Knitscene Fall 2008 Kaftan Dress

Gallery: Kaftan Dress by Salena Lee

Knitscene Fall 2008As you can see, the same sweater looks very different on different women! We give general suggestions for customization for your inspiration. Only you can choose how you want your sweaters to fit and which customizations will work best for you and your beautiful self!


Kaftan Dress

Sample garment shown measures 36.5".

Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Toni   Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Toni


Her bust: 33.5"
3" positive ease

Size: The side view says it all: Wow. Perfect size! (I think in the front view, Toni is moving around a bit, hence the folds.) Length: The length really adds height to Toni, who is actually less than 5'4". However, Toni, who is here standing over my shoulder as I typed this, mentioned that she might make the dress a bit longer so that it went just past her knees so she could wear it with BOOTS. Rock it, Toni! Sleeves: Good length! Garter waistband: Again, the side view shows this better–it's in a perfect placement on Toni. V-neck and shoulders: Nice! Lucky Toni that this sample dress fits her so well. (We'll be sure to check her backpack at the end of the day…)

Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Amy   Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Amy


Her bust: 39"
2.5" negative ease

Size: Wow! Amy can really rock this tunic in ways that none of us expected!  This amount of negative ease gives the tunic a sexy look that is quite different from the one bestowed upon it in its positive ease incarnations. If Amy wanted a looser, more "tunic-y" look, then she would want to make at least the 39.5" size. Length: I like this length on Amy, for the tunic look. Sleeves: Good length here as well. Garter waistband: Needs to be lower. She would start the waistband sooner, so that it brackets her natural waist, and then make the same adjustments Stef would make: leave the bust darts in place, but add more rows between the top of the garter band and the armholes in order to make the top bodice triangles longer so they cover the bust. V-neck and shoulders: Good! I've liked this shaping on everyone. It's low, but I am assuming most gals would either go daring with skin or go modest and wear something lacy underneath.



Her bust: 34"
2.5" positive ease

Size: A comfortable fit, although the jeans Stef is wearing underneath show through a bit too much. But we Knitting Daily folks know how to fix such things, don't we? Yup: Add more increases at the sides on the way up to the bottom of the garter waistband, to give Stef a bit more room in the hips. Not much, just an inch or so. Length: Good length on Stef. Sleeves: Good, although could be a scootch longer if Stef wanted them that way. Garter waistband: It hits Stef a bit too high–right across the middle of the Girls. Then when it angles down, it hits too high, at the underbust, not at her waist. Solution? Start the waistband lower, so that it hits her natural waist at the sides. The angle is fine, so no alterations need to be made to the band itself; however, the triangles over the Girls will have to start sooner. She would keep the bust darts where they are, and add extra rows to the section from underarm to V-neck to add the needed extra length there. (Got all that? Whew.) V-neck and shoulders: Looks good!

Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Kat   Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Kat


Her bust: 40"
3.5" negative ease

Styling: Kat got brave and decided to show this off as a dress rather than a tunic. Yes, her slip shows and she apologises for not wearing the correct color slip (but really–who has a forest green slip?). However, that does point out that if you intend to wear this as a dress, pay attention to your undergarments, as they will show through in some places. Size: Rockin' that negative ease, dear Kat! But, she could probably rock the next size up a bit more comfortably, and not worry about the dress clinging to every single thing underneath. Length: For a dress…well. This is pretty short. If you like short, go for it. I'd personally lengthen it in the stockinette section and maybe add or subtract some of the lace border depending on the effect Kat wanted. Sleeves: A bit short. More, please! Garter waistband: It needs to be lowered, both at the sides to match her natural waist, and in the middle, so that it falls more naturally under her bustline. See the notes for Amy and Stef above for how to do this. V-neck and shoulders: Whoo! Very sexy effect for a little knitted dress. To bring the neck up, Kat could work more rows right above the waistband (keeping the top darts in place) before splitting for the V-neck. Or she could just wear a long, sparkly necklace and just wow the crowds. Up to her.

Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Debbie   Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Debbie


Her bust: 34.5"
2" positive ease

Size: This is a comfortable fit on Debbie. It accents her curves without being overly clingy. (This is especially important if you are going to wear it as a tunic over jeans–if the tunic is too clingy, then too much of the waistband of the jeans shows underneath, and breaks up the smooth line of this pretty dress.) Length: I did a quick poll of the Gallery Gals, and we think this is too long on Debbie (if she wears it as a tunic)–it elongates her hips and thighs, and pulls the eye downwards, instead of up towards her pretty face. This dress is easily shortened in the stockinette section, fortunately; Debbie could even shorten the lace border if she wanted that to be a bit more in proportion as well. Sleeves: Good length. Garter waistband: This runs nicely just under her bust, creating a high empire waist effect, then angles downwards to meet her real waist at the sides. Perfect! V-neck and shoulders: A bit dramatic unless Debbie wants to wear a cami underneath all the time. The shoulders fit well.

Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Erin   Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Erin


Her bust: 38"
1.5" negative ease

Size: Maybe just a bit too clingy on Ms. Erin. The next size up would give her 1.5" of positive ease, which would probably be more comfortable for her, and also not show every line of every piece of clothing she is wearing underneath! Length: As a tunic, the length works well on tall Erin. However, the balance between the stockinette section and the lace border bothers me…I think the lace comes up too far, so I would add more to the stockinette section and perhaps shorten the lace section. Just a thought. Sleeves: Way too short. More, please. Garter waistband: Too high. Needs to be lowered as with Amy and Kat. V-neck and shoulders: I think it's fine, as long as Erin wears something underneath.

Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Erin   Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Erin


Her bust: 34"
2.5" positive ease

Size: Bertha, darling. This positively HANGS on you. All right, yes, I know, sometimes a nice loose knitted dress can be a girl's best friend, but really. Show a little shape, girl; this dress adds twenty pounds to you! Next size down for you, dear. Length: Well. Who can tell? It covers the bottom of her white dress form just fine. Sleeves: Bertha wonders why we must keep bringing up this rather rude subject. Garter waistband: It does hit her right at her natural waist, 'tis true. However, under her bust, it's not quite as form-fitting as perhaps the designer intended. However, there are some folks who might prefer this more modest look. Also, someone with Bertha's other proportions but a larger chest might need the extra fabric above the bustline. V-neck and shoulders: Woo. That neckline is quite dramatic. Bertha, I had no idea you were that kind of flashy dresser. Raising the garter band just under the bust would also raise the V-Neck. That would mean working more short-rows under that empire band and its point, as this is how that section is raised up. That would mean some measuring and math. If you have a long distance between your natural waist and where the garter waist band needs to hit you under the bust, then short rows are going to be your friend. Add more of them to that triangle under the band and there you go.

Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Sandi   Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Sandi
Knitting Gallery - Kaftan Dress Sandi


Her bust: 40"
3.5" negative ease

Size: Hoooboy. This size is a cling monster! I'd feel more comfortable with the 39.5" and a bit more ease. This size shows you even the secret lumps and bumps. Eep. I also think that I need more room in the tummy and hip area overall, so I would add some increases at the sides there, even in the larger size. Length: I think it's a good length for a tunic. I like Toni's idea of adding enough length to it so I could wear it as a dress, with boots. Whoo! Sleeves: Maybe a bit short? I'd like them a bit longer, so they hit me at my wrist bone. Garter waistband: Must. Go. Down. V-neck and shoulders: The V-neck will be lower if the waistband is lower, so that's good (I like the idea of wearing a lacy cami thingie underneath). The shoulders are fine.  

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27 thoughts on “Knitscene Fall 2008 Kaftan Dress

  1. Is it significant that in 5 out of 7 REAL people (sorry, Bertha) that the waistline needs to be lowered?

    Do the designers get feedback, do they watch these comments/critiques? Do they really care, or are they just exercising their art?

  2. Hmm, this is one I never would have tried, but after seeing it on Amy and Erin I’m starting to tweak it in my mind…. I am just picturing what a wonderfully comfortable, cuddly, easy thing it would be to wear this winter. It helped that I love the color you used for this one and I LOVE Toni’s idea of a boot-length dress. Wow, I really have to learn to knit faster….

  3. Hey All,

    Firstly, I love these galleries. This tunic/dress was in my Maybe List but now that you have all modeled and made notes and suggestions, I believe I will move it on over to my To Do list. I love to wear lace camies and boots are the only thing to wear in the winter. So, there you go. My next project, now to decide what color.

    Thanks ladies, keep up the most excellent work.

  4. Sandi, I thank T. H ‘s question about waistline position is important.
    This tunic has a diagonal waist accent, and of course it must hit at the proper place under the bust.

    But WAIST SHAPING is another matter, and here the eye says important things to me which are different, or more complex than you identify. Let’s first take the picture of you: the bottom one:
    I see the WAIST SHAPING as perfect for you, the garter band yes, needs to be lower, but the shaping? Check out Bertha….there you can see well, the WAIST SHAPING, and it hits her precisely. The trouble with putting the waist shaping lower is that then the high hip circumference also lowers, and the garment will pull over the high hip which is DOOM to a pretty look!

    In fact, I’d say that Toni needs her shaping higher, I can’t tell about Amy, because her body is twisted in the photo, but Stephanie’s shaping could be improved to help flow over her shape.

    The trouble with the standard measurements that knitwear designers work with is that its STANDARD, and assumes a lower high hip measurement than most of us have. Note that only Debbie and Bertha have a “standard” slope to their high hip, and the garment doesn’t pull. I can’t talk about everybody else, because the circumference fit needs work, but that lovely gradual hip slope is NOT average in most women’s bodies! Remember that the standards are just standards, and the high hip to waist ratio is one of the crucial variables.

