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Lessons Learned on the Charlie Caftan

Posted by Jessica Povenmire on

Now, you guys know I'm a HUGE fan of pretty much everything that Closet Case Patterns does, right? (Did I gush enough about my Sophie Swimsuit?!) That said, I just don't love the Charlie Caftan on me.

I want to! There are so many great versions popping up on Instagram and I so badly wanted it to work on me...I just don't think it does. I made some silly rookie mistakes that I knew better than to forge ahead on, which made the whole processes less enjoyable, and it just doesn't make me feel good. Which after my Curated Closet project, I know means I just won't wear it. I think I need to try a different version - I think the gathers in View B would definitely help make it a little more wearable for me!

But I wanted to share what I learned and the mistakes I made for anyone else who's itching to try the new pattern. Don't let my mistakes stop you from making the Charlie Caftan! It's a gorgeous pattern and will be just right for so many people's summer sewing.



I'm typically a pretty straight size 10 in Heather's patterns. However, I did size up for the bottoms in my Sophie Swimsuit, so I definitely should have thought about that for the Charlie. Lesson #1 - ALWAYS MAKE A MUSLIN. I know I'm supposed to and I usually do...and when I don't? I always wish I had. This is definitely one pattern you will want to make a muslin for! Not just for sizing, but for construction practice as well. But we'll get to that in a minute.

The size 10 is just a hair too tight around my hips/bum. I should have graded to a size 12 for the hips, which would have given me just enough room to feel more comfortable.

Because it was just a little too tight, I decided to stitch down my pleats from the waist instead of leaving them open like the pattern calls for. They poufed out too much since the skirt wasn't fitting correctly. It also gives me a smoother silhouette, which I like.

I also wish that I had cut a size 8 for the bust. I know it's supposed to be loose and flowy and that by sizing down I'm kinda defeating the purpose, but the size 10 is just a little too voluminous and I don't feel full covered when I move around.



Lesson #2: when the patterns says transfer all markings to your fabric, DO IT. I'll admit, I'm a lazy sewer. So when I can skip some of the markings and notches, I do. And when I can't skip them, I'm not super precise. Don't be like me for this pattern! Be careful when cutting and marking around the front panel! It will make your life SO much easier when you're sewing.

The front panel is also a really good reason to make a muslin - practice. It's a little tricky to get everything to line up correctly and form 90-degree corners, so working out the kinks ahead of time is really helpful (and I definitely wish I had done that...)

I knew that I would want a little more definition to my waist than View A calls for, so I added the side ties from View C. It does add a little bit of gathering at the waist when I tie it, but since there's some slight puckering at the panel thanks to my mis-marking, it does a good job of hiding the mistakes while giving me a little more shape.



I made my dress out of the tencel twill that we have in the shop. I already knew I loved it, but man is this fabric dreamy. The way it drapes makes it one of my favorite fabrics to work with.

The ivory colorway is definitely more sheer than the black and the slate. I don't think you would need to line the other two colors (I have no problems with my Kalle Shirtdress being sheer), but the ivory is just sheer enough that the folds and seam allowances show through. I wouldn't line it if I were making a blouse, but the skirt probably needs a lining. My Charlie will likely be a swimsuit cover-up, so I'm less worried about it being opaque.



In the end, I think I could make this pattern work for me with some alterations. I'll probably give it another attempt down the road. I love the idea of it, I just need to figure out how to make it fit my body better.

The Charlie Caftan really does make a beautiful, flowy summer dress and you should take a look around Instagram to get inspired! I'm loving all the printed versions that people are's such a good canvas for unique fabrics. 

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