Wicked Cool : : My Charlie Caftan : : By Closet Case Patterns

Charlie Caftan, Closet Case Patterns, Vancouver Sewing Blog, Vancouver Sewing blogger

I think I might be an adult now….

It’s like this; years ago…when I was quite certain I was a kid…summers meant ten glorious days at the YM/YWCA Camp Garibaldi. Oh the anticipation. Every year was different, yet in many ways the same. For sure there’d be new girls, a cabin change and a new counselor. But much of the staff remained unchanged for all the years I attended. It wasn’t a fancy camp, there were no uniforms, there were no horses…we were mostly just a motley crew of kids learning about diversity, and caring, and sharing.

Permitting myself to lapse into eleven year old lingo…my very most favourite camp counselor was Margo. Her full name was Margo Gram and her name could be spelled forward and backward. I don’t think I need to tell you how incredibly cool this was in the eyes of a child. As wicked cool as a palindrome name is…Margo left a second, more impressive, imprint on my young mind…

Charlie Caftan, Closet Case Patterns, Vancouver Sewing Blog, Vancouver Sewing blogger

Late afternoon, without fail, Margo would ditch her denim cut offs and t-shirt and slip into the most marvelously exotic garment I’d ever seen. It looked a bit like a large robe, a rather shapeless rectangle of fabric with cut outs for the head and arms. It also had pocket openings in the side seams…except there were no pocket bags.  I remember us girls giggling and trying to peek…not to see anything…just to be silly. Sigh….she always looked ethereal wearing her gauzy white fabric. She called it a caftan. We would take turns trying it on, swanning about our humble cabin, fabric hitched up at every angle. I swore when I was grown up I would have a caftan too…

Fast forward nearly fifty years and looky me now. I’m wearing my first caftan. Yes, the Charlie Caftan by Closet Case Patterns. I made view B with the wide kimono sleeves. And yes, if you peek you can see my bra….that’s karma for ya.

Charlie Caftan, Closet Case Patterns, Vancouver Sewing Blog, Vancouver Sewing blogger

I was a pattern tester for Charlie and I found it to be a mostly easy make. That being said, if there is a tricky bit, it’s the inset center panel. Here’s what helped me. Before I cut out the narrow horizontal channel, I fused a rectangle of lightweight knit interfacing over the entire surface keeping just within the stitching lines. This stabilized my fabric and made cutting out the slit easier. It also served as a helpful sewing guideline {I sewed along the outside edge of the interfacing}.

*Please note that the inset center panel sits lower by 1″ on the published pattern.

I finished the insides with french seams and if it wasn’t for the pockets, I wouldn’t be able to tell which side is the right side. Heather’s instructions make for very tidy innards.

Charlie Caftan, Closet Case Patterns, Vancouver Sewing Blog, Vancouver Sewing blogger

My fabric is a lightweight gauze. It may not be the ethereal white that Margo’s was…but it is a double stash buster. I’ve had it for two years and before that it was in my aunt’s stash….huh…I just realized this crazy plaid is probably circa summer camp days!

Charlie Caftan, Closet Case Patterns, Vancouver Sewing Blog, Vancouver Sewing blogger

Tonight, I’m dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean alongside eleventy hundred others. After a cold, wet spring, summer has arrived in the Pacific Northwest and none of us are taking it for granted. The timing is sweet…up until last week I was seriously thinking that I might have to take my Charlie Caftan photos indoors which would have been so wrong.

The pattern has several silhouettes, the short length that I’ve made, a side slit maxi….ooooh like Margo’s….optional self fabric ties, and two sleeve options. Me thinks another caftan will be on the cutting table soon.


Charlie Caftan : : Closet Case Patterns

Pattern inspired by the also very cool:

Charlie of Noble and Daughter



  • Reply An June 25, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    What a beautiful make!! I ‘m suddenly in love with caftans…
    I’m still debating my fabric, linen or gauze, patterned or one color….
    I really love the plaid and the color on you.

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Thank you An! I picked from my stash…in part because when you are pattern testing, there can be little things that don’t work out. That being said, the caftan worked out great and I have been ‘window shopping’ for another make! You’re right…so many choices!

  • Reply Louisa June 25, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    I’m so impressed with your rock-like balance! Oh and the caftan is perfect too. Love the fabric! Wading in the water looks like way more fun than working in my literal sweatshop, aka the studio. But now that we actually have summer I’m not allowed to complain, am I?

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:45 am

      LOL…that’s the camera man’s job….to catch me standing still! Your attic studio must have been smokin’ hot this past weekend…a little cooler today I hope. And yep…no complaining allowed, hahaha.

  • Reply Manju June 25, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Just love this. Seriously tempted by the shorter length version of this pattern. Fab pictures too.

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:46 am

      We’re close to the same height Manju! This pattern is designed for heat…it’s so cool and breezy in the gauze fabric!

  • Reply Meg June 26, 2017 at 12:03 am

    Sue, it’s gorgeous! I love it in plaid, especially this gorgeous plaid. Those colors!

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:47 am

      Aw…thanks bunches Meg! Your version is so chic and swooshy…I LOVE it!

  • Reply Sherry - Petite Over 40 June 26, 2017 at 1:07 am

    Oh, Sue! Your caftan is absolutely gorgeous. It suits you to a tee. And your story about Margo Gram took me back in time with you. I could see you as a kid mesmerized by Margo and her gauzy white caftan. What an excellent story and so well-told.


    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:48 am

      Thanks Sherry! If I could convince myself that I’d look good in a white one…I just might make it.

  • Reply coco June 26, 2017 at 2:31 am

    I just love this! the fabric is fantastic – I was thinking a plaid would be great for this pattern, you really rocked it. I enjoyed your camp memory – sounds like it was a perfect summer camp!

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:48 am

      Thanks Coco! Hehe…your lovely white version is pretty close to Margo’s…minus a lot of the volume her’s had.

  • Reply pao June 26, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Oh, this is so pretty, Sue. And the photos are divine too. It’s perfect in all ways: the fabric, colors, print, style and you wearing it.

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Hey Pao and thanks! This easy fitting garment thing is so very comfortable in the heat! See…I’m learning from you!

  • Reply Shirley June 26, 2017 at 5:27 am

    This looks beautiful and perfect for summer!

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Thank you so much Shirley! It gets high marks because the wrinkles don’t seem to show. If I drop it and go for a swim, no worries!

  • Reply Lyrique June 26, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Oh, I LOVE this plaid! It’s perfect in this pattern. I want, want, want this fabric and pattern!

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Thanks Lyrique! I was a bit unsure about the plaid but it did work out beautifully! I hope you can find the plaid of your dreams!

  • Reply PsychicSewerKathleen June 26, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Love the plaid, colour and weightlessness of the fabric you used for your Charlie. And of course your story of Margo – haven’t we all had girl-crushes on those “older women” who exemplified everything we wanted to become? 🙂

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Thanks Kathleen! Oh, that’s so true….you’ve got me thinking back on childhood and the women that have influenced me. The weightlessness of this fabric makes it an absolute winner for me!

  • Reply fran June 26, 2017 at 10:32 am

    WOW It looks great and I bet it is a dream to wear!!! Love the camp stories – you have a great memory

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:54 am

      Thanks Mom! A dream to wear in this heat…I’ve been wearing it almost non-stop. Tee hee…I could probably tell a different camp story every post…

  • Reply seamsoddlouise June 26, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Its lovely, so summery and floaty

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Thanks Louise! Yep…a true summer make!

  • Reply Priscilla June 26, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Margo would be so touched that you are wearing a caftan that’s (sort of) like hers. And it IS ethereal with its warm colors in the low sun. I’m diggin’ the pattern!

