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 “plaid” 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’ve been learning how to tailor for myself 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 fitted 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 (okay, I’ll stop saying “armscye” now).

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. The seams are simple sewn, the allowance pressed towards the center, and a topstitch sewn to keep the allowance in place. If that sounds reasonably simple, that’s because it is, actually. With minimal swearing, I created my new seams.

All 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, so I sewed those in too (I would later find them too bulky and replace them with much smaller ones – the original coat didn’t have any shoulder pads at all). 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!


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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.

Magnoli Clothiers has created itself at least 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 12 of the 13 ties worn by Tennant on the show and the embroidered tie worn by Matt Smith in The Eleventh Hour – the only one he’s missing is 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 replicated to levels of accuracy ranging from “great” to “flawless.”

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 (not to mention that truly accurate color matching is literally impossible without a physical sample in hand to match to).

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 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. There are 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.

However, the proper weave of the tie has finally 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.


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!

UPDATE: The updated tie, a gorgeous piece, is available for purchase from Magnoli Clothiers and, well, it does NOT disappoint!

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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 the infamous holey jumper. 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 only a small amount remained, which tailor Chris Kerr would go on to make single replica pair from. 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 my print of the fabric has been matched back to the screen worn trousers.


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, but those are long gone. I have uploaded my pattern rendering to Spoonflower for custom tailoring (swatches of which have, again, 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 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, apparently!), 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.

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 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 £200, 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 made a pattern from my pants), it’s more accurate than finding a pair of pajamas.

Click here to order the screen accurate trousers 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. 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, seriously. It was exhausting) 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. 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. Good luck hunting on eBay!

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.)

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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 I could be.

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 a fusible interfacing to stabilize the stretch fabric and add body to the front panels.

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 (see image). 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!

But it was moving forward. Next came constructing the 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 – unfortunately my little ironing board was leaving all manner of hash marks on my stretchy fabric!). 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, 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. The cotton back had dyed to a nice dark grayish-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 (the real screen-worn buttons, it turned out, were brown), 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 linen! Not such a far cry from cotton!

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. 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? Of course not. 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.

Happy cosplaying!


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Cosplay Build: The Silver Matt Smith Waistcoat

There are some fabrics that, when gone, are impossible to truly replace.

For the screen accurate live-action cosplayer, this can be a major stumbling block.

Until Abbyshot released their 7b frock coat, the only real option was to drop the £1500-£2500 it would cost to get a coat made bespoke in the proper fabric, which was extremely limited in supply and a painful £330/m. Fortunately, companies like Abbyshot and Magnoli Clothiers spend significant time and money reweaving some of these fabrics and make them available to a larger audience at a price not quite so eye-watering.

One such fabric that has NOT been rewoven is the beautiful silver and purple scales waistcoat worn by Matt Smith off-and-on throughout S7b.


1crop2The fabric itself is a shot silk jacquard fabric with a lot of texture. The base fabric is gray-silver silk shot with dark purple, with a gray-silver jacquard pattern woven throughout.journeywaistcoattexturecrop The way the base has been woven gives it a lovely iridescence, sometimes appearing purple and sometimes appearing medium gray (though in reality it’s quite dark), and the jacquard pattern is notably raised, giving it a beautiful texture that really pops in some of the more extreme, theatrical studio lighting of episodes like Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (pictured left) and Cold War.

The original fabric, naturally, is long gone. (EDIT: Or so we thought at the time!) I’ve been on the lookout for a suitable alternative fabric for a while now, but I’ve never found anything even remotely close. There’s a lot of boxes to check: Purple isn’t a very popular color, and purple/silver iridescent jacquard silk is something I’ve literally never seen. The common concession here is to go for a plain medium gray, and I’m okay with that concession given that that’s how it often appears onscreen. Beyond that, the hardest part is finding a fabric with a textured weave in a scale pattern or similar at an appropriate size. I’ve investigated a number of fabrics in countless styles and come up with nothing. Until one day when I wasn’t looking for it at all…



Turns out it was the backside of a stretch piqué fabric and it did not come in gray, silver, or purple. I was a little disappointed but it DID come in this neutral beige so I figured, well, perhaps I could dye it gray or purple. So I took home a swatch.

Upon researching the fabric, I discovered that it was 50% cotton, 47% polyester and 3% spandex. That seemed a little strange to me; it was as if half the threads were 100% cotton and the other half were poly/spandex. And it did stretch one direction and not the other. Maybe, just maybe…

So, keeping my fingers crossed, I bought some cotton dye and some poly dye, cut my swatch into three pieces, and did a test. Low and behold!:


My prayers were answered! The warp was poly/spandex and the weft was cotton! The top swatch was the original, the middle swatch the poly dye, and the bottom swatch the cotton dye. That meant I could theoretically dye the warp to a silver/gray and the weft to a purple and have an incredibly close fabric match! And less than a month away, Gallifrey One was calling, just begging me to secretly construct this waistcoat and give it a big debut. After a lot of talking it through, I decided to take the project on.

And what a big project it would turn out to be.

Fabric dyeing is a damn pain on the best of days, and trying to match two separate colors on the same fabric to a sample I do not have a swatch of with store-bought, premixed dyes turned out to be exactly as frustrating as it sounds.

IMG_0079cropI had to purchase all of the equipment needed, as I previously owned none of it. My own forays into dyes had consisted of coffee dyeing yarn for my Tom Baker scarves and that I could do in a food-safe pot with a little white vinegar. Stovetop dyes aren’t that expensive but when you end up having to purchase a bunch because you keep running out before you’re satisfied with a color, the cost adds up quickly.

IMG_0079cropcropThe initial color test was promising. I bought some gray poly dye and together with the purple cotton dye my fabric looked better every second. The most important detail that came to light was that between the diamond shapes, the warp and weft were plain woven together, very similar to how the original was made, and when dyed different colors it took on that iridescence that makes the original look so unique, at different times either purple or silver. IMG_0096editNot to mention that the luster of the polyester was a perfect representation of the shine of the original silk.

