Medieval Caftan Patterns

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Handout from class:

persian fitted caftan2

Ottoman kaftan pattern: (2 parts)

ottoman kaftan pattern handout

ottoman kaftan pattern handout part 2


Links about Middle Eastern Medieval Socks


There seems to be a bit of a hole in previous research about Safavid socks.  I am able to find references that indicate they had knit socks done in the “European style”.  I can also find extant Egyptian socks.  Hopefully, I just haven’t found the right search terms to suss out the information I am looking for.  I love trying to find information when a topic interests me.  I suspect there is a set of books at Washington University that will have the answer, I just need to find time to get there.

Here are some sites I have run across while trying to pull together a post.  I’d like to share them because even though I will keep looking, someone else might be able to take these and beat me to it.  I love it when that happens.

Even if you are not interested in putting together a history to share with the SCA, hopefully these will be of some help to get started on your entry to the Lilies competition!

Links to kick start your research:

Egyptian Socks at the Textile Museum

Dar Anahita: Medieval Muslim Socks

12th – 12th Century Egyptian sock

Another Egyptian sock

Child’s Egyptian sock

Egyptian Sock Fragment

Egyptian Sock

Article with Egyptian Socks on Knitty

Good sock board on Pinterest

Extant sock board on Pinterest


Sock Patterns on Ravelry (not necessarily period sock patterns):

Free Medieval Muslim Sock Pattern on Ravelry

Egyptian Sock Pattern

Egyptian Sock Pattern (another)

Tree and Ibex Socks


Other Links of Interest:

Silk Sock Museum of London

16th Century Italian knitted socks

Boy’s Stockings Naples

Silk Stocking

Medieval Knitting Samples

Political Intentions of Chinese Textiles

Knit gloves

Good overview of knitting by SCA researcher








Other Styles of Salwar

From the basic pattern we discussed in the first salwar post, we can slightly alter it to create more looks. Collecting pictures of salwar, we can see four major styles. By comparing the ratios, each style has its own method. In the first three types, the only real change is in the width of the leg. The remaining ratios stay true.

The first type is the original style I covered in the basic salwar post.  salwar

Type 1

Şalvar ok yay şalvar okcu şalvar örnek Şalvar topkapı şalvar8

In type 2, we can see that the leg is curved differently. Instead of curving inward, mark the width point (E on the handout) the same distance from the out seam as the waist just like before, but lower it towards the ankle until it is 6-8″above the cuff. Draw the inseam to follow those points to look like the pictures. All other drafting points for the pattern remain the same as the handout.   Salwar Type 2

Type 2

Osmanlı şalvar 16yy sonu altın işlemeli ipek Topkapı sarayı müzesi late 16th century Şalvar sipahi Şalvar topkapı sarayı şalvar3 şalvar5 şalvar9

Type 3 are the baggiest version. The leg width mark is made straight down from the crotch point. You may see a tiny curve in some pictures. I would recommend doing a right angle to make sewing them together easier. The cuff is then connected with a severe curve. As before, all other measurements remain true to the handout.  Salwar Type 3

Type 3

Şalvar atlı okçu Şalvar nasıl yapılır Şalvar yapımı şalvar7 şalvarosmanli

Oh how do I explain the last one? Basically, you start with the measurement for the waist portion of the pattern (B). There is a fairly uniform 4 to 5 ratio (Waist to hips and waist to crotch depth). The waist is the 4 part. So to measure down to the crotch depth (was H + G), take the waist measurement and add waist measurement divided by 4. Then the width there is the same measurement. Draw the leg in like the curve you see below.  Salwar Type 4
(For example, if waist is 10″ then the crotch depth and width will be 12.5″)

Type 4

Şalvar okçu Şalvarı Şalvarlar

Source of pictures:

I know I said I was moving on to the coat. I just couldn’t accept 2 extant coats from this culture so I have been really digging for examples. Fortunately, as of last night I’m up to 7! I will be posting that when I’m satisfied with the research.

