As a belly dancer, it’s important to wear a cover-up before and after performance so you make a great impact when you’re in your magical costume on stage. 🙂
I did a Caftan inspired cover-up tutorial a while ago, but I wanted to make one that opens in the front. It makes more sense especially when you are wearing a heavily-decorated costume and want to wear a cover-up over it.
Plus I wanted to make a cover-up that’s inspired by real Moroccan Caftan dresses, which are quite different than what’s known as Caftan in Western fashion. I really love the more fitted look of Moroccan Caftan dresses!
So in this post, you’ll see how to make an open front cover-up that’s easy to put on over a costume, and it comes with pockets to keep your zills or your phone to take pictures with. I’m quite happy with how this turned out, and excited to share it with you. Let’s get started!
To make this DIY Caftan style open front cover-up, you need:
3 ¼ yd (3m) of soft and lightweight fabric – if you are tall, make it 4yds. I recommend soft and flowy knit or viscose/rayon or satin for this project.
4 ¼ yd (4m) of trimmings
Matching colour thread
5 sets of bra hooks and eyes
Pocket pattern – you can use your own pocket pattern, or you can download my free pocket pattern from here.
How to Make DIY Caftan style front open cover-up with pockets
First, take these 3 measurements:
- From the centre of your neck to your elbow
- Your waist
- The largest part of your hips
Fold your fabric in half, right sides together, and stand in front of a mirror. Hold the fold against the top of your shoulders and adjust the fold until the bottom edge of the front layer touches the floor about an inch or a couple of cm.
Then hold the fold with your chin and place the fold on your shoulder, and mark where your waistline is with a pin. Also mark your hipline where you measured the largest part of your hips.
If you have someone to help, that’s easier, but it was doable by myself. This doesn’t have to be super accurate. These marks should just give you rough estimates. (I figured this would be easier than measuring from shoulder to waistline and hipline. But feel free to do so and transfer the measurements to your fabric if that makes more sense!)
Place the folded fabric on a flat surface.
Fold it in half lengthwise.
From the folded corner, measure your neck to elbow measurement.
At the waistline, measure ¼ of your waistline measurement plus 2in (5cm).
Connect the elbow mark to this mark with a smooth curve.
At the hip line, measure ¼ of your hip measurement plus 2in (5cm).
Connect the waistline mark with the hipline mark. And from the hipline mark, draw a line towards the corner of the fabric.
Measure the length from the waistline to the bottom of the fabric along the fold, and measure it along the line you just drew from the waistline mark.
Connect that point to the centre bottom with a smooth curve.
Add 1/2in (1cm) to the sides for a seam allowance.
And cut along the lines. Open up, and cut along the fold at the top.
Take one of them, fold it in half lengthwise. From the top of the fold, measure 5in (12.5cm) along the raw edge and mark it with a fabric marker.
Along the fold, measure down 8in (20cm) and mark the point.
Connect these two points, and cut along the line. Then cut along the fold. These are going to be your front panels.
Take the other panel, and fold lengthwise. From the top of the fold, measure 5in (12.5cm) along the raw edge and mark it with a fabric marker.
Then along the fold, measure down 1in (2.5cm) and mark the point.
Connect these two points with a smooth curve, and cut along the line. This is going to be your back panel.
Now from the leftover fabric, cut out 2 pairs of the pocket pattern, so you have 4 panels in total. Make sure you have 2 of one side and 2 of the opposite side.
Place 1 side of the pocket on one of the front panels right sides together, from 2in (5cm) from the waistline corner. I’m placing it much lower here, but later I realized about 2in from the waistline is much better. Make sure the pocket panel is pointing down. Pin it in place and sew them together along the straight edge of the pockets with a 1/2in (1cm) seam allowance.
Do the same for the other front panel.
Then place the rest of the pocket panels on the back panel right sides together, from 2in (5cm) down from the waistline corner. Sew them in place.
Place front panels and back panels right sides together, and take out all pockets panels out and match them up. Sew the shoulder seams and from the waistline corner down, around the curved edges of the pockets, and down to the hem line, all at a 1/2in (1cm) seam allowance.
Here I did the hairline seams. You simply do a straight stitch with a 1/2in (1cm) seam allowance, then go back in to do a zigzag stitch close to the straight stitch. Then trim the seam allowance down close to the zigzag stitch. This is a nice technique for sewing seams with lightweight fabrics.
Then finish up the raw edges at sleeves, neckline, front opening and the hem. I used rolled hem.
Finally, we’ll sew on the trimming. Place your trimming from the bottom of the front opening to the bottom of the neckline, around the neckline and back to the bottom. Leave an inch or so at both ends and tuck them to the wrong side. Pin it along the edge and sew along both edges using a straight stitch.
If your trimming has small loops or fuzzy edges, place it so that the loops stick out beyond the edge of the front panel. This way, the fabric underneath won’t show when you close the front panels together.
Now starting from the bottom of the front neck line, mark 5 points every 4in (10cm) on the wrong side of the front panels on both sides. Take your hand sewing needles, and sew on bra hooks on the right side and eyes on the left side at every point you marked.
Align the edges of the hooks and eyes with the edge of the fabric. With the trimming, they may look a bit too far apart, but when you close the front and with a little stretch which will be there when you wear it, there will be no gap in the middle.
If you want more of a caftan dress look, you can create a little belt by cutting a strip that is your waist measurement + 1in (2.5cm) by 4in (10cm).
Fold it in half, right sides together, and do a straight stitch at a 1/2in (1cm) seam allowance.
Turn it inside out, give it a good press, and fold in the ends about 1/2in (1cm) and do a top stitch. Sew on 2 sets of hooks and eyes at the top and bottom of the belt, and your very own caftan style cover-up is complete!
It’s lightweight and flowy, and so easy to put on because it opens in the front. I love having pockets at the sides to keep little things with me before and after performance. I think this is an ultimate dance cover-up for me!
In my next 2 videos, you’ll see how to make this lace costume that I’m wearing on the inside. So if you want to know how to make it, stay tuned! 😉
I hope you liked this open-front cover-up DIY, and if you did, please share with your dancer friends!
And sign up for Sparkly Belly newsletter from here to get the pocket pattern for free and be notified when the next videos come out.
Thanks for reading, and keep sparkling! 😀
P.S. Pin for future reference 😉