An Ottoman Turkish Outfit — Part Ia: quilting the outer caftan

Last week, I started making my outer caftan. You can read about it here. Today, we start quilting. The caftan isn't rectangular like a quilt, and I didn't have enough fabric to quilt it before I cut it.  So I was going to have to figure out how to do it elsewise. I contemplated basting muslin onto either side of the caftan to make it into a rectangular shape and then basting the muslin to the frame like a quilt, but I decided against this.  The frame I'm using is not quite long enough to accommodate the whole length of the caftan (it's 8 feet long and the caftan is closer to 10 feet).  Having a couple feet of caftan hanging over the edge didn't appeal to me. Also, this frame is not very scaleable.  It's meant for multiple people to sit along its sides and quilt at the same time.  Unless I wanted to use an office chair and wheel myself back and forth along the length of the frame, that was going to be more annoying than useful. So I put the caftan on the frame widthwise.  This was helped greatly by the fact that the hem of the caftan is largely flat and parallel to the ground when worn.  So I had a nice flat edge to baste to the frame.  The width of the caftan is about 48" wide, a little wider than I can comfortably reach, but much narrower than the 96" I've have to travel with each line of quilting if I put the caftan on the frame lengthwise. Before attaching the quilt to the frame, I had a little prep work to do.  Since I am not quilting the facings (I'll finish them over the quilting once it's finished), there is nothing holding the lining, outer material, and padding together.  So I laid the caftan upside down on my work table and with tailor's neutral cotton thread, I basted all the layers of the caftan together in the flat.  These large basting stitches will be easy to remove once the quilting is finished and they won't interfere with the quilting of the caftan at all.  I basted the back horizontally just above the hem, about halfway up the skirts, and under the arms.  Then I basted three rows across the sleeves and back contiguously.  The front doesn't need to be basted since the lining, outer material, and padding are caught together at the edges already.
the layers of the caftan basted in vertical lines close-up of the basting
Next I whipstitched the back hem of the caftan to the fabric bits on the quilting frame arm closest to me.  Then I pulled the caftan taut and basted it to the fabric bit on the other quilting frame arm opposite.  I could have basted the front hem to that arm, but I didn't quite trust that it would unroll evenly.  So instead of unrolling as I quilt, I am going to quilt up to the opposite arm with all my rows, and then move the entire caftan so the unquilted part aligns with the near frame arm and baste it on again.  I should be able to quilt a third of the caftan at each go.
sewing the caftan to the frame close arm sewn to the frame
I began with the center line. The overlaps are cut apiece with the fronts, but they are quilted as if they were attached.  They quilting pattern follows the edge of the overlaps, not the front edges of the caftan, to the outside of this line.  So I quilted this line first on the left and right fronts. I flipped the facings to the outside since they will not be quilted.  They will be caught down after the quilting is complete. From there it was easy to finish quilting the overlaps. At that point, all the rest of the quilting is exactly vertical, following the front edges of the caftan.  Even the sleeves follow the same line.
ready to quilt the caftan on the quilting frame
multiple lines quilted help from a friend
It's going to take me a while to quilt this.  So you'll have to wait for photos.  I promise there will be photos in the final post of this series when I show the whole outfit. Thanks to Mea Clift for the loan of the antique quilting frame.


The anteri.

Get Reconstructing History's best info on Ottoman Turkish clothing for yourself:


And, Metin. Istanbul in the 16th century. 1994: Akbank Culture and Art Department, Istanbul. Arnold, Janet. "The Pattern of a Caftan, said to have been worn by Selim II (1512-20), from the Topkapi Sarayi Museum (Accession Number 2/4415), on display at the exhibition of Turkish art of the Seljuk and Ottoman periods, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, November 1967." Costume: The Journal of the Costume Society. London: Victoria and Albert Museum. 1968, No. 2.

Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 4: The Cut and Construction of linen shirts, etc. 2008: Macmillan, London.

Scarce, Jennifer. Women's Costume of the Near and Middle East. Unwin Hyman, London, 1987. Sevgi Gurtuna. Osmanli Kadan Giyisi. Kültür Bakanligi , Ankara, 1999.
© 2017 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice, the author's name and website, and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.