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 . . .

Sunday 13 November 2011

The BIG Bang!

I got some sad news this week.

My friend in Canada – he of the Tennant Coat I made him; home-made TARDIS; and that photoshoot – told me his said TARDIS had fallen on hard times.

I mean, REAL hard times.

Shockingly bad hard times.

He had not been able to store it properly since moving house earlier this year, so it had to be stored flat-pack style in a pile outdoors at a friend’s house.

Over the months it got an infestation of bugs, which ate their way through the structure, from the inside!

Like the painting in The Pandorica Opens, his TARDIS has completely fallen apart.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Carry On Doctor!

Well, my coats are starting to get seen places!

My friend in Canada, Justin Monk, was recently approached to be part of an unusual photo-shoot for a new website. Called Nerd Girl Pinups, it certain does what it says on the tin!

To kick off there’s some nice shots of Justin in full Ten outfit, posing by his home-made TARDIS!

Some great coat action going on there!

Then up pops our Nerd Girl Pin up!
Or is it Rose ...?

And - well!

Things seem to start to get a little - how shall I say - steamy?

And I had Justin down as a happily married man!

Friday 12 August 2011

Lining regeneration

Early last year I totally revamped the Tennant Coats I had been making by changing pretty much all of the materials I was using.

Originally I was using Malabar in walnut (see below, top left); a plain navy blue satin lining (see below, top right); a standard orange silk for the pocket welts (see below, bottom left); and a run of the mill one inch faux horn button (see below, bottom right).

The revisions I made were to improve the colour of Malabar I used to Teak, which is much more screen accurate (see below, top left); I sourced a self-striped navy lining (see below, top right);  found the exact orange silk that had been used for the real coats (see below, bottom left); and discovered a supplier for more accurate buttons in the right size and design (see below, bottom right).

But as ever I am always striving to get things better, and I recently had a bit of a unexpected push which has improved things even further.

Monday 1 August 2011

Turning the collar

You may know that I have been attending College in Hemel over the past year or so, and have been learning many new skills and techniques.

This past term was devoted to hand tailoring used in jacket and coat construction – just the sort of thing I have been keen to expand my knowledge of.

I have been putting these skills into practice, and in the past couple of weeks I have applied this to a Tennant Coat I have been working on.

I have used a very stiff, coarse canvas specially designed to use under collars. I cut it on the bias so it stretches and shape of the collar I am making, and cut it to the net size, without seam allowance (see below, left).

This is pad-stitched to a piece of thick felt that will form the under collar (see below, right).

Notice how just sitting on my workbench, the collar already wants to keep its shape.
The way it is sewn makes the fold sharp and resistant to falling flat. No amount of fusible interfacing can create this effect so efficiently.

Once this is put in place in the coat, the upper collar drapes over this firm support and gives a much better finish and look.

Sunday 10 July 2011

London Film & Comic Convention 2011 -
pre-event London tour

Today I’m going to the London Film and Comic Convention at Earl’s Court, and since I’m gonna be in London anyway I thought I’d go along to the BritTours Doctor Who tour.

We have to meet at Temple station on the Victoria Embankment, and the tour is by bus so we can take in so far flung locations.

First up is St Peter’s Steps, which lead up to St Paul’s Cathedral. This was seen in the cliffhanger to an episode of The Invasion, the 1968 Cyberman story with Patrick Troughton. I had been here a number of times before, and seen it prior to the remodelling that took place which saw the office block to the right change from glass to red brick; and the construction of the Millennium bridge, which spans the Thames to Tate Modern close to The Globe Theatre on the south bank.

What I hadn’t seen before was the manhole cover out of which the Cybermen are seen burt at the start of the sequence; and the pub further up the steps where they are seen walking past at the end of the scene. The street has the most amazing name - Knightrider Street, which substantially pre-dates the American 1980s tv show I’m sure you are thinking of right now!

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Down to a tee

Forbidden Planet’s relentless release of The Doctor costume t-shirts continues with the upcoming Tenth Doctor (see below).

It represents David Tenannt’s costume as seen in either Smith And Jones, The Sontaran Stratagem, The Poison Sky, The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith (from The Sarah Jane Adventures).
It’s an odd choice and you would have thought they would do the brown suit, not the blue, however, it does depict one of the most sought after ties from the Tenannt era.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Customer review - Josianne Morel

Photo by Scott Sebring

Earlier this year I got to meet a number of my clients when I attended the Gallifrey One convention. We had the chance to get together for a unique photo-shoot with five of the Ten Coats I had made!

One of the group, Josianne Morel (
see left, seated), is one of my more unusual clients – a woman who cross dresses as Ten.

Here is her review of the coat she commissioned from me.
Photo by Minh Doan
This whole adventure started early this summer when I discovered Doctor Who. At first, I didn’t want to cosplay The Doctor, as I am a woman and that I really don’t have the same body structure as David Tenant, but I soon figured out that I loved the character way too much not give it a go.

So I started to look around for others who had done the outfit before. A few names popped up: Magnoli’s tailoring shop, Baron Boutique, etc. When I started to enquire about the trench coat, one name kept popping up over and over again: Steve Ricks. A lot of fans and costumers were telling me that he was making the best replicas of Tennant’s trench coat out there.

