Turkish Entari (work in progress)

Last week I had a sewing day with my friend Niyo, where I started working on a Turkish entari made from a recycled duvet cover. The duvet cover was a lovely satin-finish cotton with green on green stripes. It seems everyone I know has a set of sheets in the same pattern (mine are black), but it was a nice lightweight cotton with very little stretch, so I knew it would be a sturdy and comfortable option for an entari, which is a support garment.

In Turkish ladies’ clothes, the base layer is a sheer chemise-like garment called a gomlek which is generally long sleeved and goes at least to the knees. My gomlek goes to about mid-calf and has extra-long sleeves which are bunched up to create a lovely pattern of folds up the arms. Next comes the entari, which is a floor-length coat with 3/4 or full length sleeves. The entari closes with buttons, frogs, hooks, etc, and is shown open from the waist to the floor, and frequently from the neck to the base of the sternum. The entari is belted at the hips with a cloth sash or metal medallion belt, and the ends of the entari’s front corners are often shown tucked into the belt.  The entari is frequently shown worn as the outermost garment in interior scenes, but the lady would layer additional garments over the entari when she went out.

The entari is cut with the same geometric lines of all Turkish garments, and the tightness of the garment through the ribcage along with the under-bust closure provides bust support.

This garment is frequently confused with a gawazee coat, which is a non-period garment frequently worn in the SCA that is fastened from the underbust to the waist but is cut under the bust and is usually worn with a decorated bra. Gawazees are also typically shorter, falling to the thighs or the knees, whereas Entaris are shown falling to the ankles or to the floor.

I made my Entari about the same way I would have made a cotehardie: two back pieces, two front pieces, two sleeves, with gores at the sides and back. The front is open all the way down.  After I cut out my pieces I found a pattern cut from a single piece for the back and front sections, with only the gores added in, but if I make another one I’ll probably make it the same way since it fits so well! Entaris are shown with narrow and wide sleeves, stopping at the elbow or going down to the wrist. Because I’m making mine for hot weather and I’m planning to wear this with my gomlek that already has decorative sleeves, I opted for short, wide sleeves.

I finished the construction seams at Niyo’s house, and hand-stitched the hem (as my sewing machine is in the repair shop). I’ve decided to use prefabed frog closures, which fit the general style of the period but aren’t textbook correct. I had time to sew on two of them before rushing off to an event this weekend, but eventually there will be six, going from the collar down to a few inches below my natural waist.

My photo is a fit test the night before the event.

What’s period about it?

  • small round neckline. Period art shows high, small necklines, either round or v. Many of the necklines in reference art were even higher than mine, staying very close to the neck. The top is open to below the breasts and with support provides PLENTY of cleavage. There’s no need for a lower cut. I was struggling to maintain modesty as it was.
  • geometric seams. A lot of gawazees are cut with princess seams in front and back which adds significant complication to the construction process and provides less support. The measurements for my garment are based entirely around the waist. The upper part of the garment is supportive because the top is tight (having been cut to my waist measurement rather than curving up to the breast). The lower part of the garment allows for hip flare by having the gores go all the way up to the natural waist. It allows for full range of movement and perfect compliment to my shape. The front of the garment can hang closed as in the photo or slightly open to reveal the gomlek and salvar (pants) underneath.
  • frog closures. Period examples show either a row of buttons or a row of frogs. However, period frogs looked a little different, being long and narrow, where mine are rounder in design. I think to get a period shape I’ll need to make my own, which I’d like to try in the future.

What’s NOT period about it?

  • Fabric. I used cotton with a slightly shiny satin finish. Silks and velvets were most commonly used in period, including brocades, but cottons weren’t on the list.
  • Color. Turkish clothing was very bright. Advanced dye processes gave them access to shockingly bright colors, and they used them. The moss green fits my personal taste, but would have been too dull for a real Turkish lady.
  • Pattern. I found tons of examples of solids and florals, but not stripes. Stripes are widely associated with middle eastern garb in the SCA, but I haven’t found many resources that explain why.
  • Frogs. As I mentioned, my frogs are in the right direction, but not QUITE correct.

Overall I’d consider this a 10 foot rule piece. Passable at ten feet, but not quite the real thing.


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