Sunday 28 March 2010

Les Random Shoes

Well today I am up at the crack of dawn – actually even earlier – it’s 4am!

I am off to Paris for a special one-day event at the invitation of Jonathan Le Targat, who co-runs a French Who fansite called

A funny series of events have got me to Paris.

Jonathan contacted back in November to enquire about buying a Seven Hanky. I sent him the details and he was very impressed with what I was doing.
He then said he wanted to ‘partnership’ my hanky with his website – he said his English was not very good – but let’s be fair, his English is much better than my French!

What he was offering was to advertise my hankies on his site so that his members could get access to classic series replica props and costumes. At least, this would happen when the site was revamped and up and running.
Basically, if I could supply some images and a written text about them, he would translate it and add it to the site.

I was more than happy to oblige and received some free publicity in the process.
In return Jonathan wrote a review of the hanky he bought, and you can read that in my Customer Review page.

Then just after the new year he contacted me again, this time talking of giving me a special members card, which would give me access to future paid events for free. I didn’t quite know what he meant, but he was asking for a photograph of myself to go on this card.
I dug out a picture of me at Crich, posing with the original Police Box they have there, and he was most impressed! (see right)
He later explained that I was a special member of their association – I guess a sort of honorary member. I was very flattered.

Friday 26 March 2010

The Photos Of Peril

For those who read my earlier entry, All Change, you will know I have radically shaken up the fabrics I am using to make my latest Tennant Coat.

Although I am still using my fabric of choice – Malabar – I have found a much better colour match to the screen used material, which in reality is a lot darker than you might think.

Anyone who has engaged me in conversation about the fabric for my coats will know how much I love Malabar!
My reasoning is because it has a very natural feel to it defying its 100% polyester label; has a luxurious weight; drapes just right when made into a coat; is tough and hard wearing; washable at 30degrees; and is a nice material to actually cut, handle and stitch.
So to find a better colour and still be Malabar was fantastic bonus.

I have been plotting and working on my newest coat since just before Christmas, when a friend pointed me towards the Self-Striped lining on sale at a store in Los Angeles. Later I did a coat for Benjamin Rudman, and he specifically wanted this to be used for his coat (see right). The results were very nice and I had to admit the new lining handled a lot better than the heavy satin twill I had been using to date.

I think it was the idea of making myself a new coat using the more screen-accurate lining that made me take a second look at other fabrics I could revise.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was planning to go to the Time Quest 2 event, so I had an incentive to get my new coat done in time for this.
Besides, I had recently sold my then current coat to Roland (see left) in anticipation of making a new coat, so for a brief period I did not own a Tennant Coat I could wear – at least not one I actually liked.
I might explain that comment at some future time.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Customer review - Ian Cummins take 2

Ian has already commissioned a coat from me, and he wrote a review you can read here:
Customer review - Ian Cummins
But he had to commission another one . . .  here’s why.
The story so far ...

I commissioned Steve in July of 2009 to make me a Tennant Coat, the details of which can be found in another review I wrote which appears on his blog. Needless to say, that particular coat exceeded my expectations, as did Steve's customer service. Often when you’re parting with wads of cash to enter into some mail order type transaction, the potential for disaster can be quite considerable. And, often, your fears are fairly well-founded, like when you order the Dark Knight cape and cowl, so you can sweep through the icy night, gazing at the glittering city below from atop churches, your night-black cape whipping against the stars... and you get something made of party hat plastic with a hair-thin piece of elastic stapled to it to keep it precariously perched on your nose. As many of you who read my initial review of my first Steve Ricks Tennant coat can attest, this certainly wasn’t the case with that particular garment.

There was, however, one tiny issue with the coat, which many people would have been happy to overlook, or possibly not have even noticed at all. But to a psychotic perfectionist like myself, it was an insurmountable problem. The hem was about three inches too short. (cue dramatic musical sting ... Da-da-da ... DUUUUUUUUMMMM!!!) I know, I know, who cares, right?

Well, me.

To me, one of the primary features of this coat is the very fact that it's ankle length, which is a rarity in any off-the-rack coat. And three inches makes all the difference (I never believed my partner when she said that, until now). I should reiterate though, that this had nothing whatsoever to do with Steve, his skill as a tailor, or his communication. It was squarely on my shoulders, as I had miscalculated the length of the hem. By THREE INCHES!!! I had supplied Steve with the numbers, and he had cut the coat to exactly what I had asked for.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

All change!

I make no bones about it – I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist.
If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right!

Now, I am also a realist.
That means that sometimes, just sometimes, you have to compromise and use an alternative if the goal you are aiming for is truly unobtainable, or just not justifiable on a budget. But it has to be a good alternative.

But occasionally, even finding the perfect materials can be double-edged sword, especially when it does not live up to expectation.

The Alcantara is a case in point.
Ever since the costume design display at the Earl’s Court exhibition last year, a hand-written note (see right) caused a frenzy of forum activity, and the hunt was on to find out what it meant, and ultimately track down the fabric the coat was made from.

I hunted high and low, and despite the main Alcantara range being easy to find, it lacked the colour needed, and just lacked the texture and feel of the coat I had seen at Earl’s Court.

Ultimately I did find a range from Alcantara that is a good match and I got a swatch to take along to compare to the coat on display (see left).

Under the rules of if it seems easy, it’s not, the fabric soon proved to be from a discontinued range, with no supplies in the UK, so I had to import it across Europe at enormous expense, bringing the cost to over £75 a metre. Ouch!

Monday 1 March 2010

Customer review - Roland

So, another happy costumer who has no idea what he can write about Steve’s gorgeous work that has not been said already. So I’ve dicided to have a look back at how I came to buy one of his coats at all.

I’m from Germany and Doctor Who is almost unheared of here. The 2005 Series ran in television two years ago but with very little success and was cancelled very fast. Still I watched some episodes and liked it quite a lot. When David Tennant took over from Christopher Eccleston, I found that rather strange (having no idea about this whole regeneration stuff) and I gave up on the series. Quite a mistake, as I found out a few month later, when I remembered the show and gave it another try. I really liked Tennants Doctor and what very soon cought my eye was the Doctors new look. This long, smoothly flowing coat did just look amazing and worked just well with a suit. I always liked long coats, but never saw anything like this. Everything I’d found before was somehow looking like from an old Western and that was just not the thing.

So, after seeing that coat on Tennant I kept looking for anything like it in the shops, but, of course, there was nothing there. I had never been into cosplay so not knowing where else to look I considered google and ended up with the obvious sites. Magnoli was the first thing I found, but at that time spending such a fortune on a piece of clothing seemed rather ridiculous. Besides, the pictures of the Magoli Coat didn’t make me want it that much, it looks way to stiff, the colour didn’t seem right and after looking at some costumer images i was sure that this was not it.

Next place to go was ebay, and drawn in by the cheap price I ended up ordering a coat there form the seller tssy2005. Those people were nice enough and the coat arrived quite soon. It does look ok, considering the price, but it was nowhere near the real deal (see right). Just to start, the lining was black and it didn’t really fit around the shoulders (which was probably my mistake in measuring).