The Tennant Ties – Full Index

In the many years that this blog has been live, I find myself surprised to note that I never made a proper index of the Tennant ties, in the way I did with the Smith bowties. Well, better late than never I guess!

David Tennant wore 14 different ties in his time on Doctor Who, though only 13 as the Doctor d11-9m-034crop(not including the two bow ties he wore, a black one with his tuxedo, and a brown spotted one, as John Smith in Human Nature/The Family of Blood (right) – the bow tie appears to have not had any kind of label inside and can therefore be presumed to have been custom-made by a costumier). Each tie was purchased off-the-rack by costumer Louise Page, with the notable exceptions being the Lanvin tie worn for Tennant’s debut in The Christmas Invasion, which was a vintage tie already sitting in the BBC costume shop used due to time constraints, and the production-supplied paisley tie used in Human Nature/Family of Blood (Tie 15). Each tie being off-the-rack (unlike Matt Smith’s many production-made bow ties) means that originals exist scattered around the world, which has lead many cosplayers, such as myself, to the hubristic task of tracking down and collecting them all (a task, I must note, that nobody has ever achieved). Some do occasionally show up on eBay and other such websites, though often when they do they go for exorbitant sums of money (as collector’s items often do).

Another tie, chronicled here for the sake of thoroughness, was purchased by Louise Page but was never used.

At the end of this post is a handy visual guide, which is updated as better photos become available.

Tailor and cosplayer Steve Ricks once sat down with Louise Page and interviewed her discussing each tie in depth – that series of videos can be found here on his blog for those curious.

If you are looking for replicas, the best route is through Magnoli Clothiers or Time and Space Replicas – between them nearly all of these ties have been reproduced to a high degree of accuracy, and the remaining designs are in the works.


Tie 1: Lanvin Paris

tie1cropVintage floral tie from the BBC costume department, likely from the 70’s or 80’s. Entirely brown/black with bold jacquard floral motifs. The label and design was finally confirmed in 2019 after one was tracked down in Ukraine. Tie information and detailed images courtesy of Rob Purslow.

Worn only in The Christmas Invasion.




Tie 2: Daniel Hechter

A brown geometric tie with blue accents, a popular brown suit tie.

Worn in: New Earth, Rise of the Cybermen, The Age of Steel, Doomsday, The Runaway Bride, Partners in Crime, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Midnight, and The End of Time


Tie 3crop

Tie 3c

Tie 3: Yves Saint Laurent

A subtle brown/bronze geometric/spotted tie. High resolution photos are scarce as no collector has managed to find this tie (as far as is known within the community) – high res image courtesy of Steve Ricks.

Worn only in School Reunion.


Tie 4dcropTie 4crop


Tie 4: Christian LaCroix

A brown tie with an abstract blue “swirly” pattern, with the LaCroix logo subtly added to the end of the tie. A favorite of Louise Page and Tennant’s, production only had 1 of these ties, so it was used prominently but infrequently to ensure its safety. Full photo also courtesy of Steve Ricks.

Worn in The Girl in the Fireplace, Love and Monsters, Blink, and The End of Time.

Tie 4eedit




Tie 5: Thomas Nash

A brown tie with a gold and blue geometric circle motif.

Worn only in The Idiot’s Lantern.




tie 6ccropTie 6: Unkown

The only Doctor tie whose manufacturer is currently unknown, a blue satin tie with brown spots. Any information on this tie would be greatly appreciated as it is the only remaining true mystery.

Worn in The Impossible Planet, The Satan Pit, seen briefly in Human Nature.



d11-9b-180cropTie 7: Giorgio Armani

The most commonly-used brown suit tie, a brown/blue weave with spots of brown ovals inset with blue squares.

Worn in Love and Monsters, Army of Ghosts, Doomsday, Smith and Jones, The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, Family of Blood, Fires of Pompeii, Turn Left, The Stolen Earth, Journey’s End, and Planet of the Dead.



Tie 8crop



Tie 8: Nina Ricci

The first blue suit tie to appear, it features a burgundy and gold herringbone with a blue woodcut floral pattern overlaid.

Worn in Smith and Jones, The Sontaran Stratagem, and The Poison Sky.



Tie 9crop

Tie 9ecropTie 9: Kenzo

The most commonly-used blue suit tie, a very dark navy blue/burgundy background with a burgundy floral motif overlaid.

Worn in Daleks in ManhattanEvolution of the DaleksThe Lazarus Experiment, The Last of the Time Lords, Time Crash, Voyage of The Damned, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead, and The Waters of Mars.




d11-9p-c222cropTie 10: St. George by Duffer

A brown striped background with a diagonal floral outline running through.

Worn only in the three-part Series 3 finale Utopia, The Sound of Drums, and The Last of the Time Lords.

Tie 10 scancropedit


Tie 11bcrop

d11-10f-034cropTie 11: Massimo Dutti

A brown tie with light and dark blue stripes, this tie is another tie that no collector has been able to turn up.

Worn only in Partners in Crime and The Next Doctor.




tie 12bcrop

IMG_4994cropTie 12: Massimo Dutti

A burgundy tie with blue stripes. It also made an appearance at a special in-costume hospital visit Tennant made in the mid-2000’s (right).

Worn in The Doctor’s Daughter and briefly seen in The Poison Sky.

s-l1600 (3)


635848906319398107852094990_10859197485_47df60537a_ocropDoctor Who – 50th Anniversary Special - The Day of the DoctorTie 13: St. George by Duffer

An addendum to the collection, this brown tie with blue flowers and bronze stems was purchased for the 50th Anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor.




bonhamsauctionrochaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATie 14: Rocha John Rocha

The real fun find for the collector, this tie was purchased by Louise Page for use on the show but was never used. It was auctioned at Bonham’s in 2010 in a lot of 3 screen used ties and because of this has become the apocryphal Tennant tie.




Tie 15: 1980’s Morris Angel & Sons, Ltd.

This tie was worn by David, but not as the Doctor. For the two-parter Family of Blood/Human Nature, the Doctor makes himself temporarily human and sports this greyish brown “paisley-style” tie, supposedly made in-house by Angels Costumes. It was auctioned at Bonhams in 2011. Due to its being made by a costume house and not a manufacturer, and its use on a non-Doctor costume, it is here listed as Tie 15, behind the apocryphal Rocha tie.