Basic Salwar

Years ago I discovered a book by art historian Tahsin Oz at local library. This book Turkish Textiles and Velvets, contained amazing pictures of carefully preserved garments worn by the 16th century rulers of Turkey. Over the years, these garments housed in the Topkapi Sarayi Museum have appeared online in magnificent color from time to time. The most striking contribution of this collection isn’t the careful state in which the garments were preserved, but the care in labeling them as the rulers died. [1] This labeling gives us apparently accurate dates for their origin.


But these are “Ottoman and not Safavid” is probably running through your mind. That is true. It’s a difficult thing to find garments to theorize how to reconstruct historical costumes for a region. Occasionally in miniatures we see hints and cobble those together the best we can. The miniature art of the day shows a similarity between the 2 cultures costumes. Part of this can be explained by the boundary between them being in a state of flux throughout the 16th century.

At the dawn of the 16th century, the region of traditional Persia was largely comprised of nomadic groups. It wasn’t a nation state at the time. The Ottomans were rapidly expanding, and being the land bridge between Europe and Asia, this region had seen numerous wars for control. The mongol Timurids had been in control and Sunni Islam was the predominant religious sect. The Ottomans were also Sunni and had been persecuting Shi’a adherents. One such adherent was the future Shah Ismail that would begin the empire of the Safavids. He was a very young leader of a militant Islamic group of Shi’as. In 1500, he led an army to conquer Tabriz and was installed as the first Safavid King declaring independence from the Ottomans. Even though the regions he defeated were predominantly Sunni, he quickly established Shi’a Islam as the state religion. In the next 10 years he led the Safavids on a rapid campaign of expansion. The Ottomans eventually got upset about this and wars between the two empires raged throughout the Safavid Dynasty pushing the borders into different areas. [2]

This fluctuation in borders did not seem result in fluctuation of basic fashion. In miniatures one of the tells to determine if a figure is Safavid is by head gear. The turbans were wrapped carefully to indicate the twelve tribes of Shi’a religion. The coats are remarkably similar as are other elements of dress. Pants are a practical element of dress. They are not seen often in art. When they are, they look similar for hundreds of years. By looking at the examples we can find and matching them to the extant garments of the Ottomans, we can formulate a plausible theory for their construction.

Note: Descriptive accounts of the time occasionally describe Safavid ambassadors as being dressed in the style of the Persians.  In some instances those descriptions go on to point out the difference in terms of materials used.  They will recount that they have nice silks and woolens, but lack the Italian fabrics and Velvets that the Ottoman clothing is made from. [3]  I am continuing to research the differences in order to better solidify the contrasts with supporting documentation.  There are many miniatures with Safavid and Ottoman present.  Instead of relying on those at this time, I would like to research the artistic style and purpose of the manuscripts in question.  I am concerned that the artists may have been instructed to insult the other culture if the manuscript was a gift, or draw the clothes in the way of their home culture.  Artist migration was also frequent during the Safavid dynasty and they moved from center to center, complicating the issue of art.  Part of the difficulty in the style comment by written accounts is that this religious dispute between the Sunni Ottomans and the Shi’i Safavids was signified by the style of turban the Safavids wore.  This turban signified that the Safavids believed they were the true adherents to Islam by following the theology of their sect.  The Ottomans reportedly felt they were infidels and at some points officially stated that Shi’i people’s could be put to death in the same fashion as infidels.  (This death punishment related to religious belief came from both sides.) With an outward symbol such as this and the tension in the religious beliefs, it seems that written accounts may need some more read into them and not taken at face value.

bc3bb7a030309fd28c7265cc773f9a4e  Found at:   Milesent’s Persian Research Page       Time period: “Catching of a Crane” 1587, Iran

72ccd03d9920091d929b3558ae678989 Found at:   Pruned      Time period: “The Sitting Woman” 1638

047d4540fc2cddb39c5dff96ad4f2dcd Found at:  Asian and African Studies Blog    Time period: “The fire-ordeal of Siyavus”  16th Century

Throughout the years I have found 2 pair of these pants pictured in 2 different ways.  The first is the pair at the start of this post.  In other books on Ottoman costume there is a photo of the same pants folded more neatly.  In the Oz book, we see the same pair folded like pleated dress pants ready to hang.

salwar [4]

The second pair that we have a similar sampling of pictures of is from the same museum.

