The Robe a la Turque – Part 3 – Shalwar Puffy Pants

Before I forget about all the trials and tribulations (and sometimes fun) I had making my Turkish costume for Costume College 2017, I better tell you about one of the most enjoyable parts – the puffy pants!

Since Guimard’s lower legs are not visible in the painting, I decided to do puffy pants – harem pants as you might know them, or “shalwar” as properly termed – based on these images:

Costume for Idamé, in the Orphan of China. (1779).jpg

Costume of the Sultana used in the Comédie Française in the Plays where there is a role for this Costume. (1779)

Sticking with the European-interpretation-of-Turkish-dress angle, I patterned, cut, and constructed the pants as I thought an 18th century mantua-maker might. My version certainly aren’t like real shalwar at all, but I was very happy with the result.

My scribble-notes when planning how to make these pants. I ended up making them a bit long (because I didn’t realize the cuff actually fastens under the knee, not at the ankle), so cut a good foot off the bottom before pleating.

I cut two very basic, super-wide legs (front and back) with a very low crotch point. The waist I pleated just like a petticoat, leaving it split on the sides, which worked just fine. The hems of each leg were roughly pleated into a a cuff band that snapped around my ankle.

Pleating and binding the top like an 18th century petticoat.

I still planned to wear the standard Western underpinnings, a shift and stays, but the shalwar negated the other usual underpinnings. I could not wear an underpetticoat or false bum, which gave the finished costume a long, loose, somewhat “deflated” look compared to the popular silhouette of 1790.

Swish, swish, swish – such good scroop with these pants. Not so good on the “so you have to go to the bathroom” part, though!

I left enough length in the legs to create a nice “bulb” when gathered into the ankle bands, which are barely visible. They snapped on the sides.

As I would later find out, it was also ridiculously hard to go to the bathroom! Word to anyone making shalwar to be worn under a gown…do some kind of snaps or ties or *something* in the crotch!


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