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CAFTAN CULT // SUMMER LIVING IN VINTAGE SIMPLICITY 5315


Handmade Linen Caftan // Vintage sewing caftan pattern Simplicity 5315 // Made by Closet Case Files

Handmade Linen Caftan // Vintage sewing caftan pattern Simplicity 5315 // Made by Closet Case Files

You know how magazines always write those “20 Things you Absolutely Must Have in Your Closet to Qualify as a Human Woman with Any Value” articles? And it’s always like, a beige trench and a white v-neck? I will concede that both of those things are “practical” and “useful”, but what these magazines fail to understand is that sometimes what I really want in life is to be encased in a fabric cocoon. I don’t want basics. I don’t want realism. I want an extravagantly printed, borderline excessive linen statement piece that requires a pool and a bottle of rosé to function.

What I want is a caftan.

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It’s kind of hard to understand how such a voluminous amount of fabric (which conceals nearly every little bit of skin) can be as unequivocally glamorous and chic as caftans are, but life is full of mysteries. They emit confidence and attitude. They say, “Look at me! But not at any of the body parts you’re used to seeing. Look at who I am. I give zero f*cks about the male gaze. I am wearing this for me. See me? DON’T I LOOK FABULOUS?”

Basically, it’s my kind of feminism embodied in an actual garment of clothing.

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As you may know, I headed to Europe for a much needed vacation this month. Guillaume grew up spending summers in the south of France so we flew in for some intense family time followed by a few days on our own in Barcelona. I wanted desperately to pack the perfect “summer in Europe” capsule wardrobe, so I feverishly sewed up a few new things to bring with us. This caftan was  the first thing on the list; I wanted something glamorous I could hang around the pool in which that would also protect me from the sun. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become a little paranoid about getting too much sun exposure, and a caftan is basically the most effective sunscreen ever.

I wanted something with an exuberant print, so I was lucky to stumble on this medium white and cobalt zig zag print at Tonitex in Montreal. It’s got quite a lot of body, and while it’s maybe not as lightweight as I would have liked, it still kept me cool since it’s made of the universe’s gift to bodies, linen. While I had lots of noble plans to draft a caftan myself, I just didn’t have the time, so I dug out Simplicity 5315, a vintage pattern I’ve been meaning to make for a while. The design is pretty awesome. While it’s essentially a giant rectangle of fabric, it is gathered at the bust and tied inside the dress under the bust and around the back to create some bust shaping, so you’re not just swimming in a huge sack.

Like most vintage patterns, the instructions were completely wack-a-doo. I kind of winged it as a I went along and spent a lot more time finishing the insides than directed. The collar and arm openings are finished with a facing that I topstitched down from the outside to secure, and the rest of the seams are serged, except for the facing under the bust which was entirely handstitched from the inside. The only thing I wish I could change is the print matching along the shoulder seam, but I was a little short on fabric so I just made do with what I had.

It was a relatively quick make, although I didn’t get a chance to make the super lightweight white linen version I was planning as well. There is always next summer….

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I was thrilled to pull this one while we were visiting Guillaume’s aunt and uncle in Languedoc. They bought an old stone house and have spent the last few years turning it into paradise on earth, with incredible views of the valley, a huge pool and landscaping and terraces that made me constantly feel like I was in a really, really good movie. I love France and French families. The entire extended clan (almost 20 of us) spent an entire week together almost non-stop, eating beautiful simple meals (always accompanied by rosé and finished with mind blowing cheese) , playing petanque (the French version of lawn bowling) and laying in the sun or swimming in the pool. It was was a serious dream, and I am so grateful and lucky to have fallen in love with someone with such great vacation options 😉

Caftan sewing pattern_Simplicity 5315-14Caftan sewing pattern_Simplicity 5315-10Handmade Linen Caftan // Vintage sewing caftan pattern Simplicity 5315 // Made by Closet Case Files

Needless to say, this caftan was the perfect thing to bring on our trip. My mother in law wore one as well, and we decided we’re going to start a Caftan Cult. Caftans and rosé are the only membership requirements.