David Tennant Visual Tie Index

(An update to this graphic to include Tie 15 will be made soon.)

Posted in Tenth Doctor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tipping the Scales: Eleventh Doctor Nirvana

UPDATED 2/10/19

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know that a few months ago I managed to acquire about a meter of genuine Anniversary waistcoat fabric, which I eventually managed to turn into a replica waistcoat that I am extremely pleased with.

I wore this waistcoat to Gallifrey One, with the explicit intention of meeting Series 7b Costume Designer Howard Burden, who was attending. I had also brought along my screen accurate Season 18 Tom Baker scarf, with the intention of meeting Season 18 Costume Designer June Hudson in it, as she was also attending.



I managed to meet June without much fuss, but had a difficult time locating Howard for some reason. I ended up wearing my Anniversary waistcoat for a majority of the time, just in case, but seemed to just miss him at every turn.

Until the very last day.

I was wearing my Anniversary outfit around the lobby when suddenly, Howard and June came waltzing through! I wasn’t going to miss my opportunity, so I paused my conversation with my friend Daniel and raced over to say hello. He put on his spectacles and examined my outfit as I explained to him that I made the waistcoat myself. He commented on the fact that it was the genuine fabric, remarking “You must have picked up the last half-metre or so I left on the bolt!” (I didn’t, and he left more than a half meter, but I didn’t want to be contrarian, so I didn’t say anything.) He also complimented my welt pockets and pattern matching (squee!!) and, after noticing that I had on a pair of genuine 7b boots, sheepishly asked me how much I’d spent on the whole look. After I told him, he apologized profusely for having created such an expensive outfit but complimented me on a job well done. Dan had joined me by that point, and while June chatted with me about how nice my scarf was and how rewarding it is to be approached by fans, Dan went about questioning Burden with the things I had intended to ask him but forgot to from all the internal squeeing.

IMG_4042We (mostly him) had just recently completed a silk reweave of Matt Smith’s scales waistcoat (pictured left), and while we were pleased with the result, we knew it had flaws. The warp was black (the company refused to change it without us ordering 10x the amount of fabric), and we needed it to be the same silver as the jacquard scales pattern – as a result, the overall look was a bit dark and didn’t quite hit that gray tone the screen used fabric did. But largely, we were pleased with the result and proudly wore our waistcoats around Gallifrey One.

Dan wanted to ask Howard for pointers on our next reweave, which Dan had already begun planning. He pulled out his phone and showed Howard the photos of the custom fabric, told him about the issues we had, and remarked, “We know the real fabric is long gone, but we were hoping you could tell us about how the original was woven, to help us out.”

“It’s not gone!”

…Excuse me?

“It’s still available to order! Here, let me show you where.”

Within two minutes, Howard had left, and a stunned Daniel and I were jumping up and down, screaming with excitement.

Within the day we had gained access to the company, to peruse their inventory.

“You’re going to shit yourself,” said Daniel.

And shit myself I did.

Long believed to be extinct, we were amazed to find that not only is the scales fabric alive and well (“Scaley,” it’s officially called), it comes in THIRTEEN COLORS.


The fabric itself is 50% wool and 50% silk. The weft, the purple colored yarn, is a 2-ply wool. The warp, the silver yarn, is silk. The wool yarn is significantly thicker than the silk threads, so when the weave is tightened, the silk pulls strangely on the wool, giving it that unique, non-uniform texture. You’ll also notice that the above swatches have been stapled upside-down… as that is the direction that scales would normally point. While it’s clear that the fabric was turned upside down for Doctor Who, what is less clear is whether or not Howard Burden used the front or backside of the fabric; the website seems to think he used the wrong side of the fabric, but above you will notice the swatches stapled haphazardly, some facing front and some facing back, with no rhyme or reason.


The above image is a crop from a high resolution scan of the fabric. It shows the strange details of the fabric much better than I can in words.

The beautiful fabric is quite crisp in hand, with an excellent drape. I believe it would make a very beautiful, if slightly eccentric, suit. Perhaps I’ll make one in the future.

The place turned out to carry a few thought-to-be-long-lost fabrics from the Matt Smith years, not the least of which being the bow tie fabric from Bells of St. John and Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.


ddecd485cb7487f2d4fbcdbaf4f86a7717618926_10208957835683030_813623094_nThe first tip off that the Journey bow tie fabric was still available was its use on another bow tie in the Oscar winning film Twelve Years a Slave (left). The second tip was its use to make an entire riding habit on CineMax’s The Knick (right). Surely the fabric was available in some quantity, somewhere!

As it happens, it is. Still plentiful and ready to purchase from Hopkins Fabrics.

It turns out they also used to carry the Series 6 tattersall shirting, but it was a piece of vintage cloth that IS actually extinct now, and as it was vintage, they have no information about it with which to reweave it (of course).

All of this and more. Burden’s tip-off turned out to be a windfall for Matt Smith cosplayers. It’s a wonder that nobody thought to ask him before now!

With the real fabric in hand, I was able to revamp my waistcoat pattern to match exactly. Turns out, most of my details were pretty close already – but with a little tweaking and tinkering I came up with a properly screen accurate look.

I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it was to do this whole project without telling anybody other than Dan! I wanted to post every little detail on Instagram and Facebook – but I managed to keep it to myself (mostly) in the end.

IMG_4632I needed to redye my cotton back – which was way more trouble than I could have ever expected. I spent probably around $50 or $60 on various lengths of cottons in various shades of purple and gray, not to mention another $40 or so on dye (some of which are tricky to track down). In the end, I didn’t quite end up with the color I was really looking for (none of the selection of swatches on the left are the color I was attempting to match), but I finally bit the bullet and used what I could, knowing that I was only guessing at the SA color anyway.

