Today, let’s look at an intriguing garment made in Turkey:
This garment is a robe of silk velvet in a rich burgundy red, heavily ornamented with scrolling florals in gold. The gold is still bright and untarnished, indicating that it is real gold, probably made by rolling or wrapping thread in tissue-thin gold leaf.
The ornamentation is made in the most intriguing way. First, paper models in the desired shapes were cut out. Then, gold thread was wrapped around the paper shapes, completely covering the paper. Then, the gold-wrapped shapes were sewed down to the garment.
Some of the larger flowers must have been padded before wrapping, and are further highlighted by outlines in coiled gold wire, with details are picked out with knots coiled gold.
The overall effect is of elaborate, sumptuous satin-stitch embroidery: the work of an incredibly skilled embroiderer. However, gold thread cannot be applied in a satin stitch as pulling the thread through the fabric would rip the gold covering off, so instead gold thread is applied through couching, where the thread is coiled on top of the fabric and stitched over to hold it on. The technique used on this garment, where thread is wrapped around shapes, gives the same effect as satin stitch, but wouldn’t require the skill or time of either satin stitch or couching. It’s a very novel and time saving technique.
The only information about this robe on the storage label was that it was made in Turkey, but based on the techniques and the materials used I suspect it is late 19th century, or even early 20th, and that it was either made for the export or tourist markets. It has been very slightly altered: A frill of lace has been tacked around the collar, hiding the original line of beadwork that ornamented the collar.
Based on this and mentions I have read of Turkish tea robes, I suspect this was worn as a tea gown by a woman in the West. What exactly its use would have been in Turkey (or, the Ottoman Empire, as it was at the time) I do not know.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a little peek at this garment. If you know more about what it would have been, or about the wrapping technique used, please do share!