This is from the Tahsin Oz book.[5]


From these examples you can see that the pants appear to be constructed of eight pieces.  Two rectangular pieces at the out seam and 2 shaped pieces at the inseam.  Care was taken with the joins to match the pattern of the fabric.  At the side you can see at the waist on both pair a slit that extends downward towards the hip.  Neither pair appears to have a waist band.  In the last picture you can see some orange fabric that doesn’t appear in the older picture from the Oz book.  One note before we move to patterning is that the set in crotch pieces are not flipped from the cutting of the fabric.

I originally found these pants while trying to learn how to make an Ottoman kaftan.  After examining the pictures of extant kaftans I found, I realized through a weird turn of thought that many of the dimensions of the garments had ratios that held true from picture to picture.  Without measurements from the extant garments, I wasn’t sure how to proceed in recreating them.  When I realized the ratios, it fell into place.  I realized you could take the wearing length and construct the pattern around the ratios.  As an experiment I constructed a kaftan the right length for a 6 foot tall male, I then took it around and tried it on anyone willing and the approximate height.  I was thrilled to find it fit everyone of average build who was in the correct height range.  This led me to think about the pants I had seen in the book, so I went back and snagged copies of the photos to study.  The few pants I could find held true to each other with ratios.

Instead of creating pants based on the inseam, I decided to make a way to fit the pants to our modern changeable waist lines and weights.  I wanted to be able to create them for my friends to wear.  So, I created the following handout.  I have made a choice to draw the pattern with out seam and in seam panels combined.  I lack the desire to recreate these with proper seams and try to match fabric.  If you would like the proper seams, after drafting the pattern, and before adding seam allowance, cut the piece according to the pictures of extant pieces.

Click here for handout: salwar

I have recently tried to revise and correct it. (If you find an error, please let me know in the comment section.)  Also, for those who would like to use a spreadsheet to do the math, SALWARspsheet

Method of Construction:

(See below “Wearing the Salwar” before cutting for notes on ways to hold them up.)

1. On a large paper, trace out measurements as shown in the handout.  Add seam allowances of desired width. Cut out pattern.

2. Lay pattern out on fabric.  Cut 4 pieces.  On average width fabric the pattern should nest into itself.

3.  Take two pieces and place right sides together.  Starting at hip point, sew out seam to cuff.

4.  Sew inseam.

5.  Repeat with remaining 2 pieces.

6.  Turn one leg right side out and slide into other leg (that is wrong side out).  Pin crotch seam and sew.

7.  Turn pants right side out.  Hem cuffs.

8.  Hem waist band and slit to hip.  (Finish as desired if not tying to waist with a sash)


Wearing the Salwar:

A lot of people really want drawstring pants or elastic.  This isn’t really ever seen, so I feel you should do what makes you comfortable.

If you want elastic, purchase some non roll elastic and zig-zag stitch it to the waist band.  Leave a couple of inches free in the slit to go over the hips.

If you want drawstring, add a few inches to the waist band when patterning to fold over and encase the draw string.  Leave a gap at each side so you can slide it over your hips. (If you add fabric to sew all the way up the sides, you end up with uncomfortable bulk at the waist.)

Personally, I prefer the period method of using a thin scarf tied around the waist to tuck them up under.  This holds them really well and when you bend over, a little bit of the back can slip out and they won’t fall down or pull at you.  You probably won’t even notice they are untucked a bit at the back.  This avoids the need to measure as in the way on Rashid’s pattern page and prevents you from having pants that are being stepped on when you are upright.

