Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Women's Clothing in 16th Century Turkey / Ottoman Empire

 Here's a post about research for 16th century Turkish / Ottoman Empire clothing. Shown here is a picture of the books Valide Sultan Esther loaned me so I could study up before I made TRMs Coronation clothes. I looked over them all, and read many of them all the way through. They were fascinating despite not being my main area of costume study.

 My best friend in the SCA (and modern world, too) is a lover and student of 15th-16th century Turkey and the Ottoman Empire. The entire time I've been friends with her, she has made and worn clothing from that time period. I swore I would never make anything like that, because for several years, I was firmly in the camp of fancy European clothes. While that is still my favorite period to re-create, in the last year there were too many opportunities to make Ottoman to pass them up.

My friend and her consort were planning on entering Crown Tournament that would take place in April 2015. In early spring, I decided to make myself some Ottoman clothes to wear at this tournament in support of her. Over the last few years, I had watched and learned from her how she made her Ottoman clothing (as she is very knowledgeable and skilled in this area), but didn't think I'd end up making any myself. I wasn't coming from a place of no information when I set out to make these clothes, but it was still a learning experience that required considerable research, trial and error, and trying out new techniques.

There are two ways I approach making historical clothing: 1, having an idea already of what I want to make and then researching if it's accurate, then beginning the project (can be risky); 2, doing inspirational research to give me ideas on what I could make because I haven't attempted it before, and then beginning the project. I would say that I use both approaches equally.

Approach 1 is more common for me when I make something similar to past projects- for example, a 16th century kirtle or gown. I've made a bunch of them so I had done the research for the basics long ago- patterning, fabric choices, accessories, etc. However, even though I'd made similar things, when I would want to try a new feature (say making silk trim instead of buying modern trim, or if different types of pleating go with which region or class level), I will do the research before construction. One common mistake historical costumers make is creating something and then trying to document if they did it in period. This often doesn't work in our favor so I don't do it- seriously, not in the last 5 years.

Approach 2 is more common for me when I haven't tried making something like it before- say a man's 14th century cotehardie or a Norse apron dress, or Turkish. I like to find a lot of examples of a style before I start buying materials and constructing. This is the approach I used for making the Ottoman clothing for Their Majesties' Coronation clothes and my own.

First step, research. Find visual examples from the time period, whether extant garments or artwork. There are dozens of extant garments from the 16th century Ottoman empire, and you can find images and descriptions of them in books and online. See the bottom of my post for the books I used to find pictures and research on the extant garments. I'm only showing a small handful of examples here with garments and artwork but there is plenty out there.

Here are some extant 16th century kaftans (the first one might be a bit into the 17th century but the style is the same as the previous century)-notice how three of them have shaping at the waist. I believe these are all made of silk. The necklines are round or have a slight v-neck.

 These paintings are dated to the 16th century. You can see variations in necklines, sleeve lengths, hemlines, underdress length, colors, and more. Some appear to have no facing but contrasting lining, and some have lining and facing. Regarding the layers, some have short coats over long coats, and some have long coats over short coats. Notice they mixed patterns and solids- and there really were a lot of solids! Even the royal family would wear solid fabrics for their fine garments.

Now these ladies were painted in the 16th century (I think they're all by Titian), and they are a unique type of garment. They are all supposed portraits of Cameria, daughter of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Her kaftans are much more fitted than the ladies shown before, they have deep v-necks, and often metal buttons down the front. These outfits are Turkish viewed with a European eye and perspective- if one wants to make something totally Ottoman, don't use these portraits for documentation. However, I preferred that look, and my persona is European and not Turkish, so that's what I went for with my blue entari shown below.

So what layers are we seeing here?
1. A white cotton or linen gomlek (undertunic, worn against the skin).
2. Salwar/shalwar (pants).
3. Hirka, a kaftan that is typically thigh to knee length, sleeveless or short sleeved, and perhaps more fitted than other layers. Usually this goes over the gomlek but sometimes can be worn over the entari.
4. Entari, a kaftan that is generally knee to floor length, with short or long sleeves. Usually worn over the more fitted hirka but sometimes worn under it.
5. Kaftan, which can almost be interchanged with the entari, except when they are for ceremonial purposes. The ceremonial kaftan was typically presented by the Sultan or his royal staff to visiting ambassadors, dignitaries, and friends of the Sultan. The books I read seem to imply they were usually for men only, but I don't know 100% if women never had them. Her Majesty and I decided she needed one for court!

