Apparel · Sewing

Mrs. Roper Approved: Simplicity 8505 Vintage Caftan

Hey all!

I’m super excited to share my most current make, the Simplicity 8505 (originally issued as Simplicity 5315 and first debuted in 1972). This pattern makes the most gorgeous 70’s caftan!

As a kid, I grew up watching Three’s Company because it was one of my dad’s favorite sitcoms. Thankfully, all the “suggestive innuendo” of the show went right over my head and I wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on, but I always remembered what everyone wore—especially Mrs. Roper and her signature muumuus and caftans. Back then I didn’t think much of them, but as I got older and more into vintage fashion, I just couldn’t imagine the quintessential 70’s caftan without thinking of her.

I definitely think Mrs. Roper would have approved and wore the Simplicity 8505 had she gotten her hands on one, you think?

So when I spied this pattern on eBay a long while ago, I snatched it up right away before I lost my chance to ever see it again. Option B was what I had my eye on and what really drew me to the pattern. I absolutely love the floaty look of caftans and have always wanted to get one (or 100), but often have a hard time with fit because I’m so short. A lot of the time they are too long or have too much fabric for me to deal with. At least if I make my own I can customize it to my size.

Anyway, I knew this caftan called for some really lightweight, drapey fabric, so I spent some time searching until I came upon this super fabulous Art Gallery rayon print on fabric.com:

Art Gallery Rayon Challis // Pollinate collection in Seedmap by Jessica Swift

The bad thing about the Simplicity 8505 is that it is a total fabric hog. On a regular 45” width, this caftan requires 6 yards of fabric! Yikes! Unfortunately for me, this would not come cheap. And I reeeeally, really wanted this beautiful print.

FORTUNATELY for me though, I had a handy dandy Amazon gift card thanks to Coinstar. With it, I was able redeem the funds and use it toward purchasing the same fabric through Amazon, and didn’t end up spending as much as I needed to. Another plus, since I’m already so short, and this rayon came in a generous 56” width, I didn’t actually need the full yardage recommended on the pattern envelope. Oh, and another plus for me was when I got my fabric, I had received the end of the bolt, which meant I gained some extra yardage for free. TRIPLE SCORE!!

Onto construction. Cutting and sewing the S8505 was, for the most part, simple enough. The last time I worked with rayon challis, it was a slippery slide of a mess and I had a hard time manipulating the fabric, so this time around I took extra care to cut my pieces out nice and slowly, using lots of pins and weights. Sewing the rayon was not as bad this time either. I used the same method as cutting—nice and slow movements and lots and lots of pins.

The hardest part for me was sewing the midriff to the front yoke. it was tricky as heck to pivot around the yoke and the midriff in one long stitch because rayon is so shifty in general. No matter what I did, the short sides of the midriff kept coming out all wonky. I spent a good chunk of time trying to get my sides to sew straight, but for some reason, my fabric absolutely refused to work with me. Uggh.

This is where I made some significant changes to the overall construction.

I finally managed to sew the midriff on, but I hated the way it looked. It was just messy and sad looking. It wasn’t until the point when I said “screw it” and moved on to attach the second midriff piece to the back that I had an “A-Ha! moment.” In addition to covering the back midriff with a fabric piece, I went ahead and sewed a 3rd piece to the front as well. By doing this, I was able to hide the mess I had made the first time and made the front look a lot cleaner and well sewn.

My front midriff with the added cover panel. I could have also done a hand sewn slip stitch in order to hide stitch lines, but after spending way too much time trying to figure out the first midriff, I was DONE. Topstitching was faster. Oh well.

Thankfully, my print is busy enough that you don’t really notice the top stitching of the midriff unless you look really closely. I was really glad to have found this “fix.” Otherwise I wouldn’t have been as confident wearing this knowing my original midriff looked so hideous!

In keeping up with neat and tidy details, after sewing the front and back pieces together, I went ahead and made a very small front stitch hem to the edge of the neckline to keep it in place, and another thin hem to the edge of the arm holes, even though I finished all raw seams with an overlock stitch prior.

I’m in the homestretch, but I still needed to hang the caftan for at least 24 hrs. so the rayon can finish “stretching” before I do a final hem on the bottom.

Isn’t she just a thing of beauty, tho? And also, can you tell, I really like Summer?? Haha!

After hanging for more than 24 hrs., I finished hemming the bottom and she was ready to wear!

I just love how Rayon feels and wears. The drape and how the fabric swish-swish-swishes when you move feels so luxurious! I didn’t want to take it off!

Woo-hoo!! I can fly right back to the 70s with these sleeves!
I can’t say enough how much I love this Seedmap print! It’s not too 70s-kitschy (Not that I’d mind a 70s-kitschy print), and has just a touch of modernity to it that it it will remain timeless. I also love how at first glance, the print looks like books. Perfect for a booknerd like me!
Seriously. I don’t want to take it off…EVER!

Even though I had some issues with the midriff, I really did enjoy sewing this caftan. I’ve been wanting to make one for a long time now, and I am so loving this pattern! I would say this is one of my most favorite makes so far. I think I channeled the 70’s vibe pretty well, you think?

Mrs. Roper, this one’s for you!

Audra Lindley as Mrs. Roper

Sew What You Love,

2 thoughts on “Mrs. Roper Approved: Simplicity 8505 Vintage Caftan

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