But getting my colors dark enough was trouble. Doing the cotton first would leave the fabric too gray when done, doing the poly first would leave it too purple. Even after rinsing, the two bled into each other too much. And how well can one color match when you don’t have a swatch? IMG_0110editThe guesswork was stressful, not to mention that the color of the dry fabric was significantly lighter than the wet color, making it hard to gauge if I was getting the depth of color I desired or not. And the stainless steel pot I bought wasn’t big enough to really hold a full yard with enough room to move freely, so I had to use my kitchen sink. My PORCELAIN kitchen sink.


Mistakes were made.

But eventually I came up with a color I was happy with. I took all the soak times and dye/water ratios and replicated the process perfectly!


…or something.

By this time I had spent several days, many hours, and a lot of money to get to this place. It looked good next to the frock coat and time was running out until the convention, so I went with it.

IMG_0428editThe next step in the process was the pattern. A friend of mine had spent a lot of time drafting a pattern for the waistcoat and he was kind enough to let me copy it. IMG_0409editBut he’s a bit taller and more athletically built than I am, so it needed a little alteration.

Many hours, cups of coffee and/or wine, and yards of muslin later, I had a mock-up that I was pleased with.

411_003116cropThe fit of the waistcoat is unique, with a fitted waist but really loose sleeve holes. Also of note, while it appeared to have a dark gray backing, it was lined in… muslin. Just normal, regular old white cotton. I would later learn that apparently this was historically common for this style of waistcoat.

There was also some confusion about the number of pockets on the waistcoat. Some people online were convinced it has four pockets, though others were certain they only saw three. Some digging for photos revealed…


…both were correct?

Apparently, all of the waistcoats made for Matt Smith have a changing number of pockets, sometimes three and sometimes four, for no good reason at all. Arbitrarily, I decided to do four pockets.

buttoncomparisonsmithThere was also the button issue. For some episodes, most notably in Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (the only episode where he wears this waistcoat sans frock), the waistcoat sports some standard four-hole 16mm horn buttons, which he wears with the Double Albert chain. Other times, such as in Hide, he sports silk passementerie buttons in… warm gray? Silver? Brown? The colors change with every photo. These buttons were (surprise) handmade and hand-dyed by a woman who then retired from the BBC and has since passed away, so finding the real ones isn’t even an option.


The obvious choice would be to go with horn buttons, but a friend of mine managed to scrounge up some silk passementerie buttons in white a while ago (long since discontinued, of course), so the plan was to dye those to a reasonable color and go with it.

With only a few days left before Gallifrey One, I dedicated every spare moment I had to the project. I’d never made a waistcoat before (in fact, never made any garment before), and although I was assured they were simple garments to make, I copied a custom pattern from my friend with no instruction manual and had to guess at how the thing was to be constructed. I knew it would take a steep learning curve, but I was determined.

I went to Joann’s and purchased the last of my fabrics. Normally I’d hit the Fashion District but I had neither the time nor the money. I wanted a dark gray charmeuse for the back but had to settle for a warm, medium-gray cotton. I also picked up a medium-to-light weight interfacing, some purple thread, and notions.

I was ready to begin.

Continued in part 2!


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Cuff ‘Em, Boys!

As I started discussing in my last post, I’m all about the little details. I’m also learning how to sew and alter clothing, so it made sense to help cut my teeth on a modification detail that’s been bugging me for a while: The cuffs on Matt Smith’s S6/S7 jeans!


These are proper cuffs, not rolled hems. And it’s not a detail that the proper G-Star Raws in Blade Slim come with, either, meaning that it’s up to the owner of a genuine pair whether or not they want to alter their rare, long-discontinued $250 designer jeans. For a long time I’ve been putting it off, but I recently decided to undertake the project, confident that I could pull it off without ruining my pants. I also received this beauty for Christmas:


So I could do the mods at home and not burden or worry somebody else by using their machine!


I happen to own three pairs of G-Stars at this point, top left being the SA S6 G-Stars, top left being the dark navy pair I talked about last week, and the middle bottom being the S7b G-Stars. I only went to cuff the two accurate ones as the navy ones are actually slightly too short anyways (they’re mislabeled 33×32 when they’re actually 33×31). Under my OttLite, you can see the slight color variations between the denim styles.

IMG_9758I started with my S6 jeans, which are surged in dark navy thread.

The first thing to do was to turn the pant legs inside out and pin the cuff into place, so I took care of that. IMG_9761I then noticed that seam allowance on the inside was pretty sloppy – that would need to be ironed out in order to reduce bulk for later. It had actually spent so long folded over itself like that that separating the two allowances was a bit of trouble, and quite a bit of lint had collected inside (ew), so it took a little longer than I had anticipated to get it cleaned and pressed flat. It required me to unpin it so that I could iron it all the way up to the hem. So finally, I’d sorted out all of my seam trouble and had it repinned properly.


IMG_9769The actual cuffs are around 1″ wide, sometimes a little wider, so I pinned these with a bit of lee-way at around 1.5″ – the actual cuff length ends at the hem stitching because that’s where it’ll be sewn down.

Which was, of course, the next step!

The stitching needs to run along the already existing stitch line because the hem of the pants needs to fold under the cuff and out of sight on the inside of the jeans (it’s also a bit bulky to sew through the hem, and even more difficult to get it to press). Luckily, the leg opening is the perfect size to fit around the end of my machine if I pulled off the storage compartment in the front, so on I slid the first leg!


A little bit of back-stitching and off I went, sewing the hem to the pant-leg along the already existing stitch line in black thread. Piece of cake! You can barely even see where the new stitching was!


IMG_9777The next step was to flip the pant leg right-side out again. You can see at left how the hem now naturally wants to fold up into the jeans. We’ll press them a little later to secure it in place.

IMG_9782Once the leg is right-side out again, it looks done, but it’s not quite there yet. The last detail is to secure the cuff so that it doesn’t flip open while you’re wearing them. The best way to do this is, again, to simply stitch over the seam that already exists, to hide the the fact that there’s new stitching running up the cuff. I was careful to ensure that I lined my seams up (details and all that) and sewed it down.