Now that I have seen the images and found some styles that I like, I need to find patterns and materials. Regarding the patterns, the easiest thing to do is to study the extant garments. Ottoman clothing was essentially rectangular construction. You have two front rectangles (left and right sides), one back rectangle, side gores (which could be normal triangles or have a rounded top), with almost always a triangular front gore starting at the waist and on the other front side, a triangular gore starting at the neck. These gores are crucial to Ottoman clothing, and they are the main mistake modern costumers make when creating Ottoman clothes. If you look carefully at the extant garments, nearly all of them have these two gores. If the kaftan has front closures, the gore that starts at the neck lays underneath the other front rectangle and the loops get sewn onto that gore- this prevents the buttons from gapping at the front. If there are no front closures, you can often see the longer front gore lay on top of the other front rectangle. All of the gores can be cut separately or integrated into the main body panels- both ways are evident in the extant garments, and I have done both. The ceremonial kaftans typically have integrated front gores.

To create a pattern, all you have to do is look at the extant garments- the seams are clearly visible. You sometimes can see that a shoulder was shaped to be slightly fitted, and you can sometimes see that the waist was shaped in, which is why I don't say that Ottoman was only rectangular construction. The shaping seems to have been rare (and once you throw a sash on your waist, it gives some shape), but there is physical evidence that it was done.
Above is a sketch by Janet Arnold of a 16th century kaftan from the Topkapi Palace. You can clearly see the short front gore and some shaping in the waist.

The first ceremonial kaftan shown is the basis for His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim's coronation kaftan. Next is another with a similarly cut pattern. You can clearly see the seams of the original garment. Notice the slight waist shaping, even for a man's garment, and pay attention to the long front gore. There are slits in the front panels to put your arms through if you don't want to put them through the floor length sleeves. Both are made of silk.

Two silk satin kaftans with curved hip gores and waist shaping.

Alright, now we're on to materials. If you want a fancy Ottoman outfit, you've got to go with silk. The main fiber you see in the extant kaftans is silk, and they are nearly always lined in white cotton or linen (sometimes other colors), and occasionally lined in silk. Buttons were typically thread woven, also made from the same cloth as the garment, and sometimes metal. The button loops were woven cord. All of these materials are easily visible in the extant garments. If you want a less fancy outfit, use linen or wool for your fashion fabric- there are extant wool kaftans and I believe I read in one of the books listed below that linen and cotton were used for the less fancy garments.

I finished Their Majesties' Coronation clothing two days early. I decided to make myself a new Ottoman entari right then, and it took me a day and a half of hard sewing to finish, but I didn't have to stay up all night. I wanted to wear something that matched TRM's theme to honor them, and to fit in with their court for the day.

This entari is teal silk, lined in white cotton, and faced with silver silk. The buttons are metal and the loops are a stiff gold ribbon. The neckline is a shallow v-neck. The facing, collar, and buttons are sewn by hand. This layer can be worn over or under another coat. Notice this entari is very fitted. I find unshaped rectangular construction to be very unflattering on my body, so I made this to be fitted like the Titian

 Here is the entari over my hirka I made back in March- my first Ottoman coat. The fabric was a gift from Her Majesty, and it's an orange/pink shot brocade. It's lined in white linen and faced in blue silk. It has the sleeves that are shown on the first extant kaftans earlier in this post: elbow length and with a half-moon shape cut out of the front. I did this collar completely by machine, cut on the straight. For the blue entari, I sewed on the collar by hand and the fabric was cut on the bias- a huge improvement. Again, I'm willing to try multiple ways of construction for trial and error. I did TRM's collars on the bias because I think it looks best, and they're much easier to sewn on.

 Detail shot of buttons, loops, collars, facings, and a sash I bought at Pennsic in Artemisian colors. The orange coat is much less fitted than the blue- so much so that I can pull it over my head while it's buttoned shut.

 In this picture you can see the linen gomlek (undertunic) and the blue/green shot silk pants. The underdress is very simple, and I made it a while back to wear under Norse clothing, but the style works great for Ottoman. You can see in paintings that Ottoman women wore simple or fancy gomleks. The pants are just two legs, top turned over for the waist casing. Many Ottoman pants have a two-part leg pattern, but this style is documentable too.

