Edwardian Caftan Conversion, Part II: Details

While putting together this dress, I had a lot of fun putting in small, fiddly details that I think make it look more authentic. Many of them had to be planned and inserted before the dress was actually constructed, so I figured I’d post about them first.

For example, I added piping to the seams between the striped and blue fabrics– I made it out of the extra fabric I cut out of the sides, and because I’m insane I cut it on the bias, requiring me to piece together a few dozen short sections of fabric to get a long enough strip to make piping. (yes, I know it’s normal to make bias piping, but since this piping was only used in straight lines it really wasn’t necessary)

I also added a wholly unnecessary seam across the back of the bodice, which I piped before adding a row of fabric-covered buttons (size 36, if you’re curious) to it, just for fun. I stitched buttonholes, too, which are barely visible under the sewn-on buttons but which add to the illusion of a complicated Edwardian closure. I’m probably going to have to improve my posture now to avoid leaning back in a chair and hurting my back on those shank-back buttons…

I stitched similarly fake buttonholes down the skirt overlap before topstitching it down to keep it closed– I suppose I could have made them real and actually buttoned the skirt closed, but I wanted to ensure that the skirt would lie smooth, which meant not risking unevenly-spaced buttons. I left the seam open for the blue section of the skirt– this allowed for more freedom of movement as I walked– and added the buttons at the end (size 45). I note that as the metal button-fronts were shiny (and showed through the weave of my fabric when hit by light) I gave them a light coat of white paint before covering them to dull the lustre a bit. It worked really well– much easier than doing a double-layer of fabric the way I did on my peach picnic dress.

I also added another fake overlap on the opposite side in the back, leaving it open a little higher this time, again to allow me to walk more easily. More buttons on just the blue section so I wouldn’t end up sitting on them. Tip: to get your shank-back buttons to lie flat without tipping over, push the wire shank so it’s flatter against the button– at about a 45-degree angle. If you do it before stitching you can really make sure your stitches stabilize the button, but even if you do it afterwards it’ll help.

I made a pleated belt to cinch in the waist– it’s a touch narrower than I’d intended, but it’s fine. I made it by ironing and then topstitching a few rows of pleats into a long strip of fabric, then stitching the pleated strip to a flat strip and turning it for clean edges. It fastens with snaps in the back– I thought about having the closure line up with the row of buttons on the skirt and adding a decorative button to finish it, but decided that it would distract from the embroidery.

Finally, I put in additional size 36 buttons on the sleeve cuffs, complete with totally useless buttonholes– I added them on a whim, but I think they’re cute.


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