Tuesday 20 December 2011

Happy Christmas to all my readers!

Wow - another year has flown past - and what a year it’s been!

Photo by Scott Sebring
It started back in January with a once in a lifetime opportunity when I made the Ultimate Tennant Suit. To have the chance to put into practice the actual way the suit was made was an amazing experience. The timing was perfect, as I had a couple of months before started learning traditional hand-tailoring techniques, which I put to great use in making the suit.
Photo by Scott Sebring
I had to follow the suit, and with three days notice ended up going to Gallifrey One in LA!
There I met up with a number of my online friends and many of my readers who had no idea I was going. I also had the privilege of arranging a group photograph with four of my Tennant Coat clients, which was the highlight of the trip.

By the end of April news broke that THE Series Six Shetland Tweed fabric had been found, as well as the Series Five Donegal.

It was like the Tennant Suit all over again: making an iconic jacket in the exact fabric. I was lucky to find the correct buttons and elbow patches to finish it off.

In August the culmination of many month work came to fruition when I took delivery of  my rewoven Tennant Coat lining. I had been searching for years to find a suitable alternative, but finally took the plunge and commissioned my own recreation of it.

The past few months of the year have been taken up with making a popular new garment in my repertoire - the Green Greatcoat.

I spent a while carefully researching the pattern, fabric and construction until I got it just right.

Then in late November I attended Chicago TARDIS, where I entered the masquerade competition wearing a test version of the Colin Baker Six Frock Coat. I won Best In Show: Workmanship for my tailoring – for which I am very proud.

This was one of three coats I had made, the other two were for the wedding of some close friends which is due to take place just before Christmas.

Looking back it has been an exciting year, with more projects than I could have thought to have taken on.

And as the year comes to a close, an even more exciting development is breaking.

More on that in the New Year, but trust me, it’s gonna be worth the wait . . .

Friday 25 November 2011

Romana Frock Coat (blue version) finished!

I’ve been working so hard on this Romana Fock Coat, I clean forgot to take anymore pictures of it being made! Sorry.

But what I have for you today is the finished thing, all sewn and ready to wear!

The lapel buttonholes are for show only, and are not cut though. This is how the original coat was.

The buttons were specially made using the same velvet as the collar and trim.

The coat is designed to be double breasted and it has been cut to work properly in that regard.
The outer pockets are as the original coat, with one in the waist-seam on each side, and a larger pocket below.

What I have done though is make the waist-seam pocket real! On the original coat the flap is just for show - it has no practical pocket underneath it.

I couldn’t make it too deep as the opening is quite narrow. It would serve well as somewhere to keep a mobile phone!

Finally, here is the lucky recipient of the finished coat!

Friday 28 October 2011

Romana Frock Coat (blue version)
collar and lapels

So far on the blue version of the Romana Frock Coat I have been commissioned to make, I have assembled the body and sleeves, and prepared the underside of the lapels with the necessary pad-stitching.

My next task was to create the lining with the lapels and collar attached.

Once this was done I could then stitch around the lapels and down the fronts, before sewing around the collar.

I paused halfway through just to check the lapels were going in okay, which they were.

The collar is designed to lay flat around the shoulders (see right) but is intended to be worn with it raised with the scarf underneath (see below).

After this it is the slow plod to completion, with the hemming and sleeve linings to finish it off.

I do have the trimming around the lapels and down the front edges to do as well, but this shouldn’t be too much trouble.

The coat is starting to come together a look someway finished.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Vrooop! Vrooop! Vrooop!

Wednesday this week I had a fun afternoon in London for a change.
It kicked off with a trip to some bootmakers for my Matt Smith series six boot fitting, after which I headed to the West End.

The reason for going was to visit the Cartoon Museum on Little Russell Street, hidden away in the backstreets of Bloomsbury.

They currently have a fantastic exhibition of Doctor Who comic strips through the years, dating right back to its beginnings and coming bang up to date with the current generation of artists.

The exhibition showcases works by the cream of British comic book artists, such as Frank Bellamy, Martin Geraghty, Dave Gibbons, Dave Lloyd, John Ridgway, Andrew Skilleter and Lee Sullivan.

However, my personal favourite piece was an uncredited artwork (see below) done for a annual exclusive to Marks and Spencer!
For me it just fires up memories of the Dalek annuals I read as a small boy, and the Dalek Death Ray ice lollies I would buy from the Toni Bell ice cream man who would frequent the cul-de-sac I grew up in in the 1970s.

The exhibition overall is seriously well worth a visit.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Romana Frock Coat (blue version)
cutting and assembly

After several months of on-off work I am now finally ready to start cutting some fabric for this cornflower blue version of the Romana Frock Coat.