Shown below is an entari made for His Majesty's fiance, Lady Katerina. They provided me with some purple patterned linen and brass buttons, and I supplied the blue cotton lining and black loop cording. There is slight shaping in this one at the waist and the shoulders, and it will reach the floor on her. The pattern is very similar to my blue entari.


Rogers, J.M. Topkapi Saray Museum: Costumes, Embroidery, and Other Textiles. Little Brown, 1986. 

 Atasoy; Denny; Effeny; Mackie; Raby. Ipek: the Crescent and the Rose: Ottoman Silks and Velvets.
Azimuth Editions, 2002.

Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey.  Azimuth / Arthur Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2005.

Scarce, Jennifer M. Women's Costume of the Near and Middle East.  Routledge,  2003.
Artan. Splendors of the Ottoman Sultans. Wonders, 1990.

Atil, Esin. The Age of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Harry N Abrams, 1987.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Coronation Clothes for His Majesty Ibrahim of the Kingdom of Artemisia


His Majesty has 4 layers of clothes, Her Majesty has 5. We decided he didn't need a fitted underlayer like Esther's hirka. He has a gomlek, entari, ceremonial caftan, and pants. His gomlek is nearly identical to Esther's except he has two gold buttons on the keyhole neck.

The entari is a black and gold silk brocade from India. It is fully lined in white cotton, and faced in red silk. The buttons were made by Lady Michelle of Harris upon York, and are thread wrapped wooden beads. I dyed them a darker antique gold, which went much better than I expected. Michelle made them exactly as I asked, but it was my fault for telling her bright gold- I didn't realize the brocade was so dark!

There are 20 buttons and loops, and the buttons, collar, and facing are all done by hand.

The ceremonial caftan is very similar to Esther's. It also has integrated gores, expect I opted to make both the front gores start at the neck, instead of one starting at the waist. I thought it would make the caftan hang better when worn open. It is fully lined in gold silk. Again, the block printing was done by Viscountess Morrigan of Avacal.

One unique feature of many ceremonial caftans from the Ottoman Empire are the sleeves. Many of them have enormous hanging sleeves that sweep the floor, and there are slits in the front body pieces where you put your arms through. The sleeves are just decorative and show off your expensive fabric, and when you put your long entari sleeves through the slits, you show off even more fabric.

His slits were done very carefully with a rotary cutter. I made up the whole garment and saved the slits for last. I laid the caftan out, pinned into the carpet so it wouldn't move, laid the cutting board between the front and back pieces, and slowly cut the front pieces a few inches away from the sleeve head. Then I whip stitched them shut.

Here are His Majesty's pants. The white ones were the first pair I made, he wore them to Coronation. Just yesterday I made him a black silk pair as well. They are copied from his favorite pants, per his request- I just laid his original pants onto the new fabric and cut out the pattern.

Coronation Clothes for Her Majesty Esther of the Kingdom of Artemisia

Now that Their Majesties of the Kingdom of Artemisia, Ibrahim & Esther, have been crowned, I can post about their Coronation clothes. This post is about the planning, construction, and layers of Her Majesty's outfit. I couldn't post anything while the clothes were being made because Her Majesty wanted all of it to be a surprise! Pictures of them wearing the outfits will be a later post, because not many have surfaced yet.

Her Majesty and I planned her outfit in April, after they won Crown Tournament. They decided on an Ottoman Turkish theme. We knew that Kingdom colors (black and gold) would be best, and those colors are traditionally used for Coronation garb for many Kingdoms. Her Majesty is petite and light haired, while His Majesty is tall and dark haired. We wanted to play up the physical differences, and keep her light and airy, and him dark and strong.

For research, I used several books provided to me by Her Majesty Esther on the topic of 15th-16th century Ottoman Empire/Turkey. There are dozens of surviving garments from that period that can be studied. Research and documentation was not difficult to find. As for patterns, Her Majesty had some from previous garments she has made, so we modified them to suit these new layers. Some patterns were drafted by me as well, from fittings with Esther.