So, do you agree a caftan is just as necessary to the modern woman’s wardrobe as a basic white tee? Have you ever rocked one of these babies? Should I design a pattern next summer so we can all rock caftans together?

  • Leah Franqui

    Please, please, please for the love of god draft a pattern for this. All I want to do is wear seas of fabric and drink rose. I live in India now. I need this. Please.

    • You definitely need a caftan in India! I’ll start sketching plans 😉

  • Dana Bultje

    Yes yes yes! Draft one. Because I keep drooling over this one…

  • LUSH! I just bought a sort of caftan dress a bit like this (but i’m going to return it and make my own, lulz) I love how it’s basically a giant rectangle but the strategic waistband makes it so glam and shapely.

    • I love buying clothes to study them and then returning them! Would love to see a caftan from you!

  • If you designed a pattern that looked like that from the front and also somehow had a band extending to the back too somehow (or like, as a tie option somehow, so you could loosen or cinch depending upon level of cheese consumption), I would (yes, for reals, me) be the first in line. Just sayin’. Somehow, in my head at least, that sounds seriously amazing. Which this totally looks on you too, and in that setting, just get out of town! Amazing. Lounging vacation chic perfection. Pass the rosé, darling!

    • I’m going to start sketching ideas 😉

    • Natalie

      I second Tasha’s request. The magic of this Kaftan is most certainly that gorgeous waistband. You look beautiful!

  • This is a handsome item. The waist band makes it; an adjustable one would make it genius.

    As a short person, I beware of this style. The wind could catch me and take me away.
    Also: flying squirrel.
    Print choice always crucial, yours is brilliant.

  • What is there NOT to love about a caftan?! I made one last summer and a short one this summer, and if only I had a patio or balcony they would see more than the inside of my apartment. The first one did make it to an outdoor wine tasting fundraiser, so that was fun. They are seriously the best blend of chic and comfort. The first one I made has a separate waistband similar to yours, but I’m now seeing that making it in matching fabric instead of contrasting is a better choice! Yours is beautiful!

    • Thank you Stephanie! So happy you’re on Team Caftan too 😉

  • I am totally ripping this idea from you! I have the same pattern in my stash and will make it prior to my next holiday for sure! Love it so much – you are owning it!

    • Thank you Christy! Please make it – total winner.

  • Hélène

    I couldn’t imagine a more brilliant idea for lounging in le Sud de la France. This caftan looks totally fantastic on you, ma chère! The only downer, I guess, was that you probably needed an additional suitcase to pack it! Or did you ask Guillaume to wear it on the plane? ;))

    • I actually packed pretty light so I could squeeze it in 😉

  • Cadi

    I actually ran out and bought this pattern after seeing your pics on IG, I’m totally on Team Caftan! Do draft one so next summer everyone can be this chic and comfy!

    • YES! Let’s start a girl gang! Just a wall of fabric moving down the street.

  • evesewcool

    Oh Yes, i have this pattern. It’s been simmering in my stash for ages. You just pushed me over the edge and it’s on the cutting table. I’m making a mini version, due to fabric limitations. Next will be a full version if all goes well using a special special fabric I’ve been holding for ages too. Thanks for inspiring me! Yes, you should draft a modern day version of this. I’m sure with your creativity you could ‘reinvent’ the caftan!!!

    • YES! You’re going to love it! My adivce would be to continue the foldover self facing along the neckline down into where it dies into the gathering. I tried serging the little edges but it doesn’t look great. Weird bit of drafting there.

      • evesewcool

        I couldn’t agree more, thanks for the tip. I’ve already passed that stage, all I have left to do is hem that beast!

        I will make tha change for next time, it’ll look soooo much better on the innards. I’m also going to lengthen the yoke and shoulders, and forego the armhole facings and put the arm phones in the shoulder seam instead. I tried it on, with the arms out the top seam instead, (basted before I finished it all) , and it actually looked better.

  • Chloe Anderson

    So so good! I would love to join your cult. I’d probably get far more use out of a caftan than a beige trench coat, that’s for sure!

  • Hi! I’m Rebecca. I’m a new fan! 🙂 I fell in love with caftans when I saw Christina Hendricks wear one on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. If I remember correctly, she talked about wanting to throw a caftan and casserole party for her birthday. This is almost as fabulous as getting to lounge in one in FRANCE! So, please, design a pattern and I will make a few for me and my frans so we can eat casserole and drink rosé!

    • OMG, I should find that clip. That is a bad ass move wearing a caftan on late night! One more reason to love that lady!

  • Denise

    Oh my gosh. My grandmother made one of these back when it was a new pattern! I used to steal it and swan around in it when we would visit when I was a teenager, so she finally just gave it to me 😊 I’ve been wondering what pattern she used so I could make another! Thanks!! Yours looks amazing!!

    • That’s a great grandma!! Caftans are generally pretty simple so maybe you could reverse engineer it?

  • Justine

    So cute! Those photos make me so nostalgic for Languedoc. We owned a small village house there back in the 90’s and early 2000’s in the town of Pezenas in between Beziers and Montpelier. I miss the wine and the light! Belle Occitanie!

    • It’s heaven on earth. We were not far from Beziers – hoping to go back every summer for a few weeks – 6 days was not long enough!

  • Teri Dodds

    Your caftan is so lovely! The print is amazing and it looks like the perfect thing to throw over a bathing suit. I vote yes to drafting one next Summer! I want to be this glamorous when I take my kids to the town splash park.

    • You kind of can’t help but slink around in one. You’d slay at the park!

  • I had a GORGEOUS kaftan back in the 70s, no idea what pattern I used, but probably Style. It had sleeves and a more shaped body, AND A HOOD. Oh yes, I loved it, and would definitely go for it again now with my stout middle aged body in need of disguise!

    • Amazing! I sort of want to wear that hooded one. It’s like a Snuggie but chic-er?

  • Catherine Daze

    Glam and comfortable – doesn’t get better than that!

  • Lisa Weigel

    Damn, girl! Now I think I need a caftan in my life. Just yesterday I saw a pattern in a german sewing magazine for a kaftan and skipped the page thinking “I clearly won’t sew this thing.” Now I’m thinking about fabric options already.

  • Chloe Cadreman

    Yes yes yes to the pattern! It looks glorious!

  • Becky

    I have been wearing caftans for 40 years. They are the ultimate elegant and comfortable garment. I wear them in the winter made of warm material, in the summer made of lawn or equivalent. I don’t wear them in public away from home, but I should. I love them that much! This one is a great design with the waist shaping. My favorite, from back in the 70’s had this waist band in the front with a loose elastic band attached underneath that went all the way around the torso, which kept the caftan “in place” and provided shaping without causing any discomfort. Consider this for your future design, Heather! You look very elegant and smart in this!

    • Thank you Becky! Great idea with the elastic….

  • Yes, please design one!! (I actually had that thought before I got to the part where you brought it up yourself.) Otherwise… I may need to track this one down. It looks amazing on you and I especially love the bust shaping!

  • GOR. GEOUS. I’d totally join your caftan cult, but you’d have to excuse me for bringing sparkling water instead of rosé. 🙂

  • Please draft a caftan pattern! With petite sizing options?

  • anysteph

    Yes, please draft a caftan pattern! And I agree with you completely. I bought a caftan in Sayulita several years ago, and wear it to death. Here I am partying in it with a shawl I knit, on an evening I just was not feeling anything fitted. You’ll see I’m holding champagne, which I hope will stand-in for minimum membership requirements in Caftan Cult. 😉

    • BASICALLY MY DREAM OUTFIT.