Further Reading:

The Historiography of Ottoman Velvets

Iran, the Safavids and Ottoman Expantion

Islamic Empires

Turkish Textile Books

Safavid Dynasty

Shah Ismail

Mongol Costume in Art

Salwar-Turko-Persian Pants

Fashion in Safavid Iran

Islamic Textiles and Dress Reading List

Costumes and Textile Designs – PhD Dissertation

Gifts in Motion:  Ottoman Safavid Cultural Exchange

My Pinterest Board of Salwar


1.  Oz, Tahsin. Turkish Textiles and Velvets. Ankara.  Turkish Press, Broadcasting and Tourist Department.  1950. p. VI-VII.  Forward by Mr. A. J. B. Wace

2.  Newman, Andrew J.  Safavid Iran: Rebirth of a Persian Empire.  I.B.Taurus & Co. Ltd.  NY, NY. 2006 p.7, 13-25.  This synopsis is laced with difficulty.  History books available in the west are prone to bias in different directions.  The overview presented in them can be completely contradictory on this topic.  There is much debate on Ottoman and Safavid relations.  I have tried to keep this section succinct enough to cover my basic theory for supporting the use of the garment across cultures.  Also, when reading in Oz, p. 51, we see that after the battle of Chaldiran in 1514 CE, the Ottomans brought back 91 garments captured from the Safavids.  Further information arguing against the Ottoman centric view of much work in this area can be read in the thesis Gifts in Motion.

3.  Gifts in Motion. Unfortunately when I was taking notes, since I did not write down exact quotes, I also neglected to write down page numbers.  I hope to return and update this when I have the opportunity.

4. Oz, XXIX, plate no. 44.6

5. Oz, XXVI, plate no. 4414








Middle Eastern Socks Competition – Lilies War


Greetings fellow artisans!

Do you knit or nailbind?  Do you like to test your mettle and meet fellow artisans or just see what other people are accomplishing?  If you do, please join us at the Tailor’s Tent for a Middle Eastern sock knitting competition!  We are pleased to announce there will be 2 categories of competition.  One for single needle people who nailbind and one for double needle people who knit.  Please gather your supplies and bring out your best work.

Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance beautiful multicolor socks were created throughout the Middle East.  Warm up your fingers with some internet research and show us what you can do.

We would like to display your efforts during the week, but they will be due for judging the day before final court.  Winners will be announced the day of final court or during final court.  I will be using the String Manipulation criteria to judge all entries.  Sock yarn will be awarded to the two winners!  (Stay tuned to find out what kind.)

I look forward to seeing your efforts!

Mistress Maggie


Recreating the Pirahan, Part II, The Process

In Part 1, I posted the extant garments I could find and the patterns available on the internet providing conjectural patterns.  My goal here is to walk you through the process of construction.

First we will start with the Persian Woman’s Pirihan Handout.

I was unable to fit a “measurement’s needed” section on the page.

So… Measurements Needed:

1.  Height of wearer____________

2.  Shoulder Width (measure across back)____________

3.  Underbust____________

4.  Duckhand____________

5.  Back Waist Length_____________

For an example we will start with mine (which is mortifying to put on the internet, I don’t know why):

1.  Height of wearer:  5′ 4″

2.  Shoulder Width:  16″

3.  Underbust:  32.5″

4.  Duckhand:  8″

5.  Back Waist Length:  16″

I have rounded these to the nearest 1/2 inch.  This isn’t a very fitted garment so it should be fine.  You may notice bust isn’t here.  Because we are using the back width and not the front width and with the low armscye of the sleeves, this works out in the end.  I will show you ahead when I do the calculations.

A.  (64 -(64 x 0.0625) – 9) x 2 = 102″  (The neck to floor measurement of a person can be gained by taking 9″ away from total height.  Based on the length of the original garment and suggested stature of the wearer, I calculated that the length should be 6.25% shorter than the garment length.  The final multiplication by 2 is to accommodate for cutting the front and back pieces as one.)

B.  16″  (Sets sleeves at shoulder/arm join)

C.  35″  (A large percentage of the extant garments from the middle east are approximately the same width and length.  Using this ratio helps ensure that you achieve the right volume in the skirting of the garment.)

D.  34″  (The sleeves on the extant garments seem to be about 2/3 the length of the finished garment.  I have simplified the algebraic formula to lessen confusion.)

E.  0.125″  (So we will now make this 2″, which I have to admit is somewhat arbitrary.  If you get this put together and need more space for your chest, take off the gusset and replace it with a longer one.  This makes sure not too much fabric is gathered into too small of a space.)

