What’s four words and sweet as can be? If you guessed our newest fabric, Organic Sweet Pea Gauze™, you’re right on the money! Your go-to project using this super-soft gauze may be swaddle blankets, but did you know this fabric can be used for so much more? From reversible bowl covers to reusable grocery bags, your gauze project list is endless! Today we’re celebrating the launch of our newest natural (and organic!) fabric with a visit from Spoonflower alumna, Theresa Rizzuto — you may recognize her as trizzuto in the Marketplace! Find out her tips for working with gauze and see how she put it to the test with the new Charlie caftan from Closet Case Patterns.
Theresa: When the temps are high, and the days are long, all I want to throw on in the morning is a light, airy caftan that’s chic and modern. That’s why Spoonflower’s fabulous new 100% Organic Sweet Pea Gauze™ paired with Closet Case Pattern’s Charlie caftan is a match made in hot weather heaven. When I first got my hands on this new gauze I knew it was love at first stitch! Organic Sweet Pea Gauze is bouncy and light with a soft hand and flowy drape. It’s the perfect fabric to use for an elegant caftan — I’ve been wearing mine all weekend and now as I write this post — I may never take it off! This dress would also be perfect in Poly Crepe de Chine or Chiffon!
Add a mai tai, Gold Leaves by Crystal Walen and an adirondack chair and you’re in for a perfect day of summer lounging. Let’s get to stitching, shall we?
TIPS FOR SEWING WITH ORGANIC SWEET PEA GAUZE
- The fabric is very delicate and will #frayallday if you aren’t careful, so Spoonflower recommends finishing the edges before you pre-wash. You don’t need a serger to do this — just use a zig zag stitch on your basic machine if you do not have a serger / overlock machine.
- Always pre-wash! Because Organic Sweet Pea Gauze is made from cotton, its shrinkage rate is high at 8% width and 14% in length (normal for natural fabrics). Always pre-wash your fabric and fully dry to remove shrinkage before you sew.
- Adhere fusible interfacing on your facing pieces to add structure. Because of how thin and lightweight this fabric is, interfacing will make these smaller pieces much easier to work with.
- Always stay-stitch around delicate areas of your garment where you want to avoid slight stretching. This is always good practice, but is especially important with thin, delicate fabrics like gauze.
- Choose surface designs that are lighter in color or feature a white background. As you may know, Spoonflower prints natural fabrics digitally with large format inkjet printers, so darker designs that use more ink to print can sometimes change the hand of the fabric. To keep your gauze soft and snuggly, choose light and scattered prints with white space if you can.
- Prints are likely to be off grain, so non-directional prints will work best with this fabric.
- Always finish raw edges on the inside of garments to keep them looking profesh. See above: fraying ain’t your friend!
- 3 yards (check Charlie pattern sizing chart to determine exact amount of fabric needed) of 56″ wide pre-washed Organic Sweet Pea Gauze – I’m using Gold Leaves by Crystal Walen
- Lightweight fusible interfacing
- Invisible ink pen
- Shears or rotary blade
- Polyester thread
- Straight pins
- Seam gauge
- Measuring tape
PREPARE YOUR PATTERN PIECES
I love to purchase the paper patterns from Closet Case because the watercolor fashion illustrations on the pattern covers are just so beautiful. For my caftan, I chose to go with the mini variation A, because I like the minimalist quality to it and the clean lines. If you downloaded your pattern, print it out and tape it together. If you are working with the paper version (sent in the mail), lay it out and refer to the pattern instructions to find out which pieces you need to cut out for the version you’re sewing.
FIND YOUR SIZE
I find that this caftan pattern is sized on the generously large side, so it will fit nice and boxy like a traditional caftan should. This is not meant to be a tightly fitting garment! Use your tape measure to find your size and cut your pattern out accordingly.