I did a quick hand dye of the inner lining, which is an off-white, and set about working.


d13-11z-030cropUnfortunately, the mythos of the Matt Smith costumes continues and I keep having to sort through bad info. Dan and I recently got into contact with the woman who made the waistcoats for the show, and she was able to clarify a few details – most notably, that the back of the waistcoat was cut from linen, not cotton as I was previously told. Now I have several yards of purple cotton fabric that I can’t use on this project – maybe the future will hold a use for it. The velvet waistcoat from Series 7b is also backed in this purple linen. The real linen is long gone, so hopefully a suitable linen can be tracked down soon (one that I don’t have to dye!). my friend Alex Beard offers a custom-dyed linen option on his Etsy! Check it out!

The company who carries these fabrics is trade only (trade as in “tailor by trade,” not “I’ll trade you ten Spider-Man comics for a yard of fabric”), and shipping is express (read: expensive), but I want to make this available to everybody who wants it. Because of this, I will be gathering names for a group fabric buy, so we can cut down on the overall cost by splitting the shipping. If you are interested in getting yourself some fabric (one yard is sufficient for a waistcoat), email me using the email address at the end of this post.

UPDATE: This fabric being relatively popular, it occasionally goes out-of-stock. It is currently out-of-stock but should come back into stock in a few months.

Happy Christmas in April!


Posted in Eleventh Doctor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Part 2 – Altering the Abbyshot Capaldi Coat

Continued from Part 1!

img_2267If you remember from the last post, I had altered the body of my coat to a satisfactory size – which included taking over 5″ from the waist and 3″ off the sleeve length.

The next task was going to be the real nerve-wracking task: The lining.

img_2313I owned 2.5 meters of the real, screen accurate lining from S9, a beautiful silk of red shot with black. I couldn’t afford to replace it, so I was extremely tentative to do anything at all with it, lest I inevitably screw it up.

So I set the lining aside.
The first task at hand was to alter the lining to match the coat modifications.

img_2315This required me, first, to disassemble the lining pieces. I patterned all the pieces as carefully as I could. I then measured the size of the new panels on the coat body and drew the new shapes onto the paper. This was a bit trickier than anticipated, but not too difficult once I got the hang of it. I also pinned the old lining together at the seams with the new lines to gently check and make sure I didn’t cut it too tight. Once I was satisfied, I cut out my new pattern pieces.


But I suddenly had a dilemma.

In the Abbyshot coat, the front lining has a pleat in the chest. I don’t know why this pleat is there. It doesn’t exist on the original coat. I realized, while researching it, that this was indicative of a non-screen accurate detail on Abbyshot’s coat: The real front lining comes all the way up to the roll line.


The pleat couldn’t exist on the real coat, because it would then show when the coat was open, which it usually was.

EDIT: Now, several years after altering this coat and writing this blog post, it has since come to my attention that this pleat does actually exist on the original coats. That kind of pleat is fairly standard and helps to absorb the stress put on that part of the lining from the inner pockets. Having been able to examine a real Chris Kerr-made coat in person, Abbyshot got this detail totally right and I went out of my way to screw it up. Whoops!

Very nervously, I had to repattern the front panels to remove the pleat and redraw the place it connects to the facing. This required some measurements off my coat. Eventually, I had something I was pleased with. It was time to start cutting my lining.

I was still terrified. The first thing I did was press the fabric – which turned out to be extremely difficult and frustrating. I couldn’t press the creases out without it being wet, and spraying it with water – or spraying my press cloth with water – resulted in some very ugly water marks. I hadn’t even cut it yet and I was ruining my nice fabric!

I spent probably two days researching how to press the cloth properly – to pretty much no avail. I compiled a few different ideas and talked to a few of my friends and made an educated guess. I cut some swatches and tested on them. Thankfully, it worked. So I moved forward.

img_2328Even after all this, I was scared to really start in on the lining. So the first thing I did was cut the pocket bags and welt.

That was very quickly accomplished, however. My plan for pressing the silk was to cut the piece, soak the entire thing, and then press with a cool iron and a press cloth. I tried the full size test on these simple, square pieces, to make sure the shapes didn’t warp and alter size significantly. It worked beautifully.

I moved on to the sleeves, the next simplest thing. I cut my two pieces, pressed them, and did the thing – img_2342I checked my seam allowance and sewed my first bit of the SA silk lining. The silk handled very well in the machine. I usually HATE sewing with silky, slippery fabrics, but this was fairly easy to stabilize and manipulate.

I put the sleeves together. After that, I was a little more confident with the fabric, and moved on to the front panels.


On the front panel, I made my first major mistake: I miscut the welt pockets to where they looked like double welt pockets. Oops.

Luckily, it wasn’t a big deal. I made sure the other side matched and moved on.

I cut my back panels and sewed those together. I connected those to the front panels I’d made and tried it on to make sure I hadn’t made any grave errors.


It looked good to me.

Last was to sew the sleeves to the body and sew the lining to the inside of the coat. This, like so many things in this project, proved far more difficult than I’d anticipated, but I used one of my tailoring books as reference and did the thing.

It took me a while to complete this step, as I didn’t want to screw anything up and some of the cut-down seam allowances in the coat were VERY short. A local Whovian event was happening down the street from me, so I quickly basted down some of the details and went in my (almost) new coat!


It was a small event, mostly filled with people I knew, and it was very cool to show off the coat. But a few problems started to emerge as I wore it out for the first time. When I got back home, I finished the detailing (including loads of handstitching) and hung it up.


But I quickly revisited the project, because I can’t leave well-enough alone. The shoulder pads were simply too big. It made the coat awkward to put on or take off, and gave me beefier shoulders than the coat should give. I bought some smaller, padstitched muslin shoulder pads. EDIT: It should be noted that the original coats actually had no shoulder pad reinforcement at all – the weight of the camelhair was considered sufficiently bulky. I realized I had miscut the lining pattern when I initially tried to sew in my lining – the right back panel had too much removed from the side seam and it didn’t physically reach across the whole hemline. I had it roughly patched with some scrap silk for the moment, but that would need recutting. On the same notion, I had significantly misjudged how I repatterned my back panels, and the coat barely buttoned closed.

Thankfully for me, it had taken me less than 2 yards of fabric to do the whole project! So I still had nearly ¾ of a yard of silk left, plenty to recut the back panels.

I pulled the back panels out entirely and measured how much space the back panels needed to cover – I had been off by nearly an inch. On both sides.

I carefully repatterned my lining, cut, and reattached the whole thing after replacing the shoulder pads. And finally I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. The coat was to my satisfaction.

The last thing to do was to stitch the Abbyshot label back into the coat – as they deserve much praise for the coat they’ve designed.


On that note, allow me to briefly discuss the Abbyshot coat in its flaws and triumphs.

img_3384Overall, the coat off-the-rack is excellent. There was only one minor pattern issue I had to fix, aside from the fit (I recommend buying a size that fits you). The outer fabric is spot on for color and texture – the only quibble is that it has a twill in the wool not present on the original camelhair (talk about splitting hairs). It’s also a bit lighter than the original fabric (which is a 20oz camelhair). Otherwise, a perfect choice of outer fabric.

img_3388The lining fabric (left in photograph at left), which I replaced, it as good as you can ask for the price. The lining is polyester and a red shot with blue, instead of the screen accurate black. It gives the shine a little less depth of color than the real stuff, but you really have to see it in person to tell. It photographs wonderfully, and it’s a sturdy, hearty fabric.

img_3391Where the coat falters most is the easiest replacement – the buttons. The buttons Abbyshot provides (left in photograph at right) are okay at a distance but any closer and their flaws are notable, including the fact that they’re… navy blue? The real buttons are black horn and readily available in the UK. A simple replacement, one that I did minutes before my photocall with Michelle Gomez. Extremely similar plastic versions of the SA buttons are available in America.

To Abbyshot’s credit, these are really the only complaints I have with the garment at all. They collar is good for the S9 coat (though not the S8 coat), the sleeves are properly vented, the coat length is great, and it reads beautifully. I give it an A. You won’t be able to beat it for the price anywhere. Not by a longshot.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Part 1 – Altering the Abbyshot Capaldi Coat

Last Gallifrey One, I was very excited to debut my first Twelfth Doctor outfits. I had spent so much time and energy (and money) putting together the three “tartan” looks that I couldn’t wait to show off. There was only one problem:

I didn’t have a coat.

I had put together a project to fund a coat, but it never took off and I was barely able to cover the costs of the project itself. I started to get nervous, until Abbyshot released their Twelve coat! I used some Christmas money and pre-ordered!

As the actual release date got pushed back further and further, I got nervous that my coat wouldn’t arrive in time. I made some phone calls. They bumped my shipping up. More time went by. Finally they overnighted me the coat, sent directly to the hotel front desk.

I picked it up on Day 1, in perfect time to wear it for my photo with Michelle Gomez the next day (thanks, Abbyshot!).


I was happy with the coat in nearly every way except for one: The fit.

dsc_0568cropThe coat fit me like a sack, and this was the Small. I was a bit disappointed, as their purple frock and green greatcoat fit me wonderfully. But this was cut like their size Mediums in the waist, and the sleeves were FAR too long.

I knew that I would want it relined with the SA lining (which I had already purchased), so I figured that I would ask the tailor to take it in as well. But I was looking at a $200+ project, on top of the cost of the lining I’d already paid, so the alterations were set to cost more than the coat itself, so that went onto the backburner.

But, as it turned out, I was getting better at tailoring and had been gearing up to make a suit… So I decided to take the project on myself.

img_2117The first thing to do was to remove the lining from the main coat. I took loads of photos of every detail, just in case I needed to refer back to anything later.

With the coat open, I put the lining aside for later. The sleeves would need major shortening, but (to Abbyshot’s credit), the cuffs had real, functional vents. There was no way to pull the length up at the cuff, so I would need to remove the sleeves and cut the excess off the sleevehead. So off came the sleeves. I also set those aside for later. With just the center “tunic” of the coat left, I started pinning.

img_2152This proved a little more challenging than anticipated, for a few reasons. One, I have no dress form or mannequin, so I had to make guesses, pin it, then check. My roommate helped quite a bit. Second, I had to take in an even amount on each side, otherwise it would be lopsided and pull funny. And third, once I had pulled it all in, I realized that I had to take the majority out of the center back panels, which I discovered only after failing to do so on one side, and had to do that side all over again.

Fit was difficult to gauge, as I’ve never had to fit a coat before. I’ve fit waistcoats, but determining what to do with the extra space in the skirt was tough, and I had a hard time keeping the vent from opening. I wanted the skirt to flair, but what was too much? I left the pinning alone and moved to the sleeves.


The difficulty in altering a sleeve from the sleeve head is twofold: First, the shape of the sleeve head is drawn in a three-dimensional nature, because when assembled it takes a three-dimensional shape. As such, you can’t simply draw a new line 1″ or 2″ from the edge and cut the new shape – some areas won’t need that much removed, in order to keep the three-dimensional shape when reassembled. To best draw this new line, you trace the old shape onto a piece of paper, cut it out, and shift the old shape down 1″ or 2″ from the center of the sleeve cap (where it meets the shoulder seam), and redraw the line. This, of course, leads to the second issue.

The second problem has to do with what is called easing, which is when a seam of one length is sewn directly to a shorter seam. In order to make the two fit, you ease the larger seam into the smaller seam. This also has to do with the fact of the final pieces taking up three-dimensional space. A sleeve is shaped widest at the top, where it is attached at the shoulder and underarm, narrowing to the cuff. So when you take an inch or two off the top, you narrow the top of the sleeve, which was (if you recall) originally cut wide so it could be eased into the armscye. Make sense?

img_2180Luckily for me, I was able to take the back seam in all the way up to the armscye (as you can see – quite messily – in the above photo of my back pinning), narrowing the armscye and allowing the sleeve to be eased into the armscye.

