Full-On Monet Vintage Vogue 8551 Caftan

This caftan is a full-on Monet. (For those of you that don’t immediately know the Clueless reference, it’s something that’s beautiful from far away but up close, well…). Rather than pick apart what’s wrong with it (and why it went wrong and what I’d do different next time around) as is my tendency, I’m going to just take a step (or two) back.

We went to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago and a side effect of trying to get a toddler to make a 3 hour time zone change is some pretty dang early mornings. But taking a step back from early-morning crankiness, it sure made for a pretty photoshoot! I felt to exotic and luxurious in my beautiful caftan watching a beautiful sunrise.

I used vintage Vogue 8551 from 1973. I found it at the thrift store on the same day as the pink fabric and it seemed like kismet. Forget the fact that I had no intention of sewing a robe any time soon and plenty of other half-finished projects in my queue, I had to sew this immediately. I ended up underlining the bodice and half the length of the skirt with two different pink rayons I had in my stash. They were a bit darker than ideal but they were what I had and, as you can see with the sleeves, the caftan would have been pretty completely see-through without the underlining!

I was never a robe person before having a kid but I was also never one for getting out of bed quickly after waking up (that’s an understatement. I hate waking up.) and I don’t really have a say in the matter at this point in my life. This caftan turned out to be perfect for our Hawaii trip as we shared a townhouse with friends (who have a similar aged toddler). I could jump out of bed and toss this on and actually feel elegant as I swanned about in this beauty, chasing manic toddlers, despite the ungodly early hour and a complete lack of sleep.

I happened to have these leaf buttons in my stash and I thought they were a fun detail. Rather than make giant fabric loops to hold them (the pattern calls for small buttons with fabric loops) I made elastic loops. They’re only barely visible if you know to look for them and this isn’t a garment that I encourage close examination of (remember, full-on Monet).

The pattern was interesting in how it was constructed. The bottom of the armhole was finished with a facing and the top of the armhole wasn’t really finished, it was just the seam allowance of the sleeve to the shoulder. The belt was narrower than the front and back but only attached at the sleeve seam so it caused soft, uncontrolled Front/Back gathering into the waist. The sides are rouched to create waist shaping. I added the matching belt piece on the right side (though I wouldn’t do it again as you really can’t see it because of the size and shape of the sleeves).

Treating this caftan as a Monet has been a good exercise for me. It’s probably a principle I could learn from and apply to many areas of my life, but rather than getting too philosophical, I’ll just say I’m glad I sewed this caftan, I enjoy wearing it, and hot dang don’t it look pretty from far away.

Comments 4

  1. I feel much the same way about a white shirt dress I made a few weeks ago from a sheer, flimsy fabric. Actually about everything I’ve ever sewn from chiffon. ???? the robe does like look absolutely gorgeous!

  2. Oh I thought this was a dress! I would totally wear it as one. Thanks for showing the sideview I wondered how the sleeves were constructed.

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