IMG_9785This is actually trickier than it sounds because you’re sewing through what feels like a jillion layers of denim (yes, a jillion is a technical term). Not only do you have the three layers of fabric you’ve sewn on top of each other, you have the extra three folded layers at the opening from the hem that’s underneath plus, if you’re off-center a little, the extra seam allowance layer. It’s also a pain because it’s such a short area that sometimes the feed dogs don’t want to catch and move the fabric. So, with lots of jamming the fabric under the foot and pushing to get it to catch on the feed dogs, I finally had both sides of my cuff sewn to the pant leg, effectively securing it in place. I repeated all these steps for the second leg (which was already waiting for me, ironed and pinned).


The finished cuff measures about 1.25″ so I’m pleased. It really didn’t take very long either, maybe a half hour to an hour tops.

IMG_9792I repeated this process for the S7b black buttoned G-Stars. These were probably even easier to work on than the previous pair, and I was able to blast through all of it without much issue.

That is, until I got to the last cuff-securing seam.

IMG_9797Though very bulky, I hadn’t been having much issue getting the fold to sew. There was a little complaining from my machine but not much actual trouble. Naturally, that all waited until my last stitch to finally be a pain.

No matter how much I tried, I could neither get it to sew straight or keep it from bunching on bottom. I gave it maybe three or four goes before attempting to maybe change the tension. I figured it was probably a tension issue since the spot is so much bulkier than the rest of it but I hadn’t had any issues on the rest of the project, so I didn’t think much of it. After some unsuccessful attempts at fixing the tension, my machine clearly showed me what my problem was.



I had spent the entire project sewing on a needle that was not meant for denim at all, let alone such a bulky seam, and the needle finally gave up on me (EDIT: Yes, I do realize in retrospect that I should have unstitched the original cuff to reduce bulk in this area. Oops!). I consulted my manual and changed needles to the PROPER strength needle and finished the cuff without much issue.IMG_9810 I even had enough time left in the day to do some quick hand-stitching to help secure the old hem to the underside of the pants.

IMG_9814Immediately thereafter I went out to invest in a thimble – nevermore will I hand sew into denim without one! I even took some time to secure the buttonhole on my navy blue pair – I was on a roll with this DIY stuff!

I’m extremely happy with the results of my adventure and learned a lot about my machine and the importance of needle size! After some pressing, my G-Stars are now fully screen accurate and ready to go for Gallifrey One!


And don’t think for a second that this will be the extent of my adventures in sewing – on the contrary, I’m just whetting my appetite for creation! There’s plenty more to follow, some of which I’m already working on. Being able to say “I did it myself!” is so satisfying, there’s no way I could stop at just collar tabs and trouser cuffs. In fact…


…there may or may not be a few “cool” items showing up on my Etsy very soon! Keep checking in for updates!

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Something Blue – The Donation Station

IMG_8131editIf you saw my last post, you’ll know that I’ve been putting a lot of time and energy into putting together a few screen accurate Twelfth Doctor cosplays. Though initially unimpressed, through Peter Capaldi’s incredible performances, the look has grown on me.

As someone who doesn’t make a ton of money, I’ve become extremely adept at eBaying and bargaining for the expensive pieces, because I’ve been struck with the screen accuracy sickness. For the most part, it’s a fine plan, because a lot of the pieces are/were retailed and are purchasable (the All Saints Mode Merino hoodie, for example). For the rest, I can usually put aside the money from a Tom Baker Scarf or two to offset the cost.

IMG_8643cropBut today I find myself in a conundrum. In my The Girl Who Died cosplay, I find myself, for the first time, in wearing a near 100% production made, screen accurate cosplay. No pieces are alts or replicas, with the exception of the Loake boots (which will be replaced with the correct Doc Marten Afflecks in time) and the ring. The shirt I bought from House of Fraser before they sold out, the hoodie from All Saints in ink, the trousers straight from Mendoza, made by the guy who made them for Capaldi from the actual bolt of fabric. The only thing that couldn’t have been stolen from the back of the wardrobe van is the ring, which will also be replaced when I have that money to throw down.

And that’s my hope when a cosplay I want to do seems really simple. I want to make sure that every detail is clinched in tight, so that when people see me, they’re struck by the cosplay – it’s like the character has walked out of the screen instead of like a guy dressing up to resemble the character.

Which brings me to the elephant in the room:

What am I going to do about the coat?

peter_capaldi_promo_shot_cropOriginally mistaken for a Crombie, the coat was made in-house by the BBC in a classic, three-button style in navy wool with a red/navy irridescent lining (though the lining changes to a plain burgundy lining for S9). It’s probably the one truly iconic piece he wears, aside from the horrid Paul Smith Jumper, and is a wonderfully simple, understated garment.

That said, I don’t understand how so many places offering replicas have gotten it so wrong. I understand wanting to keep costs down and sacrificing details of fabric quality and weaving custom linings, but of what’s available (and as we wait for Abbyshot to throw their hat in the ring), I’ve been disappointed with the cuts and qualities of the factory-produced replicas – none of them can stand up to an otherwise fully screen accurate cosplay. So I’ve decided that the only way to do this is to go with a custom, bespoke or made-to-measure garment from a true tailor.

The rub of it is, a top quality tailor using top quality materials is always reflected in the price. While high cost doesn’t scare me, I simply don’t make enough money to just commission a coat willy-nilly. I’ve been agonizing for a while now on how to fund this most important piece of cosplay in time for Gallifrey One this coming year, without simply running a GoFundMe. I think I’ve found the perfect solution:


I happen to be a huge fan of both minimalist and tactile art. After brainstorming for weeks, I realized that creating these fabric representations of our favorite doctors was one of the best ways to do this! The greatest part is that I can use them to pass on the one thing I’d been truly wanting to get my hands on since the beginning – a swatch of the S8 lining. This is way more interesting than just cutting up fabric swatches and mailing them around – this is a conversation piece to decorate your cosplay display case with, or frame on your wall!capaldicardscale

The card itself is 4.25″ x 6.375″ and features a coat silhouette, patterned and hand constructed by yours truly. The “shirt” is a white cotton poplin, and the blue and black fabrics are wool costume felts. They have not been color matched but are a good approximation of the real wools. I know that the real waistcoat is actually a dark navy wool and not black, but the options for off-the-rack wool felts are extremely limited, and this was the best option for contrast purposes.

