Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Period Mongolian Coat Made Easy

     So you have decided you want to make your own Mongolian clothing. If you have done any research on the subject, you will find numerous patterns on how to make the Mongolian coat commonly referred to as a deel or terlig.  The only real difference between deel and the terlig is materials and complexity.  Terligs are made from light materials and are unadorned, while deels are made from heavier and/or fancier materials.  Terligs are often worn under a deel. 

     The same garment is also called a jama in Mughal culture. 1  For simplicity we will refer to the Mongolin coat as a deel through the rest of this document.  The form of deel this tutorial covers is the simplest form which is not pleated.  By the time of the Yuan Dynasty, it was very common for the lower portion of the deel to be pleated. 2  Instruction on the construction a pleated deel will be providing in a future tutorial.  The design of the deel evolved in many way of the after the disintegration of the Mongolian Empire.  The image below shows the influence of deel in Asian couture during the Middle Ages. 3

     The problem deel patterns available is that they range from slightly confusing to downright head scratching. The final pattern from which my own deel making methodology has derived was more than a little confusing to me at first. It took taking a class explaining how to construct this pattern to finally drive home how it was done. Since then I have constructed a fair number of deels with varying levels of success. I have slightly modified the way a deel is made to make the job a lot easier. The end result is the same, with a lot less headaches during construction.

     The first clarification we must make is what the period deel looks like. The majority of modern deel's look fairly different to how the standard deel would have looked during Chingus's time. Most modern deels have a front flap which goes across the chest, and then dips down sharply at the ties on the right side near the right arm in either a rectilinear or (more commonly) curved fashion, often held in place with frogs as seen in the image above. The actual design of this will very based on both tribe and region. The exception to this design, is the deel of the Kazakh from the extreme Western Mongolia. The design they use today is almost identical to extant examples of the unpleated deels from the Yuan period and earlier.  Period deels have an inner panel which angles from the right and ties to the left inside of the outer panel. The outer panel is the exact inverse of the inner panel. The pictures included illustrate this far better than the description. 4

You will need the following measurements to make your deel:
Loose arms eye:
Widest point on the torso:
Length from shoulder to knee, mid calf or high ankle:
Back of neck:
Duck hand:
Loose Bicep:
Length from shoulder to knuckles:

Step 1:
Cut out three identical rectangles. This will be the back, left front and right front panels. These will be as wide as ½ of your torso measurement. You may need the front or back panels larger depending on body type. This will is only discovered from experience. The length will be your shoulder to desired length measurement. Don't forget to add a 5/8-3/4” seam allowance on each side and the top, and an inch or two hem allowance on the bottom. Seam allowance will vary due to material type or, in my case, skill, or lack there of. :-)

Step 2: Cut your arms. For short sleeves make a trapezoid with widths of the arms eye and the bicep measurements with the length being an inch or two shy of the elbow. For long sleeves, take the arms eye to bicep trapezoid shape and extend out a second trapezoid from the bicep end to a total length of the shoulder to knuckle ratio with the knuckle end being as wide as the duck hand measurement.
Step 3: Mark off half the neck measurement each direction the center of one of the top of one of your rectangular panels. This will be the back of the del. Sew each of the top of the front panels front the outside panel to the corresponding neck mark in the middle of the back panel.

Step 4: Sew the arms eye measurement section of the sleeve open to the top of the front and back panels of each side of the main body of the deel. Once they are attached to the main body of the deel, sew the sleeves shut starting at the arms eye and sewn to the wrist.

Step 5: Try on your unfinished deel and mark where your hip points are on the panels and measure from there to the bottom of the panel.  This will get you your gore length.  Cut four gores. On me, they are a 28”-29” x 14” right angle. If you are taller, you may need a longer gore. The width should be around half the height. For shorter deels, you may need a shorter gore following the half width rule with a minimum width of 12”. The whole idea is for the top of the gore to be at the hip point.

Step 6: Sew the gores to the bottom panels of the deel. The back panel gets gores on both sides. The left front panel gets one on the right side and the right front panel gets one on the left. The gore is attached by it's longer right angle side.  Once the gores are attached, hem the gores along the hypotenuse.


Step 7: Sew entire length of bias tape together on both sides and then cut the tape into eight even sections.

Step 8: Sew the back panel to each of the front panels from the gores all the way to the sleeves. Your will need to sew two straps to each of these side stitches. The strap's length is on the inside on the left side of the garment, and on the outside of the right. The top strap can be placed anywhere from two inches from the arm pit to a hands distance depending on the cross angle you want. The larger the breasts size in women, the higher that strap will need to be from my experience. The bottom strap should be around a hands width distance from the top of the gores. You kind of have to intuit this part, so doing a mock up your first time is not a bad thing.

Step 9: Hem the sides of each of the front panels.

Step 10: Fold the corners of the front panels inside from the neck to where a tie can be attached to tie to it's partner on the opposite side to create a diagonal. Safety pin the bottom of the diagonal to the base of the top tie on the side to make sure the angle and fit is right. Pin the fold in place and then sew it together about 3/8”-1/2” from the fold. Cut off all but 2”-3” of the excess from the corner. Fold the materiel underneath to the sew line and then sew in place to create a hem. Do the right to left panel first and then rinse and repeat with the left to right panel.

Step 11: Hem back of neck slightly overlapping into the hem of the diagonals.

Step 12: Attach the straps to the sides of the front panels. The top one goes about an inch from the corner with the diagonal cut and the the bottom one goes a matching distance from the top gore as the corresponding straps sewn into the side.

Step 13: (Optional) Cut a curve along the base of each panel using the curves from a patterning cutting board. This will keep the bottom of your del from having gore points.

Step 14: Hem the bottom and sleeves of your deel.   

     Following these steps will make you a very basic deel.  Keep posted for an upgrade section to this article for instructions on how to add high collars, horse hoof cuffs, and general commentary on ways to vary from this basic deel design.


1.  Author Unknown, "Difference Between Mongolian Coats Terleg and Deel,"  November 29, 2017
2.  Ildiko Oka,  "Mongol Clothing in the Yuan Period," Acta  Orientalia  Academiae  Scientiarum  Hung.  Volume  68   2015, Pages  385–414
3.  Woohyun Cho, Jaeyoon Yi, Jinyoung Kim,  "The Dress of the Mongol Empire:  Genealogy and Diaspora of the Terlig,"  Acta  Orientalia  Academiae  Scientiarum  Hung.  Volume  68, 2015, Pages 269–279
4.  Ildiko Oka,  "Mongol Clothing in the Yuan Period," Acta  Orientalia  Academiae  Scientiarum  Hung.  Volume  68   2015, Pages  385–414

Updated April 23, 2019