Some costumes have that one item that pulls the whole look together. For a cosplayer, identifying this can be crucial – without it, the outfit will never look right, but with the right piece, many “inaccuracies” can be overlooked.
For Crowley cosplayers, that item is his sunglasses.
Even with a nice pair of contacts, Crowley just isn’t Crowley without his signature sunglasses.
The originals are a pair of women’s frames made by Valentino, the VA2003 in gunmetal. These are easily recognizable by their iconic side shield (hiding Crowley’s demon eyes from the side as well as the front), but on closer inspection, the discerning cosplayer might begin to have some questions about the glasses used on screen.
Naturally, the Valentino logo engraved on the side has been removed from the screen worn sunglasses (common for TV and film production), covered now by a small metal piece.
Observant viewers might also notice, however, that there are silver fasteners poking out of the front of Crowley’s sunglasses… but not the Valentinos. While the Valentinos do fasten through the lens, they are screwed in from the back, actually with small black screws that are not long enough to pull out and refasten from the front. Not only this, but high res images of the TV glasses on display show that they are fastened not with traditional screws, but with a kind of couture hex-head bolt.
This is a bit odd, obviously. But on closer inspection, they’re not the only cosmetic alteration to the glasses that aren’t logo-related. The screen worn sunglasses also feature these darker, almost purple-hued lenses. The Valentinos, you will notice, are green.
As far as I can surmise, the gunmetal VA2003 was only offered with a green lens. Apparently, the costume department custom ordered darker lenses for the sunglasses (made in-house, I would guess), and when they swapped out the green lenses, refastened them from the front with bolts. It’s not clear why this change was made – maybe the green looked odd on screen – but it does present “screen accurate” cosplayers with a bit of a conundrum, since the SA sunglasses, well, aren’t quite screen accurate.
I myself am a proud owner of an original pair of Valentino VA2003s, and wasn’t quite sure what to do about this issue. I did purchase some silver screws to replace my original hardware, but there didn’t seem to be a way around the lens color.
Magnoli and I have been in contact much over the years, consulting on various projects and testing the waters on others. Before I even had the gunmetal originals in hand, I had a pair of VA2003s in gold and had reached out to him about a replication project. While working on the replicas, I came into ownership of the proper gunmetal frames, and I knew that Magnoli’s contribution would become invaluable to Crowley cosplayers – we could fix the “issues” that came with owning an original pair.
The final sunglasses have arrived, and I am very pleased with how they stack up against the originals.
The most striking thing about the Magnoli Clothiers replicas is the far more accurate lens color. Just that alone is worth the price of picking them up, even for a cosplayer with originals.
Having had originals to work with, the shapes are excellently matched, even down to the lattice on the shields. The faux “metal bar to block out the logo” is a cute detail as well.
On a slight downside, the metal chosen for the frames has a slightly warmer overall hue than the very cold originals – another detail you are only likely to notice by putting both pairs directly next to each other.
On the other hand, Magnoli’s lenses, along with being the correct color, also come screwed in correctly from the factory with the same kind of hex-head bolt as the TV pairs. My Valentinos will never quite achieve this effect.
The screw positioning on the lenses is not an exact 1:1 placement, but very near – certainly near enough that even someone (like myself) who is very familiar with the originals would only be able to tell be placing the two directly next to each other.
The temple tips are finished with a small pyramid-shaped gem – a lovely touch on a replica like this, despite it having no chance of being seen while worn.
Overall, the glasses are truly a boon for all Crowley cosplayers. If you want to invest in something that will really make your cosplay pop, you cannot beat these sunglasses.
The actual quality of the sunglasses themselves also deserves a shout out here. These are a sturdy pair of glasses that come in a great case, definitely a high quality product that will last you a very long time if you treat them right – and much cheaper (and easier!) than turning up a vintage pair of designer shades!
So, for all those discerning Crowley cosplayers looking for that piece to lock in the aesthetic, Magnoli has your back on this one. I cannot recommend these sunglasses more – I will probably wear them to cons and photoshoots if only for that SA lens color!
In my last post, I compiled a brief index of the Matt Smith dress shirts.
These shirts continue to enthrall and elude cosplayers at all levels. The eBay hunt for vintage Paul Smith continues to be cutthroat even now, more than ten years on. But one thing in particular has vexed us above all else:
The custom shirt.
In Series 5, Matt Smith wore primarily one of two Paul Smith “Scroll” shirts, but as costumer Ray Holman left the series and classic-era Doctor Who costumer Barbara Kidd came onboard starting with A Christmas Carol, a new look was ordered and his shirts became entirely custom-made by the wardrobe department.
This means none of the Series 6 shirts are purchasable. When Howard Burden joined the show in Series 7, he was told that he was allowed to switch up the Doctor’s look, so for the second half of Series 7 (which followed a brief hiatus), the purple frock was brought in and a few of these new shirts were made by Budd Shirtmakers – but others were also made in-house. Though most of those Budd shirts were discontinued many years ago, it’s conceivable that, if given a replica fabric, Budd might be amenable to a custom order (has anyone tried this? Drop a comment below if you have!). There is no hope of the BBC costume department doing the same for the shirts they made – which are some of his most iconic looks.
Over the years, a few Series 6/Series 7 custom shirt fabrics have popped up on other Paul Smith shirts, most notably the diamond dobby weave from Series 6 (like the one pictured left that I used to own). This appears to be simply a coincidence – the screen worn shirts have been confirmed made by the BBC costume department and the Paul Smith shirts’ details do not match the screen worn costumes at all (perhaps Paul Smith and the BBC simply source their shirtings from the same suppliers?). Despite this, the Utah, Snowmen, Bells of St. John, and Hide shirtings have all been found on Paul Smith shirts, either in the original or alternate colorways (maybe even more that have been kept a secret by their owners).
But this turns out to be a real boon for us cosplayers, as many entrepreneurial and creative cosplayers have worked to create both high quality Spoonflower prints of these fabrics or had them replicated from scratch. Much of this work would not have been possible without access to these Paul Smith releases.
But let’s say you are a discerning cosplayer and have purchased several yards of carefully rendered Spoonflower fabric or painstakingly rewoven replica cloth (or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to source vintage fabric!)… Now what? If you are a tailor, what pattern are you cutting these shirts to? If you are not a tailor, you must be even more precise as you give this fabric to someone else to tailor for you.