12308942_10153405713069833_1556364048_nThe lining has been provided by Steve Ricks. He was generous enough to donate offcuts of his lining reweave for my project, and the fabric is truly beautiful. The weave is 100% silk and is a damn good match to the genuine one.

The real buttons used on Capaldi’s coats and waistcoat are readily available from plenty of shops that sell haberdashery… in the UK. IMG_8094cropNot only that, but they are genuine horn buttons that are a painful £2 PER BUTTON for the ligne used on the front of the coat. Because they’re so expensive and I’ll need so many for this project, I decided to foray into unknown territory… and resin cast my own!


The project has been easy but frustrating. Resin casting is a lot of trial and error and these buttons are a little tricky due to their shape and size (see photo above). Even so, I’ve managed to get some damn good casts made! Pretty soon I’ll also be selling full sets of SA resin casts (stay tuned for that!) but for now, I am using my resin casts on my cards to showcase the screen accurate button without breaking my own bank.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to help out a local cosplayer AND get something awesome in return, this is your opportunity!

If you would like to donate to the project, please feel free to PayPal me at If you would like to support me by purchasing one of my cards, read on!

What you get:

A beautiful display card featuring a sample of the SA buttons and TWO swatches of SA lining, representing our beloved Peter Capaldi.

IMG_9194editThese exclusive cards are available on Etsy and eBay for $38 (shipped domestic), but if you order through my website, you can get them for for $32 (shipped domestic, $36 shipped International) AND the first 60 cards made will also be hand-numbered.

Each card is hand constructed by yours truly, which means that they are all unique pieces and quality-controlled by myself.

12325218_10153405695944833_379183373_nThis is the perfect gift for you or for the Capaldi fanatic in your life (brace yourselves – Christmas is coming!).
If these are successful, I have plans to adventure into other Doctors and eventually run them as a set. But Who might be next? Allons-y and we’ll see!

I cannot contain my excitement to be both creating these cards and completing what is going to become my new main cosplay. Every sold card goes directly into helping me afford the beautiful cherry on top of this wonderful cosplay.

If you’re interested, please contact me or donate at



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The Clock is Striking Twelve

When Peter Capaldi’s costume for Doctor Who was revealed back in January of 2014, I was relieved. I didn’t care for it at all. It was boring. It lacked an iconography present in both David Tennant and Matt Smith’s looks on the show. And I was thankful for this because it meant I didn’t feel obligated to drop thousands of dollars into a new Doctor Who cosplay.

Cut to nearly two years later and:


How did this change occur in me? Probably because I think Peter Capaldi is KILLING IT as The Doctor. It’s very possible that he will be my favorite Doctor by the time he finally leaves the show (thankfully not for at least another season!). To be honest, it was a slippery slope once the Label Lab t-shirts were ID’d and readily available online (now sadly sold out) – after possessing both of them and desperately wanting the Crombie anyways, it became a very expensive hop-skip-and-jump into the SA Capaldi ocean.


Right now I’ve got the two big Series 9 looks on lockdown and I have plans for Series 8 in the works. So let’s run through these breakdowns. I’ve been doing a damn lot of research lately and there’s a lot of little details I see a lot of Capaldi cosplayers get wrong (even if you’re not doing screen accurate, you can still keep a eye on the details to keep the silhouette and overall feel authentic), so hopefully this post can give a bit of guidance to other Twelves.

maxresdefaultFirst up are the Sonic Sunglasses (why does everyone hate these? They’re just a fun little prop that Capaldi rocks and we know the screwdriver will be back eventually. Calm down everybody). Yes, it’s common knowledge that they are Ray Ban Wayfarers but the Wayfarer is a classic style that’s been around since 1952 and there are a lot of variations. The style you’re looking for is the Original Wayfarer Classic RB2140 901 50-22 with Green Classic G-15 lenses. While that may sound super specific, it’s really the default classic Wayfarer style and they retail for a relatively inexpensive $150 from You can also find these pretty easily for a decent price on eBay, but beware of fakes.

IMG_8098editNext we have the infamous pink henley worn in The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar.

I am a lucky SOB.

A friend of mine was touring Europe recently and dragged his girlfriend to every single H&M he could find (twelve in about a week I think was the final number) hoping to scrounge up some hint of these dusty pink bastards. His only stroke of luck was on a little archipelago owned by Portugal called Madeira, where he managed to uncover a few (all spoken for – sorry). The photo posted above was taken under an OttLite and is a fairly accurate representation of the color. To be fair, it’s a very tricky color that seems to change depending on its mood. I intend on Pantone matching my henley eventually, but for now your best bet is to buy one in white from H&M and dye it pink. At barely $10 a henley, it’ll hardly break your bank.

henleycropOne detail I see most people ignore is that Capaldi’s top button has been removed from his henley (more accurately, all the buttons have been removed and it’s been sewn 2/3 shut).IMG_8115crop It’s really a good thing for people wearing dyed henleys as H&M matches the button to the main fabric color – this way nobody has to go looking for a single pink button to switch out with their white ones. Simply grab a seam ripper and cut the sucker off and you’re actually more screen accurate than you were before! If you really want a screen accurate one, keep your eyes on eBay, as the likelihood of them popping up there is quite high.

Moving from the inside out, we have the well-documented Label Lab shirts in the Misty Mountain (MA/WF) and Negative Flower (GWD) prints, both limited editions (naturally). I bought my Negative Flower straight from House of Fraser when they were still available (some of the best customer service I’ve ever experienced!) and was lucky enough to buy a Misty Mountain from someone who had originally purchased one from House of Fraser and realized that he didn’t want it after all. DWCapaldiEp9cropIn the show, both shirts sport some fair distressing but I’d need an extra shirt to even begin to attempt destroying my now-rare, screen accurate pieces.

