Well, I ended my last post by saying I would post this pattern test as soon as I were able to, but hadn’t realised that Closet Core Patterns had updated the Charlie Caftan extended sizing the same day as the Kalle pattern! Hah. I have the Kalle as a digital pattern, so got the update automatically, but as my Charlie pattern is a paper copy, I hadn’t realised, as I wouldn’t have received that update. At this point it’s pretty much impossible to know who has bought a paper pattern, I guess!
Anyway, the Charlie Caftan pattern has been out for quite a while and, similarly to the Kalle, I signed up to test the 16 in the new range, which is based around a D cup block. If you haven’t seen the Charlie before, it’s a very sculptural caftan pattern, with options in varying levels of expressiveness. Both versions have a deep V neck, dolman sleeves and the signature set-in panel in the middle of the centre front. This is the only part of the dress that’s a little tricky to sew, but Closet Core Patterns has a nice sewalong on their website, which is full of photos and advice.
I made Version B, which has gathers at the front, as opposed to the pleat in View A, and I also went for the waist ties and the giant sleeve. There are two sizes: large and GIANT – and of, course, I wanted to try the GIANT one. Did I mention it’s GIANT? That was actually my main regret with the make as I think the giant sleeve with this particular fabric, which is a lovely soft Holli Zollinger cotton sateen (from Nerida Hansen), is just a bit too large on my frame. It doesn’t look so different from the model pictures, but I probably should have used a fabric with more drape, or the smaller sleeve with this fabric. It’s not terrible – I just feel a little like an extra from Dynasty.
Now, as I say, I was testing the extended range and the whole point is the fit of the new range. I was super happy with the fit of the D cup – the Kalle fit me really well, so clearly their new block works for moi – yippee! The dress fits me perfectly both on the horizontal and the vertical, which you can see from the side view below. Even though I added the waist ties, the hem is perfectly straight, and so often (so often) the front will pull up with a fuller bust, which can be a bit annoying. Not here!
As with the Kalle, the team at CCP have added darts to the extended range, which is always excellent for the larger cups and they did the job nicely here. Mine were a touch too high, which is not unusual for my lady lumps, but I know that this was adjusted post-test, so might not be an issue at all now. They tweaked a couple of other things too, like shaping the waist more, which I think is a great idea – and is in fact why I went for the waist ties in the first place. I always like a bit more shaping!
I want to give credit where credit is due and, at the risk of sounding like a sook, the team at Closet Core Patterns clearly pay close attention to the feedback they receive and actively make changes to the patterns based on that. I know it sounds like that should be obvious, but I’ve had occasions (not for a while thank goodness) where you wonder if anyone even read your feedback, never mind used it, and it all seems a bit of a PR checkbox exercise.
Anyway, unlike the Kalle, I hadn’t made the Charlie pattern before, although it was on my list for summer and I had purchased the original paper pattern already. The instructions are not for the total beginner (most CCP patterns are aimed at intermediate and advanced sewers), but this is not a very complicated pattern and there’s a sewalong to hold your hand a little more, so an adventurous beginner would do just fine.
As I mentioned before, the bodice panel is the part that most people bring up with regards to the Charlie construction process and it is indeed a little tricky. It helps if you’ve done a welt pocket or something similar before, but hopefully the website sewalong will give you the extra pointers you might need.
I took a few pics of the process in case they’re helpful to anyone, but I confess that, unfortunately, my notes went mysteriously missing (anyone else experience that in their households? I mean, they looked like scribbly rubbish, but no need to actually bin them) and so I have only these pictures. I know that I found it easier to draw the whole rectangle onto the pattern piece as per the first picture, but my other pearls of wisdom are, sadly, gone with the binmen. Oh well. Hopefully if you’re making this pattern, it will aid you.
I made this pattern at the end of summer and it served as a perfect throw-over with swimwear or a casual trip out. I would really love to make the long version with something drapier and perhaps one size down in the shoulder area. There are so many beautiful examples out there that I know next summer I will be back at this pattern… to be continued…
If you already had the Charlie pdf, you should have an update in your inbox. Otherwise, there’s a 25% discount on this and the Kalle until November 8th, so hasten on yonder. Bye for now!