After this, I needed to slim down the width of the cuff quite considerably, about 1¼”, which took a little more creativity on my part to draw the new line, but it was soon done and sewn together. I then pinned the new sleeve into place to check the new length. Unfortunately, my initial cut of 2″ was not short enough – I cut another 1″ off the length for a total of 3″ total.

img_2174By this time, I had tinkered enough with the back seams to confidently sew them down. They are flat felled seams, requiring (in this case) for the seam allowances to be ironed to one side and sewn down with a topstitch (I say “in this case” because flat felled seams are traditionally more complicated, two-sided seams, like on the side of your dress shirts). It sounds easier than it is, because, being partially decorative, any deviation from “perfect” is immediately noticeably. But, with minimal swearing (I’m still a novice, after all), I created my new seams.

img_2264All in all, I removed nearly 5½” of fabric from the narrowest part of the waist (with more still sewn down as seam allowance), causing some significant warping in the side seams. But the fit was so much better, it was practically like having a brand new coat.

img_2267I took my new sleeves and pinned them one last time, basted them into place, reconstructed, and sewed them back on. I had picked up some shoulder pads from a tailor friend of mine and gotten some very useful feedback (thanks, Chad!), so I sewed those in too. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a damn sight better than before! Suddenly there was shape to the garment, a tapered waist, a flared skirt, strong shoulder – and suddenly there was character in wearing it. I tinkered with the details before finally settling in on the final look.

With the main coat set, I turned to what I knew would be the REAL beast:

The lining.

Click here for part 2!


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Magnoli Clothiers – Tying up the Details

For the serious Doctor Who cosplayer, few resources have made themselves as indispensable as Magnoli Clothiers. Ready to order, custom made, high quality garments made often from custom replicated fabrics, always adding and amending their stock to create what is the most comprehensive list of high-end cosplay pieces available right now.

While not always perfect, Magnoli Clothiers has created itself one particular niche where it has no competitor: In the replication of the ties worn by David Tennant throughout his tenure as The Doctor.

867dff88071252e46524e33fb4dbfe2eAs it stands right now, Magnoli replicates 11 of the 13 ties worn by Tennant on the show and the embroidered tie worn by Matt Smith in The Eleventh Hour – the only two he’s missing are the unidentified vintage floral tie worn briefly in The Christmas Invasion and the dark brown and gold, spotted tie worn in School Reunion. Most of the ties he offers are either in their second or third revisions (eg, The Swirly Tie) or were replicated directly from an original tie (eg, The Moffet Tie – see replica next to original above at left) and are therefore extremely accurate – I’ve reviewed two of them on my blog previously.

One of the biggest challenges to creating these replicas is the lack of proper reference material. Even high resolution photographs leave a lot to be desired as a single silk thread used in tie making is generally thinner than the average human hair. Most of these ties have complex weaves and the look of the tie dramatically alters when turned in different directions, so minor changes in the weave can have major effects on the outcome of the product.

Dr Who sale Feb 2010 - Lot-07One of the biggest challenges here is the scarcity of the original ties. Some of these ties, like the Armani and St. George by Duffer ties, have been known to surface, so getting someone to collaborate with Magnoli using their originals is not unheard of. But many of these ties have never been privately owned: The Yves Saint Laurent, the brown Massimo Dutti, the Hechter tie… nobody has ever gotten their hands on these ties. At least, nobody who wants to let themselves be known to the community or help us out.

Luckily for us nerds, occasionally one of these ties pops up in another form or other – sometimes the designers do the same tie in several different colorways, sometimes the weaves are sold to other companies, who weave the same ties in alternate colors (even more difficult to track down)…

For the latest tie revamp, look no further than Blue Suit favorite Nina Ricci!

david-tennant-and-nina-ricci-tie-with-herringboned-burgundy-background-with-mauve-random-flora-random-design-galleryThe Nina Ricci tie is one of the few ties that has never revealed itself to anyone, to my knowledge. It’s also one of the most popular ties he wears, behind the Kenzo and Armani. There’s no great photos of it in existence on David and for a while there was simply the photo at left and some shots taken by a cosplayer when it was on display at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. s-l300From it, Magnoli was able to draw a very good pattern and created a tie that has been a staple of Tenth Doctor cosplayers ever since, despite the factory deciding to simplify the background weave of the tie.

However, the proper weave of the tie has turned up (though in an alternate colorway), and high res scans have been sent to Magnoli for a major revamp.


This one is cut upside down from at least one of the ties worn by David Tennant, but it’s still clearly the real deal. No, I am (sadly) not the owner of this tie, but its owner has allowed me to do this quick write up in anticipation of Magnoli’s rerelease of the tie.

That ALSO means that the old version of the tie is currently being discounted! If you’re happy with the older version of the tie and you’ve always wanted it, or if you simply want to compare the two versions, click here to buy the “Sontaran” tie at a nice discount!


The real deal has actually quite a complex weave – the pattern is not wood cut on top of the background as Magnoli’s was, but is actually a jacquard variation in a new color (in the SA case, that beautiful blue/mauve color). This creates a beautiful iridescence that I’m so excited to finally see on Magnoli’s version!

Take this post as a teaser of things to come! And keep a weather eye on Magnoli’s website – this is a tie you’ll want to add to your collection!


Posted in Tenth Doctor | Leave a comment

The Capaldi Plaids

capaldipromoeditWhen the first Series 8 promo pics were released, many cosplayers were ecstatic to learn that the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, wanted a no-frills, no-nonsense look for his Doctor. A white dress shirt, navy cardigan, charcoal slim-fit pants, black brogues, and a navy coat with red lining. And a gold ring fitted with a green stone.

Even the most casual of cosplayers felt they could thrift an outfit together that looked pretty darn good (and, to be fair, I’ve seen many excellent thrifted Twelves!).

Throughout the Series, the look stayed pretty much the same. He lost the cardigan, gained a waistcoat, got a purple shirt, a dusty blue shirt… The most “specific” piece that was added was a sweater full of holes. But it pretty much stayed simple, no-nonsense, and easily poachable out of a standard wardrobe or a charity shop.

When the first photos from Series 9 came out, we were pretty sure it was going to stay pretty much exactly the same. Nothing much out-of-the-ordinary seemed to show up. Until one day:



Soon, the Capaldi cosplay community was buzzing, trying to ID these trousers. Not long after, we started getting photos of other pairs of plaid trousers being sported by our “no-nonsense” Doctor. A mad scramble ensued, and nobody seemed to be able to find ANY of these pants.

Now, after many frustrating days, weeks, months have passed since the initial hunt began, the stories behind all three pairs of plaid trousers have been unveiled. As I have spent significant time with these pants, I’d like to pass some knowledge along.