CUT OUT YOUR FABRIC
Fun fact: Jenga pieces work extremely well as pattern weights! Find a large space to lay out your folded fabric and arrange your pattern pieces according to the lay plans in the pattern instructions. Don’t forget to clip your notches and mark your pocket and dart placements on the wrong side of your fabric with a water-soluble pen.
STITCH BODICE TOGETHER
Lay your two bodice halves together, right sides facing, and sew the center seam up until you reach the dart placement section. Press your seam open and finish the raw edges with pinking shears or a serger.
Stay stitch the corners around the center rectangle opening. This will keep the fabric from stretching once you add in the center rectangular bodice panel and darts.
To create your center bodice darts, fold fabric onto itself starting from the dot closest to the outside edge, into the center on the wrong side of the fabric. Do the same for the other side, and sew along the top edge to secure.
ADDING THE RECTANGULAR BODICE PANEL
Adding the bodice panel is the trickiest part, especially if you’ve never sewn an inset piece before. I kind of stared at it for a while before sewing, scratching my head and trying to envision how it would all come together. Luckily, Heather (of Closet Case Patterns) anticipated my confusion and wrote a series of very helpful posts on how to tackle the bodice panel that are much more visual than the pattern instruction diagrams. She also wrote an article on how to sew a crisp v-neckline and make pattern adjustments for fit. Take a look and I promise you’ll learn something!
Before getting started, you really want to make sure your panel has fusible interfacing on it, or some sort of stabilizer attached, as this will help you get those crisp corners you’re looking for.
STITCH THE SHOULDER SEAMS
Line up the front bodice and back, right sides facing and pin the shoulder seams. Stitch and press open the seams.
STITCH AND ATTACH THE NECKLINE FACING
After stay stitching around the v of the neckline to prevent stretching (you did this in a previous step!), stitch together the front and back of the neckline facing, right sides touching.
Pin the neckline facing to the neckline, right sides together, then stitch, ⅝” away from the inside edge of the neckline. Pro-tip: a glass of rosé is an excellent sewing aid.
Flip facing to the inside of the garment and press. Measure an inch from the inside seam, and top stitch the entire neckline.
Make sure you’ve marked your pocket placements onto the wrong side of your fabric. Pin each of the four pockets to either side of your front and back bodice pieces, right sides of pockets facing.
Stitch your pockets to the seam edges of your bodice pieces, keeping your seam line inside the two circles you marked.
Flip out the pockets and match up your bodice and back pieces, right sides facing. The pockets should also be together, right sides facing. Stitch all along the outside perimeter of your garment, top to bottom including pockets.
HEM THE BOTTOM OF YOUR CAFTAN AND SLEEVES
Turn the bottom of your caftan under a quarter of an inch and press. Turn under again, ¼” to create a double hem. Press and Pin. Stitch your hem, taking care to keep the stitch as close to the top of your hem as possible.
Repeat the same process for each of the sleeves.
You’re all done! Throw on your caftan with a slip underneath to wear out and about, or use it as a swimsuit cover up (we suggest the Soma Swimsuit from Sprout Patterns) and head out to the water.
Tips for styling your caftan:
Go casual yet bold with jewelry. Chunky statement pieces like big tassel earrings or a large fabric necklace will complement the boxy silhouette of your Charlie caftan (choose either statement earrings or a statement necklace, wearing both simultaneously could end up looking top-heavy and busy). Espadrilles, open-toe clogs, and sandals with chunky straps will tie the look together resulting in effortless chicness! For inspiration, Heather of Closet Case put together a pretty killer Pinterest board featuring her fave styled caftan looks.
I can’t wait to see how you style your gauze caftan and don’t forget to share your project with #spoonflower! Happy sewing, caftan-istas!
Theresa (a proud former Spoonie!) is a sewist, designer and maker living in Denver, Colorado. By day, she works as a Lifecycle Marketer for Craftsy, and by evening, she crams as much sewing, painting and exploring into her hours as possible. Check out Theresa’s Spoonflower designs, or shop her original watercolor illustrations on Etsy.