F.  1.125″  (So we will now make this 3″ to be 1″ longer than E.)

G.  17″  (By cutting a rectangle and using the excess as gores on the sleeve we conserve fabric.  If a more curved shape is desired we will address that after sewing the gores where they belong.)

H.  8″  (Make a hand puppet and measure around the widest part.  You need to make sure you can get your hands through the opening.

I.  16″  (This one is more complicated to explain.  When drafting a body block for a sloper in the Sartor System, you start with the back waist length and divide it in 2 to help determine the bottom of the armscye.  We are not making a sloper, but we are going to divide the back waist length anyway.  Double that is the width of the rectangle we start with to make the sleeve.  The next step when drafting the sloper involves lowering the armscye guide by a correction ratio for height and then again for the chest measurements deviation from average.  This is where we would normally accommodate the girls.  Since we are turning the triangles from the wrist to the body to make the shape of the sleeve, we automatically make more than enough room for breasts.  I realize some people will be exceptions, but this should be more than enough for natural breasts.  The extra room here where the sleeve will join the body will set up enough ease to close the pirahan if desired.)

J.  37″  (So I didn’t simplify this formula, it ends up being fractions multiplied by variables and I was concerned that people will have been out of school long enough to feel overwhelmed by it.  What I am doing is to find the length needed for the skirting, I am figuring out how much side seam is left after attaching the sleeve and the little gusset.  So you divide the super long both sides of the body piece by two to get just one side, then you subtract half the sleeve that will be on the same side, then you subtract the height of the gusset which is 2″.  The funny little I-H thing puts the full measurement of the sleeve in so we don’t forget the triangle gores.)

Pirahan worksheet (excel format for people who don’t like math. Replace measurements in worksheet, formula will fill in rest.  It’s not sexy or polished, that isn’t one of my strengths.)

Using these measurements I cut my pieces or of 107″ of fabric that was 54″ wide. (Approximately 3 yards) If you want to anticipate needed fabric, buy a piece the same length as calculation A. You may need to trim down the fullness of the garment and the length of the arms, but that will be okay.

Make sure fabric is adequately pressed before beginning.

Laying Out the Pieces

1. Lay out the main body. Using the measurements A and B, lay out a rectangle putting the long side along the selvage. Add 1 inch to each side to allow for 1/2 inch seam allowances. I go ahead and cut it out, you can mark it and wait if that makes you more comfortable.

2. Measure the width of the remaining fabric. C and J are the measurements needed for the side skirt panels. Add 1″ again for seam allowances. Orient the panel to best work with your fabric and cut 2 (or mark out 2). You may find a few inches too much or too little. That’s okay if it is out of measurement C. If you don’t want to waste fabric by cutting it off or it isn’t quite wide enough, you can just cut it the right length and leave the width as it is. The top is gathered so it is very forgiving. One caveat, the dress and it’s layers will flow better if each layer has a hem at least 4″ bigger than the one under it.

3. Next using D and I cut 2 rectangles for the sleeves. I placed the length across the fabric. You may find rotating them makes better use of your fabric. Once done, place them on top of each other. Mark halfway down the length for G. At the cuff end, center H and add seam allowance. Cut diagonal from H to G for the sleeve gores.
4. With remaining fabric, cut a strip 3″ wide and long enough to accommodate E plus F and add seam allowances. You will cut 4 of these pieces as shown in the cutting diagram below.

If you haven’t already cut this out, look over your work and then do it.

5. Now we will cut out the neckline. Visit the magic neckline trick 1 and magic neckline trick 2. Fold your main body piece in half crosswise, then in half lengthwise. Mark the folds and reopen so there is a cross on your fabric. Trace out the neckline as indicated in the links. Draw a smaller mark towards the center for seam allowance and cut. Slit from the front of the neckline to desired depth or even with where your belly button will be.

Sample final lay out:


Sewing it Together

Reports from people who have viewed similar garments indicate that seams may have been unfinished but flat felling the seams has apparently been seen. (SCA-Persian Yahoo Group archives) I cannot find any pictures of the insides of these garments myself. A simple running stitch was used to sew the garments together.

