28 December 2012

HSFN #0: Tunics and Turbans Part I

Historical Sew Fortnightly #0 (the bonus challenge): Starting Simple – due 31 December NZT.  Finish a project, make a very simple garment, or something you have made before.

I had an entirely different sewing project in mind for this until I was given a deadline for The Fundamentalist costume for "Chad Deity".
That's my original rendering...next to him is Che Chavez Castro, mexican revolutionary. In the play, they are wrestling characters created as enemies of the beloved, All-American wrestler Chad Deity. Che is of course, not actually mexican and The Fundamentalist is a young indian man. The show deals a lot with stereotypes and racism.
The Fundamentalist is modeled by the wrestling company's owner after Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda terrorists. However, since he's so politically incorrect and misinformed I decided he would have chosen the most theatrical and "evil" looking aspects of middle eastern dress, without actually putting out a lot of effort (The Fundamentalist career starts off as a trial run without a lot of expectations).

 I present to you the first part of the costume, the turban. Not exactly intimidating when modeled on a blue-eyed white girl!
Fabric: One fitted bedsheet, slightly shiny, 100% cotton
Cost: $2.70
Time: 30 minutes
How-To: I cut off all the elastic and then sliced up the sewn corners, like in Step 1 of the diagram below. Then I cut off the two side rectangles, like the cartoon scissor is doing. So now I had two long strips and one very large rectangle. This I cut in half the long way to end up with four long strips. These two were a little wider.  I was a little lost on how much fabric to use for the turban. According to the video tutorial below he uses lightweight cotton/linen 34 feet by 30 inches. The Al Hannah Muslim clothing website turban cloth listed 10.5 feet by 43 inches.  So mine was somewhere in between the two after I sewed all my strips of cloth together. It ended up being 28 feet by 15". Easy-peasy!
 Source|Daisy Janie Blog
The Research
 There are plenty of video tutorials showing how to wrap one, but I went with this one because, frankly, it looks the scariest.  
His is for a turban for dressing up like Abdul Alhazred, an HP Lovecraft character. However, it seems to be more in the style of a Berber turban (see image below) than those worn by Al Qaeda.


  1. Cool! I planned on having something done for the bonus challenge but time got a bit away from me. lol. In my defense, I did have to make a trip to Jo-Anns first and I didn't feel like fighting the pre or post Christmas rush.

    Can't wait to see the rest of your Historical Sewing Fortnightly projects! :)

    1. I had to do almost all my shopping for this during the last weekend before Christmas. It was a TOTAL nightmare and I don't blame you in the least! I'm also excited to see your projects. I'm glad there's someone else doing it that I'm already familiar with...I wish The Dreamstress had done a list of participating blogs.

    2. Yeah, we really do need a blog list! I feel pretty good navigating the vintage/retro/modern sewing scene but I'm so new on the costuming end of thing that I don't know about so many fab blogs that I'm sure are out there!

  2. That guy in the video is a Freemason of some kind; that symbol he's got on his chest is a Freemasonic symbol.Though I don't know of any Freemasonic group other than OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis) that uses turbans in their ritual costuming!Most Freemasons avoid OTO like the plague! Anyway, this is a very good video, and it led me to a few other good videos about turbans and headgear I had been wondering about!

    I might mention that if one has access to Indian fabric shops, the fine cotton Indians use for turbans is worth checking out for things like blouses and fine summer skirts,and is generally very reasonably priced! (As in $4-6 per yard last I checked, not at all bad for a fine pure cotton fabric!) It comes in only a few colours,(I have seen red, yellow, white, pale blue, burgundy and black) but is very dye-able. One generally has to ASK for it, and when I asked what I should call it when asking for it next time, they told me: "turban material"!

    I have also encountered a very fine Indian cotton that could be described as "cotton chiffon" ; it was a proper weave, (not open-weave like cheesecloth, f'r instance) so light and sheer it was difficult to work with because it floated around so much, and did not have enough weight to "hang' properly when made into a blouse! India is famous for its fine cotton fabrics; I once heard a story about an Indian princess who appeared at court wearing SEVEN layers of what was probably this very fabric, and was reproved by her father the king for her "immodesty"! It's true; the fineness of this cotton fabric was absolutely unlike any cotton I have seen anywhere else!

  3. I love that you used a bedsheet! I'm fond of them myself, for petticoats: http://asartorialstatement.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-to-make-ruffled-petticoat-from.html


Folks Serv