Doctor, Doctor, give me the Who

So, this is the first blog entry for HISS studio, and just up front, the postings will be SPORADIC at best, but hopefully highly entertaining, so come back and see what’s new when you can.

I have a friend named Joe, who I’ve known since high school. Actually, I think Joe and I met in junior high, but we started hanging out in high school when we were in the Chess Club together. Yes, you read that correctly….CHESS CLUB. We actually weren’t too bad at it either, took a few trophies, won some state championships, stuff like that. In fact, our whole little circle of long time friends comes from this band of merry chess geeks, and though some of us are a little fatter, greyer, with kids, or in lame careers nothing else has really changed. And that includes our core, fully steeped geekery. We read Ender’s Game before it was a lame movie (and still is an awesome book), were riding invisible horses before it was cool, and were mythbusting when it was still called physics II lab.

ImageJoe and I get together every couple of weeks and geek out on stuff, one of which is Doctor Who. I have Joe beat on this by a good 20 years (I started watching on PBS at 10 or so) but he’s got me beat on the recent ones (I’ve only seen a handful and need to catch up). One night while sampling a new whiskey Joe mentioned how he’d like a coat like David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, which I have to admit is a really striking and sexy piece. Even you non-geeks out there have to admit, this is a NICE great coat.

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So we discussed it a bit, and looking at the pictures, it didn’t look TOO complicated, so I offered to make him one for a Christmas/birthday celebratory goodie. In exchange, Joe is working on some killer wooden tops that convert ironing boards into tables for cutting fabric, which will be a great space saver and tool for the studio. At first blush, both of us figured our projects were pretty simple with some minor modifications and panache, but as both of us have gotten farther into each undertaking, both have their interesting challenges.

What is not very clear from the images here is that this amazing coat has a hidden vent that runs up the entire length of the back, with buttons at the bottom and pinnings at the center shoulder and waist detail. There are no such patterns available on the market, so my goal was to basically get as close as I could with a commercial pattern, then redesign the elements needed to get to the final Tennant coat. I had read in several other postings of Whovians undertaking this challenge suggesting to start with Vogue 7988, which is a discontinued Steampunk style coat.

ImageWhile this is sort of ok, it is missing a bunch of stuff….double breasted front, collar is off, back is plain, pockets are good, lacks side shaping, needs length. Changing the front to double breasted was not what I wanted to do, I would rather start with that and work my way around, so I chose this Vogue 8940….

ImageThe collar is WAYYYY off, and the pockets need to be moved, along with the shoulder seam (front overlap as opposed to top seam) but the drape and feel seemed closer to me than the 7988. Plus I could get it on sale right now, instead of finding one on Rusty Zipper or Ebay.

So I got the pattern, got some fabric on super duper killer sale at Colorado Fabrics, (which now I am hoping I got enough fabric! EEK!) and proceeded to shelve the project for two (ok, three) months while I had work stuff and other things to hash out. While straightening up the Room of Requirement where my sewing/painting/computer/library stuff is, I came across the wonderfully drapey wool I acquired for Joe’s coat and said “Oh shit, moth season is coming!”

So you can thank the Moths for this blog on the coat. And my sister who said it was a good idea to write all the steps down for my students out there.

I thought about the pattern and the final goal of the Tennant coat, and finally had some sort of plan on how to attack getting the pattern into shape. So let’s begin.

THE COLLAR
Since this seamed like the easiest and quickest way to get into the mood for taking on this challenge, I started with the shaping. Here’s the two side by side for referenceCameraAwesomePhoto

GREAT collar view

GREAT collar view

Note the shape of the lapels, droopy and rounded on the starting pattern, clean and sharp (ish) on the Tennant coat. So the first thing I did was redraw the edges and get rid of the rounds.

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I started by making copies with tracing paper and tissue so I could work with the pattern without being distracted by the lines made by the manufacturer, and also so I could modify without fear of destroying my original. I made a copy of both the upper collar and the facing, as that is what you see in the picture, and planned on applying the changes to the undercollar and front after I got the collar shape where I think it should be.

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I then added points to the round edges, and pinned the collar and facing together in a mock seamline, so I could determine the angle of the dangle on the shaping. You’ll note that the facing piece (lower section) has the seam allowance tucked under, where the upper section does not. I initially started with the SA tucked under, but to get the spaing accurate had to let out the SA and make a note to add it back in later. So this is now my “sloper” (though I would not use that term, but it may help some of you out there understand the goal) or base pattern to apply to my new front.

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Here is the new drawn collar, and you can see where it resembles the Tennant coat accurately. Now it’s time to apply this to the printed pattern and make yet ANOTHER copy.

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Okay, so here we have two new versions of our upper collar and facing in process. The important thing to note here is my nifty seam allowance tool (the teardrop/airplane wing thing in the upper collar picture). Since I took OUT the SA to get the shaping accurate, it have to put it back IN, and this little gadget makes it easy. **A big shout out to Jamie of Denver Sews (DSC) who gave a great presentation involving this tool.** The collar is a finished copy with SA added, the facing shows the layering/pinning required to get the new shape in place and graded into the original design. See the dots? HUGELY important to keep the placement accurate.

Ok, that’s enough for today. Next time, I’ll get into how I modified the internal welt pocket design, and tackling the under collar and front modifications to match the upper collar and facing.

Sew long, and thanks for all the fish.