Cutting has been pretty straight forward.

The only point worth showing is the front panels which have been aligned with the centre front seam on the grain (see above, left). The lapel is similarly positioned (see above, right). When the bust darts are sewn the side will swing into place.

Assembly has been done quickly and simply, with the front panels faced with horsehair interfacing and the large lapels pad stitched all over (see left).

It isn’t too long before the body has taken shape and I can put it on a mannequin (see below).

Saturday 27 August 2011

Romana Frock Coat (blue version)
calico fittings

I’m working on the blue version of the Romana Frock Coat for a client’s wife, and so far I have made the first calico test for fitting to see how my pattern is coming together.

I have kept it fairly basic, just blocking in the main body shape; hem length; pocket positions; sleeve length; and bust fitting (see right).

The proof now will be in how well it fits. I am ideally aiming for the front edges to butt together, defining the centre front for me.

Well, I got some photos back from the first fitting and there’s some good new and some bad news!

Sunday 31 July 2011

Scarf improvement at The Experience

A week or two back I returned to the Doctor Who Experience at Olympia as I had heard there had been some revisions and additions to the displays.

Most of the additions, naturally, are relating to the current season, but the revisions are mainly centred around Tom’s costume.

When the exhibition first opened back in February, the scarf on display was apparently two of the promotional scarves issued by the BBC during the Fourth Doctor’s era.

The colours and design is pretty good, but it wan’t quite right.

Well now there is a new, much improved scarf on the display.

I gather the scarf has been knitted by a fan who knows the exact pattern and colour match for the yarns.

The garter stitch is much deeper and more noticeable than before.

Further on in the exhibition I spied another Tom Baker scarf which wasn’t there before . . .

Friday 29 July 2011

Romana Frock Coat (blue version)
pattern grading stage two

So, my college tutor has been an enormous help with my initial efforts at pattern grading the Romana Pink Frock Coat up in size.

I am making a special cornflower blue version for a client’s wife, so I now need add a bust allowance, something I’ve never needed to do before!

I have been given the measurements needed and with the guidance of my college tutor we now need to incorporate these into the existing pattern.

First thing to do is trace off the front panel onto some paper, and cut off the lapel at the centre front line.

The remaining part leaves me just the chest, around the underarm and up to the shoulder.

The bust point is then estimated, being relatively central in the chest area. We are looking to create the capacity here.

I then cut horizontally, passing through the bust point; and then from the shoulder without breaking the shoulder seam, down through the bust point again and on to the waist seam.

The cut pieces are then manipulated to add capacity as shown (see left, bottom).

A sheet of pattern paper is laid carefully over the top and the outermost shape is traced off (see right).

To then create the bust shape, the slice to the underarm and waist are converted into darts, converging on the bust point, but stopping an inch short.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Doctor Who Experience - in 3D!!!

I have got an absolute TREAT for you today!

This week I had the opportunity to revisit the Doctor Who Experience in Olympia, and thought rather than just get some more endless photographs of the displays, I would do something EXTRA special.

I know a lot of my readers are in the US, so are unlikely to get the chance to see the exhibition at first-hand.

So what I’ve got for you is the near next-best thing - a walk through the displays - in 3D!!!! Well, one of those panoramic views you can interact with.

Below are the panoramas relating directly to the Fourth Doctor.
You can see all the panoramas
I took by clicking this link
First up is the line-up of The Doctor’s costumes, giving you a real sense of how they are presented.
The Ten Doctors

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Romana Frock Coat (blue version)
pattern grading stage one

I'm still working on my Tom Baker coat - but things have been a little slow of late as I’ve been distracted with a number of other projects - Ultimate Tennant Suit ... Season Six tweed ... Six Frock Coat ...

One of them has also been a commission from a friend to make a proper Romana Frock Coat for his wife!

Like a few of my other commissions, the request has been slightly left-field from the original: rather than in PINK it is to be in a cornflower blue; plus I need to make it for a larger dress form - all of this is easily done, but it just takes a bit of attention and application to make it work.
Firstly the fabric is fairly easy.

I am using my new supplier who I have been working with on the Six Frock Coat. He can dye short-run wools for me to match my exact colour requirements.

I then need to adapt my pattern block to fit the shape I require.

To recap, the work I have done so far on my Tom Baker coat involved creating a block true to Lalla Ward’s size from the pattern trace I took. I then went through a couple of rounds of pattern grading to bring it up to a male form size.

Lalla Ward was literally a size zero and the Pink Frock Coat she wore was tiny. For this commission I will need to create a block to the same vertical dimensions, but increase the girth by grading it accordingly.