In the order they appeared onscreen:


The first pair of plaids showed up in the first episode of the season, The Magician’s Apprentice, and its follow-up story The Witch’s Familiar.


IMG_0083cropAccording to costume designer Ray Holman, the fabric was an end-of-bolt vintage wool, custom tailored for the show. Due to the availability of the fabric, only two pairs were made, and to my knowledge nothing survives of the fabric (because of course). It was extremely difficult to get a proper look at the weave of the fabric for a long time, until the outfit was put on display for the Doctor Who Festival in London in 2015.

The photograph at left (taken by Alexey Korobko of Gallifrey Costumes) is high enough resolution in the full size to see every weft and warp, which I have digitally rendered (below). My rendering may seem dark, but do keep in mind that the photograph was taken with flash and everything brightens up on camera.


magiciansapprenticepantscropFor now, there is no perfect substitute for these pants (anyone interested in reweaving them?). For a while, a pair of pajama pants floated around from Nordstrom Rack (my current substitutes), but those are long gone. I have uploaded my pattern rendering to Spoonflower for custom tailoring (swatches of which have been evaluated next to the screen used pants), and Bob Mitsch (a.k.a. Honorary Doctor) is able to do them as one-offs from a screen accurate pattern. For now, you’ll have to be willing to do that or live with close-enoughs, should you be lucky enough to find any.

I recommend printing these on the linen-cotton canvas for use as pants – I’ve sampled every fabric Spoonflower offers and the linen-cotton canvas offers the best trade-off between durability of fabric and depth of color (which can be a problem on Spoonflower).

Click here for my Spoonflower design!


(Yes, those are pants made from my Spoonflower print, made and modeled by modern boy Stephen Prescott of AMadmanWithABox, with his wife Ellen Singer of AngelcakeJewelry)


The next pair of plaid pants we see the Doctor sporting appears in only episode 5, The Girl Who Died.

Series 9 Image 1

At a tip off from Holman, our resident London-based cosplay spy Alexey went on the hunt down Saville Row for these pants after months of fruitless internet searching from the rest of us. Not long after, he found them in a shop: Mendoza Menswear. Immediately after being ID’d and announced, I called and ordered myself a pair directly from Mendoza (the third American to do so!), so I have first-hand experience with these trousers and the original fabric used.

IMG_9099cropThe fabric itself is a wool twill in a deep navy with a peach check intersecting a cream double check. It’s a soft but warm material that almost never wrinkles.

Mendoza likes to cut slim (so slim, in fact, that they have a separate option for people with “particularly muscular legs”) and taper the ends of their pants for that ultra-tailored Euro silhouette. When contacted by the BBC, who ultimately ordered 6 pairs from Mendoza, they requested that the pants they currently made in this fabric be altered slightly, substituting slash pockets on the hips and requesting a 1″ turn-up at the bottom of the leg (though my pants have closer to a 1½” cuff). The people at Mendoza are some of the nicest people I’ve ever corresponded with, and they were more than happy to oblige me in adding their alterations to my pants at no extra charge.


When first ID’d, Mendoza was getting to the end of their bolt of fabric and wasn’t planning to restock. Once they were hit with the rush of people flooding them for screen accurate pants, they decided to have the fabric rewoven. At a pricey £180, they’re not for the faint of heart, but well worth the money. They run a bit snug, so if you’re sort of in-between sizes, I’d go for the larger size. A Spoonflower print for these is also available, which I have scaled to match my originals and spent significant money swatching for color accuracy. Unfortunately with these, the navy is so deep and rich on the originals that it’s just not matchable in a print, but if you want a cheaper option and know how to sew (or want to send them off to Bob Mitsch, who has patterned from my pants), it’s more accurate than finding a pair of pajama pants.

Click here to order the screen accurates from Mendoza Menswear!

Click here for my Spoonflower design!


(Image courtesy of Katie York, 2016.)


Last, but certainly not least, we come to the first pair of plaid pants photographed, which appeared in the follow-up episode to the previous pair, ep. 6: The Woman Who Lived.


The hunt for these pants was long and arduous, as the low contrast of the weave made the actual pattern difficult to identify from set photos. Not only that, but photos from on set revealed…

…that his pants had been cut upside-down from each other (notice on these two photos where the red sits in relation to the silver). This lead us all to believe these were custom pants, because what company would accidentally manufacture pants with that kind of continuity error?

It turns out that the answer is Hugo Boss, as Ray Holman revealed to a few people at the Doctor Who Festival. The trousers are the Hugo Boss Caleb Plaid pants in red (a blue colorway also exists), and they were a last-season end-stock purchase (because OF COURSE). There were only two in-store in Capaldi’s size when Holman purchased them, which is why they don’t match. Both versions are used onscreen, so if you manage to get hold of a pair yourself, don’t stress about the direction the fabric has been tailored.

hugobosscalebsAs for the pants themselves, they are a slim-fit in cotton with an asymmetrical tartan design. IMG_9662They are mostly shades of gray, black, and silver, with a complicated pattern of stripes in red running horizontally and gold running vertically. They are very soft and extremely comfortable, run true-to-size, and are honestly my favorite pair of slacks I own – I plan to use the pattern as my go-to for tailoring suit pants for myself. In fact, if these pants weren’t so rare, I’d save up the scratch to buy enough of these to Tenth Doctor myself a suit jacket to match.


Once ID’d, I immediately called nearly every Hugo Boss outlet in America (no, literally, practically EVERY SINGLE ONE – there are a couple in Middle America I missed but everything on the East and West Coasts was double and triple checked) and I managed to scrounge up a single pair in a 36w. My good friend Bob Mitsch did the same run-around and managed to come up with another pair in a 32w, as well as a 34w in Canada, which unfortunately was passed over as they refused to ship internationally and our Canada contacts couldn’t make it work. I took the 32’s, my friend took the 36’s, and Bob eventually decided to pass. Another friend of mine in the UK managed to get a hold of a decent stock in everything from 32w-38w, and I believe he still has one or two 32’s left, so check with vardcore on Gallifrey Base if you’re interested. I am not aware of any other stock of these left anywhere in the world, and Hugo Boss has stated that they are permanently discontinued.

