Because of the way the dress was put together, I had to add most of the fussy details before actually constructing the dress (hence my “details” post coming first). Once I had the buttonholes and piping in, it was time to actually sew everything together.
The bodice is a basic kimono-sleeve, which I generally cut out in the same way as my pale peach Edwardian afternoon dress. When stitching it together, I left one side seam open for later insertion of the invisible zipper.
Above is a picture of the bodice piece before I attached the lower section of the back with the piped seam and buttonholes. I will note that while the waist is cut straight across here, after several tries I ended up curving it upwards at the sides so I could cut the back shorter and avoid excess blousing in the back. I added a 1″ waistband to the bodice, just in case I ever wanted to wear the dress without the belt. Due to the fabric layout I had to make the waistband out of two strips of fabric joined in the middle, and annoyingly (as you’ll see in the closeup below), I realized later that I’d cut the waistband so that the stripes were offset by one when you compared the front half to the back half. A tiny error, but I noticed.
Visualizing the skirt was somewhat complicated– I had a limited amount of fabric to work with and wanted a narrow silhouette, but I also wanted to be able to walk. I ended up making it out of two separate pieces, each separately colorblocked and hemmed, then seamed together to make the overlapped sections. I pinned the skirt in place on the dress form to mark the location of the hip darts, then tried it on myself before stitching them in permanently. Two of the darts were put in underneath the skirt overlaps, which made things a bit complicated as I couldn’t actually stitch the skirt together before fitting it.
Because the invisible zipper was at the left side seam of the bodice, which was not lined up with any seam on the skirt, I actually had to create a fake seam allowance by taking a long tuck down the entire side of the skirt, which I later slit down the center. Finally, I attached the skirt to the waistband (took me three tries to get the length right) and installed the invisible zipper in the side seam. (and there’s that offset stripe pattern I mentioned)
So here’s the layout for how I used the original caftan, front and back:
And here’s a shot of every single scrap of fabric I had left after I finished! (pen for scale) Pretty efficient, if you ask me!