In terms of close enoughs or replicas, Label Lab keeps a similar aesthetic in their line of graphic Ts, and RedBubble does a replica of the Misty Mountain shirt, the accuracy of which I cannot vouch for. The actual Label Lab t-shirts are some of the softest, most comfortable t-shirts that I own and I plan to buy more from House of Fraser so I can stop wearing my screen accurate cosplay shirts to bed!

hoodiesContinuing our progression, we next come to the hoodie, ID’d long ago as the All Saints Mode Merino hoodie. You may have noticed that the hoodie I’m wearing in my pictures is not black, though it is a genuine Mode Merino. In fact, a big detail I see people get wrong is that he only wears the black hoodie in conjunction with the Paul Smith jumper (as in Last Christmas, where the hoodie first appeared). With the t-shirts, he wears the hoodie in the “ink” colorway, which is actually a very dark navy blue. I actually like it better in the ink, as it feels more like an extension of the coat. The hoodie is so wonderfully comfortable, it tends to run small so it’s nice and tight, and it’s the softest wool I’ve ever worn. It retails for a painful £88 but it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon so it is readily available online and on eBay. If you do look for it on eBay, the way to tell the difference between the black and the ink in crappy photos is that the logo is gray on the black hoodie and burgundy on the ink hoodie. This is not the only hoodie style he wears in the show but I won’t be talking about the other ones here (though one of them is a horrifically expensive £225 merino hoodie from John Smedley).

capaldiplaid3scaleinternetupdateMoving on from that, we have the impossible pants.  The real pants were cut from the remnants of a bolt of vintage wool, and only two pairs were made as that was all the fabric they had. The pants were likely patterned from the Paul Smith pants of S8 (and do actually feature pleats). I’ve been spending significant amounts of time and money patterning and swatching these trousers from super high resolution photographs for Spoonflower printingHonorary Doctor is putting together a run of these trousers custom patterned from a pair of vintage Paul Smith pants using my Spoonflower fabric, so contact him if you’re interested in having a pair made! (If you’re a Gallifrey Base member, you can find the thread here.) In the meantime, I’m wearing a pair of pajama pants found at Nordstrom Rack which are an excellent substitute in the meantime, and cheap too!

IMG_8635editIt was recently discovered that the navy windowpane trousers worn in The Girl Who Died were commissioned from Mendoza Menswear with a few alterations requested from the BBC. I jumped on the opportunity as soon as the ID came out and ordered the trousers (again, some of the BEST customer service I’ve ever received!). The check is actually two colors, the double lines in a yellowish cream and the single lines in a peach. They’re made of a beautiful wool blend and are impeccably tailored, absolutely worth every full-price penny I paid for them. The website says they have a 1″ turn up but my pair (made to the exact specifications of the BBC) have a 1.5″ turn up. Mendoza has commissioned their mill to have the fabric rewoven and is currently taking pre-orders for the new trousers. In the meantime, they still have some stock of the original fabric left and you can request the BBC alterations. I’d recommend emailing or calling them, they are some of the NICEST people I’ve ever talked to!

hugobosscalebsblogIn terms of alts, there’s a good pair of men’s pajama pants at H&M right now but I can’t find them online. Keep your eyes peeled!

The third tartan pants worn in S9 are, of course, the Hugo Boss Caleb trousers from The Woman Who Died – more on these and the other two pairs are outlined in a later post of mine.

Moving on, the shoes are the Capaldi’s classic Loake brogue boots. I personally find the shoes to be quite comfortable, though so many people consider them clodhoppers. The soles are super chunky and super durable, which makes them great daily wear, unlike Matt Smith’s bespoke Victorian-style calfskin boots. Detail-wise, I find that most people lace their boots incorrectly, though I believe they come from Loake with the screen accurate lacingcapaldilaces.
They have a strange lacing, which I’ve outlined here in a graphic. I’ve never seen another pair of boots laced like this before but I’m told it’s not uncommon on British boots.

The bigger reason that the lacing is important (spoiler alert: It’s really not), though, is because Capaldi switches to two different pairs of boots in Series 9 – a pair of Doc Marten Mayers in Under the Lake/Before the Flood, and Doc Marten Afflecks in The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived, which he switches to for good when he puts on the velvet coat. Series 9 Image 1cropsThe lacing here is only “important” because it’s one of the only tip-offs that he’s not wearing the Loakes in GWD, as the Afflecks are practically identical to the Loakes except for the toe punch and the lacing. It’s ironic to see this turn of events, because in the past the Afflecks were considered the best alt for the Loakes, and cheaper. Now, everyone who bought the Afflecks because they couldn’t bring themselves to afford the $4oo Loakes are jumping for joy at accidentally investing in screen accurate shoes.

capaldiringgwdLastly, but not leastly, is the ring. Not wanting to take his wedding ring off, Rowley’s the Jewellers outfitted Capaldi with a second gold band fitted with a green amber to fit over his existing band. IMG_8643ringcropYou can order the rings from Rowley’s for around $1000, but for those of us without that kind of money to drop, options are limited. Magnoli Clothiers used to offer an option and doesn’t anymore.
My ring was purchased secondhand from someone who purchased it from someone on the RPF for $90. I would link his information here if I had it. For the price, it’s a fantastic replica, and I’ll proudly wear it until I have the kind of money to get the genuine ring straight from Rowley’s.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that there’s something very important missing from here:

The coat.

As far as that goes, it remains the one piece I still need to purchase, and will cost me almost twice the money I’ve spent on the rest of these items combined. But I have all the details of obtaining my coat pretty much ironed out. How, you ask? Stay tuned to find out…


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The Wand Company Eleventh/Twelfth Doctor’s Sonics – The Exhaustive Review

instagrameditAt San Diego Comic-Con this year, I was lucky enough to be part of The Wand Company’s limited run of new extending Twelfth Doctor sonic screwdriver universal remotes as #039 of 168 numbered pilot production units. I had extraordinary fun flicking it out and showing it off all weekend, but as I examined it more and more I realized something:

I wasn’t able to really tell how awesome or not awesome the prop is.