As you may have guessed, I have this also ready as a Spoonflower print for custom tailoring, and good ol’ Bob Mitsch has patterned my pair if you do not tailor clothing yourself.

Click here for my Spoonflower design!


(Image courtesy of Victor Carreon, 2016.)

Posted in Twelfth Doctor | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cosplay Build: The Silver Matt Smith Waistcoat pt. 2

Continued from Part 1!

I had never constructed a garment before. I’d done some sewing in the past, so I knew my way around a sewing machine, and I’d done quite a bit of research online, so I was intimidated but felt as prepared as you can for your first time (wait, what are we talking about again?).

IMG_0341editI had my fabric. It was dyed to a reasonable color. I had a fairly well-matched gray cotton for the back and my muslin for the lining, as well as an interfacing (I decided to go with fusible, for a few reasons: One, the fabric was a stretch fabric and I didn’t want to attempt my first hand-sewn canvas waistcoat on a stretch piqué meant for upholstry. Two, I was NOT confident about how to hand-stitch a canvas interfacing. Three, the fusible would help stabilize the fabric. Four, the waistcoat doesn’t have a lapel, so I didn’t need the perfect roll line that canvas provides. And five, it was cheap and readily available).

I was ready to begin.


I had been stressing over the welt pockets. I was confident I could cut them on the proper grain (being angled pockets, that can actually prove to be a challenge), but in researching welt pockets online I came across a wealth of conflicting information on how best to construct them. The general structure was always the same, but everyone had their own little quirks and ideas on the details that altered the final product. Eventually, I found a tutorial on YouTube outlining a method that I liked and could follow. I did many mock-ups in muslin.

IMG_1484cropThe first ones weren’t great. But after some practice, I at least got them to a point where they would pass, and time was running out. I needed to start construction.

IMG_0431editI did the easy stuff first. I cut the belt. I sewed the belt. I cut the back panels. I sewed the back panels together. This was actually a bit more challenging than anticipated, as it turned out the cotton I bought had 2% spandex in it so it stretched one-way (joy). So I had to make some executive decisions on which direction the stretch should go. I was confident about that.

It was nerve-wracking as hell to make that first cut into the main fabric, especially knowing how much work I’d put into dyeing the fabric by hand. But, as carefully as I possibly could, I traced the pattern onto the fabric and cut out my panels. And my welt pockets. IMG_0440editThings started to look like they had shape!

(If you’re wondering, yes, I was constructing this garment on my coffee table. I live in a small one-bedroom apartment with practically no room for anything (and I didn’t even have a dinner table at the time), so the coffee table was the only option. Also, the sewing machine was set up on my counter, meaning that I couldn’t sit in front of it to sew. Hooray for being an artist who spends all of his money on cosplay and not on adult stuff like furniture!)

But it was moving forward. Next came constructing that actual welt pockets, which took MUCH longer than I anticipated. I wanted to make sure all the pockets were real, fully-functioning pockets, and welt pockets are time consuming. But I powered through. I sewed the belt to the back. I then realized that the belt wasn’t long enough so I altered it. I cut my facing and my lining, I sewed them all together. I sewed the side seams down. Then I sewed my back piece to the front piece. Then I spent over an hour trying to figure out how the hell to flip it right-side out. Then I unpicked my side seams up to the armholes. Then I properly flipped it. Then sewed them all back down again. And hand-stitched the lining closed. So much pressing (it’s AMAZING how much more professional a garment looks when it has been properly pressed). My poor little cheap-o ironing board got such a workout. And I got to use my button-hole foot on my sewing machine! It was very exciting. And I just couldn’t wait so I sewed my buttons on! Voilà! I had made a thing!



I was stoked about the fit, too. And just a few days before Gally!

IMG_0566editBut I couldn’t bear looking at those white buttons, so against my better judgement I went to dye them. I decided to shoot for a warm gray. They dyed MUCH easier than the fabric, I learned, as I dropped them in the pot and they almost instantly turned jet black. Obviously I wasn’t going to walk around with those so I used a dye remover – which turned them a bright gold. Intrigued, I tried a few other dye tests, but couldn’t get the dyes to not turn them too dark (especially knowing that my fabric was a little too light, I couldn’t justify the very dark results I was getting), so instead I used the dye remover to bring the color back to a place I wanted. They ended up a warm gold. I sewed them on and let the project rest.

Gallifrey One was exciting. This was my first cosplay of the weekend and while I was there I picked up another addition to my 7b wardrobe that I was been beside myself about: My SCREEN ACCURATE BOOTS!


I had these commissioned from the company that made them for the show, made to my feet, and they came with my name inside! With these two new acquisitions, the boots and the waistcoat, I was stoked to run around as the madman with a box!

I even got a photo with the brilliant Christel Dee of The Doctor Who Fan Show!


12782552_10153591011294833_554240135_nAfter its debut, I got a lot of inquiries from friends of mine and fellow cosplayers, wondering all about the waistcoat I made! But I was a little loathe to really talk too much about it, because the more I saw it properly together in photographs, the more things stuck out to me as problems.

Initially, I thought the fabric was a good color but a little too light. As I was finishing it up I kept thinking that it looked like a wedding vest. That bugged me. Not to mention that I wasn’t super thrilled with the welt pockets. They bunched on the sides and it always looked like the pocket bag was going to pop out. The buttons obviously needed a recoloring as well. And there were a few angles that could have been tweaked.

You’ll notice that Christel and I also took that photo with Steve Ricks – Steve brought me my shoes from London and we talked at length, though largely I asked him about my waistcoat project and he helped me troubleshoot some of the issues I’d had, as well as generally encouraging me to keep up the good work. Chief among the issues I chatted with him about were the welt pockets, and he gave me a lot of good advice. Shortly after Gally, I attended the Edwardian Ball and wore my Hide outfit.


The photos taken there solidified my need to upgrade my waistcoat. You can see where the pockets pulled on the fabric, and you can see the mesh marks from my silly ironing board. The color was just so light. I loved this waistcoat, so I needed it to fit a higher standard.