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 10:56 am

      Thanks Priscilla. These rambles make me wonder…Where are they now?

  • Reply Gillian June 26, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Ahhhhh, so good! I saw this post in my feed this morning, and I saved it to read until the afternoon so I could delay the gratification of reading about your colourful, fabulous dress! I love your story about camp and the mysterious allure of the caftan!

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Thanks Gillian! I’ve done that too…delayed reading a post until a little later. Thanks for the compliment! 🙂

  • Reply Shelley@ForestCityFashionista June 26, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I want to point out that the light in these photos is exquisite – the Golden Hour, most definitely. I have had a few long caftans over the years, have pared down to one electrifyingly bright one, but would love to get a short one, which seems much more practical on a hot summer day. The short version looks like a lovely modern summer dress, and you picked the perfect fabric. I love your colourful summer dresses!

    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 11:03 am

      I think long caftans are more alluring and exotic. That being said, I think the short version suits me better. Your electrifyingly bright caftan sounds sublime!

  • Reply Suzanne June 27, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Loved your story of camp! NOT at all like my memories! There was green slime (algae in the lake that would get under your swimsuit so when you’d take it off you’d look like the Monster From the Green Lagoon) ticks and tick searches every night, rampant diarrhea, no toilet paper, giant mosquitos and to top it all off a girl broke her leg right in front of me. It stuck out like a chicken’s leg in a disturbing angle. She screamed and screamed. Needless to say I think I wrote home every single day begging my parents to come and get me. They never did. I think I may still hold that against them. Ha!

    The colours on this piece are stunning. Perfect for the sunset photos you managed and I love that hat!

    Glad you were able to dip your toes and that the weather has warmed up out your way. Summer is important to Canadians.


    • Reply Sue June 27, 2017 at 11:06 am

      Oh my gosh Suzanne…that sounds like the makings for a summer movie. You did strike a chord with the mosquitos though…I remember one year that they were really, really bad and I was covered from head to toe with red swollen bites, and those were covered with sticky pink Calamine lotion.

      And yeah me…wearing one of my hats! Happy you like it!

  • Reply Vancouver Barbara June 28, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Perfecto! The pattern, the fabric, the colours, the YOU! And the scenery and the light. Ooooh! All so beautiful. If you want a white caftan, check out Handmade by Carolyn – I think she made the same pattern in white and she has similar colouring to you. She looks smashing. It’s a great pattern. One question. What’s the point of that inset rectangle? Seems like a lot of hard work for not much payoff. It looks very nice but what’s it for?

    • Reply Sue July 8, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Hey Barbara!

      Thanks for the lovely comment! And yes…Carolyn’s caftan is sublime!

      I think the inset rectangle is a design feature, but I also think there is functionality in it too. If not for the inset panel, I think there would have to be a seam separating the bodice from the skirt?

  • Reply Sharon June 29, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    Oh camp they were special days and your caftan looks so perfect for those afternoons paddling in the water.

    • Reply Sue July 8, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks so much Sharon! I know a lot of people didn’t go to camp, but they were indeed special days for me. I think in part because my family did not go on camping trips!

  • Reply No Fear of Fashion June 30, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Very nice kaftan. Well done!! Cannot wait to see a long version of it. I bet that is on your mind now. With a drawstring under the bust to taper it there? But which material?

    • Reply No Fear of Fashion June 30, 2017 at 8:00 am

      I just saw that you hesitate to make a long one. How about a very flowy material? Not too structured? Have to say that the short version in this colourful check looks very good on you.

      • Reply Sue July 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm

        Yes…it would have to be a very light, very flowy material. I never say never, LOL.

    • Reply Sue July 8, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      The pattern does provide for a drawstring/tie under the bust. So you think I can carry it off {meaning: wear it and look good}?