As a Tenth Doctor die-hard, I haven’t spent much time with Matt Smith’s sonic. Even though I could kind of describe it to someone who didn’t know anything about it, I simply didn’t have the knowledge to do a real examination of it and decide just how screen accurate it was or wasn’t.

But I do know someone who could absolutely help with that!

I sat down with my friend Brian Uiga, Sr. Mechanical Design Engineer at Lasergraphics Inc., life-long Whovian, sonic screwdriver enthusiast, and friend to both Nick Robatto and the guys who run The Wand Company. He’s also the production designer for Inspector Spacetime, built a ray gun for the BBC to do a photoshoot for Doctor Who Legacy mobile game, and restored the screen used 8th Doctor TARDIS Console with the owner.


Part of Brian Uiga’s collection of Who prop replicas

Not only is he passionate about sonics and knows the man who created Smith’s, he owns #130 of Nick’s LE250 run of screen accurate sonic screwdrivers and has had much time to chat with Robatto about its construction. After an initial comparison of 11 sonics and story sharing, we sat down and recorded another hour and fifteen minutes worth of discussion on the specific history of the sonic and every inch of both the Robatto sonic and the Wand Company replicas, as well as some chat about the toys. It’s entirely possible that I will do some rough editing on our podcast-style chat and post it here in the future, but for now I’m here to take that information and give you everything you need to know when considering picking up an 11th Doctor sonic screwdriver, particularly if you’re looking at the Wand Company. Let’s start at Ground 0:


Rubbertoe Replicas is a company owned and run by Nick Robatto, the man “responsible for personally making on screen versions of every sonic screwdriver that has been featured on the show since its re-launch in 2004” according to his website. He has been licensed by the BBC to replicate the 11th Doctor sonic screwdriver as seen on the show – and he is currently embroiled in a limited run of 250 of these screen accurate sonic screwdrivers, which he personally constructs by hand. Let’s take a look at it.

IMG_6686editThe emitter and core of the sonic are made of resin which has been specially cast to give it a marbled effect (this is achieved by waiting for the resin to mostly cure, then eyedropping several drops of light pigment on top and manually swirling it around in the mold with a toothpick). The core then has a hole drilled through the center to allow for wiring that connects to an LED in the emitter. The claws are aluminum, machined on a water jet cutter, and are individually spring-loaded. The aluminum parts of the cage (with the knurling) are machine CNC‘d (the originals were hand-tooled, but for ease in the building of 250 of them, this has changed) along with the copper cage pieces, which are riveted together by hand with brass rivets. The copper pieces connecting the cage to the grip have now been internally redesigned to accommodate a screw thread construction, even though cosmetically it still looks as it did in Matt Smith’s era.

IMG_6684editThe grip is made of Napa leather that has been stretched and heat-shrunk over a conical internal core probably made of either die-cast or 3D-printed plastic after being hand-stitched shut. A microswitch sits on the other side of the grip and controls the LED in the emitter. Sound is added in post-production, and no screen used version of the sonic is fitted with any sound design (although Robatto will add sound to a Rubbertoe sonic when requested for an extra cost).

IMG_6682editThe handle is cast in resin from a mold taken of the original handle, which was hand-tooled by Robatto; it is ivory colored and yellows a bit over time. The original sonic had a cap on the back that housed the activation button (as on the toy version), but after finding that most of these carefully constructed caps had been super glued shut by the props team (and Matt Smith rarely held the sonic CSI maglite style, as was originally intended), Robatto redesigned the cap to be part of the now completely static back piece, which is CNC’d on a metal lathe along with the cage and secured with a set screw (or grub screw if you’re from the UK) located in the handle.

EDIT: A wonderful video has surfaced of Robatto showing off the brand new Mk I before bringing it to set for the first time, and you can see every inch of the very first incarnation in great detail, including the back cap, the look of the brand new copper, and what it looks like when fully extended.

This impressively-engineered prop was designed from a concept drawing by Dan Walker and built in 9 days. The Mk I was given to Matt Smith on his first day of filming (The Time of Angels was the first episode filmed for S5), where he promptly broke it, as it was designed to be gently pushed open with a thumb – Smith pulled on the cage and accidentally yanked the whole thing apart. It has since been redesigned to be aggressively flicked open West Side Story-style, as Smith decided he wanted to do with it, and is now a much sturdier prop than before. It measures 8⅝” long when closed and 9½” long open, and weighs about 9.4 ounces (9.8-10 ounces with the sound module). Through Rubbertoe Replicas, hand-constructed by Nick Robatto exactly as it’s made for S8, this prop can be purchased for £659.95 (about $1030), and for another £140 (about $219) you can get one with the sound module installed.


So, given everything we know about the screen used prop, how exactly does the Wand Company version stack up?


Let’s hit the elephant in the room first and then we can get into the nitty-gritty of things: This prop was never meant to be a 100% screen accurate option. It was meant to be as awesome as possible for as cheap as possible to get it firmly into the mid-range for collectors and cosplayers. And to that end, I think this sonic succeeds beautifully.

The Wand Company’s sonic cosmetically differs from the SA version in really only a handful of little ways: The claws are slightly longer, the whole thing is slightly fatter and taller, the core is brighter, the grip is rubberized instead of leather (and the button is part of the rubber instead of a secondary microswitch), some of the angles of the machined copper are different and there are some minor proportional differences. Also, the Wand Company sonic is copper plated instead of being solid copper, so it reflects and wears slightly differently than the real sonic, which requires constant polishing and care.

IMG_6741editOn the Twelfth Doctor sonic, the emitter is the same clear plastic as on the toy, but the Eleventh Doctor Wand Company replica has a murky seafoam colored emitter (see left) that is actually closer to the real marbleized resin. While the above list is cosmetic differences sounds extensive, these are all minor issues and, as you can see above, you really need to put the two pieces next to each other to determine those differences. Take another look at that photo above – just how different do they really look?

And let’s talk about what they have to work with. The difference between the Robatto sonic and the Wand Company sonic is the difference between low volume production and high volume production. The Wand Company is also working to create an affordable prop – obviously it couldn’t be handmade from copper and Napa leather and custom-swirled resin.

