European>Rectangular Constructed Coats
rectangular construction of garments is as old as weaving.
The main emphasis of rectangular patterns is not formed from
the body but rather constrained by the width and length of
the cloth. Rectangular construction typically is loose fitting
rather than form fitting but can involve some tailoring. This
is particularly evident in the engineering of the bias-to-selvedge
construction of the long side seams which attach the sleeve
and gores to the body of the garment.
photos to the left and above show actual examples of Turkestani
coats worn in the 1800s. Photos copyright the Fitz Gibbon-Hale
Collection from www.photocentralasia.com.
For a more detailed look at the photos, click
here. The pattern of these coats has changed little throughout
the centuries. Patterns for 16th century coats look almost
identical to patterns for the 18th century.
order to make a rectangularly constructed coat, three initial
measurements are necessary. First measure the width of the
shoulders. This determines the width of the front/back body
piece. Second, measure how long you want the coat. This will
determine the length of the front/back body piece. Third,
measure the length of the sleeves. Once all of these measurements
have been taken and the pattern pieces marked out, the gores
and flaps can then be determined.
Optimally, the less waste the better. In the diagram to the
right, the rust colored areas represent the wasted fabric
from this method. Compared to Western European construction
methods of the same period, this is an extremely small amount.
Additionally, ripping the fabric pieces out as much as possible
rather than cutting them out is best. This gives a perfectly
straight "cut" for the long length of the front/back
body piece as well as the sleeves and the straight sides of
The inclusion of the front flap pieces on the side with all
the other pieces requires that the front/back body piece be
somewhat long. If a shorter front/back body piece is wanted
- knee length or mid-calf, then the front flaps can be left
off or cut from left overs at the end of the fabric length.
width of the side gores is determined on how much fabric is
left after the front/back body piece is removed. In order
to figure out how long they need to be, you must first determine
the sleeve size and the under gore size. Remember that the
bias cut of the gore is the length to be determined, rather
than the selvedge cut. After you have determined how much
space your sleeve is going to take, you can then determine
the under gore length. I have found that the seam between
the base of the under gore and the top of the side gore is
best if placed right at the natural waist line. In this way,
the tailored effect of the bias-to-selvedge construction of
the side gore to the front/back body piece shapes itself around
the curve of the hips very nicely.
all the pieces have been cut out, it is time to determine
the sequence of construction. Generally, sewing the under
gores to the side gores is first, then the under gore/side
gore piece to the sleeve. Complete both back and front sections
to the sleeve. Once this is all accomplished, you can then
sew the entire side to the side of the front/back body piece
making for one continuous seam front to back.
After the long side seam is done, you can then add your front
flaps to both sides of the front. These flaps are optional
and were included as often as they were excluded.
If you are going to line your coat, make up the lining exactly
as you have made up the shell. Once done, the lining can be
placed into the shell. This will leave the hem, neck and front
seams, and the sleeve ends to finish.
Any embellishment or appliqué will need to be done
at this point, prior to binding the edges closed.
Finishing in period consisted of long strips of fabric, cut
at a width of about three inches, and sewn onto both layers
of fabric at the edges so that, once it was turned to the
inside, it bound the edge and was self facing. If you're going
to be sewing this on by hand, by all means, cut straight grain
strips. That way, you can ease as needed. If you are going
to be binding the edges by machine, it's easier to cut these
strips on the bias, essentially producing your own bias tape.
Viola! A Turkestani Coat. Very often, especially during the
Ottoman period, these coats were quilted and quite thick.
Made from highly figured silks and Ikat (which was reserved
for the very rich), the coat often reached to the ground.
When made with gores of less width, the coat will tighten
around the waist and fall smoothly over the hips - very reminiscent
of the dancing coats pictured in period and of crusader influenced
clothing of Europe. Many of the examples of "t-tunics"
from Scandinavian countries during the fifth through twelfth
centuries use these same techniques for their construction.
For more information on coats and coat patterns, try Traditional
Textiles of Central Asia, Oriental
Costumes, and Cut
The following are pictures of a shirt, a vest and two coats
based on this pattern. Click on the thumbnail for a larger
Detail of gores
Shirt and vest
Detail at neck of vest
Detail of undergores and side gores
Detail of edge binding and lining
Detail of applique and embroidery
Detail of lining of coat
Detail of lining at the neck
These last two photos are of a striped
coat and pair of striped pants. The stiped fabric
was made by first ripping strips of both red and black
fabric and then sewing them back together. For a pattern
diagram of the pants, click