My starting point where I will jump back in will be the original Lalla Ward block.

I had already done an initial enlargement of the block by using focal points, from which I projected the pattern shapes larger.

Luckily for me when making the Tom Baker block, Lalla Ward is fairly flat chested, so there was negligible bust allowance to remove, but now I need to go the other way and build it in to create a proper bust shape.

But before I can do that I need to size the block up further.
This time round my tutor favours a slicing and dicing technique.

Here is how we did it.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Bonhams auction - 29th June 2011 -
the viewing

This week is the bonhams entertainment sale, so I popped along to the viewing to see the Who-related items for myself.

There is only one item relating the Tom Baker’s era: one of the original Mona Lisa paintings from City Of Death.
Like the real thing the paint is done on wood board, but on this occasion cheap ply wood!

It was hand painted and some of the brushwork is actually pretty good close-up. It was a shame the face doesn't really look like the real Mona Lisa!

Pity the words This Is A Fake weren't visible . . . although there was some mysterious notes on the back (see right, bottom). Maybe it’s something to do with the Da Vinci Code? Or maybe not!

Friday 3 June 2011

Bonhams auction - 29th June 2011

Being June, it’s time for the next bi-annual Entertainment Memorabilia sale at Bonhams.

As usual there are a scant few Doctor Who items on offer, some more interesting that others.

As usual I have separated the items by Doctor era, and you can see the rest of the items here:
Here are just the lots relating to the Fourth Doctor era
Lot 114
Dr Who: a 'Mona Lisa' painting from 'City Of Death'
Oil on panel, 57 x 72.5cm (22¼ x 28½in)

Estimate: £1,000 - 1,200
Sold for £2,400

Featured in the Tom Baker story broadcast in 1979, this is one of six such paintings produced. According to information received, this particular painting hung in the Dr. Who production office during the 1980s.

Lot 115
A miniature TARDIS model, created for exhibition purposes, of painted board, with plastic paper-backed windows, and plastic casing to light, having internal electrical workings (plug removed), height 5ft, width 15 inches.

Estimate: £150 - 200
Sold for £900

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Dafter Who

You wait for ages, then two real daft commercial cosplay items come out soon after each other!

This week sees the release of two Forbidden Planet Exclusive T-shirts depicting the costumes of the Fourth and Fifth Doctors.

They are quite witty in their design, making you look as though you are wearing the costumes yourself!

Available in Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large, they cost £15.99 each.

I haven’t seen them yet first-hand, but I gather the print quality isn’t all that.

As if that wasn’t enough (please make it stop . . .  ) mid-July will see the release of ‘official’ dressing up costumes for the Fourth and Fifth Doctors, Leela and Tegan!!!

Again these are available through Forbidden Planet, at £39.99 each.

I wouldn’t exceptions too high – not for £40. They look to be not much more than Halloween-style fancy dress costumes and definitely not day-to-day wear!

That said, they are good value for money if you need a quick and cheap costume for an up-coming convention of Who-related event.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Doctor Who Experience -
Fourth Doctor incarnation

This weekend (Sunday 20th February) sees the official opening of the Doctor Who Experience exhibition at London’s Olympia.

Amongst the displays is a definitive collection of costumes worn by The Doctor through his regeneration (see left and right). Some out of necessity are replicas, but many are original and screen-used.

On Thursday I went to the first of the paid previews, following on from a couple of weeks of tester days to iron out teething troubles. While I was there I took a good set of photographs of all the costumes on show.

I have already written a Full Review of the exhibition itself, but here is a more targeted write-up focusing on the items of interest to a Fourth Doctor fan and giving them a more detailed look.

Sunday 30 January 2011

James Acheson -
Dressing Doctor Who

I had a nice surprise through my letterbox today: my copy of the Jon Pertwee story The Mutants on DVD (see right).
It is officially not out until Monday, so it was a bonus to get it a couple of days early.

I know it’s a Third Doctor release, but of considerable interest to Fourth Doctor fans is a 20 minute featurette talking to James Acheson. The Mutants was the first time he worked on the series, but of note he would later go on to design Tom Baker’s costume for Robot.

He talks at length about his work on The Three Doctors and dressing not only Jon Pertwee, but also William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton; about devising a suitable costume for Elizabeth Sladen on her inital outing as Sarah Jane in The Time Warriror; about perpex bowler hats for Carnival Of Monsters; building Giant Robots; creating the Zygons; going on wild goose chases for period costumes for The Masque Of Mandragora; before becoming disillusioned with his work on The Deadly Assassin.