Easy BHOF 'Caftan'

So, I promised I would post a tutorial as to how I made my Game of Thrones inspired 'caftan' for BHOF this year. I use the word 'caftan' loosely, as I'm not really sure it fits the dictionary definition, but as it's voluminous, unstructured, draped and comfortable, I just decided to go with it. So here are some pictures of the finished piece which I made in under an hour. And let me tell you, it took five times longer to photograph and document how I made the dress, than to actually make it!

The next two photos show how you can wear the dress to cover up your sides, or....

... opt to show part of your hips and/or butt. Same dress, just worn slightly differently.

And here's a closeup of the halter neck detail.

The wooden piece that is holding the halter neck is actually a purse handle I bought at a fabric store for $1. If you don't want to do this, or can't find something similar, no worries, it's completely optional.

So the reason I was able to make this so easily and quickly is largely due to the fabric I used. This is a stretch polyester jersey (I think... it's definitely synthetic. Guessing that it's poly.) that will not fray when cut and has some weight to it. Which is why it drapes so nicely. I stumbled across this fabric and loved the pattern and price; $4.00 per yard. I used approximately 3 yards and the fabric is 60" wide. This fabric does not require hemming. Lycra would work as well. In fact you can use any fabric that will drape nicely, but if you don't want to have to hem and finish all the seams, stick with a jersey or similar stretch fabric.

Oh, I should state that I completely invented this design by draping fabric over a very good-sport in the form of Mr. Clicquot. I did not borrow this pattern from anyone, I just farted around with the fabric until I came up with this. I looked at a dozen or so photos of Game of Thrones handmaiden dresses and wanted something similar. I think I came pretty close given how simple this is.

Here are the inspiration images. Not a bad facsimile if I do say so myself!

I measured how much fabric I needed by doing the following:

I grabbed the fabric and held it out at my full arm span, and then DOUBLED this length. Yes, it's a lot of fabric. I also looked in the mirror to see how much I would have to trim off the bottom edge where it's touching the floor. Because this will be the actual length of your dress. This fabric made it easy because of the patterning, I just cut off the bottom solid grey band and that gave me a length that just skims the floor. How much you have to trim obviously depends on your height.

Once you have your double-arm-span length of fabric, fold it in half length wise, with good sides of fabric together run one seam to join the two cut edges. This gives you what is basically a huge tube of fabric.

This seam is the CENTER BACK of your dress, and if you are using a jersey or lycra, there is no need to finish these seams. It's good as is. Now all you have to do is sew on a couple of 'tabs' of fabric and you are done. Yah. Seriously.

What you are going to do, is take whatever strip of fabric you have left over from where you trimmed it to the right length at the floor. Or, if you are super tall, you may have to cut another strip. You basically want a piece of fabric that is about 3-4 inches wide by a couple feet long as in the photo below.

Right side to right side you are going to fold this in half length wise and stitch the length to create a tube that is a couple feet long by a couple or so inches wide. Turn it right side out and press it flat with an iron.

Cut off a piece of this tube that is anywhere from 4-6" long, fold it in half length-wise and stitch right over top of the CENTER BACK SEAM that you just created on the caftan

You now have a loop of fabric at the centre back of the dress. This next photo of Mr. Clicquot will show you what you have just created.

Do you see how you have just created the back half of this dress?? Ridiculous, right? Now you need to do something similar on the FRONT side of the dress and you are done. Go back to your pressed fabric tube and measure from shoulder edge to shoulder edge, add an extra 10-12 inches, and cut however long that is. This is going to be the halter neck. Then you are going to stitch this tube along the CENTER FRONT of the dress so you end up with this.

Here's a closeup of where I attached this tube.

Obviously you want to attach this neck tube on the reverse side of the fabric. Believe it or not, the dress is now done. I'm going to proceed to show you how to tie the dress, as well as how I included the optional wooden piece.

As I mentioned, I found a super inexpensive wooden purse handle at a local fabric store. (Dressew for those of you in Vancouver). You could also use a metal ring, or anything that you can thread through the neck tube. Here is what I did.

I bought some silky rope in a coordinating colour (again this is optional, you could use use a thin strip or braid of the dress fabric) that was maybe 5 feet long and cut it in half. I threaded each half through the purse handle holes and tied a knot at the end of the rope.

Be sure to tape the ends before you cut the rope to stop if from fraying, and also leave a 'tail' at the end of the knot. Thread the tail back through the hole as in the image below and pull taut.

Now, thread the whole handle through the neck tube.

Now all that's left is tying this baby up. Hubby Clicquot is incredibly willing to assist. Step into the tube and pull it up to your neck.

Is it incredibly weird that I'm turned on by what a willing guinea pig he is?? What a guy. Anyhow, from the back, what you are going to see is this:

Even Miss Bella is thinking this doesn't look right. But I promise it is. Grab the centre back loop and pull it up to your neck and thread through the ropes.

(Please feel free to say hello to Bruno... hubby Clicquot... and commend his modelling skills when you see him at BHOF.) Anyhow, thread through the second rope, and tie into a tidy bow or knot per your preference.

To finish the ends of the rope I found these little bell-shaped finial thingies at the fabric store. Add whatever you want to the ends of the rope. Tassels would be nice, for instance.

The last step is to belt this baby. If you have a fabulous belt, use it! I just used an extra piece of fabric from the dress.

Wrap your belt from the front, around to the back and UNDER the back panel so that the belt is sitting next to the skin of your back.

Adjust the sides of the front panels to cover as much skin as you want to cover...

And that's it!!!

This design is unbelievably forgiving. I mean... it drapes as nicely on Hubby Clicquot as it does on me and we are VERY differently shaped. Here's a reminder of what it looks like on a female.

I hope to see others wearing this at BHOF! I plan on making more because it's so fast, easy, comfortable and flattering. I wore it last night and got compliments from complete strangers. My only price for sharing this information??? Share the link to my blog!

xoxo Cheers, Viv!

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