Thursday 29 December 2011

The story of Tasteful Six

As you may have been reading, I recently took a very exciting trip to Chicago TARDIS.

On the Saturday Night I entered the costume masquerade, and won the prize for Best In Show: Workmanship (see right).

I cannot tell you how proud I was to have won it. I had never entered anything like it before, and wasn’t sure what to expect.

I know these events can either be frivolous or greatly competitive – and I was aiming for the upper end of that. There were over forty entries, so a wide range of costumes were on show. My dream was to get some recognition for my tailoring, so to get Workmanshipwas a great privilege.

I had considered entering one of my Matt Smith combinations, but I thought something from left-field would attract a bit more interest, so I wore what I described as a Tasteful Six!

This was made up of my Colin Baker Frock Coat, all made in a single colour melton with matching velvet lapels (see left).

Now, what I didn’t tell you was the FULL story behind the costume. I couldn’t say much at the time, but as you will read there was a reason – and why I can talk about it now . . .

Monday 19 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 . . .

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Chicago TARDIS - award winning Six

I’ve just got back from an exciting weekend in America for Chicago TARDIS.
You can read my full report of my four days at
Chicago TARDIS below
The headline guests were from the Peter Davison and New-Who eras, so I’m afraid there was little for the fans of Colin Baker.

Most of the weekend I wore various versions of Matt Smith’s costume, but for the Saturday evening I wore one very special outfit . . .

The time was right to premiere my Maroon Six outfit. It is another prototype test piece for my planned screen-accurate Colin Baker coat. To make it into a complete outfit I have borrowed back the trousers from the Purple Six costume I made earlier this year, plus some wedding wear I have.

Around this time I was toying with the idea of entering the Masquerade, a Saturday evening competition for the cosplayers. I’ve never done anything like that before, and I know it can be hotly contested. I then had the dilemma of which costume to wear, since I have so many with me.

Although my Matt Smith costumes are undoubtedly the best at the event (my trump cards of scene accurate fabrics and authentic items is hard to top) I am more proud of my Maroon Six outfit, as it has been highly tailored and finely made. So I decide this is what I want to enter.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Frocky Horror Show

I wouldn’t normally share something like this, but I spotted this item on eBay and, well . . .

I am always more than happy to encourage others to pick up a needle and thread – in fact I have been contacted by a number of readers who have been inspired to do just that after reading my blog.

Most notably are the parents of a very lucky young boy who now has both a Matt Smith AND David Tennant outfit to play in!
If you haven’t seen this, you GOT to click the links

But the maker of this outfit on eBay has gone a step further by offering his effort for sale.

Here is the item description. I will leave you to form your own opinions.
On offer for sale is a quality tailored bespoke Blue Test Coat outfit very similar to that worn by Colin Baker in the ever popular TV series of Doctor Who and has been made for the use of fancy dress purposes . The costume was made using quality items of clothing. I will list the items so that you are fully aware of the sizes and design labels used in this outfit which would be suitable for a wonderful Colin Baker costume but i must emphasise that this is clearly not a licensed product of the BBC , just a quality outfit :
  1. Grey and cream stripe trousers by cotton traders approx size 32 / 34 
  2. Van heusen shirt collar size 16 1/2 with blue gingham to collar inside and out, along the full length of the front button section and cuffs and grey embroidered question mark to collar 
  3. Blue silk waistcoat large with blue fob chain
  4. One blue and One grey Polka dot long cravat bow tie 
  5. Finally, Multicoloured blue test coat with variety of tartans, blues and grey materials size 40 / 42 approx

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Eric and Weeble!

I bought these little beauties a while back, but I thought it was time to share them with you.
But before going into details of their background, I thought I do a quick run-down of all the cat brooches Colin Baker wore - don’t worry, there’s actually only seven.
During his time as The Doctor, Colin Baker incorporated his love of cats into his costume in a couple of novel ways: inside the yellow lapel of his coat he added a cat silhouette for every adventure he got under his belt (see below, right); and on the pink lapel of his coat he had a cat brooch (see below, left).