Photo by Minh Doan

Wednesday 23 February 2011

A convention, but not as we know it

This is gonna be an interesting entry to write.
You got to remember I am a UK based fan of a British show, but the majority of my readers reside in the US. Nonetheless, I write with a UK perspective and UK terminology (they are TROUSERS, not pants; it ’s a COAT, not a jacket!). So what follows is a British view of how the US handles my precious series.
I am not actually a big convention goer, a least not to the format of events such as Gallifrey. Back in the 1990s I used to run and organise conventions for The Prisoner appreciation society, with Portmeirion (the principle location for the series) as our venue. There was nothing like it. We would watch episodes in the village town hall, and if you glanced out of the window you could see the buildings you were seeing on the screen.

We would all dress up in the colourful costumes from the programme and parade around the village recreating key sequence. The clothes were fairly easy to replicate, and no-one went in for excessive detail – it was the overall look they were going for, and the mass effect was than the eye needed.

It was awesome, and having been spoilt like this for over a decade,  I never really took to the hotel-based events, since they could never compare to a live Portmeiricon event.

So when I started to get into the new Doctor Who I found a thriving community of cosplayers, all showing off their costumes and swapping tips and discoveries they had made. It didn’t occur to me that most of them were in the US. The internet makes the world seem so small!

The first event I went to was a pub screening and after party for Journey’s End. I had not long finished my latest coat a the time (the Mk III), so was keen to show it off with my newly bought Magnoli suit. We arrived a little late just as fifty t-shirted people turned to look at us. I tell you, it was an OK Corral moment! NONE of them were in costume, except for me. It was mid June and hot, and crushed together in a room with fifty other sweaty bodies made for a less than comfortable evening!

I naively thought all the dressing up happened at UK conventions too. Oh dear – emphasis on the naively.

Sunday 20 February 2011


One recent fixture of the Gallifrey conventions has been Scott Sebring, who provides a photoshoot service to cosplayers and their costumes.

Photo by Scott Sebring
Where most conventions would make a charge and rush people through, Scott (being a fan himself) takes his time to make sure everyone gets the shot they wanted, and does not charge them a cent for doing so!


Using professional lighting and a decent background, he churns out quality shot after shot, giving a gloss to the efforts of every costume maker.

While at Gallifrey I bumped into a couple of people I had made coats for, and they were proudly wearing them too! They weren’t expecting me to be there and were suitably surprised.

It was an opportunity I could not miss, as when I am asked to make a coat it is done and gone, and two are rarely together at once – this weekend we have FIVE of my coats (including my own).

Scott was dressed in an excellent replica Peter Cushing costume while taking our photos, which was a bit weird, but only added to the atmosphere of the day.

Once we co-ordinated everyone to be at the same place at the same time, we just about squeezed onto the background, and with a bit of nudging up we fitted in frame.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Doctor Who Experience -
Tenth 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 Tenth Doctor fan and giving them a more detailed look.

As I don’t run a blog for the Ninth Doctor, I’m including him here - after all, he pass the baton to the Tenth.

I gotta stop doing this to myself!

The busiest week of last year was in late June, when I went to the Bonhams Auction on the 23rd; a Tour Of Cardiff on the 24th; a Tour Of London on the 26th (clashing with the broadcast of The Big Bang); and reviewing the Cloth Ears Six Coat on the 27th.

Well, this week has been the 2011 version – and it’s only February!!!

It all started off on Monday with a sort of downer, as I finally had to ship out the Tennant Suit I had made for Kevin Coppa so he had it in time for Gallifrey.

Tuesday was - well I’ll come back to that later, but the evening was fun. I had the offer of free tickets to the Brit Awards at The O2 (see right).

It was hosted by The Lodger star James Corden.
For those that don’t know, The O2 was built in 1999 as The Millennium Dome and formed the centrepiece of the UK’s year-2000 celebrations. It has since been turned into a concert venue. It featured in the pre-credit scene for the Bond film, The World Is Not Enough.
Thursday was the official opening of the Doctor Who Experience exhibition at Olympia, near Earls Court (ironically where the Brits were held for many years, until this). I had pre-booked tickets for the first entry on the first day, paying a bit extra for a premium package. You can read about that under Doctor Who Experience Preview.

Then there was Friday.
Well this was’t planned - well not prior to Tuesday at any rate, but after waving the suit off on it’s journey to the US, I was just compelled to follow it and see how it all went at Gallifrey. So on Tuesday I had gotten myself a Visa Wavier, return flights, and a room at the LAX Airport Marriott Hotel, so today I flew out, landing at 2pm.

I cleared customs by 3.30pm and went straight to the hotel, checked in and dropped off my bags to then change into my Ten outfit. I was then ready to track down that suit!
I found Kevin in the cosplay room, giving him the shock/surprise of his life – he never expected me to show up!

Come to that – I never expect me to show up!!!

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Doctor Who Experience –
press article

Had to share this nice little article from yesterday’s London Evening Standard.

I can’t wait to get to along to the preview days next week . . . 

Sunday 16 January 2011

Tenth Doctor costume transition

If you have been following my blogs you may have seen the coverage I have done of the costume transition scenes at the beginning of a new Doctor’s era.

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

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.

We never saw a transition scene for Christopher Eccelston, so it wasn’t until David Tennant took over did we finally get a New Series spin on this classic key scene.

This fell firmly under the TARDIS Dressing-up Room Scenario, with a fantastically re-imagined dressing-up room, courtesy of The Mill’s special effects gurus!

To start with we see The Doctor scanning racks and racks of clothes, pausing over a red military tunic (see left) before settling on his brown pinstripe suit and stunning long brown coat (sorry, you know how I LOVE that coat!) (see below).

Of note here is a Tom Baker scarf on the right of the picture, which apparently is owned by then producer Phil Collinson – knitted by his mother!