IMG_6745editEvery non-plastic piece on the Wand Company sonic has been die-cast in pot metal. The copper parts are then plated and all the metal is sealed. IMG_6716cropThough the emitter on the Twelfth Doctor sonic is a clear plastic like on the toy version, the core is a specially cast marbleized plastic made similar to how executive pens are made. Essentially, a molten green plastic and a cooler white plastic are added to a mold and swirled around by a machine while the plastic cures. Once it’s completely cooled, the effect pictured at left is the result. This is obviously easier, faster, and cheaper than swirling each part by hand with a toothpick and an eyedropper filled with pigment. Along with the core, the rest of the inner mechanisms are plastic-based, which allows for more stability in the flick-open action of the sonic. Unfortunately, the flicking noise it makes (which, to be fair, is a very satisfying clunk) sounds much closer to the toy’s flick-open noise instead of the Rubbertoe flick-open noise, which has that lovely metallic click that you hear foleyed into the show. Also worth noting is that the Rubbertoe sonic clicks and clinks as you move it, exactly as you hear on the show, which you don’t get as much of from the plastic internals of the Wand Company versions.

IMG_6729editThe grip is a rubberized plastic like you would find in the interior of a car. The button is large but relatively hidden in the grip, unlike the microswitch of the Robatto sonic. Being rubberized plastic, there’s no need for stitching, though they have added faux-stitching into a molded seam in the back of the grip, which is a cute touch. The copper section connecting the cage and the grip has almost no shape to it on the Wand Company sonic – this is partially to accommodate the fact that this unscrews so that batteries may be installed and replaced to make the electronics work. Also worth noting, the faux-rivets on the cage have also been copper plated and left as-is, so that the contrasting brass look of the real rivets is missing from the Wand Company version.

IMG_6723editThe handle on the Wand Company sonic is decently shaped and cast in plastic. The biggest issue with the handle is that it does not include the set screw of the real one, or even something representing the set screw. The handle is also one of the biggest changes between the two Wand Company options (flicking abilities notwithstanding): The handle on the Eleventh Doctor sonic is bone white, while the handle on the Twelfth Doctor sonic looks properly yellowed and includes brown flecking, mimicking the look of the original, hand-tooled handle of the Mk I prop currently on display at the Doctor Who Experience, which was likely originally done on accident by use of dirty tools in Robatto’s rush to design and build the prop in a single week. Another cute detail on the Wand Company sonic – each Comic-Con exclusive has the production number lightly etched into the handle, and etched so that it will be hidden when held with your thumb on the button.

Lastly, the back cap on the Wand Company sonic is generally correct but could use some tweaks in specific dimensions and shapes. It’s possible some of the lack of clarity in the design is a by-product of having it copper-plated instead of machined, but it could still stand some small improvements.

IMG_6771editThe Wand Company sonic weighs 7.2 oz and is 8¾” long when closed and 9⅞” when open, making it only slightly lighter than the Rubbertoe version and slightly bigger (the Wand Company sonic has clearly been based on the toy version, as its size, shape, and relative inaccuracies are almost exclusively shared with the toy). It really has great heft to it and the flick action of the Twelfth Doctor version is fantastic. It was really all I could do for the rest of Comic-Con to not carry it around with every cosplay and flick it open all day. The makers say it’s good for at least 10,000 flicks, which isn’t a whole lot but is enough to get you through a few years at least, provided you display it on occasion. Once for sale, The Wand Company sonic will cost $120, so 10% of the price of a Rubbertoe sonic.

I have one major beef with the Wand Company 12 sonic; they knew they were going to redesign their Eleventh Doctor sonic to flick open, which would take some reconstructing of the inner mechanisms. When they designed the Eleventh Doctor version, they had just acquired the license to do this and their only real reference was the toy and whatever the BBC may have supplied, so it would make sense to use the toy as the main reference. By the time they came around to the idea of redesigning it to flick open properly (there have been many people “converting” the 11th Doctor sonic to flick), they had already done their 10th Doctor sonic, which, in the wonderful tradition of doing it better the next time around, they managed to 3D-scan from David Tennant’s actual prop (which, as I understand it, was a lucky happenstance) – it was not only a fantastic idea, it paid off extremely well and they were applauded for their efforts. So, when they went back to redesign the 11th Doctor sonic… why didn’t they find someone with a Rubbertoe sonic or chat with the guys running the DWE and 3D-scan a Robatto or QMX prop? The best explanation would be the cost, as they don’t intend on selling nearly as many of the 12 sonics as they did the 11 sonic (and therefore would have to break even with far less sales), but it really would have been fantastic to have had it retooled from a 3D-scan of a screen accurate/used prop. It also can’t have been for space reasons – they shoved the same electronics into the Tenth Doctor sonic and it’s way smaller than a Robatto sonic. That would have solved nearly every cosmetic critique detailed above, despite how minor almost all of them are.

That said, at this point I’ve only talked about the look and feel of the sonic. This is where the comparison to a screen accurate sonic ends, because the SA sonics aren’t even wired up with sound, and the Wand Company sonics are universal remote controls!

The first thing to note is that the Twelfth Doctor sonic is LOUD. It’s easily the loudest sonic screwdriver option available, and can definitely be heard well on a busy con floor. It also has the fantastic knowledge of hindsight, and includes a zillion little hidden features either unique to it (E.G. if left turned on, it will eventually blink its light at you, and after 5 minutes it will beep/flash “S-O-N-I-C—O-K-A-Y” at you in Morse code, which is a cute reminder to turn it off as it takes two AAA batteries to run) or new to the Twelfth Doctor edition.

As a gesture-based programmable universal remote, it recognizes up to 39 different flicks, taps, and twists, which can be programmed to run any infrared system you may have set up (like your TV or stereo) – three memory banks allow up to 3 different devices to be remembered in your sonic at any given moment. Along with this, it’s been outfitted with a TV-B-Gone feature that allows you to turn off ANY TV, anywhere, regardless of whether or not it has been programmed into the sonic (though it cannot turn a non-programmed TV back on). Hidden features in the remote allow for it to be locked (so that you can’t use the features without a passcode), a variety of sounds from the Doctor Who universe, more Morse code, and possibly more than I haven’t discovered yet.

