Have you ever seen a dress that you love the fabric and the print but the style of the dress doesn’t suit your figure, style or personality? Some of the easiest and best dresses to upcycle are 1970s Kaftans. This is because they have so much yardage and are rarely cut with the exception of the neck hole.

It’s my opinion that this dress is beautiful just as it is. The problem is it’s really not wearable for me. I cannot wear it to work and be crawling around pinning hemlines.

Cool enough, the only part of this dress that has been cut is the yardage and the neckline. And it’s all original salvages.


I used a pattern for the arm holes but I should have simply draped and cut the dress on the form. The pattern was problematic in many ways due to my dress already having a neckline that I wanted to keep.


The front seemed easy. I picked a hemline, guessed at where the shoulder seam would be and cut it out. The back would prove to be the challenge.

I wanted the back to be much fuller than the front. My idea was more like a cape back and tent front that would be belted. I cut the neckline and extended the back out to pleat over the dress to get that cape look that I wanted.

I decided to fit the dress on the form, clipping together the sides, and see where I was at. PROBLEMS! The hemline was way too short in the back and even shorter in the front, I can work with that though. The pleats did not look good on the inside but looked better on the outside, this was fine also. A pleat needed to be added to the front and the arm openings were way off.

Problem solving is the fun part of sewing for me. I also wanted to use my scraps so some of these problems were the perfect opportunity.

I made a flounce (for the bottom of the dress) and some very large pockets out of my scraps. This flounce would need to be 27″ wider in the end so I got to use more scraps.

When I was finished this was all that was left of the Kaftan and I had solved a very fun puzzle.

During “Shelter in Place” also known as lockdown I started making dresses to sell. I have been working on getting my sites shopping cart up and running. Check it out!

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!