Sunday, 24 April 2016

Pelican outfit #1 - designing the coat

Goal: Make a new and beautiful outfit for my Pelican Ceremony
Target: One new outer coat (silk) with embroidered cloud collar, one new dress and one new under dress possibly also from silk.
Additional extras: Shoes, Hat, Belt
Project completion date: Great Northern War 18 (7 weeks)

Project breakdown:
Outer coat patterning: 2 night
Outer coat construction: 5 night
Cloud collar patterning: 1 night
Cloud collar embroidery: 14 nights
Coat buttons: 7 nights
Dress patterning & construction: 3 nights
Under dress patterning & construction: 3 nights

Shoe decoration
Hat design & construction
Veil sewing & construction

Step 1 - Patterning the coat

I'm starting from the outside in on this project. This is probably the wrong way to do it because coats and jackets should be fitted over under garments however given the time frame required to complete the embroidery on the collar to my satisfaction I have to have the collar dimensions early on in this project, which means having the dimensions of the outerwear as well.

I've read some sections of Royal Mughal Ladies and their Contributions by Soma Mukherjee (2001, ISBN - 81-212-0760-6). While I can't agree with some of the statements (such as Indian women didn't wear sewn upper body coverings), some of the quoted primary references are very useful. I've used the following quotes as a basis for the language I'll use in the following posts.

Mukherjee (2001) states that the Mughal women wore the following:
  • A pair of hollow cups or cases which is made of linen, passes under the arm and ties at the back (Choli top or bra?). "The bodice were brocade lined with pearls". It is not clear if this is the choli top or a separate garment.
  • Half smock made of fine cotton or silk (sometimes)
  • Trousers tied at the waist which became tighter around the lower leg and ankles over the years
  • Jagulfi - An empire style gown that fastens at the neck and waist to allow a glimpse of the breast, with long sleeves that extend past the hand (under dress)
  • A short under petticoat, slit to the waist, below the jacket.

So what does this look like? The woman pictured below wears a short sleeved button up coat with cloud collar under which is worn a underdress with nearly transparent sleeves. A slight hint of red suggests another skirt or dress worn under the coat.
Portrait of a Woman, Iran, mid 16th century. The Met Museum, accession number: 52.20.6

Many of the Persian images appear to show women dressed in loose fitting clothing giving them a long, slender look as opposed to the more Indian lean and curvacious body type. I believe this is stylistic rather than a comment on the fashion of the time. Examinination of some portraits indicate bunching under the breasts which suggests the garment has been fitted to the curves of the wearer.

Detail: Drinking wine in the spring garden. Iran, 1430. The Met Museum, Accession number: 57.51.24

The Indian image I'm favoring most heavily is one of Indian women wearing Persian/Tamurid garb. In this image the women wear coats (with cloud collars) that are closely fitted to their bodies with a significant amount of fabric flaring from the hips. Under the coat they wear a dress with long tight sleeves that appears to either button (green) or lace (pink) up. The yellow bunched cuffs worn by the lady in red/green indicate there may be a second finer under dress.

Detail: Babur seeks his grandmothers advice. India, 1590-1592. Morgan Museum, MS M.458.18

My final reference for the shape of the garment comes not from an Indian source, but from Turkey. The drawing is of a Peri (angel) which was sold through Sotherby's on the 24th April 2013. The Peri wears a light blue coat that's knee length and has a gold cloud collar with black embroidery. The coat's short sleeves are quite wide and slit to show lining. The Peri also wears a full length dress under which she wears a gold under dress with tight fitting arms.

In summary: I'll be making a fitted dress with a counter colour cloud collar. The cloud collar will be embroidered and then appliqued onto the garment. I will also construct an underdress with long, well fitted sleeves, and possibly a long over dress to go over this. I will either make pants or use a pair already in my possession. My first task is patterning the coat so it fits my curves well and so I can get started on the embroidery of the cloud collar.

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