I have seen this made as a “towel dress” in the 1970s and in some vintage patterns. If you already have a few garments under your belt this dress is a fun challenge. This dress also works with large print art motifs, personalized art and many more endless possibilities.


























I have been obsessed with the Kaftan style dress after making one for Stephanie’s wedding. They can be really easy or complex. I hear they are all the rage in Italy as well. Vintage styles are so classic that you will never be out of style.


Here’s the basics of it! First measure all of your panels to make sure they will fit loosely around your body. I added side panels to my width just in case to give me 60″ total with my 40″ hips. This gives me 20″ of ease (wiggle room)


























I cut a hole for my neckline by folding the panel in fourths. Remember to cut the neckline smaller just in case. I love a boat neck. Try it on to see where the length hits and make sure your neck hole is ok. lol.

Drape horizontal panels over your body to check length. You can always block these pieces to make them larger or longer.



























Measure front bust where the panel will start. Mine measures at 19″ so that is how much I will be gathering my skirt panels to.










Grab your favorite beverage because this dress goes fast. It goes especially fast if you prepare your machines for action the day before.

I like to bind the neckline first while it’s just a little piece of fabric. Its easier to work on flat pieces than 3D.

3 simple tips~

If using vintage bias tape check for dry rot by pulling in the tape each direction. I’ve seen some crumble to ashes.

Because black thread is already in my machine I chose black bias tape to save time.

I applied bias tape to the inside so that it will show up on the outside when finished.


Start blocking your front and back panels. Gather front and back separately. DO NOT sew the front and back pieces together yet!

Next serge or finish the edges of that bodice piece. You can use pinking sheers or a zigzag stitch. While there go ahead and serge the front and back panels separately so they will be finished too. This saves time by having everything done at once.


























Press, but do not sew, all seam allowances for your hemlines right now while you have 3 separate pieces.





















Gather, separately, the front and back bodice pieces to your front bust measurement plus 1″ for seam allowance.





















We are getting there! This is the only tricky part. Fold the bodice fabric in fourths to find center of front and back bottom edges. Take your pre-gathered pieces and find center tops of those. Start pinning them together.


You can use your iron to press a line instead of a marking tool to find that center fold.

While you are there pin the back too.

Dress should look like the last picture. Pretty easy!

I sew 1/2″ seam allowances when I am making stuff up because it’s easy to multiply and add in seam allowance. Also, if you move your needle all the way to the left the raw edge of the fabric will always be a half inch away. You can do your favorite seam allowance as there are no real rules here. Just be sure you have plenty of ease.






















Now is the time to add your ties to the waist line if you want them. I added 2 to the outside waist and 2 in the same spot to the inside for 2 different looks of this dress. I can tie it at the waist and let the inside ones hang or tie the inside ones to the outside ones at the bottom of the skirt to make the garment shorter likes drapes. This is something I learned from the long Carillon park brewery dresses.

Now fold front to back with right sides together, pin and sew 1/2″ seam allowance down the sleeves and the sides of your dress.



















Hem those already pressed hemlines.






















I just wish I would have done pockets but that’s another story.


Behind the scenes~

You may have seen this Dress in the Dayton City Paper.


















Thank you for reading!

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!











Tracy McElfresh
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