Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Caftan, Part II

I was hoping to be completely finished with this piece by last Friday, but, alas, it has taken on a life of its own. The original plan, as outlined in my previous installment on the subject, was to make an unlined "summer" caftan. Then I considered putting in just facings. Then I decided to line it with a brown/copper lining fabric with facings out of the same fabric. Then I settled on lining it sans facings, stating that it would be "good enough for now." Everything was going well with that until this afternoon when my brain kind of snapped and I realized that "good enough for now" wasn't really good enough and I needed to have a piece that really popped and showed off my burgeoning abilities.

So here I am, blogging at 2:01 am because that damned caftan was hanging on the back of the bedroom door taunting me and I couldn't fall asleep for obsessing over it. Thus, I have decided to take the lining out of it, face it with orange or yellow satin and put the copper lining back in. In my head, the overall look is similar to what is seen in this picture by Dick Osseman. My research has often stated that caftans were lined in a complimenting color with a different color of facing, hence the orange or yellow that I plan to put in. Now if I could just decide which one... any votes?

Also, the caftan's shape just isn't right and I think it's because I put the side gores in too high. Right now they are at my waistline when I believe they should be more toward my hips, perhaps even an inch or two below. I think when I measured and cut them I was trying to make the skirt fuller, but I wound up taking shape out of my midsection in the process. Using Mistress Agnes' ensemble as a guide, it appears that her gores start just at her hips, allowing her to tailor the midsection into a more fitted garment. I'm not sure this is completely agreeable with me since my midsection is not so svelte as hers, but I think it will help to give me some illusion of a figure since the caftan in its present state does not.

Luckily, the question of the side gores is easy enough to fix. I just have to pick them out, drop them down a few inches and resew them in place. The fact that I have to do this on both the coat and lining is what leaves me more than I little annoyed. But in the end having a beautiful coat that I am proud to wear and show off makes it worth any irritation.

I have also decided that this caftan will have short sleeves, but detachable long sleeves that I can button in during the cold months. This is a perfecly period practice and one that will help me get more mileage out of the coat. A fun, period feature is the inclusion of gauntlet sleeves that will form dramatic points on the backs of my hands (think Morticia Addams).

Lastly, it has occurred to me (not without some embarrassment) that I should have made the frogging and buttons prior to putting the lining in. My fiance, always trying to be helpful, suggested I just sew the frogging on through the lining, but because the caftan will probably be worn open from neck to bustline, the stitching would show, so I had to reformulate my plan on that aspect. I'm still not happy with my fingerloop weaving ability, so I'm trying to decide between inkle weaving them or using flat kumihimo braids. I do a lot of kumihimo, but I would have to use several strands of each color to get the right thickness and I'm afraid that would take away from the braid's flatness. Obviously, this requires some experimentation, but I am still leaning more toward the kumihimo because of the ability to make uniform loops with them.

Before I go, I wanted to share a small site I just found that shows pictures of extant caftans. What sets the Cevat Kanig website apart from, say, Dick Osseman's website is that many of the coats are labeled with the name of the sultan who owned them. And since I have decided to be a member of Sultan Suleiman's court, I can't help but be excited to see pictures of clothes he actually wore!

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