Simple Sew- Kaftan Dress & Tunic

In italian there is a splendid word, il prendisole, which can be translated -albeit inaccurately- into “the sunshine-catcher”. More accurately it would be “beach cover up”, but you I’m sure you will agree with me some magic is lost in the translation!

Please welcome in my Prendisole!


The mood of this dress is happy-go-lucky, a beach dress to wear when having ice cream, walking barefoot in powdery sand, exposing a vast expanse of skin to the golden sunshine. I was so happy this dress was ready for the heatwave we’ve had in London this bank holiday weekend!

I will quickly walk you through the most exciting details of putting this dress together:

I used this fabulously summery cotton poplin generously provided by Sew Essential. It’s buttery soft and in the extreme heat of the last few days it felt very much like wearing a cloud.

The pom poms, are from the Craft Superstore in Tooting (highly recommended to all Londoners), but I warn you I snatched the last two metres in existence.

Laying out and cutting:

First things first, I have managed to cut this dress from 105cm of fabric. No jokes.

Lay out your fabric so that the selvedges meet in the centre, to minimise fabric waste – it’s always a good trick to give a try. Obviously it’s more likely to work with small sizes, and it worked in this case as I had shortened the maxi skirt into a mini skirt. If I’ve managed to confuse you I hope the pic below will help:



The construction of this dress is incredibly straightforward and I put this dress together in one day. Ready to whip up on a Saturday and wear it hot off the sewing machine the next day. One thing I would genuinely recommend is to french your seams: it will give the most comfortable finish whilst looking absolutely pro. This dress is a great chance to practice them as there are only 4 seams!

My tips for teeny meeny french seams is to pink the inside, before stitching the right sides together.

An example below:


(stitch wrong sides together and pink as close as possible to the stitching line, then fold right sides together and stitch enclosing the pinking line in between)

After Stitching the shoulder seams it’s time to finish the neckline with bias binding. I decided to have the bias binding on the inside, rather than exposed as the pattern suggested, because I was using the same fabric and there wasn’t going to be any contrast. Making your own bias binding it’s the simplest thing, and you don’t need any gimmicky contraption! All you need is three long pins, iron and ironing board.

You will create a channel with the pins so that you can feed the bias strip through and it will fold all by itself (if you need any help with creating a continuous bias strip I used this great tutorial and this absolutely fantastic calculator!). Just take care of measuring the width of the channel you are creating to make sure the bias binding will be the right width.

Simply pull it slowly through while pressing with the iron. A bit fidgety perhaps, but so rewarding!

After finishing the neckline I jumped straight on the waist channel, since lacking contrasting bias binding I had already decided to simply hem my sleeves. This is maybe the only fidgety part of the whole garment, but it leaves you with all seams perfectly enclosed and a really comfortable dress, so it’s worth taking the time to do things slowly and accurately. My last trick has to do with the drawstring, since I decided to drop it entirely.

I made a pretty bow with some spare bias binding and pom poms, which actually is only a mock-fastening as it goes in between the two buttonholes and goes out again (the whole thing is maybe 25cm long). I have replaced the drawstring with an elastic, measured quickly by tying a length around my waist and slipped in with a safety pin. Last thing I want when I get at the beach is faffing around with a drawstring! Cute & comfy, what else can you ask?

Now it’s time for me to go back to catching all the sunshine!

Oh and sorry, just thought I should show you the back – however not much goes on in here.

Speak to you all very soon,



*as published originally on the Simple Sew Blog, all thoughts are my own. 

2 thoughts on “Simple Sew- Kaftan Dress & Tunic

Add yours

  1. I love the idea of a sun-catcher dress (if I try to translate into Croatian, it sounds too similar to the word for deckchair!). And a nice reminder of how important French seams are in making your feel good about what you’re making and wearing. Hope you get some chances to wear this in September.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahah, I’ll try to work out the Croatian translation! I’m trying to get into a slow-sewing mindset, and good seam finish is really helping 😉 still thinking of that beautiful blouse you had on when we went for lunch. I need to find your post about it!


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