happy sewing!

      1. Thank you Nikki I’ll try that. Still not made it, just looking at the fabric. I’m nervous. Hopefully complete by end of month, fingers crossed we get a summer for me to enjoy wearing it

  14. Made this yesterday for my 4’9” friend. Had to really shorten it(to 36”). She loved it. Will be making more. So cute! I would make it long for me as I’m 5’11”. Thanks so much! Love your blog and blog.

  15. Oh wonderful! I have been wanting a kaftan to wear after I have had a shower and laze about before going to bed! I am so pleased you have put the measurements in inches. I can’t get used to those metric thingies. I suppose there will be those who have only ever worked in metric but I don’t want our imperial measurements to be overshadowed, or pushed out, by metric. I will be off to my nearest fabric shop to see if I can find a suitable fabric.

    1. I agree, those metric thingies are a pain. Everywhere I go sizes are all in metric and I have to do a quick calculation to find out what they are talking about!

  16. Rachel and Nikki, your idea of a no pattern kaftan is brilliant! You even have my size!!! I can’t wait to make it when I have found suitable fabric. The only query is, what happens with my huge tummy caused by five huge babies? Will the kaftan hide this if I tie it loosely?

  17. Just saw this today posted on one of my FB sewing sites. I am in Canada and this will be so perfect for quarantine…. at least ill look cute! Tyvm

  18. Hi I am delighted to come across this wonderful free no-pattern kaftan, thank you.Really looking forward to making it .Is the bust measurement you give the body measurement or finished garment? I am bigger on top but slim on hips so can be different dress sizes for bust/waist/hips.

  19. Love the pattern! Thank you. Made one today although took a bit longer than 2 hours as the fabric kept fraying (despite the pinking shears) and I made my own neck facing. I would post a photo but can’t work out how to do it… 🙄 Rani x

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