Here's the quick info for documentation: silk, cotton, and linen were all used extensively in the Ottoman Empire for royal clothing. Most garments were lined in white cotton or linen. Metal and pearl buttons were used, though most are thread-wrapped. Most button loops appear to be handmade cord- I used machine made cord for time saving. Side gores could be normal triangles or be rounded at the top- I did both. The front gores (usually one starting at the neck and one starting at the waist) could be cut on their own and sewn to the body pieces, or cut integrated to the body pieces- I did both.

As for pattern matching: in period, the direction of the pattern didn't always go the same way. There are examples of sleeves having the pattern opposite of the body pieces, examples of the pattern running sideways, you name it. One thing that I saw often was the sleeve pattern running the opposite of the body, especially when the sleeves were long- when the garment is worn, the wearer's arms make the pattern match the direction of the body pieces. I tried to do that with most of the layers.

The first layer is a gomlek, which is the undergarment. It is a medium weight white linen, cut very full with extra long sleeves and a tight wrist, so the sleeves wrinkle at the lower arm. It has a keyhole neckline with a gold button, side gores, and is cut without shoulder seams. The Ottomans frequently used full loom widths on their garments, which is what this gomlek has- notice the seams around the lower sleeve, and how full the hem is.

The side gores.

The next layer is a hirka, which is usually shorter and worn right after the gomlek- you can wear it over an entari (next layer), but it seems less common in historical sources. Hirkas in period could be sleeveless or have elbow length sleeves, and the hem could be anywhere from the top of the thigh to below the knee.

 This hirka is cut very fitted, with curved side seams and a back seam. Her Majesty is a Laurel for Middle Eastern dance, and we wanted her to be able to wear this hirka for dancing, which is why it's so fitted- that enables the dance movements to be seen more easily.

This hirka is black silk taffeta, lined in white linen, and faced on the front and hem with gold silk. The shoulder seams are straight and I can't pull it down enough on my dress form to get them flat, which is why they stand up so high in the pictures. They're level on Her Majesty.

The collar and closures. Loops are done on the machine, the collar and buttons are attached by hand. It closes with 18 gold buttons and black cotton cord loops.

The hirka has curved-top side gores which are hard to see in the photos.

When the hirka isn't closed all the way, you can show off your facing. The facing is attached on the outside edge by machine, and inside by hand.
 Next up is the entari. This was usually worn over the hirka, and could have elbow length or wrist length sleeves. It was often knee-length or longer. This one reaches the ankles because it is a formal style. It is slightly bigger than the hirka, with curved side seams but no back seam.

The fabric is a white and copper-gold silk brocade from India, fully lined in white cotton, and faced in a sunset-gold silk. Buttons are pearls and loops are cotton cord.
 All closed up. The collar and facing are sewn on by hand.

The entari over the hirka. You can probably just make out that the entari has integrated front gores, so the pattern isn't interrupted.
 When it came time to do the buttons, I couldn't find any metal that matched the copper-to-brownish gold in the silk brocade, so I made some! They are 10mm pearls on a gold headpin, wrapped into a loop at the base. I did find 16th century documentation for pearl buttons on the garments of the elite in the Ottoman Empire.

 Next up, the ceremonial caftan. There are countless sources of documentation for these garments. Her Majesty has a friend in the Kingdom of Avacal, Viscountess Morrigan, (link to her block printing FB page), who makes block printed fabric. She made the blocks, purchased black silk, and used gold paint to stamp the silk. Her Majesty's fabric is the Artemisian Gryphon with a crown and a laurel wreath, His Majesty's is the Gryphon with a larger crown.

This picture shows the gold silk lining I cut out first, then laid on the fabric so I could pattern match.
 The caftan reaches the floor and has elbow length sleeves with curved edges. The short sleeves over the long entari sleeves show off the silk brocade. It has no closures so it can be worn open to show the layers underneath. Many ceremonial caftans in period had no closures, and most extant ones had the front gores cut integrated to the body pieces, like I chose to do.
Here I am in the hirka and entari, to send a picture to Her Majesty of how it all looked on a person.

The only layer I don't have a picture of is the pants. They are Ottoman salwar out of some white and gold fabric Her Majesty gave me. They went together fast, and Esther came over to work on them with me, and to make sure they were comfortable. You only see a couple inches of their hems when they're worn. The following post shows His Majesty's pants and they are nearly identical to Esther's.