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

Oct 3, 2017 12 comments

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 some kind of snaps or ties or *something* in the crotch!


  1. That's so interesting to see how differently you patterned your trousers! It works so well with your version of "what would a mantua maker do?" I made the traditional style shalwar for my blue ones, and I, too, wish I had left an opening. They're so huge and gathered (I used an entire 3 yards) that I'm not sure you'd need crotch fastenings unless you plan on doing a lot of activity, or if your chemise is really full and would peek through. I'll have to experiment on that.

    1. That's a good point - maybe just leave it open there.

  2. I make pants similar to yours for everyday wear. However, for mine the pleats in the waist are caused by using 1" elastic at the waist and the pleats at the legs are done using 3/8" elastic. Sometimes I put a cuff over the Elasticized cuffs. I don't let lack of skill stop me!

  3. Have I missed the post on the shoes?

  4. The more I see of this costume, the more impressed I am--and the better I like it!

  5. This is such an amazing outfit, and so happy to look at! I like your interpretation of the pattern - making the waist like a petticoat seems especially brilliant.

  6. I just like saying "puffy pants". I'm really simple sometimes.....

  7. Wow, you nailed it ! I love how it moves when turning.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Hey, Wow all the posts are very informative for the people who visit this site. Good work! We also have a Website. Please feel free to visit our site. Thank you for sharing.
    Stone Bath | Bath
    Keep Posting:)


Post a Comment

Costuming Blogs: