15th and 16th century Ottoman kaftan design

Ottoman children’s kaftans of the late 16th and 17th centuries.


16th C Ottoman children’s kaftans V&A museum

Close up photograph of the fabric of one of the V&A kaftans

The V&A  collection of children’s kaftans were worn by Ottoman princes who died in childhood. These luxurious kaftans were placed over the graves of the deceased children and preserved in the imperial tombs. In 1595 the nineteen younger sons of Sultan Murat III were executed on the orders of their half-brother Mehmet III on his succession. The killing of younger heirs of the sultanate evolved to prevent any struggling for succession (interesting that this is also practiced by male lions that kill the cubs when taking over a pride). This cruel practice was never repeated after 1595.

Weave construction: ‘Lampas’ weave – 4:1 satin with a 1/3 twill. Silk warp and weft with a third element – a metallic silver wrapped white or yellow silk weft brocade. Loosely silver wrapped white silk yarns allows the white to show through the silver highlighting the metal – yellow yarn peeking through the sliver lends a gold hue to the resulting brocade.

Yarn colours:

Predominantly white and red with touches of blue and yellow. Green was rarely used as there were no natural green dyes – green was produced by over dyeing yellow yarn with a blue dye. Red is used for the warp but never the weft – why?

Textile patterns:

Stars & Crescents –  Designs from Constantinople. 15th century

Cintamani & Tiger stripes – Turkic, Central Asian origin. Pre 15th century

Florals: Pomegranate – single and sprays of, Ogival lattice, floral lattices, blossoms, pine cones, medallions – 16th century.

Undulating parallel lines – 17th century

Geometric design were still used in the 16th and 17th centuries

PDF: Wearden J. The Royal Garments, fabric, design, tailoring.Ottoman kaftans from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fabric width: 66cm – 68.5cm

Kaftan patterns for the children’s kaftan

Making an Ottoman kaftan:

Kaftan toile – to replicate the children’s kaftan

Toile for kaftan

My initial pattern for digitally printed fabric informed by Iznik design previuosly worked on.

I have enlarged the child’s kaftan and ajusted the shape to fit a size 10 (UK) woman.

I considered using a contrasting fabric the make the gores however have decided to make use of the whole pattern

Pattern lay jpeg for digital printing:

I had this image digitally printed onto cotton sateen at the London College of Fashion Business Bureau http://www.fashion.arts.ac.uk . The initial drawing was small however I think it translated reasonable well – enlarged on to 140cm x 200cm fabric.

Kaftan pattern pieces

Cotton sateen pattern detail

Having cut the pattern pieces I am now adding free machine embroidery to some of the design to enhance the pattern.



Ottoman Turkish Clothing Resources


Excellent list of resources

Ottoman Turkish garb

An overview of women’s clothing

Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova  Khazarina


Plates of ancient and period Persian and Turkish clothing



Finkel C.  Osman’s dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire Basic Books New York 2005

Roxburgh D JR., Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600 to 1600. Royal Academy of the Arts, London. 2005

Scarce J. Women’s Costume of the Near and Middle East. Routledge Curzon. London. 2003

Tilke M., Oriental Costumes: Their Designs and Colours. Berlin 1922