At the Lilies Tailor Shop we hand sew on site to complete the garments. Today, I am making this for myself and am going to sew on machine. Over the years I’ve damaged my hands enough to not feel the need to hand sew my personal costumes.

To the sewing. ..

1. Finish the neckline as desired. I don’t have any finger loop braid on hand so I am going to roll hem the neckline. I have seen people cut a facing, but I don’t use them routinely when making historical costumes. This is a fairly thin layer and it will show. I personally feel this detracts from the look of the garment. Finishing the neckline first is an easier way to get this step done. You have less to hold out of the way and no awkward angles to fit through the machine.

Before hemming.
imageAfter hemming. Set aside while constructing the rest of the garment.

2. Turn triangles and pin to sides of sleeve heads. Stitch in place. You can choose to match grains or sew bias to grain. I will match the grain.  At this point if you would like to alter the way this sleeve tapers, mark the new line and trim as desired.  I find that I just straighten out the seam line and it drapes nicely with a straight edge.

imagePress the seams.

3. In the directions it has you cutting 4 tiny gusset pieces. If you cut 4, sew them together on one side. Press and fold in half. Place next to sleeve and mark the sleeve to leave room to sew in later. You can see in the picture I cut them as one piece instead of 2. That was an unconscious choice I made when cutting. It saves me sewing a seam and I apologize for the discrepancy.

3. Fold sleeve in half with right sides together. Sew from point marked in last step to cuff. Do this to both sleeves.

4. Hem sleeve cuffs.

5. Take small gussets and sew them into sleeve seams where you left an opening in step 3. I pin in each half at a time and sew from the center out.


6. Set sleeves aside momentarily.

7. Take side skirt panels and sew a loose stitch along side C to use for gathering the panel into the small gusset. Carefully gather and attach to side E of gusset. Repeat on other side.


The sides are completed.

8. Get body of garment. Starting at the shoulders, pin each side in place making sure right sides are together. Sew. The reason you need to pin starting at the shoulders is to compensate for any strange errors that have crept in, as a safety measure if you tried to conserve fabric, or put the sides on sideways.

For example, look at the hem on this pirihan now that it is sewn together.

This is a combination of getting close enough on the side measurements when cutting, a math error, and me doing to many things at once while trying to do this blog post.

…And cat helpers. ..

9. Hem as desired.


I tried to get a picture with it on me to show it fits, but the children and the dog just won’t cooperate.

I had linen gauze on hand, so that is what I used on this piece. There isn’t a closure right now. You can sew a button and a loop or you can hold it closed with a broach.

Good luck in your sewing! Next I will do a women’s coat, the next layer.

Recreating a Pirihan From Extant Examples Part I, The Sources

People in the Safavid Dynasty utilized silk and cotton extensively in their garments. Linen was more uncommon. The climate of the region around Iran is dry but variable. For comfort, clothing needs to be absorbent but lose enough for the wind to catch to evaporate any moisture the fabric absorbs. Cotton and silk will wick moisture from the body but need this air flow to keep the wearer cool unlike linen. Their ability to absorb moisture is more limited than linen. In wearing layers such as these they created a micro-climate near their bodies and used the layers to best work with the climate. The Midwest is a very different climate so care should be used when using this information in constructing garments for the humidity and heat usually present in June in Kansas City, Missouri. My original pattern includes much more fabric at the torso enabling more sweat to be lifted from the body. Every person is different though, but please, for your own health and comfort keep this concept in mind. I personally would not make the extant pirahan pattern out of silk for lilies and would stick with cotton gauze or linen gauze.

The Extant Garments


Garment #1
Some time around 2001, The above pictured garment appeared for sale through the auction house of Sara Kuehn (Sara Kuehn Islamic Arts).  The current location is unknown as far as I can tell.  One of the tricks I use on the internet is to take a reference web page and put it in the Internet Archive when it is no longer available.  So, take this link:  and copy and paste it in there for her overview of the garment. (Into the Wayback Machine blank)


Detailed pictures indicate that the edges are finished with fingerloop braid.  The sides are gathered into an underarm gusset.  A pattern based on the measurements of this garment is available here.