  • Reply Sue B from Aus July 1, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Oh I do love the checked fabric, it looks like a lovely summer dress that you can wear a million and one places. I have put that pattern on my summer sewing list. (Winter here in Australia with a minus 8ºc this morning) Thank you for the blog it really clinched the pattern buying for me.

    • Reply Sue July 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      Thanks Sue! Okay…-8c is really chilly, LOL, and I’m Canadian! Our winter temps in Vancouver rarely go below 0.

      I’ve seen so many pretty variations of this pattern. I really don’t think you can go wrong with it! Happy sewing!

  • Reply Caitlin | Beauty & Colour July 2, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    This plaid design is such a fun color combo!

    Beauty & Colour | Vegan Lifestyle Blog

    • Reply Sue July 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      Thank you Caitlin!

  • Reply Melanie July 3, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I love this, Sue! I love that the fabric is gauzy, it has a colourful and bold print, and I love the fit. It’s the perfect summer dress. I do hope you go for the maxi version at some point, even if it’s only to swan around your home.

    Summer camp for me? Yeah, once I went. Nobody told me it was a CHURCH camp!!! With church TWICE a day!!!! There were no cliffs around or I would have jumped off. Or if they had canoes, which they didn’t, nor water, I would have paddled away.

    • Reply Sue July 8, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Thanks Mel! You and Greetje both vote for the maxi version eh? Well. Maybe. If nothing else…it would provide a play zone for Samson. My cat!

  • Reply Flo July 7, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    This isn’t just an awesome project, but a very useful one. I can see it as a cover-up at the beach, paired with leggings for a day out of shopping, even a last minute night shirt (when you forgot to pack one). I love the choice of fabric, it looks very comfy and a great combination of colors.

    LOVED the story about the camp counselor and her awesome name!

    • Reply Sue July 8, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks Flo! Oh my gosh, I love your suggestions for it! I think sewing some fun leggings are on the horizon!

  • Reply Sabine July 10, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Beautiful pictures in the evening sun. You look amazing dear Sue.
    Sabine xxx

    • Reply Sue July 20, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Thanks Sabine! So lovely that you’ve stopped by to say Hi!

  • Reply Linda July 12, 2017 at 9:21 am

    I love this fabric. It just cried out to be a craftan sitting on a beach on the mainland! Nice work. You look great!

    • Reply Sue July 20, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Thanks Linda! I am curious to see my Aunt’s dress. I was surprised when she said she still had hers. It would be ironic if it was a caftan too!

  • Reply Barbara July 16, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    this is soooo great!! I had seen a few other versions of the pattern and yours really stands out, I can almost feel the ocean on my own feet, and the breeze flowing through this caftan! And I like the story of Margo… those childhood memories are so precious! And those stories you add make it so nice to read your blog too 😉 thanks for the advice, I am not yet going to buy this pattern now (I really have to stop buying and buying and start making some more instead ;-)) but I think I am going to put it on my wishlist, and then it’s good to know these little tricks 😉 enjoy summer there!

    • Reply Sue July 20, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks Barbara. It was really fun working with the plaid. I spoke to my Aunt recently and she still has the dress she made out of this fabric. Can’t wait to see hers.

  • Reply Bianca July 23, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    I love this on you Sue! Recently, I have been toying around with making a caftan. I have the Simplicity pattern that inspired this one. Your story and finished dress makes me want to get cracking!

    • Reply Sue July 25, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Thanks Bianca!

      Make your caftan now!!! Honestly, you will love wearing a breezy caftan and your fabric selection will be amazing…and now I can’t wait to see your Simplicity one!

  • Reply Kate July 24, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    What a lovely memory. I wonder if Margo is still swanning around in wonderful caftans? I hope so!

    I love this on you, and I extra love how the offset plaid for the inset makes it look a bit like a tromp l’oeil bow + knot.

    • Reply Sue July 25, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Oh, I wonder about Margo too. I bet she is still rockin’ the caftan look!

      I love that you see a bow and knot. Now I see it too!

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