Susan Young Kaftan refashion

Simple Sew Kaftan refashion by Susan Young

Lorna Malkin Pattern Review 0 Comments

Simple Sew blogger, Susan shows off her skills with this clever Kaftan pattern refashion. Find out how she turned her floaty holiday dress into cosy pyjamas

Two years ago, one of my early makes as a Simple Sew blogger was the Kaftan pattern made in a tropical print cotton lawn kindly given by Doughty’s online fabric store. It was very much a ‘holiday’ garment but, even so, I didn’t wear it as much as I’d hoped. Whilst the fabric was quite lightweight there was too much of it around my legs. It was probably a size too large and the whole thing looked too bulky. It would have been better in something like a very lightweight cotton voile or Batiste. Or a printed chiffon or georgette as a swimsuit cover-up.

Susan Young Kaftan refashion


Anyway, rather than make another new garment for my next Simple Sew post, I’ve decided to refashion the Kaftan into pyjamas. Retaining the top section and cutting shorts from the remainder using the Lapwing trouser pattern.

Starting from the top

Firstly, I studied myself in the mirror wearing the Kaftan. I decided to reduce it to approximately 25cms long from the original waist seam at the side.I would make it level all the way around. Although, the waist seam rises up at the centre front. With the remaining fabric of the skirt I would make the shorts.

I took the cord out of the waist and initially thought I would replace it with elastic instead. Eventually,  I changed my mind. I felt the sleeves were a bit long and restrictive to sleep in. So, I shortened those too by about 5-6cms. I removed the pompom trim first. Although, I didn’t reuse that in the end because I opted to create a curved opening on the shoulder seam instead, to soften the lines.

The photos will explain better what I did there. I partly unpicked the shoulder seam and overlocking sufficiently far that I could re-overlock the edges singly and then roll hem finish them so that the overlock stitches were enclosed.

Additionally, I took quite a bit of fullness out of the bust section at the underarm so that it would fit closer to my ribcage. I didn’t remove any corresponding fullness from the newly-shortened skirt though. I simply pleated it up to fit the top part and rejoined them together at the waist seam.

Then, I neatened the new hem using the overlocked rolled hem method again and finally trimmed the waist seam with co-ordinating pink rick-rack from Backstitch. I decided against putting elastic in the original casing because I felt it would ride up while I slept and become annoying around my ribcage. This has proven to be the right choice because the top is comfortably loose without being huge.

Adjusting the shorts

Moving on to the shorts. I used a RTW pair I’ve had for years to compare measurements and length. Plus, I wanted to compare against the size chart for the Lapwing trousers. I traced off the pattern (in a size 14) because I wanted to create a hem similarly-shaped to my RTW ones for the shorts. They have a slight upward curve at the side seams. I dithered about adding pockets as per the pattern but in the end I left them out. I thought about adding a patch pocket on the back instead but I didn’t do that either!

When cutting the leg pieces I was able to fold the remaining front skirt section down the original centre front line. I cut a pair of front shorts pieces from that. I placed the piece as near to the top as possible so that I had the maximum amount of fabric left to cut the bias strips from.

In order to hem the curve I made a wide bias band pattern piece. Ideally, I would have cut one for each leg but the remaining pieces of fabric didn’t allow me to do that. So, I cut several shorter pieces which I joined to make a long enough strip.

As is very often the case the back section of trousers was bigger than the front. This meant I couldn’t cut it out of folded fabric. I laid the fabric out flat instead and cut them singly using the centre fold as my guide for the grain and making sure to flip one so that I had a pair, not two the same!


I joined each side seam first, neatened it and pressed towards the back. Having joined the bias strips I pressed over one long edge by 1cm. In order the self-neaten the hem I placed each strip RIGHT side to WRONG side of the shorts and stitched it in position. Then the strip flips up to the right side, thus also being right side out and enclosing the raw edges. You could simply top stitch this in place along the folded pressed edge. Or, add a trim, I put more rick rack on here to match the top. Now sew up and neaten the inseams.

The rest of the shorts were very straightforward. I placed one leg inside the other so that the crotch seam was right sides together. Then, I stitched it twice a couple of millimetres apart before neatening.

I pressed over the top edge by 3.5cms. Then, I made two round-ended buttonholes for the ribbon to come through at the centre front. Next, I top stitched close to the top fold. Afterwards, I sewed another row of stitching 3cms from the fold to create the elastic channel. Then, I measured my elastic for a comfortable fit. Afterwards, I added a short piece of dusky pink ribbon to each end of the elastic. I slotted this through the buttonholes and then secured it so that the elastic was just out of sight with only the ribbon showing through the button holes. Job done!


Thoughts on the finished garment

I’m pretty pleased with how my new pyjamas have turned out. I reckon I’ve already worn them more times than the kaftan so that’s got to be a good thing, right? At least this pretty fabric isn’t languishing in the wardrobe waiting for a sunny holiday which is nowhere on the horizon any time soon!



We hope you loved Susan Young’s Kaftan refashion. You can find the Kaftan and Lapwing Trouser patterns here along with lots of haberdashery, sewing magazines and gifts!

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