    I know I’m preaching, but I wasn’t a custom dressmaker for 35 years for nuthin’ !


  5. Anna, thank you so much for your explication of the waist shaping. If I were to make this dress, which I probably won’t, I would get rid of the garter stitch ‘belt’ part & spend my energy on the waist shaping.
    The only one it fit, to me, was Amy. & it would have helped to see her standing straight on – front, side & back.
    Over the years, I’ve lost my svelte figure, but that doesn’t mean I should go for a big box. :>) I think it could be adapted to make a lovely sweater, instead of a tunic, & that is the only incarnation which will pop into my queue!
    It helps, so much, to have other eyes to see the pattern thru. …
    esp. if those eyes understand FIT.

  6. Yeah, yeah, nice gallery. What I REALLY want to know is what is Sandi wearing in the photo in the email – the white shell/tank is gorgeous! WANT!

  7. Anna, thank you for the note about the waist and hip shaping. I knew my high hip measurement was higher than the pattern standard, but it did not occur to me to check this when I measured my sister to knit a sweater for her. Fortunately, it is still in the swatching stage, so I’ll keep this in mind when I re-measure her.

  8. This was one of my favorites in this issue, but really wondered how the garter band could be adjusted to hit the right location. Now I have a much better idea — thanks! I would either make it longer for a dress or shorter for regular sweater length with little or no lace at the hem.

  9. I’m not so sure that knitted tunics should be worn over jeans. The zipper, pockets, seams…they all show through and detract from the sweater big-time. That being said, I think it might look nice as a dress or over thinner pants – something that fits at the thighs. Over baggy jeans it looks sloppy to me.

  10. I love Knitting Daily and Sandi’s entertaining and informative narrative. You are all pretty women, but frankly the kaftan dress doesn’t do any of you justice (except Bertha). It’s just not flattering and I doubt that it would work well on anyone shorter and heavier than Heidi Klum. Real women have breasts, hips, stomachs, etc., all of which are presented in a thoroughly unflattering way with the kaftan dress. Sorry. No disrespect intended.

  11. While I certainly have different views on the sizing and shaping, I am so glad this was in the gallery! I had written it off, thinking you had to be the perfect model size “tiny, yet curvy”. Seeing it here (and in my favorite color) tells me I can make it work for me! I think it looks great on most of the women, with a few adjustments, obviously. Now if only I could get a copy of the issue…

  12. Loved the kaftan and the sweater featured the other day but have just tried to buy the magazine and the shipping cost bought it to nearly $19. Is there a cheaper way to get it in poor old blighty???

  13. i love the dress and how versatile it is. it looks great on most shapes. however, as someone who is genetically predisposed to being thin, i highly resent AynC’s comment about how ‘real’ women have breats, hips, stomachs etc. i was not lucky enough to develop large breasts but can assure you that i am a real woman. one does not have to be hourglass shaped nor overweight to be a real woman. if you are not intending to be disrespectful, you should not say disrespectful things

  14. For the bustier, taller gals who (like me) would choose the 39.5″ size; is the larger pattern size already written with more length in the bust triangles, sleeves & overall length? II know that larger sizes are usually graded to be longer than the smaller sizes… so if those 5 out of 7 ladies who show significant negative ease were wearing a larger sample size would they still be a need to add length to the bust traingles and sleeves? This is an important question to ponder since I don’t plan to modify a size 36.5″

  15. Jersey G–I’m sorry I offended you. When I wrote about “real women” having breasts, etc., I was referring to the models vs. Bertha the dressmaker’s dummy.

  16. GraceJ – You have a great point. I, too, was wondering if the larger sizes were already graded to have extra length in the bust and everywhere else. It would be odd to correct the bust length based on seeing the 36.5 sample on women who perhaps would normally wear the larger bust sizes (as I would be). I just got a copy of the magazine and lo and behold – the bust length IS graded for larger sizes, as well as the skirt length. The sleeve length, however, is not graded. I don’t think it will matter for me, as I like the look of the 3/4 length sleeves… However, I’m sure I could easily add length by doing a few more repeats of the lace if I change my mind and want a longer sleeve.

  17. Love this kaftan – I’m planning on doing it as a dress – probably knee length with a shorter lace hem. I’m just under 5’2″ and quite small – still ‘real’ though! It’s so helpful to have everyone’s views and see the garments on different women. Although I’ve been a knitter for ages, I really feel that now I’m getting to understand some of the finer points. Big hug to you all at IK xx

  18. It is interesting that people are always saying that the patterns look better on thinner women after seeing them on Bertha.

    I think we need to keep in mind two things. 1. Everyone else is always wearing clothes under the garments. Bertha is not. That makes a lot of difference. 2. Bertha is not proportioned the same way as a normal human being. Even a thin one. Not having arms also affects the way the dress hangs on her.

    Now imagine how the dress would look on everyone else if they also weren’t wearing a lot of bulky clothing underneath it.