The apparent plan was to fill the yellow lapel with silhouettes, then move onto the pink, but this was completely abandoned after Revelation Of The Daleks, and the silhouettes were never seen again.

Brooch One
The first brooch was a china tortoise shell cat, which was used from The Twin Dilemma through to Vengeance On Varos.
I was lucky enough to get myself an exact copy in 1985, when the artist who created it did a very limited run of replicas (see left).

This is always the one that sticks in my mind, as it was used the most and I had one on my prized Sixth Doctor Frock Coat replica I had made (see right).

Sunday 16 October 2011


Over the past months Forbidden Planet have been progressively releasing t-shirts of The Doctor’s iconic costumes.

So far Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven and Ten have been released.

This month not only sees the First Doctor join the gang, but the first to depict an enemy of The Doctor - the Cybermen!

The t-shirt shows the version seen during their triumphal return in Earthshock after an absence of many years, and also in Attack Of The Cybermen.


Thursday 13 October 2011

The Doctor meets the press

Just thought I’d share an interesting little press article I found being sold on eBay.

It’s from around early 1984 (no date is on the clipping) and concerns The Doctor’s new costume.

it is funny to see how the press reacted to the explosion of colour - especially since the accompanying photo is in murky black and white!

What caught my eye though was a comment about his waistcoat.
There were two waistcoats made, one with tails and one without. You can clearly see the tails in a scene during Vengence On Varos when The Doctor removes his coat.

It was sort of assumed he wore the tail-less waistcoat most of the time and only donned the tailed version when it would show, but the article specifically mentions the tails.

Anyway, enjoy.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Ultimate Six Frock Coat: the easy fabrics -
colour matching round six

I’m still plodding away at my fabric matching on my Six Frock Coat, and I’m determined to get to the end – and still have my sanity!

Just to remind you, so far I’ve been able to sign off the Purple Felt (Fabric 2); the Peach Wool (Fabric 4); the Red Felt (Fabric 5); the Yellow Lapel (Fabric 7);  and the Pink Felt (Fabric 11).

This now ONLY leaves the Green Felt (Fabric 3).
Fabric 3

We’ve now done four rounds of lab dye tests on this green – and it’s still not quite right. If it wasn’t for the fact that it is quite a prominent colour I might be tempted to let it go, within a tolerance – but we’ve come so far, it would be disappointing to fall at the last round.

Well my friends who own the original coat are not without compassion, and to my surprise they agreed to me clipping the tiniest amount of the green from inside the coat, where part of the hem had come adrift.
This meant I could send the dyers a real-world sample for them to match and show their worth.

Today the latest swatches arrived – and they have come up trumps!


I see this as the first major landmark reached, and a turning point in this project. I have now definitively matched six of the fourteen fabrics I need – just under half.

Okay I’ve got some work to go yet – least of all the woven fabrics and the lining from hell – but reaching this point gives me a boost that this can be done, so long as I keep at it and remember my goal.

I’m going to start ordering the bolts of dyed fabric I now need for these six colours, in preparation for finally cutting and sewing my Six Frock Coat.
I can’t wait!

Monday 1 August 2011

The Ultimate Adventure costume

Over on the dw_cosplay forum, one of my readers has posted a very interesting and well researched investigation into the custom worn for the Doctor Who stage play, The Ultimate Adventure.

With permission, a shortened version is reproduced below, but you can read the full version here:
One costume which remains equal parts iconic and obscure is the redesigned stage version of the Sixth Doctor's costume, made for Colin Baker's run in the 1989 stage play Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure.