What do these custom shirts look like?
A project that has inspired me since my early years of cosplaying, this is one of the reasons I became a tailor in the first place! After many years of discussion about the pattern details with other cosplayers, research gathering, and test garments, I recently finally tackled this project with some cloth I’ve been keeping in deep storage. Most of this information has been verified with video and images, but some tiny details have been collected in good faith from people who have handled screen worn shirts over the years. I have hopefully made it clear when information is verified and when it is unverified or speculative.
Please allow me to walk you through the anatomy of the custom Matt Smith dress shirt. Let’s get nitty gritty. While many people have contributed to this information, I want to give special thanks to Daniel Pawlik and Ewan Anderson in particular – go give those guys a follow.
The Front Panels
The most easily observable part of the Smith dress shirt are the front panels, as they are on display for the majority of both Series 6 and Series 7 (both parts). Pretty standard fare here, it features a sewn-on button placket that is 1⅜” wide, topstitched on each side at ¼” (some blue pinpoint shirts appear to be stitched slightly wider than the others, nearing ⅜”, but this is probably more error than design). There does not appear to be any interfacing in the button placket, as it gently wrinkles and ripples in all incarnations (see reference above). Because there is no breast pocket, the six buttons down the front, sewn to a cut-on/fold-over button stand, complete the look.
Here, the first of the unique touches emerge. Smith’s collar is known as a tab collar. Tab collars are a bit wider than some other classic collars, lengthening slightly to a gentle point with close-set, near-vertical front edges. This is intended to accommodate the collar tab, two bits of fabric that fasten together underneath a tie (or bow tie, as the case may be).
These tabs, a ubiquitous but often-overlooked feature of the Matt Smith Series 6 shirt, keep the collar snugly pulled into the neck (often creating a bowing effect, as observed on the blue pinpoint and Utah shirts in the above references). Even if you think some of the Series 6 shirts omitted these tabs, I promise you, they did not.
It is common for collar tabs to be sewn directly into the side seam of the collar and fastened with a button, like so:
But Smith’s collar tabs are a bit unique here. They are simply a length of cloth 1½” wide, with the short ends folded to meet in the center, then folded in half again to create a long strip ⅜” wide, closed by a single line of edge stitching and then folded in half once lengthwise, as I’ve replicated here:
As far as I am aware, there are no visual references for how these are installed into the shirt collar itself, but my understanding is that it looks something like this:
You would think this would be easily verified by looking at images of the collar, as surely this construction leaves marks on the upper collar – but the bow tie typically covers this area in images. Without any direct evidence, it is hard to confirm whether this is correct, though through what images we do have of this area, and with an understanding that it definitely is sewn into the undercollar somewhere, this seems to be as reasonable a guess as anyone can make. A small seam, possibly trimmed to ⅛” to minimize impressions on the upper collar, running perhaps near where one would traditionally install a collar stay, with the tab stitched into it, must exist.
Despite all this fuss about collar tabs, a few 7b custom jobs do actually omit them. The Snowmen, Cold War/Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, and The Bells of St. John all notably feature production-made shirts sans collar tabs, though in each case the collar appears otherwise unchanged.
The rest of the collar is pretty standard fare. The tip is about 2¾” long from stand to point, around 2″ or so are visible in back connected by a gentle curve, with a slightly taller-than-average collar stand to accommodate at 1½” wide. These are interfaced with a piece of white cotton muslin sewn in (not ironed on) and topstitched into place at ¼” on the collar and ⅛” on the stand. The collar on the Snowmen shirt appears to be a slight exception with a much narrower topstitch, probably close to ⅛” .
The back of Matt Smith’s shirts are what really give the luxurious touch to the custom cut.
A few behind-the-scenes photos reveal that the button placket in the front of the shirt is mirrored by a lovely, slightly narrower 1¼” box pleat in the back. This box pleat is topstitched flat at ¼”, but is not sewn down to the shirt back itself (as I demonstrate below on my replica). There are also two sets of darts tapering the waist for that lovely bespoke silhouette. Pattern matching reveals these darts each to be ½” wide, removing 2″ from the waistline of the pattern (it is common to see darts remove as much as 4″ from a waistline, so Matt’s create a gentler silhouette). The dart height appears to change from shirt to shirt, though traditionally darts begin right under the shoulder blades and run down the back until they open up again at the hips.
The yoke of the shirt sits rather high – typical for a formal dress shirt like this (the longer the yoke, the sportier the shirt – the shorter the yoke, the dressier). It’s impossible to know exactly how short it is without an original in hand (or better images) but mine is slightly under 3½” from the neckline to the box pleat at the center back. The yoke is also topstitched at ¼” at the shoulders and back panel seam.
A dress shirt will traditionally have at least 1″ of ease added to the area where the yoke meets the back panel, typically in the form of knife pleats or gathers over the shoulder blades, or a box pleat that vanishes after a few inches (you undoubtedly have purchased dress shirts with similar features). This allows for ease of movement in the wearer. For a shirt to be perfectly aligned like this along the yoke/back panel seam, adjustments must be made in the armscye and sleeve.
Well-fitted sleeves also betray the bespoke nature of these shirts.
Not too slim, but neither baggy, these shirts feature a fairly typical one-piece sleeve. Flat-felled seams at the armscye (topstitched at ¼”, as usual), with the sleevecap eased at the shoulder, and two pleats folding into the cuff. The pleats open toward the sleeve placket on the tower side and lie rather near it. In fact, on the blue pinpoint, the pleats appear to touch the tower (see left), though this is not identical across all shirts.
The sleeve placket itself is of standard length and features a triangular fold at the top. There is no button in the sleeve placket.
Smith’s shirts, lacking ease under the yoke, appear to have a relatively small armscye – bringing the armscye up close to the armpit allows more freedom of movement in the arms – something Smith would definitely need, given the volume of stunt work involved in the show. Perhaps the best look at sleeve fit can be observed in Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS as the bulk of the episode is spent coatless.
