Friday 24 December 2010

Sixth Doctor costume transition

This week I’ve been taking a little look at an area of The Doctor’s costume that sometimes gets overlooked: The Costume Transition Scene!
I’m taking about that moment in the first episode of a new Doctor where the old skin is finally shaken off and a re-designed costume helps define the start of a new era in Doctor Who history.

When William Hartnell became Patrick Troughton, it wasn’t just his face that changed – his costume miraculously regenerated at the same time.

Later, when Jon Pertwee took over, his new clothes were more realistically introduced by having The Doctor lift them from the changing room of the hospital where he is taken at the start of Spearhead From Space.

But it was Tom Baker’s transition scene that was the first to make some play on the anticipation of what The Doctor would be wearing.

Looking through the list of regenerations, I have realised there seems to be two dominant scenarios for these scenes:

The Hospital Changing Room scenario
The Third Doctor steals the clothes of a hospital consultant before stealing his car as well; after the Eighth Doctor emerges from the morgue, he takes the clothes of a surgeon, who is going to a fancy dress party; the latest regeneration sees the Eleventh Doctor lifting a the parts of his costume from the hospital locker room as he strides through.

The TARDIS Dressing-up Room scenario
Although we don’t see the dressing-up room, the Fourth Doctor keep popping out of the TARDIS dressed in unsuitable costumes; the Fifth Doctor finds his new clothes in the TARDIS, almost as if he was supposed to; the Sixth Doctor is the first to be seen in the dressing-up room to choose his new clothes; followed by the Seventh Doctor who goes through a similar selection; finally the Tenth Doctor makes his choice from a re-imagined dressing-up room, courtesy of The Mill’s special effects gurus!

Friday 17 December 2010

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

I can’t believe a year has flown by since I last wished everyone a Happy Christmas.

Looking back though, a lot has happened and I’ve completed or started a number of amazing projects.

From updating my Tennant Coat; making a Five Coat or two; starting a replica Tennant suit jacket using original GAP Trousers; making a couple of Inverness Capes (must get round to writing that up!); as well as some smaller item such as Five Hatbands, Six Cravats and Seven Hankies.
However, I think the most exciting has been starting work on a replica Six Frock Coat, which I am so looking forward to getting done next year.

I hope you’ll join me in the following months as it starts to come together.

Friday 10 December 2010

Ultimate Six Frock Coat - drafting the block

This last week I spent some of my time at college on drafting the block for the Six Frock Coat I am working on.

The purpose of doing this is to pull together and accurately draw up the pattern trace I took of the original coat, so I can then make my pattern with seam allowances and everything else that will make it work.

I took along my Six Coat from 1985 (see right) to show my tutor where all this started for me, as well as the most useful crib for when I was drawing the block.
Being only a teenager at the time, I was quite a bit smaller then, so the only college mannequin it fitted  was a ladies size 10!

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Ultimate Six Frock Coat - collar fabric

Fabric 6

After the success of preparing the Red Tartan for weaving, this month I’m now looking at the fabric for the collar.

This is a doubly difficult one to match: firstly it is woven from a number of colours which mix with each other to make further variations, and breaking this down to the colour of the yarns needs some careful observations; also there isn’t that much of it on the coat (just the collar, two pocket flaps and a brace between the back buttons). None of these pieces is individually large enough to demonstrate the size of the pattern repeat, a I will need to put them together like a jigsaw puzzle to find this out.

The things to initially work out are the base set of pure colours it is made from; how these mix to produce the finished result; and the size of the pattern repeat.

To do this I need to look closely - VERY closely. I was hoping it might be possible, using a very high res scan, to isolate the individual threads and work out a colour match (see below), but the weave is quite tight, and the adjacent strands make it difficult to be objective about it, so that won’t work.

Monday 8 November 2010

Bonhams costume sales - previous auctions

As well as the auctions I have been to over the past couple of years, I have done a little digging back and found some further Sixth Doctor items from three sales between 2005 and 2008.

Lot 611
'Dr. Who': The Master's 'tissue compression eliminator' (miniaturising gun), the prop in black-painted brass with electric wiring, as used by Anthony Ainley throughout the 1980s in his portrayal of The Doctor's nemesis, 23cm (9in) long.

Sold for £1,440

Lot 619
'Dr. Who': a baby dinosaur in jar,
moulded and painted foam, from the 1985 episode, 'The Mark Of The Rani', 36cm (14in) high

Sold for £780

Lot 622
'Dr. Who': a Tardis roundel,
fibreglass, with traces of black and grey paint, indicating use in the Tardis of both The Doctor and The Master, believed to be the last surviving example from the original Tardis, 55cm (21½in) diameter

Estimate: £500 - 700

Lot 629
'Dr. Who': a cape worn by Colin Baker,
two-tone blue wool with gold-coloured braid and fasteners, as seen in the 1985 episode 'Revelation Of The Daleks'

Lot Notice
Amendment: Please note that this lot has a revises estimate of £1,000 to £1,200

Sold for £1,800

Friday 5 November 2010

Sixth Doctor - Costume Index

Following their critique of Jon Pertwee’s costumes in the Costumes Index on my Third Doctor Costume Blog, as well as the Eleventh Doctor Costume IndexTrine-E and Zu-Zana flounced off in disgust when The Sixth Doctor made his costume choice.

So in their absence, here is my story-by-story breakdown of the combinations and variations of his costumes over his tenure as The Doctor.

Initially I didn’t think they’d be much to say about each story, but even this has surprised me. I’ve also included some pointers when unusual of rarely seen parts of his costume are visible.
NB. this breakdown covers as-seen costumes, and makes no distinction between multiple copies of garments made, or renewed costumes made to replace worn out pieces.

Monday 1 November 2010

Ultimate Six Frock Coat - the red tartan

After some early luck with matching the easier fabrics on the coat, I’m now gonna try and set myself a task each month of preparing one of the more difficult ones.
This will keep the project moving forward.

First up, the Red Tartan, fabric 1 on my Six Frock Coat Breakdown.
Fabric 1
What is Tartan?
Through centuries of Celtic tradition, different tartan patterns came to identify different districts and later specific clans. The more complex and colourful the tartan was, the more wealth or power was inferred in its owner. These days it has become more about Scottish heritage, with people seeking to identify their clan or family tartan as symbol of Scottish national identity.
As a result a near endless resource of historic and contemporary designs has been documented and perpetuated to this day.
Being a tartan it should, in theory, be easy to track down, as the designs for these fabrics have been handed down from generation to generation. The book The Scottish Clans And Their Tartans (see left, also click the title to download a PDF of the book) documents a lot of the classic tartans.  But having all tartans documented is something of a double edged sword, as once you start looking beyond the handful readily stocked by fabric shops, there are literally thousands of designs, all subtly different from each other, with brand new designs being added all the time.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Ultimate Six Frock Coat - the easy fabrics

Last weekend I had the privilege yet again of gaining hand-on access to one of the original Six Frock Coats.

While I had it on my workbench, I took the opportunity to check the match on the first few fabrics I think I have nailed.
Fabrics 2, 3, 5 and 10

Working on the basis of grab it quick before it’s gone, I’ve invested in these first few fabrics for my Six Coat.
So far all these easy ones come from the same single source, so it was nice and simple to get hold of them, and on this occasion they weren’t discontinued lines! 
This makes a change, as a couple of my cosplaying friends will vouch for.

Monday 4 October 2010

Ultimate Six Frock Coat - the pattern

A few months back, when I had the honour of being able to see a plethora of screen-used costume pieces for myself first-hand, I had the chance to handle an original Six Frock Coat.

I took pattern traces from a number of the items in front of me, but when it came to the Frock Coat - this was something else.
Only when you get to see it in the flesh and touch it can you appraise the work and skill involved in it’s creation – I’m not saying it’s my taste, but you just gotta admire the craftsmanship.

I’m not ashamed to say I was intimidated.

I limited myself to some photography and general reference, but left it at that for now.

Over the following few months I worked on a number of projects, notably a Five Coat for Bob Mitsch In the States and a frock coat for Ian Cummins in Australia, plus I have been working on another frock coat for myself - but more on that another day.

All of these were worked to a basic frock coat pattern, and used similar techniques in construction, by the end of which I've become a bit of a dab hand when it comes to the frock coat as a pattern.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Six Frock Coat - fabric breakdown

As I have mentioned on more than one occasion, my first ever cosplay costume was making myself a replica Six Frock Coat (see right).
I made it in 1985 or so, when I was around 16, from fabrics I found at various fabric shops around North West London.
My self-demand for getting things as accurate as possible was evident even then, and I found some pretty good matches for some of the elusive materials used to make the original.
I have always hung onto it, despite it not fitting me for many years, as I am always proud of how well it stands up, even today.

It was an absolute honour to have the chance late last year to wear an original screen-used complete costume (see left), thanks to the kind help of some friends of mine who own it, along with several other rare and unique costume pieces.

I can’t hide that I was ever so slightly exceedingly jealous! But the chance to wear it and get some great photos was a fantastic opportunity, and it made me want to have a wearable one for myself to my own high standards.

This will undoubtedly be a long-term project, as locating and matching all the fabrics I will need will take some time. I then have to develop my frock coat pattern, though I have been making a number of these recently, so I now have a very good understanding of how such patterns work.

The first thing I need to do is get the ball rolling on finding some of the fabrics needed. To get my mind around the task ahead I’ve broken it down into the fourteen key and essential fabrics used on the coat.

Friday 23 July 2010

Six Coat - Cloth Ears

This is another one of my delayed entires.

I should have posted this at least a week back, but due to my vertigo attack, I was unable to finish writing it.
Here it is at last.
Here is the list of my week:
Today was, thankfully, the last day of my whirlwind week of Who happenings.

On Wednesday I had been to the latest Bonhams Auction; Thursday I went to Cardiff on a Location Tour; Friday was a bit of rest bite (though my birthday, so I had earned a bit of rest); Saturday I had taken my French friend on a Tour Of London; and today my friends who own one of the original screen-used Six Frock coats came to visit.

Earlier this year I had acted as a go-between for Bob Mitsch when he came to the UK for the Time Quest event. He had wanted to meet every Doctor, appropriately dressed, and I had made him a Five Coat and Trousers to meet Peter Davison in (see left).

Monday 31 May 2010

Bonhams auction - 23rd June 2010

When I was at the last Bonhams auction, one of the auctioneers made mention of a further sale in June, where Doctor Who items would be available.

I think I was expecting another full-on sale of ex-BBC items, but what it appears to be is a general Memorabilia sale, with a hand full of Who related lots.

There are seventeen items in total, and you need to real carefully what they are. The repeated use of the phrase “built for exhibition purposes” is a bit disappointing.

I’ll go to the viewing, but I can’t see myself bidding on anything.

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 Sixth Doctor era
Lot No: 132
Cyberman costume
the heavy cotton boiler suit with stud fasteners, sprayed with silver paint and with applied tubing and net panels, label to inside neck faintly inscribed Ken Baker (sic), with certificate

Estimate: £1,500 - 2,000

This was worn by Ken Barker in the January 1985 story, 'Attack Of The Cybermen', with Colin Baker as The Doctor. Barker is also credited as the Mutant in 'Revelation Of The Daleks', March 1985.

Lot No: 133
Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure (Stage Play), 1989
A Zog costume, the headpiece, hands and feet of moulded foam latex, with plastic eyes, the body heavily applied with faux fur fabric, on mannequin and base, height 62 inches

Estimate: £200 - 300
Sold for £660

Lot No: 138
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: £300 - 400

Lot No: 139
The 'Longleat' Tardis console
Created for exhibition purposes, of wood and plastic, with internal electrical workings and lighting, the control panel in sectional pieces, with plastic buttons, with electrical pulley for central mechanism, length approximately 70 inches, width approximately 60 inches, height 58 inches

Estimate: £350 - 450
Sold for £900

Thursday 6 May 2010

Cravats - for sale

After a lengthy process of Creating Artwork from the original screen used Six Cravats; prototyping the Yellow Star and the Polka-Dot versions, I am now finally able to offer them for sale.
I am offering all three versions:

Turquoise polka-dot cravat

The Twin Dilemma - The Mysterious Planet

This cravat is to the turquoise colour, which first appeared at the end of Season 21 in The Twin Dilemma, and was worn throughout the following season.
It was worn again during The Mysterious Planet for the flashback sequences.

Red polka-dot cravat

The Mysterious Planet - The Ultimate Foe

This red cravat made its first appearance at the start of Season 23, and was worn during all the trial insert sequences of The Mysterious Planet and The Terror Of The Vervoids. It was then worn throughout The Ultimate Foe.

Yellow star cravat

Terror Of The Vervoids

This cravat was uniquely worn during the flashback sequences of The Terror Of The Vervoids, and was made from the distinctive Yves Saint-Lauren fabric, which had the YSL logo embroidered on it along its length.

This has been faithfully reproduced on the cravat, as well as every detail of the coloured stars that form the design.

Each of the cravats are discreetly labeled with my mark, the yellow star one in a subtle in-keeping way! (see below)

The cravats cost £30 if bought singly.
Buy any two cravats for £55
or £80 buys all three together.
Global shipping is included in the price.
To order your cravats, please drop me an email at
with your colour choice and address.

Polka-dot cravats - prototypes

I have actually already ordered and made some prototype polka dot cravats, but although the pattern was pretty much spot on, I had some issues with colour on the turquoise version.
This has now been resolved, so I can now show you what I have been up to.

Spoonflower is great - don’t get me wrong, but it does sometimes struggle with achieving certain colours and tones.
This is ironic as they print with a multi-ink system, running cyan, magenta, yellow and black plus special green and orange which conciderably broadens the gamut of colour they can match.
However, though this is good for bright vibrant colours, they can have problems with richer or darker shades.
Their black, even at full intenstiy, reads as a dark grey, so they can never hit the depth needed to do a GAP pinstripe ala the Tennant Suit - believe me, I tried!
I have 20 years in the print industry before tailoring, so if anyone has an insight into colour, I think I have an advantage.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Yellow Star Cravat - prototype

At last, the first cravats tests from Spoonflower have arrived!

Some of the colours are very good, some less so. But it was always a learning process anyway, so it’s easy enough to put them right and more forward from here.

The first cravat I am going to have a go at making up is the yellow star version (see right).

The Yellow cravat is a little easier as it is cut with the grain of the fabric, unlike the polka-dot ones which are cut on the bias. The bias will be a little tricky to work with as it will allow the cravat to stretch and skew while I am sewing, so for now I am going to keep it simple.

Just wanna give you a heads-up about a great new website that has just been launched by a couple of friends of  mine. basically does exactly what it says in the tin, except it is more costumes than props, covering the Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Timelash - episode two

My recent opportunity to see and wear an Original Six Frock Coat (see left) reminded me of my efforts to reproduce the coat way back in 1985.

I was at college in Harrow Weald taking my A-Levels in Technical Drawing (Engineering) and Art. At the time Colin Baker was Doctor Who, and despite it being an appalling car crash of colour and textures, I was quite taken with the Frock Coat he wore.
For the first time I was moved to actually have a go at making my own – mainly because I felt you could ‘see’ the pattern, since every panel making it was a different colour, the individual shapes could be easily made out.

Now, you need to wind your mind and understanding back to what things were like in those days. There was really only one source of pictures for Doctor Who: The Doctor Who Monthly Magazine. In those days it was principally a black & white affair, with only a colour cover and centre spread, and occasional a colour insert page running through it, but that was rare.

The June 1984 issue (see right) introduced us to The Sixth Doctor, and had (at the time) the best clear image of his costume - in colour!

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Yellow Star Cravat - creating artwork

Creating the artwork file for the Red and Turquoise Polka-Dot Cravats was nice and straight forward. The yellow cravat needs a bit more work and is somewhat more bespoke.

The pattern repeat for the stars is far less distinct or identifiable, so I took high resolution scans of the entire length of both sides of the cravat, with overlaps to make sure I got everything (see right).

As a test, I patched the images for one side together in Photoshop and found there was a distinct curve to the cravat which had been caused by one of the long edges being hemmed and the other just folded. This gives a different tension which results in the curve (see below).

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Polka-dot Cravats - creating artwork

As I mentioned recently, thanks to some friends, I have had unique access to an entire Six Costume and have been able to get pattern traces for a majority of items.

The first thing I want to have a go at making a set of replicas of are the cravats. I had access to the red and yellow versions (see right), from which I have taken detailed measurements, photographs and most importantly, direct scans of the fabrics.

I had previously handled a turquoise cravat at the Bonhams Auction in 2009, and took some decent detail images at that time (see left).

After comparing the images from the auction with the red cravat, I think I can use the same artwork for both, just choosing an appropriate colour match for each.

Wednesday 3 February 2010


Well, today has been a long, and very exciting day!

The week started with me finally finishing my Five Coat, and ended with personal access to some unique costume items.

A friend who commissioned me to make him a pair of Five Trousers was interested in having his own Five Coat to go with it, but was keen to see mine before ordering one for himself. So I agreed he could visit so he can see it first-hand.

During our conversations arranging this, it came apparent that he was more a fan of the Sixth Doctor and owned a number of screen-used original costume pieces worn by Colin Baker. Wow!
I tentatively asked if he could bring them along so I could maybe get pattern traces, photographs and detail scans of fabrics for reference, with a view to making replicas. He was most agreeable. Game on!

The pressure to get the Five Coat finished was on me two-fold: the sooner I could complete it, the sooner I could see the Six Costume.
So, this weekend he came by and after inspecting my Five Coat (which he was suitably impressed with) we turned to his collection of Six Clothes. And what a list it is. Fantastic!

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Bonhams costume sale - 24th February 2010

In a few of weeks time there is another costume sale at Bonhams in Knightsbridge, this time selling off a vast number of items which have featured in the various exhibitions that have been held around the country.

Since I covered the previous auctions at Bonhams on the 16th June 2009 and 16th December 2009, I felt I should do the same for this, but because there are SO many items on offer, I have split them up by Doctor.

Sunday 3 January 2010


This week marks the start of a new era: Matt Smith as The Doctor.

It also heralds the start of another unintended project of mine – on as you may come to read, I had no desire to begin.

At first glance, the new Doctor’s costume is somewhat arid of reproducible, unique items, so though I find it interesting (but not to my taste) I could see little I to indulge my sewing skills on.

But as time progresses, the off-the-peg costume he wears has become increasingly difficult to track down, and I have been approached by a number of cosplayers asking if I would be looking to replicate the shirt he wears.

My first thoughts were that it was out of my capabilities, having never made a shirt before.
But I hadn’t made trousers before making my Five and Six Trousers, so maybe I just need to learn.

As a coincidence, the set-learning part of my recent college course covered shirt-making, showing me it was actually a little easier than I thought.

So, I’m up for the challenge . . .

You can start to follow my progress on my new blog: