How to Sew a Summery Caftan

In the summer, fashion should be as easygoing as your attitude, and nothing is as carefree as a caftan. Whether you wear it for a day on the shore or a night on the town, a breezy caftan will keep you looking effortlessly chic for all of your warm weather adventures. And the best part about making a stylish caftan yourself? It's basically one piece of fabric that's been folded in half with two seams. So, if you can sew a straight line, you can make this caftan — and you can pair it with the perfect summer hat, too. We get the feeling that you're going to look pretty good this summer, all without breaking a sweat.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Things You'll Need

  • 2 yards of 54-inch to 56-inch-wide lightweight knit fabric for a knee-length caftan
  • 3 yards of 54-inch to 56-inch-wide lightweight knit fabric for a floor-length caftan
  • Sharp scissors
  • Disappearing ink fabric marker 
  • Measuring tape
  • Plate 
  • Pins
  • Ballpoint single sewing machine needle
  • Ballpoint double sewing machine needle
(Image: Beth Huntington)

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Step 1: Cut Off the Selvage Edge

Use a sharp pair of scissors, or a rotary cutter, and a mat to cut off the selvage edge of the fabric.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 2: Fold the Fabric in Half

Open up your fabric and fold it in half, lengthwise.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 3: Mark the Center on the Folded Edge

Use measuring tape and a washable or disappearing fabric marker to mark the center on the folded edge.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 4: Line Up a Plate With the Center Line to Cut

Line up a plate with the center mark, and place half of the plate over the mark. Then, trace around the plate with the washable fabric marker. Cut through both layers of fabric along the traced line with a sharp pair of scissors.

(Image: Beth Huntington)
(Image: Beth Huntington)
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 5: Measure and Mark Stitching Lines

Measure 10 inches down from the fold and 12 inches in from the selvage edge. Use a straight edge to mark the stitching lines with a washable fabric. Do this on both sides of the caftan.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 6: Pin and Sew Along the Stitching Lines

Pin along the stitching lines with straight pins to hold the fabric in place. Sew along both stitching lines with a ballpoint needle, removing the pins as you sew.

(Image: Beth Huntington)
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 7: Change to a Double Needle

Change your sewing machine needle to a double needle and thread two spools of thread on your machine.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 8: Finish Neckline With a Double Needle

One of the advantages of sewing with a knit fabric is that the fabric doesn't fray and hemming isn't always necessary. But when you have a curved edge, like the neckline on this caftan, it's a good idea to still hem it — it'll keep the shape from stretching out too much. To hem the neckline, fold the raw edge 1/2 inch toward the wrong side of the fabric, pin it in place and sew along the edge with the double needle. Be sure to remove the pins as you sew.


  • If you don't happen to have a double needle, you can use one of these other methods to hem your caftan.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Sewing with the double needle gives the edge a nice, finished look. You could hem the sides and the bottom of the caftan with the double needle as well, but since knit fabric doesn't fray, this isn't required.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 9: Dress to Impress

Now get your caftan on — summer is calling your name!

(Image: Beth Huntington)
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