Promo pics from Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS appear to confirm that these shirts had the sleeves and sides sewn together as one seam, instead of installing the sleeves after seaming the front and back panels together (as featured on Capaldi’s white soyella Budd shirt). This is a traditional method of construction and is much easier to execute than installing the sleeves afterward. It is accomplished by flat-felling the sleeve to the armscye, then running one long flat-felled seam (topstitched down at ¼”) from the cuff to the hemline.
The sleeves plackets on the French cuff shirts are different, simply folded over and sewn down like a rolled hem with no tower, and appear a bit longer than the mitered cuff plackets. French cuffs typically require a roomier sleeve than a single cuff, and this appears to have been accomplished by shallowing the pleats (possibly even by eliminating one pleat entirely).
Matt Smith’s custom dress shirts feature a mitered cuff.
These are also interfaced with sew-in cotton muslin and are topstitched at our usual ¼” inset or slightly narrower. Cuff length itself is 2¾”. French cuffs appear to have a folded length slightly longer at 3⅛”.
The Snowmen and Bells of St. John shirts (below) feature French cuffs in place of these miters with some kind of vintage or custom gold cufflink. They feature a rounded corner.
The Cold War/Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS shirt seems to be notable as the only custom shirt without collar tabs that includes a mitered cuff.
Another unusual touch for the Matt Smith dress shirt, the shirt is hemmed with a ½” flat, folded hem instead of a traditional rolled hem (and I don’t blame the shirtmakers – a flat hem is a hell of a lot easier!). This is never observed onscreen to my knowledge, but can be seen in this old Instagram post from madmanboxpod (whose page appears – sadly – to have been removed).
And finally, to finish it off:
Matt Smith’s mitered shirts all feature the same buttons.
They are 18L, 1½mm thick, flat, single-rimmed, mother-of-pearl buttons. These buttons are not easy to find in the accurate thickness (most online places don’t sell under 2mm), but they add such an exquisite cherry to the top of your shirt that they are worth tracking down. Nine buttons are needed to complete a shirt – 1 for the collar, 6 down the front, and 2 for the cuffs. As mentioned earlier, the sleeve plackets do not feature buttons.
The buttons also offer one of my favorite eccentricities of the Series 6 shirt – the unique way they are sewn.
It is common to see one of two button thread arrangements: Parallel or crossed – or as I like to think of them, the = sign or the + sign.
For the Series 6 shirt, the parallel option was chosen… but the buttons were rotated as if they would be sewn crosswise. The result:
They’re all sideways! Why is this?? I have absolutely no idea but it delights me. Somebody in the BBC costume department woke up day after day after day and chose chaos every single time. Chef’s kiss.
Unfortunately, by Series 7b this was changed. Both the Hide and the Cold War/Journey shirts use the same buttons but they are sewn crosswise. How basic.
The Snowmen and Bells shirts have different buttons on them, thicker with an embossing and no rim, sewn crosswise (does that Bells button have only one line of stitching on it??).
These do appear to be the same button style on both, though it is difficult to verify with the current reference images.
Beyond this, there are six buttons down the front of the shirt. The first button sits relatively high at only 1½” below the collar stand. Thanks to a particularly clear high res of the Utah shirt, we can determine with certainty that the buttons were spaced exactly 12½ diamonds apart from each other, or 3¾”. This spacing appears to be at least relatively consistent across all the shirts.
We also catch the smallest glimpse of the final buttonhole oriented horizontally (left). This is not totally unusual in fine shirtmaking, but it is not particularly common either, and is a neat detail to include if you are already going through all this effort.
And with that, I think this deep dive into the Smith shirt is complete! As mentioned earlier, I recently tackled this project myself with fabric I had been storing for many years, and I have to admit I am pleased with the results!
How did I do? Did I miss anything in this analysis or my sewing? Drop a comment and let me know!
Did you know you can purchase the same replica Hide bow tie I have from Time and Space Replicas? The quality is unmatched – a must-have for 7b cosplayers!
Of the many Matt Smith items that have been categorically dissected over the years, one thing I still haven’t seen much discussion of is his custom dress shirts – which I recently (finally) tackled in a blitz of projects that have been sitting on my list for many years now. So let’s take a look at the many shirts worn by Matt Smith during his tenure as The Doctor – you can find a breakdown of the custom shirt design here.
Series 5 has only a small selection of costume variation for The Doctor, and as a result only two main shirts. Both were made by Paul Smith, and are were actually the same shirt in two colors: Red and blue. The shirts feature a narrow button placket, long square contrasting cuffs, single darts, and a box pleat in the back. There was a lot of variation with these shirts and it is possible (or perhaps inevitable) that some of the screen worn shirts had their box pleats sewn inside out, though these are never observed onscreen to my knowledge. Some versions of this shirt, released by Paul Smith also, have varying details, such as non-contrasting cuffs or a folded front in place of a button placket, but these were never worn by Matt.
In Series 6, Smith’s wardrobe gets a polish. He drops his Harris and Donegal tweeds in favor of a single Shetland tweed (and the occasional olive green overcoat) and his shirts go from Paul Smith to custom jobs – he wears three main custom shirts with the Shetland tweed and occasionally a tux shirt. A number of these custom fabrics, by complete coincidence, have also turned up on Paul Smith shirts, but this is purely by chance as these shirts are confirmed custom made by production and share identical construction details, which I discuss in excruciating detail in this post.
Shirt 3, the first of the Series 6 custom jobs, is one of the most elusive, the tattersall. Many years ago, Hopkins Fabrics told me they used to stock this fabric but it was vintage and long gone. Whether or not they meant this particular fabric or a similar tattersall is unknown. It features a white herringbone weave with blue and red stripes creating a check.
Shirt 4 is this purple striped dobby with a diamond motif, affectionately referred to as the “Utah” shirt due to its use in the Lake Silencio sequence of Series 6.
And thirdly, Shirt 5 is a blue Oxford fabric. Another strangely elusive fabric, light and dark blue threads in a unique pinpoint weave create an iridescence from a distance. All three of these Series 6 shirts feature identical construction details.
Unless wearing a tuxedo, Smith seems to keep to these shirts until his major wardrobe overhaul for the final half of Series 7.
Ah, the dreaded Series 7b. Despite being only 11ish episodes in total (counting specials but not counting the minisodes and other apocrypha), Smith wears nearly twice as many shirts in this period of the show as in the entire previous run combined! While some of these striped shirts were custom made, many others were made by Budd Shirtmakers, who would also go on to supply Peter Capaldi with his iconic white soyella dress shirt.
For the 2012 Christmas Special The Snowmen, Smith wears this elaborate striped red-and-green fabric as Shirt 6. While still a custom piece, we see the introduction of french cuffs to Smith’s design and the collar tabs are omitted, with new buttons. This shirt, and entire ensemble, reappear for the Christmas Town sequence in The Time of the Doctor.
Shirt 7, for The Bells of St. John, is this lovely subtle multicolored stripe. Probably custom with French cuffs, no collar tabs, and new buttons.
In Shirt 8, for The Rings of Akhaten, we see our first Budd Shirtmakers item appear, the “Paternoster Stripe” in Camel, which was discontinued in 2017. It was later reused for The Crimson Horror. It also features a French cuff.
Shirt 9, for Cold War, is this blue textured striped fabric. The most elusive of the 7b shirts, this shirt was custom made and would be later reused for Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, though production distressing would dull its color until it was nearly gray. Its details match the other custom shirts, except collar tabs have been omitted.
In Shirt 10, for Hide, this blue and green striped fabric was custom made to the exact specs of the S6 shirts, including collar tabs.
Shirt 11 – Nightmare in Silver saw the use of this lovely “Wide Fine Butcher Stripe” cotton poplin shirt from Budd Shirtmakers.
Shirt 12 is a blue Oxford cloth worn in The Name of the Doctor. It makes another prominent appearance in the beginning of The Time of the Doctor, worn without the frock coat over it. It appears to have been another Budd Shirtmakers purchase. Barrel cuffs are the prominent feature of this shirt – no other major Smith shirt has them.
And finally, Shirt 13 is a simple blue end-on-end shirt was used for the The Day of the Doctor and reused for Christmas dinner and the regeneration in The Time of the Doctor. This shirt is a stock shirt from Budd Shirtmakers and is actually still available to purchase. It features a similarly baggy fit to Shirt 12, french cuffs, and a very stiff collar.
And, as a fun bonus, this Series 5 era shirt was from Topman:
So, I had my wonderful, awful, Christmas/Tennant/Two-Face trousers!
Patterned from my pair of genuine GAP trousers, I could definitely say I was happy with the result. All the minor issues I had while constructing them was noted in my pattern and edited.
But this was only half a suit!
The next hurdle was the jacket. And my biggest problem here was that I had no original to pattern from, and I had never made a suit jacket before, so I had no base pattern to use at all.
Luckily for me, I did have my friend and fellow obsessive cosplayer Alex Beard!
Alex, of Bad Wolf Costumes, has spent a lot of his energy deep diving into Star Trek costumes, but is a huge Who fan and in 2016 had created his own Ten suit from scratch. His results were excellent, and he made a commercial pattern. But, being a perfectionist like myself, he decided the pattern needed revising and pulled it. The new version would change nearly every panel at least slightly, so it was basically a brand new pattern entirely. But he was still in the revision process when I approached him about my project. Alex and I are good friends (we both have great names, so I guess it was inevitable) and we talked regularly about these things (I was heavily consulted for his revised trouser pattern, to confirm lengths, shapes, and internal construction details), and I asked if I could purchase an early jacket draft to use as a base. He generously sent me an advanced copy of the revised pattern and I went to work.
His pattern is truly excellent. It is immediately evident the amount of painstaking detail that went into creating this jacket (he even includes two collar options, as some versions of the suit have a slightly alternate collar shape). He nails basically every detail, and provides a step-by-step tutorial on how to construct the whole thing. His blog also contains an exhaustive breakdown of the suit (and the discrepancies between its onscreen alternates) including a deep look at the GAP trousers (fun fact, the reference photos posted on the blog are images of my GAP trousers taken before they were mine, when they still belonged to Thomas Dunn).
The work on the pattern itself is also excellent, with each piece labeled and graded into ten different sizes. With a little concentration, cutting out your size and organizing the pieces is a breeze.
But I knew I would have a special kind of challenge in fitting it – I’m narrow shouldered but have done a lot of working out in the last three years, so I needed the shoulder and waist fit of a 38R but the chest fit of a 42R (in off-the-rack I usually split the difference with a 40R but they don’t fit very nicely). In such a case, shoulder fit is much more important than the chest, so I cut out the 38″ chest pattern and added to the chest size significantly (and also tucked the waist slightly). I took a few more measurements, made some adjustments, and cut a test muslin, adding some small shoulder pads to help the shape.
Alright, I knew it was going to be a slim cut suit, but I had a feeling that this was still TOO snug. The sleeves were also too long (a common problem for me with off-the-rack suits) so I shortened them a bit. But I wanted to do as few revisions as possible on this, so I decided to get some references compared to the real suit.
Yes, it definitely looked a little too snug in the chest. And I had shortened my sleeves by too much, it seemed. But the biggest thing for me was how long the front panels were on me – they reached my thumbnails, which is not unusual for a suit jacket, but a touch too long for this suit jacket. I would have to shorten the entire thing.
Looked good to me. There was still a lot of work to do, so I moved on.
First thing to do was to take the pattern and transfer it to my preferred pattern paper, which is freezer paper. I altered each individual pattern piece directly on my new paper and cut the new pieces out, being very careful to make sure that I didn’t screw up any stripe matching.
Then, it was time to get to work.
It actually takes a lot more than just outer fabric, lining fabric, thread, and buttons to make a suit. There are multiple kinds of hair canvas, iron-on interfacings, melton wool, silk thread, stay tape, shoulder pads, flannel, pocketing, sleeve heads… this all ratchets the cost up considerably. I knew I needed to make a full-tilt, all-the-bells-and-whistles suit, so as my wallet cried out in pain I collected everything I needed. But I knew I could reuse most of these things on my real suits, so that helped justify the cost. Again, why buy something for $7 when you can make it yourself for $350 worth of materials?
Many of these things I was working with for the first time, even though no skill was completely new to me. I’d taped the front edges of many waistcoats, made oh so many welt pockets, set coat sleeves, padded collars… but to do all of these things with so many new materials all in the same project was a bit daunting, and cotton is a little more challenging of a suiting option than other fabrics.
Still, I found a way to make it fun. I found some flannel with a similarly silly Christmas pattern, even though the chest padding would never be seen on the finished garment. Knowing that it’s inside is probably my favorite part of the finished suit.
Sewing a traditional suit jacket takes a very long time. I would spend many late nights working, and Christmas was coming up quickly.
Still, little by little, everything came together. The more that the jacket took shape, the more that I was excited to see it finished. This tacky Christmas reject was shaping up to be FAR more stylish than I could have envisioned!
There isn’t much to comment on the in regards to the build itself, but I was very thankful for Alex’s help in navigating some of the trickier parts of the build.
I really focused on pattern matching, which I am quite proud of in terms of results. I decided to pick up some tan buttons in the same range as my real suit buttons for the sleeves and fronts, and picked up a cheap gold satin for the lining. The pocket bags I made in the same fabric as the trousers, a black cotton twill.
I had particular trouble at the collar. That collar notch shape is the one concession Alex’s pattern makes, in order to match the stripes on the original suits (the math is funny, and somehow neither of us could figure it out). In order to get the really wide notch I wanted, the stripes would not run vertically in the back the way they do on the real suit (see image above). I talked it through with Alex for a while, then made the executive decision on my suit that the stripe matching in the back was less important to me. This is the one part of the pattern that I will have to revisit on my final suits.
But as the project moved further and further and my nights became longer and longer, I grew more and more confident in my ability to tackle the project in the real fabrics – the ones I had been commissioning, reweaving, dyeing, and collecting for so many years now.
At long last, on the night before Christmas Eve, she was completed.
The next day I took the suit, threw on a beige Tennant linen, realized I didn’t own any ties so ugly as to match, and went to Napa for a Christmas Eve wine tasting with my BFF, Alannah.
I often spend my sewing time making commissions for other people, especially now in the pandemic when everyone needs masks and my actual career (cruise line performing) is completely shut down. But I recently itemized all the cosplay I’ve been putting off making for myself into one handy list. I then immediately bumped these suits towards the top. There’s still a few things ahead of it, but I expect that by the time the world opens up again, I will be completely ready to run around the world as my favorite Time Lord Victorious.
In the meantime, the Tenth Doctor has gotten a Christmassy makeover. I’m ashamed and thrilled that I have introduced such a beautiful abomination to the world.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Stay safe this year, and keep on cosplaying!
Ps. I finished this suit for Christmas 2019. For Christmas 2020, Kohl’s sold this rather familiar blazer:
What do you think, am I a trend setter? Drop a comment below.
I began drafting this post almost exactly a year ago, but didn’t get very far before other life events got in the way and I had to leave it in the drafts folder.
But what better time to revive the post than in the Yuletide season once again! A little bonus Doctor Who Christmas content for everyone!
It’s common knowledge that “my” Doctor is the Tenth Doctor. What David Tennant did in the role changed my life dramatically, and will always be part of the fabric of who I am. The superhero traveler who loved history, space, life, and love, who saved the day not with muscles or guns, but with a screwdriver and cleverness, who met a terrifying monster and would exclaim “Oh you are GORGEOUS!”, who romped around in a suit and tie but kept his feet in Chucks just in case he needed to run fast, who was somehow as sexy and romantic as he was nerdy… That’s who I wanted to be.
The Tenth Doctor was my first ever cosplay, and has always been the most personal cosplay I do.
But I’m a perfectionist, as I always say, and simply wearing a brown suit with a light blue shirt was never going to suffice for me.
My first Tennant suit was thrifted. But I could never locate a coat I was pleased with, so I bought one from a Chinese cosplay company. After success there, I bought a cheap suit replica to replace the thrifted one, and was quite happy… for a time. But my suit had beige pinstripes, and my jacket was made of a poly/wool coating, not suede, so I knew I would be upgrading eventually.
And I did. Eventually I would upgrade my $100 suit to a $500 Magnoli fabric/Baron Boutique tailored suit, and my $100 coat to a secondhand Steve Ricks replica.
This suit was the top-of-the-line at the time, and I was extremely pleased with it… except that it didn’t fit me 100%. It’s likely I gave Baron Boutique bad measurements, since I had never taken measurements for myself before, and the fit was too tight in the arms but too loose in the waist, and the pants too large by a size or two. It was more than sufficient for many years of wear, but I knew I would upgrade it again.
Then I began tailoring my own clothes, and learning how to fit myself. And I knew, the only way I would be truly happy with this particular outfit was if I made it myself, fit it myself, and had complete control over all the details.
So I began to learn how to tailor, cutting my teeth on bow ties and waistcoats (much of which is documented on this blog), and slowly learned everything that goes into making a suit. This was always the goal: Get good enough to make myself a Tenth Doctor suit that I would be happy with.
After many years of tailoring, I finally decided that I was ready to begin the project.
The first thing I would need is a pattern.
David Tennant’s brown suit, his first outfit, was made of many pairs of GAP trousers cut up and fashioned into a suit jacket, worn with the matching pants. The holy grail of Tennant cosplays has always been to acquire enough pairs of these vintage 2004 trousers to make a suit from.
Thankfully, I had acquired a pair of genuine GAP trousers in my size, so it was a no-brainer to pattern them directly.
This kind of patterning is actually trickier than you might think. Without unstitching the entire garment and tracing each individual piece, you have to work very hard to lay and pin each panel flat and square, and must guess at certain seam allowances. Internal pieces, such as pocket facings, are nearly impossible to gain access to. And the pattern of stripes ensured that each piece had to be very carefully aligned, or the pattern would skew, or not match across all the pieces.
I had an invaluable aid in this journey: Years before I acquired my GAP trousers, I had acquired the discarded waistband of a pair of these trousers that had previously been used to make one of these Holy Grail GAP suits.
In a windfall of good luck, all the pockets and the waistband had been left in tact, so there I could unstitch the pieces and pattern directly from the real deal without hassle. For the rest, I would need to get very intimate with pins and patience.
This process was long, and arduous. Fabric does not like to lay flat and straight, it is alive and flowing, and that is bad for creating clean, accurate lines (no proper tailor strikes a pattern in this manner). You would think that a little deviation might not be a big deal, but the matching of pinstripes and silhouette can be thrown into chaos by a deviation of only 1 degree when amplified down an entire trouser leg.
But little by little, the whole thing came together. Many cute details about these pants came to light, like a tiny coin pouch sewn into the righthand pocket, and the very complicated dance of the waistband construction.
I had a pattern I was confident about. But there was still one step to make before I went to town on my real trousers: A proof of the pattern.
Typically I make test garments out of cheap cotton muslin. This way I can test the fit and practice any tricky sewing techniques before risking the real fabric. But there was an extra level of concern in this pattern beyond the fit: The stripes.
I had drawn the pattern from two different sized garments, so I couldn’t trust that the lines would match up across all the pattern pieces the way they were supposed to. My test muslin needed to be striped.
I went down to my local Joann’s to find a cheap cotton fabric with a stripe pattern… to no avail. I would need to find a print of some kind, because the only other cheap option was upholstery, which simply wouldn’t do. In the prints section, I also found normal striped fabrics hard to come by. But I did locate this:
I figured there would be no harm in getting some extra practice and making myself a full-scale mockup instead of a quick and dirty test. I had a hard time picking between the green and the red, so I picked up both and set to work.
The first thing to do was to secure the other fabrics. The real trousers had a few pieces interfaced in what turned out to be a sourceable, cheap iron-on, so I bought that. The hardware for the claps would need sourcing and purchasing, which was simple enough. I bought a black cotton twill for the pockets, to match the originals, and buttons to imitate the originals but in gold. I was a little shocked at how much haberdashery was required, but why buy something for $7 when you can make it yourself for $92 worth of materials?
As expected, not everything lined up at desired. But from this, I could determine what went wrong and fix it on the pattern so that this doesn’t happen with my real suit.
One particular point of interest in this build was the waistband, a two-piece monstrosity that I had a little fun conceiving to match the project. First, the real waistband has this bias-cut blue striped fabric as facing. I decided to replace the blue striped fabric with a Christmas tie:
This had a certain visual similarity while mantaining the absurd tackiness of the new outfit. The real waistband has some bias binding and grosgrain ribbing as well – since my outer fabric was covered in a gold stripe, I decided to choose gold as the accent color for the waistband as well.
This waistband was a real exercise in learning how mass-market factories make trousers. It consists of 6 layers, variously folded, sewn, and topstitched into place. Many pieces that could have been anchored to other pieces with simple seams had not been anchored at all, merely pressed into place and topstitched through, which might be simple for a huge warehouse with special machines but very challenging for a home sewer.
There are also many variations of ban roll and bias-cut canvas, and though both are standard for trouser waistbands, locating matching ones was a challenge.
But I persevered, and ultimately was pleased with the results:
With that tackled, I still had much to do. The back pocket construction created a strange geometric challenge, and I had to enlist extra help to solve it. But solve it we did.
The inner seams of the real GAP pants are bound in blue bias tape, so naturally I used gold for my own pair. I wanted everything to be as true to the originals as possible. Working with bias tape is actually not particularly challenging once you get the hang of it, and gold bias tape is not tough to acquire.
Everything came together, little-by-little, piece by piece.
The real Tennant trousers have a brown zipper. With my salvaged zipper from the GAP waistband, I purchased a gold zipper and removed the extra teeth until it was the exact length I needed for my pair. Fly areas are probably the trickiest part of a pair of pants, but even they aren’t so tough with some concentration.
Seeing some of this stuff come together is a bit like watching a magician demonstrate how an illusion works. But that kind of thing has always been fascinating to me, and I loved every moment (that I wasn’t yelling at my sewing machine, that is).
Finally, in the end, I managed to finish the trousers. They were exactly as wonderful and awful as I had imagined. But they didn’t mean much on their own. I knew I still had much work to do.
Way back in late 2017, Good Omens was filming and the first set photos were finally released. They involved Tennant and Sheen posing on set, but it was unclear if these would be the primary looks for Crowley and Aziraphale or not.
At the time I was deep into my Newt Scamander project and truly did not want to get into yet another Tennant costume or expensive screen accuracy rabbit hole, but I was already a fan of Good Omens and, of course, David Tennant, so I thought I would have some fun and do a quick look up of the outfit items. The outfit being relatively non-descript, I couldn’t turn up much (though it turns out that this cropped jacket is one of the only off-the-rack pieces he sports in the series, by Balenciaga) but just for kicks I wanted to see if I could find a similar belt, because that buckle was just so cool. Within minutes of Google searching, I was flabbergasted.
It was an Etsy listing. For the belt. Like, the real one. This was definitely no knock off. The pictures had just come out that day, and this was spot-on in every regard. Not even the fastest RPF propmakers could have done this so quickly. But then I noticed:
There wasn’t even a guarantee that this buckle would be part of his primary look – it could have been a one-off for a flashback or something. I put aside thoughts of ever picking up Crowley. I had enough on my plate as it was. (For the record, actually, my Instagram post on the topic at the time suggests that it was originally $418, so the price has gone up with demand, it seems.)
Fast-forward to the recent present, researching for this project. It turns out that, yes, this is the actual, screen-worn belt, and it was part of his primary look.
I was trying to keep my costs low. But this snake belt is a very prominent feature of his look, and is so unique, I didn’t know what to do. I put the belt problem aside and went to work on the other accessories.
The sunglasses primarily worn by Crowley (to hide his demon eyes, of course) are Valentino VA2003‘s and once identified went quickly out-of-stock. They also ran in the $250 range, which was higher than I wanted to go. But I couldn’t locate a pair anyway, so I needed to find the next best. Thankfully, coming late to the Crowley game meant that some of that hard work had been done for me, and a rather decent pair of knock-offs was ready and waiting for me on the advice of a friend.
The Ronsou knock-offs are ultra cheap and only have two big points of contention: they lack the screws on the lenses of the Valentinos (something most people don’t notice anyway), and they have an extra bridge running across the top. How hard can that be to remove?
Apparently very hard. But after acquiring some bolt cutters (BOLT CUTTERS) I managed to get them off. There are some other minor variations from the Valentinos, but they would be more than sufficient. A success!
Next, and possibly most important, was the necklace.
Necklace? Scarf? Even the RPF wasn’t sure of what was happening here. Having seen it on the display at FIDM (right), I knew it was some kind of knitted metal. Or metal-like material. Was it a scarf? What do I even search for?
Many hours of Google-ing terms turned up very little, but I finally caught wind of a few cosplayers snagging a £14 item from some UK clothing company called Wallis. It turns out that the original find was made by an author and cosplayer named L. D. Lapinski, and I think there is a decent case to be made that it is indeed the SA item. If that is true, it is some kind of polyester fabric scarf with a decorative metal chain attachment on the end, and some gems that required removal.
Now, I’m not fully convinced that this IS the real deal. While examining the original at FIDM, I was pretty convinced the thing was truly made of metal. But the point is moot, as this is, of course, no longer available and impossible to track down.
Thankfully, while ogling the SA snake belt, I fell down an Etsy rabbit hole and managed to come across one of the best replicas I’ve seen to date. For a very reasonable price, I picked one up, and I couldn’t be happier with it. What’s it made of? Well… honestly I have no idea. I does appear to have been handknitted with some sort of… metallic-y… cord. With hardware on the end. I don’t know guys, this isn’t my area of expertise.
My only niggle is that it appears very shiny and silver in comparison to the more steely, dull one used on screen… maybe one day I’ll airbrush it gray, but for now I am more than content and can move on. (For the record, a number of great propmakers on Etsy offer replicas of varying degrees of accuracy – I’d highly recommend shopping there for your own. Support local artists!)
What’s that you notice? The belt in that photo looks like… the real one?
Yeah. I did it guys. I broke my own cost rule and splurged. I could have purchased some knock-off buckles and made my own snake belt for much cheaper, but here’s my thought: I am supporting a local artist with their actual business. The maker, Strange Loop Jewellery, is a London-based craftsman who caught the attention of the production, and made an excellent piece. I didn’t give that $500 to Paul Smith, or Valentino, or, god forbid, some yahoo “collector” who managed to score one for $35 on eBay who then decided to scalp the thing, this went directly to an artist who makes these for a living. It’s a unique original piece, and it came to me wrapped in an old map of Paris with my name written on it in Sharpie marker, and it is a thing of beauty.
This left one more big-ticket accessory – the oft-overlooked watch.
The first time I saw the photo at left, a BTS edited for Tumblr, I thought “What the hell? That must be some kind of magic demon gadget they’ve added for the show… right?”
But actually, no. It’s just a watch that costume designer Claire Anderson thought would be the kind of thing Crowley would wear. After watching the show I was struck by the fact that I actually… never noticed it. Subsequent rewatches show that it does actually get some reasonable airtime. We even get some beautiful close-ups, like this one:
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for a cool $18,450, a DEVON Works Tread 1A can be yours!
It’s still not as fancy as Tennant’s >$200K A. Lange & Söhne timepiece from Jessica Jones, but $20K is still far beyond impossible for my budget. At some point, I will commission a prop replica. But that is for a later date.
Because I’m a true completionist (okay, maybe not a $20K completionist, but you know what I mean!), the chain necklace also needed to be sourced. I had no interest in trying to track down some unverifiable vintage piece that probably never existed anyways, so I went right to Etsy to follow on the heels of the other accessories.
Man, this “not caring about ultra screen accuracy” thing was really working in my favor!
But there is still one hurdle to tackle for that real spark of authenticity in a Crowley cosplay: The eyes.
As if he wasn’t already beautiful enough to look at, Crowley’s demon eyes are a really wonderful touch to the character, and the kind of thing that can really pull the look together. On the advice of a friend once again, I turned my sights to Uniqso for an affordable sclera option that looked great on other cosplayers I’d seen.
Overall I am very pleased with them, but I do have a concern. I went right for these scleras, as they are a great option for Crowley’s Eden eyes.
But Crowley’s eyes change throughout the series.
It’s a beautiful, subtle storytelling device. When we first meet Crowley in Eden, he’s obviously the Serpent that tempts Eve into eating the apple, so he’s a literal snake. When he becomes “human,” he retains these full, sclera-style snake eyes. But as he spends more and more time as a human – “goes native” so to speak – his eyes actually change and the “snake” part of them shrinks to his iris/pupil area only.
I’m not doing the Eden costume, so a non-sclera option will be needed.
I have done a lot of Googling (again, this isn’t really my area of expertise) and the “cat” eye is a far more popular style than snake, and I’m having trouble finding a lens that really has all the hallmarks I’m trying to hit. The lenses they made for the show are so beautiful, it is hard to want to downgrade to one of these cheaper, flat, cartoony options available online, but I also don’t want to drop huge sums of money into custom contacts when I’ll wear sunglasses most of the time anyway. I have a few options I will be trying out in the next few weeks, so I will update when there is more to say on that front (this is a work in progress, after all!).
Whew! I’ve never had to spend so much time on an area of cosplay I know so little about! For my Halloween photoshoot, I had my sister draw the snake tattoo on my temple. It’s such a cool part of the look. In the future, I’m not sure what I will do, though another lovely Etsy artist makes them as temp tattoos. These kinds of little things are very important, as they really give you that aura of authenticity. Even if the specific “pieces” of a cosplay aren’t perfectly “screen accurate,” having them all together gives an aesthetic that feels genuine. Even having a bunch of SA pieces, but lacking these details, can make your cosplay feel inauthentic, even though what you do have is flawless. So a little focus on these small touches goes a long way.
So, that’s all set to go then. I had exhausted everything non-clothing related about the costume. Next, I needed to decide what to do about the actual outfit itself.
Is there something specific you’d like to hear me blog about? Drop a comment below! Follow the blog to be notified of updates!
Life is a complicated beast, and due to a bevy of major life changes, my cosplay life has taken a bit of a backseat in recent years. As interests and hobbies come and go in relation to the necessities of life, sometimes people let go of their old hobbies and move on.
Apparently, cosplay is not one of those hobbies for me.
It’s been hard to juggle everything in my life with this time- and money-consuming hobby, but I’ve recently made time in my schedule to work slowly and steadily on a few projects, the most current of which is a slight departure from my usual fare:
Okay, it’s still David Tennant, but I wanted to change up how I normally do this.
