I’m a fan of the kaftan.
I wear them as nightgowns, day dresses and over my swimsuits. They offer incredible ease of wear and are amazingly breezy when the summer heat and humidity climbs. So when I saw Cris Woods’ Envelope Dress, I knew I had to try making one!
I had purchased the Tropical Birds yellow linen from The Maker Studio last year with the intention of making the Muna and Broad Spinifex PJs, but life had got in the way and the 6 meters was just lying in my stash screaming “Kaftan! Kaftan! Kaftan!”
The pattern for the Envelope Dress is less of a traditional pattern and more of a formula that you plug in your measurements to get your pattern pieces. The pattern consists of 3 panels (2 in the front and one in the back) based on your hip measurement plus a denoted amount of ease. The instruction booklet does offer a link to some resources for minor adjustments and being that the pattern is based on your own personal measurements, Cris Woods states that the pattern is size inclusive and very beginner friendly.
I figured it would be the perfect low effort project to get back into sewing because if you read my last blog post, you’ll remember I’ve been slowly getting my sewjo back after major surgery.
The pattern was easy to understand and mark out on the fabric, super simple to cut out and sew together. I would definitely recommend this project for beginner sewists – even as a very first sewing project! The major construction is all straight lines and the minor edge finishing doesn’t have to be perfect to get a nice looking garment.
I write the above recommendation with one catch. This is the perfect project for straight sized and smaller bodies. If you fall above a US size 20, carry weight in your biceps, neck and/or shoulders, this pattern will likely not work for you without major retooling and adjustments.
Due to the design of the neck hole being a long narrow longitudinal open seam, neck circumference eats into available width of this opening, making it feel tight even when extra depth is added to this part of the pattern.
The design relies on being shapeless to fit a variety of bodies- but fat bodies require at least minimal shaping to account for – well, the shape of our fat bodies. Bodies don’t simply grow wider as we get fat, fat bodies will accumulate more fat in certain areas of the body due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to hormones, body type (Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph,) and genetics.
The fit issues with the Envelope Dress highlight the need for proper grading of patterns by individuals who understand how bodies grow and move. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as making a pattern wider or a neck hole longer. Bodies have a shape and clothing should honor that.
It’s my understanding that patterns that came after The Envelope Dress address some of the fit issues I’ve pointed out, and I look forward to trying them in the future.