The height is 51 inches and the width is 86.25 inches.  The garment is made of cotton and decorated with intricate embroidery.

Garment #2


Lot at Christie’s  Plain weave cotton with black cotton embroidery.  Has indigo trim around neck.  Dated by Christie’s based on Sara Khuen’s garment pictured as Garment #1.


Garment #3

pirihanThis photo was found at:  Http://   Again, this site is no longer available and it doesn’t come up on the wayback machine.  I’ve tried Google image search and Tin Eye as well with no results.  Little information is available at this point, but one blog reference’s it as being 51 3/16 long with the waist at 18.5 inches across.

Garment #4

One final garment that is difficult to find is listed as a 12th Century Egyptian Pirihan.   There are a few stylistic differences with this final garment.  First, the skirt is pleated onto the bodice.  Second, the sleeves are straight and shorter.  I feel this garment does establish the longevity of the style however and is worth mention. (Click on picture for link)


Hopefully, in the future, these garments will grace the internet again or interested researchers will track them down and publish more extensive information on them.  In the meantime, there are clues we can glean from the photos.  We can analyze shapes, ratios, and other design elements.  I am choosing not to go too in depth into my rational with the information I have used at this time.

Mapping Out the Pattern

I’m not comfortable making a garment based on one surviving example and believe there are multiple ways to make an undershirt.  Based on these examples however, I have come up with a way to flat pattern the garment to fit.  By looking at the clues in the photos and the handout posted by Master Rashid, I have come up with some formulas that should make recreation of the garment easier.  I have included 2 inches of ease in the body so that the garment moves with the wearer.  The length is calculated to be slightly shorter than the outer garments I will cover in later posts.  Unlike many I am calculating it based on total height instead of a measurement gained from the body.  The sleeves are 75% the length of the garment.  If you choose, you can make the garment shorter and make the sleeves shorter, but I would keep the sleeves at least your arm length plus six inches.   Here is my class handout for the upcoming Clothier’s Seminar.Persian Woman’s Pirihan Handout

This looks a little intimidating, but it takes the previously published pattern and gives you the math you need to customize it.  I’m not sure I can explain how I determine the formula without writing a book, but my drafting bases heavily on the Sartor System written by Master Robert.  He developed a ratio system for fitting garments that works well in this context.  I have adapted the way he fits the body to the ratios of the original garment provided by Charles Mellor.

In Part II I will post pictures of the process to make this garment.  Stay tuned!


Milisent’s Persian Research Page

Iranian and Afghani Textiles

Middle Eastern Embroidery Posts

Roxane Farabi Pirahan Instructions (WayBack Machine 2005)


Where I am coming from; 16th Century Safavid

Where to start a topic becomes a difficult decision for me. I have about 5 months to cover as much as I can on the topic of 16th century Safavid costume and I’m researching along the way. I don’t want to give out bad information or mislead the reader. Bearing that in mind, let me tell you about my background of researching this topic in the SCA.  Hopefully, knowing where I’m coming from will help you know where my biases are and help you formulate any questions you have (or concerns) about what will be published here in the coming months.

In the late nineties I got tired of seeing 18th and 19th century costume being worn to represent the Middle East.  I was young, overly enthusiastic, and probably too opinionated about what people wear in the SCA. It was apparent from art from the region that there was a treasure trove of beautiful garments waiting to be recreated for our game. One of my friends wanted to wear men’s Middle Eastern clothes and asked me if I would be willing to take on the task. I was just beginning in the SCA and was more than happy to start making some of these amazing garments. So I got some cash together for photocopies and ventured over to Washington University to visit their art library. Between three of their libraries I was able to find an amazing amount of resources to cover reconstructing costume from the Middle East. The started me on an amazingly interesting path over the next five years and finding out as much as I could how about Middle Eastern costume. There was a Countess active in Kingdom who had reigned in Meridies, I later discovered, and we shared notes. It was fascinating to discover that the Countess and I had made similar discoveries and come to similar conclusions. I then met the wonderful woman who wrote the Gobi Home Companion for the great Dark Hoard. Even though she had been researching Mongolian she and I had come to similar conclusions in construction. Following this time, I was fortunate enough to meet Rashid who posted online many patterns for Persian garments and who is a general treasure trove of information and a wonderful gentleman. I met a lady named Yasamin who had done some wonderful research especially in the area of headgear and has since become a wonderful resource person as well. There are many more during the early decade of the century I met who were also doing excellent work. The result of my research was teaching a class on general Middle Eastern garb. I chose this because at the time the needs of the SCA were to move away from the post period costuming being done and widely accepted.