First and most importantly for me, I wanted to alter my definition of “screen accurate” in favor of something more useful. Around the time the Newt Scamander outfit was popular, I did a deep dive on the costume, even volunteering at FIDM in a bid to handle the costume (alas, Warner Bros. handled it separately), and discussing reweaves with various Scottish mills – I’m positive that Misan fabrics has my email posted on some wall somewhere with “Do not engage” written underneath it after all the pestering I did regarding the wool/silk suitings and the sequel costumes.
In the end, I never actually made a full costume, because I was so focused on the “screen accuracy” of it all that the project became too expensive and too overwhelming and now I have nothing to show for it. I did not want to repeat that, nor do I want that to become my normal cosplay pattern.
Secondly, I wanted to build this quickly, without too much hard labor on unimportant details (see #1). It doesn’t matter how painstaking my work is… if it never gets finished.
And thirdly, I wanted to keep it in a reasonable budget. Making cosplay fun requires me to not feel guilty about it.
So next I went to start my journey.
The first thing to do was to determine which costume I would create – he wears many in the show. But this was an easy one.
The Crowley Prime outfit (as I like to call it) is so stylish, so sleek, and so recognizable that it would be almost silly not to start there.
Next I needed to identify the pieces and their hallmarks. Thankfully, as you can see above, I was lucky enough to visit the Hero costume in LA at FIDM in 2019. This was (As it always is) indispensably helpful. From this alone I was able to create a breakdown of the costume, as follows:
Phew. Already this was shaping up to be a larger project than I’d imagined!
But I had my work cut out for me and I was excited to get started.
After some research into these pieces, I was dismayed – nearly the entire costume had been made from scratch by Angels Costumes. Woof. But I was no longer committed to an unachievable level of “screen accuracy,” so reasonable substitutes should suffice here in order to push the project along. But after looking simply for the basics (starting with the jeans and the dress shirt), it quickly became clear that I could get nowhere near my intended target off-the-rack. At least some level of custom tailoring for all pieces would be needed to achieve even a slightly lower-tiered look.
So I got to work.
I invite you to take this journey with me, where we will deep dive on all of the above-mentioned items, and you can watch a full from-scratch cosplay come to life.
More to come.
Something about this cosplay build you want to make sure I talk about? Drop a comment below!
For the Doctor Who cosplay community, the Tenth Doctor endures as a favorite, and for the discerning Tenth Doctor cosplayer, few pieces have created as much buzz, pride, and heartbreak as having (or not having) the proper tie to top off the look.
David Tennant wore 15 different ties in his time as the Doctor – Twelve in his original tenure as the Tenth Doctor, another in his Tenth Doctor return in the 50th Anniversary special, and one as the Fourteenth Doctor, plus two bow ties also worn during his Tenth Doctor tenure. Each Tenth Doctor 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(Tie 1), 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). His main Tenth Doctor bow tie, a black one worn with his tuxedos, was also likely off-the-rack, but the brown spotted one worn as human alter ego John Smith in Human Nature/The Family of Blood (right) appears to have not had any kind of label inside and can therefore be presumed to have been custom-made by Angels Costumes, who supplied the outfit. Each proper necktie being off-the-rack (unlike Matt Smith’s many BBC-made bow ties) means that originals exist scattered around the world, which has lead many cosplayers (myself included) to the hubristic task of tracking down and collecting them all (a task, I must note, that nobody has ever achieved). Some still (very) occasionally show up on eBay and other such websites, but when they do they can often fetch a steep price.
Another tie, chronicled here for the sake of thoroughness, was purchased by Louise Page but was never used – and more recently added here is the knit tie used by Tennant in the 60th Anniversary specials. This knit tie was also presumably purchased off-the-rack by current costume designer Pam Downe and was, at one point, also available retail. Hunt at your own risk.
Tailor/costumer (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
Vintage 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. Due to its use in the first promotional images of Tennant as The Doctor, most toys and figurines use this tie as their reference.
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 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 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.
Worn in The Girl in the Fireplace, Love and Monsters, Blink, and The End of Time.
Tie 5: Thomas Nash
A brown tie with a gold and blue geometric circle motif.
Worn only in The Idiot’s Lantern.
Tie 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.
Tie 7: Giorgio Armani
The most commonly-used brown suit tie, a brown/blue weave with spots of brown ovals inset with blue squares. A favorite of both Tennant and Page.
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 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 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 Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks, The 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.
Tie 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 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.
(Fun fact, when David Tennant left Doctor Who, he was allowed to take a full costume home as a memento. This is the tie he currently has in his personal possession, which he would wear again to promote a virtual appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden in 2020.)
Tie 12: Massimo Dutti
A shiny 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.
Tie 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.
Tie 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.
Tie 16: Hawes & Curtis
For his (still upcoming) appearance in the 60th Anniversary specials, and for his reveal at the end of The Power of the Doctor, David wears a 2.5″ wide knitted Hawes & Curtis 1913 Silver Tie in a silver and gray heathered silk. Only one (to my knowledge) has been located by a collector, despite its relatively recent manufacture, though this option from SuitedMan is a close substitute. Many thanks to Joe Plumb for generously sharing reference images and information about this tie.
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.
We (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!”
“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 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 in the end.
I 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.
Unfortunately, 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 a purple-gray 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 has never been properly sourced, but a few alternatives have turned up, including some custom-dyed options that are no longer available. For your own replica, I recommend hitting the pavement and swatching some local medium-to-heavyweight linens.
UPDATE: The scaley fabric being relatively popular, it occasionally goes out-of-stock. I am no longer currently accepting commissions for fabric or waistcoats for the time being.
If 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.
I 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.
This 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.
EDIT: Now, several years after altering this coat and writing this blog post, it has since come to my attention that an internal pleat that I patterned out of my reline (see above photos of pattern piece) 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.
Even 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 – I 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.
Overall, the coat off-the-rack is excellent. (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.
The 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.
Where 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, or from my Etsy store. A simple replacement, one that I did minutes before my photocall with Michelle Gomez.
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.
EDIT: Unfortunately, Abbyshot no longer carries Doctor Who merchandise. Still, if you can get your hands on one, it is much recommended.