      You have been admitted into the cult 😉

  • Kudos to you for being able to wear a caftan! Looks like it suits your holiday needs perfectly. 🙂

  • Yes. No (but I WILL),and YES. Start now.

  • Stuart Fox

    Perhaps we English are rather less expressive than our American cousins. I note that in the dialogue for this Kaftan pattern the writer found it necessary to use the profanity as in ”I give zero f.cks about the male gaze!!
    Always amazes me where people find it necessary to use foul language (and in a sewing pattern discussion!!!)
    Just serves to indicate the lack of vocabulary ‘owned’ by the writer!!!

    • Wow, what an outdated notion.

      Heather, you look great as always. Not a style I would wear, I don’t think, but it’s very you and very chic.

    • I think it’s rather narrow minded and snobbish to assume that because I use a curse word (*starred* so as to protect delicate sensibilities) I must also suffer from a lack of vocabulary. Or what is really implied here, that I suffer from a lack of class.The beauty of the English language is that it allows us to express ourselves in a myriad of ways, common and poetic, sacred and profane. I choose my words very carefully, always. If I swear, it’s for a reason, not because I am too dumb to think of anything else.

      Also I’m Canadian. We swear here with impunity, no doot aboot it.

      • Stuart Fox

        Ok – narrow minded and snobbish!!!! you have said it all in your bracketed reply ‘so as to protect delicate sensibilities’ this of course implies that you have accepted that what you have said is inappropriate. You are obviously very very insecure that you should raise the question of ‘lack of class’ – I certainly didn’t raise that question and it is a total misconception that ‘class’ has anything to do with our current ‘spat’
        I am of course English, the home of the English Language. I am not Canadian – a wonderful Country but only a Country that has adopted MY LANGUAGE!!
        Interesting that ‘you choose your words carefully’.
        You say that ‘If I swear, it’s for a reason, not because you are too dumb to think of anything else.
        In the present context your ‘reason for swearing’ escapes me.
        I also would be very interested to hear of what the Canadian population thinks about you assertion that ‘Also I’m Canadian. We swear here with impunity,(a rather feeble attempt at the Scottish accent) ‘no doot aboot it!!
        Thanks, I have enjoyed our , somewhat, inconsequential ,infantile, no matter – conversation
        I wish you well.
        Stuart

        • Susan Buchanan

          Whoa. If you don’t like what you’re reading, just stop reading! No need to spread such negativity.

        • Jane

          LOL.

        • catherine from canada

          Also WOW.

  • Stuart Fox

    I presume HAHAHAHA etc etc is yet again an Americanism for I don’t agree? So does that mean that you endorse bad language in a very very low profile – so quaint grandmamma could join sort of atmosphere?

    • I was responding to a joke made by a friend, not you. Hahaha seemed appropriate.

  • fourthmonth

    Oh man, this kaftan looks amazing! I bought one at a consignment store last year that someone in the ’70s had seen themselves. The fabric is a very loud stained glass print, and I get the best compliments when I wear it. I would never wear it to the pool, it’s too lovely not to share with the world.

    Definitely on the “draft a kaftan pattern” bandwagon!

  • Carly

    I want to be you when I grow up. That kaftan is amazing, and your vacation looks awesome.

  • Susan Buchanan

    It looks beautiful and so glamorous!

  • Margo Bergman

    Absolutely stunning! What a great pattern and your fabric choice makes it perfection!!

  • Fadanista

    Ooh yes, you definitely need to design a stylish caftan! I love yours, so copy that one!! I have one planned from another pattern, but you can never have too many! I adore your fabric too, so you might need to do a kit version.

  • catherine from canada

    Jeepers. I leave for a yacht off Capri in 22 days. Do I have time to make a caftan?!?!?

    Since I obviously need one.

  • Kalle Thompson

    Yes please make this pattern. It looks amazing and please also sign me up for the cult. I’m all in.

  • The Business!

  • Ashana

    Nice post, thanks for share useful post
    thanks

  • Looking fabulous!