IMG_1484editFirst, I went home and practiced more welt pockets. With the information I’d learned from Steve and the new things I’d found on the internet, my welt pockets improved exponentially. IMG_1614I opened the waistcoat, unpicked the old pockets, and started fresh (well, as fresh as you can with the pocket openings already cut into your fabric). One by one I made brand new welt pockets where the old ones used to be, with the waistcoat still mostly assembled. It was much harder than doing them brand new but I wanted to salvage this waistcoat, not just make a new one. But eventually, it was done, and my hard work really felt like it’d paid off.

IMG_1630editThe next thing to do was to dye it darker. The purple was an easy fix, as a higher concentration of my purple dye would make it darker and richer, but my gray needed to be replaced. Luckily for me, a brand new dark gray poly dye had just been released by the company I was using, so I picked it up. IMG_1611cropThe result was a MASSIVE improvement over the old color.

I bought myself a bigger tub (though all I could find for cheap was plastic), took the muslin lining out of the waistcoat, and dyed the whole thing.

I stitched the lining back into place when it was all done. And WOW, what a difference it made!


Suddenly, the waistcoat was transformed from groomsman to haute couture. The cotton back had dyed to a nice dark purple, there were no blotches, the mesh marks had soaked out, and the new pockets were damn fine considering they were a patch job. And the buttons? I had an idea: To keep that warm undertone the screen-worn ones occasionally had, but to get them to match the waistcoat, I would use the gold color as a base and then slowly introduce the gray polyester dye to it – being silk, they won’t go to the extreme black they did before (since it’s a synthetic fiber dye) and it will need a long enough soak that I can determine exactly how dark I want them to get.

IMG_2184editAnd damn, was I pleased with the result.

They had the perfect combination of cool gray and warm gold in them that they would change color in different lighting, just like the real ones seem to onscreen. With no originals to compare with, I can only guess as their true accuracy, but I was more than happy with the result.

I was very excited about the waistcoat. It got it’s new debut at WonderCon, where I once again got many compliments and inquiries.


But now that I had gone through revising it so dramatically, I wanted to rebuild the whole thing from scratch. Brand new, straight out of the box perfect. I couldn’t afford to go through the whole process again, though, so I found someone about my size to sell it to.

While going to sell it, I wanted to know EXACTLY where it stopped being screen accurate, so I asked around to those who would know. I was nervous about having to explain that it had a purple cotton back instead of a dark gray charmeuse. It had its upsides (it’s very comfortable at a hot con!) but the name of the game here is screen accuracy. What I learned upon researching this was that the original is actually made of purple cotton! Suddenly, it went from something to gloss over to a major selling point!

All was going well, I had my buyer lined up, and here I was about to finish the deal when…


Oh yeah, no big deal or anything. Those are just expensive, discontinued silk buttons from the UK that I dyed by hand.

I frantically searched for the missing button, but no dice. Wherever it had fallen off, it was lost forever. I couldn’t believe my bad luck. What the hell was I going to do now?

IMG_2281A search ensued, which finally ended with me finding some end-stock of these buttons (though made by a different company) in ivory (THANK GOD), which I then promptly ordered and dyed to match (see the image at right, where the middle button in the flower formation is off my old waistcoat, and it’s surrounded by newly dyed buttons).

(Also, worth noting: Yes, all the buttons you’ve seen pictured since the photo of the redyed waistcoat have all been the same color. See what I mean about the color changing dramatically in different lighting conditions? I don’t know why it does this, but I’m stoked about it. The above-right photo is probably the most accurate representation of their color; it was taken under an OttLite.)

After the dyeing was done, I super glued the back of all the buttons as a security measure and sent the v.1 off to its new owner.

With so many details about this waistcoat swimming in my mind, I was too stoked for v.2 to wait. I went out and purchased some nicer muslin (to give a little polish to it) and picked up some nice gray cotton (in lieu of dark purple, which they did not have) and more piqué fabric.

12919720_1736476989897726_8823322149040676040_nDyeing the piqué fabric was an even bigger headache than before. I went through easily over $100 worth of bottles of dye trying to get even reasonably close to what I had previously achieved. Even the 100% cotton gave me some trouble, though not nearly as much. When I finally made a match, my fabric was blotchy and uneven. I had picked up a second set of each fabric for a friend of mine, and unfortunately his piqué fabric came out unusable (see right). Luckily for me, I could cut around the blotches on my own length of fabric.

I sat down and got to work. What had previously taken me 5 straight days of working 8-10 hours at a time I whipped up in 3 days of working on it sporadically. The entire construction process was SO much simpler the second time, now that I knew what I was doing, and being so confident in every little detail was extremely satisfying.


The last little detail that needed attending to was something I could barely confirm the existence of. It did appear to show up on the high res photos but I could never get a high enough resolution to actually prove it was there.

stitchingcropMy friend was convinced that there was a line of hand-stitching around the neck, like a permanent basting stitch. Why would this be? To keep the lining from poking out? To shape the neck so it acts like a collar? I’m sure my ignorance is simply because I’m new to this, but after ascertaining that this really did exist, I made myself a little decorative neckline to match.


Overall, I consider this to be a very successful first project. Is it perfect? No. Even now, there are still details about it that I want to tweak. But overall I’m extremely pleased. This feels like something I have the ability to pursue. Even beyond cosplay, I’d love to tailor my own clothes from scratch. I’m currently looking forward and I see many fantastic opportunities for me to turn this into something truly fulfilling. My goal will never be to make a living doing this, but to wear a piece like this waistcoat and know that I made it myself from scratch… there really isn’t another feeling like it. And making my own fancy clothes is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than commissioning them, and I get to make sure they’re as perfect as I want them to be.

Speaking of which, something I’d like to address here, as I will inevitably be questioned about it: No, I will not be offering these waistcoats on a commission basis. The pain of dyeing the fabric is both unbearable and cost prohibitive. It is possible that I may offer these once a fabric I don’t have to custom dye becomes available, but that’s not an option at the moment. Check back when it is. If you have your own fabric you would like to supply, I’d be more than happy to look into a commission for you. Feel free to send me an email:

Happy cosplaying!



Posted in Eleventh Doctor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments