July 23, 2012

Changing Shape

I was given this lovely caftan by my friend Julia, proprietor at Basya Berkman Vintage Fashions.  When she's scouting out fun vintage outfits, she sometimes finds things she thinks I'll probably like.  She is nearly always spot on correct!  It's like having my own personal shopper.  

This caftan has lots for me to like.  For one, I always love woven plaids.  I love to explore the subtle color variations as the stripes of colors cross and interweave.  I also like all the embroidered details.  And in this incredibly hot, hot summer, I've taken to wearing dresses all the time - so much cooler even than shorts.

But there's just one problem.  You'll notice the long straight shape of the caftan.  But I am not a long straight shaped woman.  It fit my shoulders and bust just fine, but it barely managed to span my hips and belly, with much pulling and buckling of fabric.

The other day, while looking through my fabrics to find things for a quilt repair job, I came across this great stripe.  The colors couldn't be more perfect!!!!  And it's a woven, not printed, stripe, to boot.

As I turned the caftan inside out to start the reconstruction process, I discovered that the embroidery had been backed with newsprint as a stabilizer.

Here's the section with the most paper showing, and a close up.  I wonder what language this is.

I thought I'd find an easy answer by checking the label, but..........

So if anyone out there knows what language this is, and where my new caftan is from, I'd love to hear from you.  Thanks!

So I went back to the sewing part of the project.  After figuring out how much extra width I needed at the hips, I cut long triangles from the striped fabric.  I opened up the side seams and the sleeve seams at the armpits, and inserted the triangles.

Here's the finished look, nice and roomy and swishy: 

Now that there's more than enough width and the fabric doesn't get hung up on my hips, it might be a tad long.  But for now, I'm going to wear it as is and see how it goes.  It feels kind of luxurious.

Thanks, Julia!


  1. Your alteration looks great on you!

    The language is Arabic, so your caftan could be from almost anywhere in the world. The caftan shape narrows it down perhaps to Middle East: I suggest that because at bellydance class an Egyptian woman sometimes brought clothes for us to buy, including caftans to cover up our bellydance clothes when we're going to a performance.

  2. Looking on Google I see a number of Tarek Saed Egyptian galebayas (Kaftans) on EBay...

  3. Thanks, friends! Yes, I thought it looked like Arabic, so thanks for the confirmation, Shauna. And I'd love it to be Egyptian - after all, it was my childhood fascination with ancient Egypt that eventually lead to my anthro/archeology degree. I found a translator and tried putting the Middle Eastern country names into Arabic script, but haven't found any that match what's on the label.