The functionality of the electronics and universal remote capabilities is, frankly, astounding. If you already own a Wand Company replica, you’re familiar with this already, but it bears repeating: They make a truly fabulous gadget.

Overall, I give the Wand Company Twelfth Doctor’s sonic an A-. While the cosmetic differences could have been fixed up by scanning a Rubbertoe prop, the extreme reduction in price for the vast improvement in quality and functionality over the toy or their 11th Doctor version help boost my rating (though, for the casual or very young cosplayer, the toy is still a much better option than the Tenth Doctor toy, which is significantly larger than the screen used prop). It’s a fantastic mid-range option for people like me who want a higher quality prop for cosplay but can’t afford a $1200 flashlight. I really do love my flickable Wand Company sonic (which, as has been pointed out elsewhere, is slightly amusing as their Eleventh Doctor sonic is static and their Twelfth Doctor sonic flicks, even though Matt Smith flicks his sonic all the time and Capaldi all of twice in the entirety of S8), and I highly recommend it to collectors and cosplayers who can save up the scratch to pick one up.

The Extending Twelfth Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver will be available starting September 7th.


EDIT: For more information on The Wand Company’s 12 sonic, here is a fantastic write up by Wand Company co-owner Chris Barnardo – in it you can see a hero Capaldi prop with precisely the same flecking in the handle as the Wand Company’s 12 sonic!


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Magnoli Tie Review: The Armani Tie

At Gallifrey One this past year, I had a situation I blogged about where I ran into a Ten cosplayer who was wearing an Armani tie who I did not recognize (I know most of the cosplayers with original Armanis, so this surprised me). I finally managed to ambush him in the halls and have a chat with him about his tie, where he happily revealed to me that he was wearing a Magnoli replica! Unfortunately, I was dressed in my 7b Matt Smith and couldn’t compare ties right there, but after posting about the experience, a reader and friend of mine offered to mail me his Magnoli replicas for me to do a formal review, which I happily accepted.

I have been getting quite a few requests for this comparison, so here we go. I will try to be as fair as possible. Also, I originally misordered these ties, so I apologize for any confusion that may cause.

2015-04-16 11.46.39

I happen to have some specific insight into the history of these replicas, so allow me to talk about that while I also point out my areas of concern.

Most people I’ve seen own Magnoli v1, his original attempt, which is actually really good for guessing from photographs. After this, Magnoli came into possession of an original Armani, and went to work revising the pattern (v3). Unfortunately… well, all I can say is it wasn’t his fault.

2015-04-16 11.47.25cropI want to be in love with this revision but you can see what the problem is. The bigger flaws have been corrected – the background ribbing is much closer to the real deal than the plain weave of v1, the squares have proper texture, and even a similar texture has been added to the brown in the eggs, which really gives that fabulous authenticity you want in a replica. This particular tie pictured appears to have been woven mirrored to the original, though more likely it was cut upside-down. But here we have the elephant in the room: What happened to the color?

As Indy posted on The RPF back in 2012, this was the updated sample that either he gave his manufacturing company or his manufacturing company gave back to him (I’m unclear as to that detail):


As you can see, it’s not only beautiful, it’s nearly 100% spot on. If this was the final tie, I’d give it an A and say it’s a 95% match to the original – even better than his Utopia tie, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, the story goes that both Indy and his manufacturing company agreed on this prototype, at which point it was up to the manufacturing company to make the ties. Indy was then shipped around 400 of this:


As you can imagine, this was disappointing to us all, which is why it’s offered at a discounted price. The manufacturing company claims that they weren’t able to properly execute the intended weave and improvised instead.

It’s truly too bad, because his prototype is so spot-on (I’d really love to have an alternate tie to wear at minor events and more casual conventions so I don’t chance losing my original), but for now this is the situation.

After the debacle with v3, Magnoli went back and simplified the design so that his company could actually produce a replica that was an improvement on his original tie. That tie is v2. Version two is actually a great improvement on an already great original, and this is the tie that, on the con floor, I mistook for an original, so take that for what it’s worth. Currently, if you buy Magnoli’s “brown” colorway of the tie, this is what you will receive. So let’s investigate.

2015-04-16 17.11.38The reason the color is off (despite his brown being damn close to the real shade) is because the background of the Armani is actually a two-toned weave of brown and blue (as v3 was supposed to be), giving the tie a lovely iridescence and allowing them to blend into a new color when viewed from far away. At left, you can see that Magnoli incorporated the ribbed look of the original, but left the weave solid brown. For scale, he pretty much hit the nail on the head from the get-go, and this version of the tie shows that. The only real improvement that could be made on the actual egg pattern is to possibly rotate the eggs slightly, but that’s some serious nit-picking. The bigger issue here is that, while the brown is pretty much spot-on in color, the blue is really much too light. Remember, the image above is a direct side-by-side comparison and not a composite, so that’s how the colors truly look relative to each other.

Beyond manufacturing errors, the replicas are quite lovely, and on their own they’re fab ties. For length, width, and thickness, they’re exact matches, and the pattern is, again, almost exactly to scale. The only major complaint I have is the blue color, which again, should be darker, and that the background color is dark brown instead of somewhere in between the brown and blue shades, which I’m sure he has in mind to tweak once his stock of v2 and v3 run low (at the moment he has other projects occupying his mind).

2015-04-16 11.48.24

The label on v2 even mimics the Armani label, which is a cute touch. As far as linings go, his original lining was actually a closer match than his new lining, but as it never shows it’s of little concern. The real lining has GIORGIO ARMANI woven into it, which you can sort of see in the above photo – that kind of customization is a lot to ask for the price range, though.

Overall, I give v2 a B – the pattern is excellent but the weave and colors could be closer – though that’s simply part of the curse of the Doctor Who ties! If you’re looking for a replica of one of the most popular brown suit ties, Magnoli is definitely the way to go!


Posted in Tenth Doctor, Uncategorized | 1 Comment