Various behind-the-scenes reasons have been given for the redesign of this costume from its original TV version. Some sources have suggested reasons of technical suitability for the stage; increased heat from stage-lighting as opposed to a television studio, and the physical action required by the Doctor in a stage production without stunt doubles, meant a more breatheable and freely-moving wardrobe would be required. Other sources, including Colin Baker’s website, indicate that Colin himself suggested the aesthetic changes simply because he had never been overly fond of the original, and finally had his chance to improve upon the design. Whatever the reasons, various changes were made to the costume on multiple levels. New fabrics were used, notably incorporating purples and blues which would not have been usable on television due to the CSO (blue-screen) effects. Existing patterns were modified, some wardrobe pieces were replaced with entirely different ones, and other tweaks and additions were made.

The main problem for costume enthusiasts like us where this costume is concerned is that there seems to be almost no substantial evidence of it in circulation anymore.

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 Sixth 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

Sunday 26 June 2011

Ultimate Six Frock Coat: the easy fabrics -
colour matching round five

Following my recent access to the original Six Frock Coat, I think I’m finding myself in a really good position with the six “easy fabrics” I am striving to match.

So far I’ve been able to sign off the Purple Felt (Fabric 2); the Peach Wool (Fabric 4); the Red Felt (Fabric 5); and the Pink Felt (Fabric 11).

This just leaves the Green Felt (Fabric 3) and Yellow Lapel (Fabric 7).
Fabrics 3 and 7

Last time when we compared the Yellow, we found it to be too light, and needed to be warmer.
I got my trusty Pantone book out and have suggested Pantone 116 as a guide.

The Green was also too light, despite going through three rounds of lab dyes to get to that stage.
In an attempt to pull the colour closer, I again referred to my Pantone book and found 356 was a good guide to colour.

Well today the latest - fifth round - of swatches arrived.

The dyers did two levels of yellow with a warmer base: one to my suggested Pantone 116; and the other with the same amount of warmth added on top.
It would appear the first of these was the better option, and I can now sign this off.

The green is better too, but word has come back that it needs another tweak! I’m getting to a point now where I wish this was over - but if the job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

Just need to work out how to break the news to the dyers . . . .

Monday 30 May 2011

Ultimate Six Frock Coat: the easy fabrics -
third comparison

This last weekend has been one of those exciting occasions I get to see first-hand the original screen-worn Six Frock Coat. It’s always a privilege to have the chance to lay it out on my workbench and admire the craftsmanship it contains.

It may be a technicolour yawn of fabrics and styling, but the way it is made is beyond explanation, and since I have learnt all my tailoring skill I can now see the superb craftsmanship that has gone into making this coat.

Anyway, the reason it is here is to progress my work on my own Six Frock Coat, and give me the chance to assess the work to date on matching the solid colour fabrics.
Fabrics 3, 4, 7 and 11

With the coat in front of me, I can compare for myself four of the unsigned off colours I am working towards.

I am looking at the Green Felt (Fabric 3) and the Peach Wool (Fabric 4) from the latest, fourth round of lab tests; as well as the Yellow Lapel (Fabric 7) and Pink Felt (Fabric 11) from the very first round.

The Green Felt (Fabric 3) is proving to be a bit elusive. I had assumed - wrongly - that it was merely a green baize as used on snooker tables, but it is much more of a grass green compared to that.
The colour of the latest swatch is too thin and light, so I might have to take a different route here.

The Peach Wool (Fabric 4) from the latest round of tests is now an amazing match.
There is nothing I want to do to this to improve it - it is PERFECT!
My supplier also has a exact match for the fabric to use, so this one is truly nailed.

The Yellow Lapel (Fabric 7) is getting there, though at the moment the yellow I have is to bright. It needs to be a warmer shade.
Not too much work to do here.

Finally the Pink Felt (Fabric 11) is looking pretty good.
It is a little paler by comparison, but it won’t take much now to tweak it into a match.
It is also the least used colour, in a single narrow panel on the back, so I’m not losing too much sleep over this one right now.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Ultimate Six Coat -
pressing all the right buttons

With all the complexity of the design of the Six Coat, as well as the complication of all the different fabrics and colours, the coat’s one saving grace is its lack of fastenings up the front!

This means I don’t have to fuss around with buttonholes or buttons.

Well, I say that, but there are two buttons on the rear of the coat (see below), which will need to be matched if I am to do a half decent job.

They are large, red and have a shank. They also have a raised rim around the outside with a gently domed centre (see right).

In all my time looking at buttons for a variety of projects I have never come across anything remotely like them. This maybe a little more tricky than I thought.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Ultimate Six Frock Coat: the easy fabrics -
colour matching round four

So after three rounds of lab testing the colours I need, I have arranged a direct comparison with the real coat to see where I’m at. Results have been good, and I’ve feed back some info to the dyers.

Time for round four!
Fabrics 3, 4

This round I am concentrating on two colours: the Green Felt (Fabric 3) and the Peach Wool (Fabric 4).

I showed the dyers the comparison photos and gave them a description of where to go next, and today I got the answer to their efforts.

That Peach is looking pretty damned good, though I can see another round coming for the green! It is still lacking the depth of colour it needs.

Plans are for the original coat to visit me again before the end of the month, so I won’t order another round of lab dyes until after that, so for now I just have to wait and see.

Monday 18 April 2011

Ultimate Six Frock Coat: the easy fabrics -
colour matching round two

I’m starting to see some serious progress on matching the fabric I need for the coat.
Fabrics 3, 4 and 11

Following on from the initial batch of dyed samples from my supplier (see left), I have been able to feedback some comments.

So far I have been able to sign off on the Purple Felt (Fabric 2) and the Red Felt (Fabric 5) as he has been able to match these spot on.

From memory the Yellow Lapel (Fabric 7) looks pretty good, so I will wait to compare it to the original coat before deciding there.

For now I’m looking to revise the Green Felt (Fabric 3), the Peach Felt (Fabric 4) and the Pink Felt (Fabric 11).

Today I’ve received the next batch of lab dyed wools (see below) and although the Pink Felt (Fabric 11) looks better, I think the Peach Felt (Fabric 4) has gone too red and the Green Felt (Fabric 3) is too thin.

I’ve fed back my comments and will wait for the next round of test. Watch out for the latest news as soon as I have it!

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Ultimate Six Frock Coat: the easy fabrics -
second comparison

My efforts to match the solid colours on the six Frock Coat are going well.
I’ve been able to sign off two of the six colours needed, and I am well on the way to matching the rest.
Fabrics 4 and 11

Last month I sent over a clutch of swatches for comparison to the original coat, and was pleasantly surprised with my results.

I always knew the Green Felt (Fabric 3) needed work, and now I have seen where I am at with the Peach Wool (Fabric 4) and the Pink Felt (Fabric 11) I had an idea.
Both had gone too light, partly under my instructions to the dyer, so I wondered if the previous round of colours were actually closer than I initially thought.

To this end I sent over the Peach Wool from the second round, and the Pink Felt from the first round to see how they faired.

As it turned out the Peach was closer, though still too light and the Pink was much closer, though could be a shade darker.

This definitely gives me something now thats worth feeding back to the dyer so we can do the next round of lab dyes.

Can’t wait to see what they come up with!

Monday 11 April 2011

If the Sixth Doctor made mugs

Just had to share this moment of amusement with you, especially if you’re a Sixth Doctor fan!

I was shopping in Waitrose this week and chanced upon a couple of coffee mugs.

We had a number of chips and breakages of late, so were looking around for some new ones anyway.

There was a range of designs and colours, none of which really grabbed me - until I noticed a set of polka-dot ones in a range of colours.

For some reason they had a bee motif on the inside, but the polka-dots on the outside reminded me of the Sixth Doctor’s cravats - and they came in red and turquoise!

That made them a no-brainer and we had to snap them up.