Friday 21 October 2016

Invasions Of The Frock Coats

Once in a while I am client-led when it comes to what new garments I make. And here is a case in point. What follows is a bit of an insight into how I work towards making one of my replicas.

After already making one Tom Baker coat for a client - who was over the moon with the result - he asked me if I could make another for him, but one as yet I hadn’t done - the grey frock coat that debuted in season 13’s The Android Invasion.

As it happened I had found sone PERFECT brown corduroy fabric a few years back, with the distinctive wide/narrow configuration.
It’s quite a chestnut brown colour, but being 100% cotton it means over-dyeing it to the required dark chocolate brown will not be a problem when it comes to it.

The main tweed fabric, however, is something more of a challenge.

It’s been often described and mis-identified as a Donegal akin to Matt Smith’s series five jacket. This is what is known as a classic hopscotch weave - one over/one under which forms a sort of checkerboard design.

But if you look closely you can see it actually is more of a vertical and horizontal grid pattern, so is a much more complex structure.

This detail rarely showed up the broadcast episodes as the definition of cameras back in the 1970s tended to mush the appearance of the coat into a single light grey colour.

Similarly most publicity stills fail to capture this detail of the fabric.

So finding a suitable cloth was going to be a problem, which in the end took months of research to track down, and endless discussions with a number of weavers with a view to recreating it from scratch.

After heading down the former then latter route, I chanced upon a near identical weave in the perfect colour way freely available in a fabric supplier’s catalogue. before rushing to buying the cloth I took a swatch to mull it over.

Convinced it was a good option, I first ordered one metre so I could do a drape and photography test.

It’s all very well finding a palm-sized swatch, but how the cloth will look en-mass in a garment is a whole other thing.
I think the scale of the weave is maybe a fraction large, but I am interested in how it looks at a distance, comparable with a publicity still, and to see if the weave forms an even grey colour.

I felt it was a success -  so finally the coat was on!

At this stage I shan’t bore you with the ins and outs of making the coat, I’m sure you want me to skip to the end and show you how it came out, so here it is!

This the the coat with the whole ensemble - shirt, waistcoat, cravat and of course scarf!

Losing the scarf so you can see more of the coat itself, here it is.

And this is how the coat looks from the back.

You can see how the cuffs are laid-in, with buttons aligning with the back seam, above which is the unusually sewn-in leather elbow patches.

I have also faithfully as I can recreated the deceptive closure of the coat. Although it has a button and buttonhole configuration for a double breasted coat, it is intended to be worn single breasted, with a toggle made from two buttons sewn together to pull the leading edges together.

As far as I have been able to find, this was only ever seen once, early on in The Android Invasion. For the rest of the coats appearances, the toggle was left dangling, often from the lower from buttonhole, as you can see in this photo from Horror Of Fang Rock.

I have drawn the line though at having the missing buttons which plagued the coat’s appearances down the years!

I managed to track down some buttons, which I think are a really great match to those used on the original. They were a chance find and now they are on the coat they look fab!

I’d love to hear what you think of the coat, as it’s taken quite a while to get to this stage.

1 comment:

  1. This was always my personal favourite Baker frock coat. The contrast collar and cuffs, peak lapel and just the general configuration strikes me as just being one of the more elegant, without being overly so (in case one wanted to wear it scruffily, as Baker did). Interestingly, and I might be wrong about this, I think there's a more-than-superficial similarity to this coat in the Jackson Lake coat from "the Next Doctor", though that may be coincidental.