Well it’s been a little while between posts for me, but I took on a rather large project which I’m about to share with you.
If you hadn’t heard about it – and frankly, how could you not? – yesterday was the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. Although I’m not so die-hard that I’ve watched every single episode of the original series, I have seen quite a few, and I’m a big fan of the new series too.
The special was screened in cinemas all over the world, so Sister One booked tickets for the both of us. With the special looming only ten days away, I made the insane decision to make a costume. Cosplay is something I’d always wanted to have a go at, and this seemed like a really good opportunity.
With a couple of different options in mind, I made a mad rush to the opshop in my lunch break, and when I saw a gold-and-embroidered formal dress I knew my decision had been made: Idris!
So there was an episode (Season 6, Episode 4) where the Tardis is personified into a human body, played by the amazing Suranne Jones. Idris is whacky and manic as the ‘Lady Tardis’, but what captivates me (and most people, I think) is that she is the Doctor’s constant companion – the one companion who’s been with him from the very start. She stole him, you see.
Anyway, so of course that dress was the one I decided to make. This is what I started out with:
One gold formal dress, consisting of lined, boned bodice and taffeta skirt with a chiffon overskirt; a purple chiffon skirt with a pinkish satin underskirt, a brown lace dress and a green taffeta halter top. All of these things were found at op shops within the last week; it was kind of uncanny how all the pieces just came together. One could say… timey-wimey.
I started by making a hi-low cut to the skirt. I used the offcuts to make the ruffles – at which point I realised I was not going to have enough fabric from the skirt to make the ruffles all the way around. This is where the taffeta halter top came in, supplying enough material to make the longer ruffle at the back of the skirt – although it was a different colour, it was similar enough to work with the rest of the fabric.
Then I used the purple chiffon overskirt to make a ruffle which I attached to the gold skirt’s lining, to make an under-ruffle.
Next thing to tackle was the bodice. It was about a size and a half too big, so I put it on Suzanne inside-out and pinned until it fit better. The side seams came in, a tiny dart at the front of each armhole, two vertical tucks down the bodice front (I would have done one central one but there was boning down the centre which I wanted to keep), and a small tuck in each shoulder strap. It also came in a bit at the back when I replaced the zipper.
The original zipper was WHITE and stood out like you wouldn’t believe – I replaced it with the invisible zipper from the green taffeta top. It wasn’t an open-ended zipper, which would make getting in and out of the bodice difficult; I put it in upside down, so the zip opened from the bottom, to minimize that difficulty.
The brown lace dress I hacked into indiscriminately, separating the sleeves, bodice and skirt. The lace skirt I stitched on to the gold taffeta skirt as an overskirt. It was too big, but I wanted a bit of extra at the back for a couple of reasons: so I would be able to do up the skirt zipper, and so the bustle would have some room.
The brown lace sleeves got stitched onto the armscyes of a plain beige long-sleeved tee. This would be worn under the gold bodice.
Now it was time to create some embellishments for the bodice! I ripped into the chiffon overskirt from the gold dress, cutting it into strips and plaiting them into ropes about 12mm wide. I also made a couple of bows from scraps of the green taffeta.
Once I had finished adjusting the gold bodice, I put it back on Suzanne and placed the brown lace over the top. Using the picture of Idris as a guide, I pinned the chiffon braids on, then hand-sewed them into place. I had to use a bit of artistic license on the back of the bodice, as I hadn’t been able to find many pictures of her back, even after re-watching the episode. Luckily I found this great post showing a breakdown of another Idris dress creation which helped me a lot. I wish my wardrobe was bigger on the inside!
I had plenty of the chiffon so I positioned a couple of bits over the shoulders, just stitching the centre of one side to the shoulder seam and securing each end with a few stitches too.
I roughly cut the brown lace off just outside the chiffon braid, leaving a bit of a border. The last bits of brown lace got sewn onto the ends of the brown lace sleeves, creating a ragged look.
The beauty of Idris’ costume is that the characters of Uncle, Aunty and Idris were living on a ‘scrap’ planet (in a pocket universe, but that’s another story), so everything they had was made from scraps, bits and pieces that had fallen through. Even the characters of Uncle and Aunty were made from secondhand bits, having been ‘repaired’ more than once by the sentient planetoid they lived on. So, in my opinion it’s completely in character for this dress to be made from secondhand items, and to look ragged and distressed.
Finally we’re getting to the end of this mad creation! Now, Idris wore a bright orange underskirt, which I didn’t have. I did have a pink satin underskirt left once I’d chopped all the purple chiffon off. So I nipped off to the fabric store and bought a pack of iDye Poly in orange, and boiled the heck out of it. It turned the most gorgeous colour! (If you look at the picture above of the bodice being pinned, I had the skirt wrapped around Suzanne’s waist to get a smoother silhouette – that was the colour it was before.)
I liked it so much I thought I might actually wear it by itself one day, so I decided I wouldn’t cut into it, instead just putting a few stitches here and there to make the front shorter than the back.
I made one final trip to the op shop, 2 days before the movie, in search of some black velvet to make the scarf thing Idris wears wrapped around her waist. I scoured the dress and skirt racks looking for something, anything, in black velvet, but no joy. I had finally resigned myself to a nasty black top that would look sort of velvety at a distance, when I happened over to the sort of random haberdashery area of this particular Salvos. Lo and behold, some awesome person had donated dozens of what looked like a slip cover of some kind – in cheap black stretch velvet! They were basically a bag about the size of a pillowcase with ribbons sewn on one side. And they were only $2 each! I grabbed two and tossed the nasty black top back on the rack.
Then as I walked back past the handbags, I had a quick rifle through – jackpot! For $8 I scored this adorable little wristlet, in the exact right colour and style.
There was a bit of purple chiffon left so I cut out 2 plate-sized circles and overlocked them together, leaving a gap. This was going to become my ‘bum roll’ so I would have a bustle. I used the ribbons from one of the black velvet thingies as waist ties, and hacked into a cushion for some stuffing.
One of the black velvet thingies was cut into strips and plaited to make ties for the waist-scarf, and the other I simply draped around Suzanne’s waist until it looked right, then pinned and stitched, and finally attached the plaited velvet ropes. The ribbons cut from the second velvet thingy were tied around the ends of the ropes.
A few accessories to finish the outfit: my witchy-poo boots, and my Leona Edmiston green fishnet tights.
And, unbelievably, it was done!
Some eyeliner, a few bits of chiffon pinned into my hair, and I was ready to steal a Time Lord.
You can see here I got the bustle-y silhouette I was after.
Here’s some other lovely cosplayers I found at the cinema! I like the serendipity of having the Doctor, the Master and the Tardis all together.
I hope you enjoyed this post! And if you’re a Whovian, I hope you loved the special as much as I did.