There was a myth at the time that this was a difficult area to research. What I discovered there was plenty of information out there with surviving garments, extensive art, and lots written based on archaeological finds. There is a difficulty and that much of the research is in French and German. The growth of the Internet has allowed more availability and sharing making this topic even easier today. That doesn’t mean it is without stumbling blocks.

Researching the commonalities across cultures and regions gave me a bit of an unusual perspective. My focus was on leading people into the right direction and hoping that they would decide to specialize in a specific time and place and have that stepping stool to push them along further. In the last 15 years that has happened, which I find thrilling.

Over the course of my playing in this group I have seen time and time again people re-creating research from scratch. I’m happy that the topic has become popular enough that as the people in the SCA turnover information isn’t being lost as quickly. The advent of Facebook groups, yahoo groups, and other Internet mailing list has only enhanced and helped our desire to create better costumes.

I was thrilled when Persian was chosen for this year’s topic for The Lilies Tailor Shop. I sat down and created an outline of logical topics in order for what I should blog about. Thinking about the feedback I received and what needs to be covered I don’t feel that I can really follow that outline. One of the biggest points of reference for determining what we are making has been a vocal desire to follow Mistress Rahil’s lead in fashion. She has been amazingly gracious and sharing what she does with me and I look forward to learning more about her research as we move along. I am particularly thankful for her openness and willingness to collaborate.

At the beginning of February the annual Clothiers Symposium will happen in Kansas City. With Mistress Rahil’s help we have a great line up planned of classes for the day. I am anxious to take the classes myself. Please come out and participate as this is a wonderful event and a great opportunity to meet people with a common interest and learn what they have to offer.

Bearing in mind the time constraints I have on writing this blog, the timing of clothiers symposium, and the outline of topics I wish to cover, I have decided to reorder things a little bit to get the information published in a more timely manner.

First off I need to make Safavid outfit for myself (I have tons of Ottoman, could fake it with them, but I’d like to have examples in my class of the garments we will cover). I had intended to start with posts about learning to research the topic and where to go for information. Instead I am going to start with some patterns to get the sewing started. I’m going to try not to fall into research holes along the way in my effort to provide enough of a bibliography on each post. That is hard for me as I find the topic fascinating.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy what is offered here. Now I need to start in on re-creating a fourteenth century pirahan. This is the undergarment for the coats and the foundation for where we will begin.

Mistress Margret Bruce

Lilies Tailor Shop 2016 – 16th Century Safavid

Welcome to our new communication channel for the Lilies Tailor Shop!

This year we will be attempting 16th Century Safavid costuming.  If you are not familiar with our shop, we are a group of costuming enthusiasts who attempt to create a complete outfit from scratch for one man and woman while we are on vacation.  This takes place at Lilies War at Smithville Lake near Smithville, MO.  This year it will happen from June 13th to 21st, 2015.  Since we are in a specific organization of medieval enthusiasts, the costumes go to the people sitting on the thrones at the time.

This year is particularly exciting as the Midwest is home to numerous people who have studied the costumes of this time and region.  It should be a fun and challenging year and we are looking forward to what we can come up with.  Last year, participants hand dyed fabrics to be used in this years costumes.

dyed fabric

These four pieces of silk will be embellished and used to create the new costumes.  We are still in the design and organization stage, but look here in the future for shared information about what we are doing and additional research on the specific time and period.

Follow along, contact us, and if you come out to the Lilies War, please stop by and participate.  Any skill level is welcome!