Costuming, Doctor Who

Rose Tyler – The Idiot’s Lantern

I spent a large chunk of my weekend pushing myself to finish this dress. I’ve had everything I’ve needed for ages, but my wig arriving on Friday was the kick in the butt I needed to get working on it. It also occurred to me that, with the husband coming home on Thursday, it would probably be wise to get as much machine sewing out of the way so I could spend more time with him. Hand sewing is easy enough to do sitting on the couch together while we catch up on shows he’s missed while deployed, machine sewing involves a whole different furniture setup and not being next to each other. Gotta have my priorities in order with having him back!

The bodice of this dress is from Simplicity 4070, but the skirt options the pattern provided didn’t quite work for me. The pleated option is only three knife pleats on either side, and not nearly enough volume along the bottom. I ended up doing a lot of math and then coming up with a multi-panel circle skirt to get the amount of fabric I needed at the waistband for pleating, and the volume at the bottom of the skirt.

Friday night I cut out and assembled the bodice. It’s a layer of the duchess satin with the sequins on top. Each piece had the sequin fabric basted to the satin and then serged, so I could treat it like one piece of fabric. Putting it together was fairly simplistic, and I hand-stitched the seam allowances open on the inside of the bodice. Pressing things with sequins doesn’t really work, and I did steam it on a low heat setting to help with the satin, but it just looked nicer once I tacked it down by hand. The pattern called for a center back zipper, but I didn’t want that, so I left the left side of the bodice open to put a zipper in that seam instead. The lining is under the outside fabric on the dress form, just not attached yet. 

Saturday morning I woke up and got going on the skirt. The math behind the pleats kept me up half the night, thinking over and over about how I could do them. I’m a bit picky about the details, and I was determined to have the pleats match all the photos I’ve been able to find of the dress. As best as I could tell, there’s 14 box pleats on the front and 14 on the back, with the center being on a slight angle as opposed to straight up and down.

Just to test that my math was correct, I cut a strip of broadcloth that would be the same length as the top of the waistband and started pleating. It worked out quite well, and I was satisfied enough that I was ready to cut the duchess satin.

Same as the anniversary dress, I bought way too much fabric. I actually might put a dress together as the Simplicity pattern originally intended with the leftovers, just so it doesn’t go to waste. Here’s the leftover fabric on my cardboard cutting mat, as well as the front and back pieces of the skirt spread out on my couch to show how much fabric is in the skirt!

Once I had the skirt pleated and stitched, I put it on the dress form over the petticoat. It was a lot heavier than I expected, and sat lower which had me worried.

That’s a lot lower than the waist of the bodice, so I was actually really worried that my math had been completely wrong. Fortunately it worked out; I was off by about an inch total on the left side where the zipper went, but I was able to put the zipper partway into the pleats on either side of the seam allowance and still have it look great.

All finished! It was about 11pm when I had everything put together. The lining is tacked down inside the bodice, along the waistband and the zipper all by hand. I hadn’t steamed the waist yet, so it doesn’t look as nice as it does in the next photos. I was way too tired at that point to perfect it, so I did it Sunday morning when the best friend demanded I dress up and take photos.

These aren’t the greatest photos.. All of the ones I took in my mirror of course had my phone and mirror in them, so I put a couple of end tables on top of each other on my balcony, and set the timer on my camera. Of course it was raining and grey out, so the colour is rather drab outside. I’m really happy with how it turned out though! Since these photos I’ve made a small adjustment to the jacket; the elastic in the wrists is so tight that it leaves imprints on my arm after pushing it up, so I’ve swapped it out for something a little less constricting. Other than that, I’m thrilled with it and can’t wait to wear it to Fan Expo!

9 thoughts on “Rose Tyler – The Idiot’s Lantern”

  1. Thanks! :)I did not make the jacket. Making the jacket was a backup option; with all the stuff I’ve been working on for Fan Expo I didn’t want to add any more work than necessary. I got REALLY lucky and found this one on eBay. Just a few small adjustments (changed the elastic in the wrists as it was really tight and uncomfortable when pushed up, and I still have to add the zipper above the pocket) and it’s perfect.

    1. It wasn’t cheap, but I wouldn’t call it expensive. I went hunting for the correct type of fabric, which is a matte satin (duchess satin, peau de soie, it has so many names). Getting the fabric itself into Canada was the major cost, as that was about $120 with customs. The sequin fabric was $30. Jacket was $30. Shoes were $45 + about $15 in paint/acrylic spray/craft foam. Jewelry about $10, fishnets $15 and wig was $20. The petticoat cost about $30, but I made that for this and one other dress so I don’t really count it as part of the expense.If you can find the fabric in a store near you (I’m hoping you’re in the USA, fabric is WAY cheaper there), it’s not overly expensive. I ordered 8 yards and used about 4-4.5. The sequin fabric I only needed half a yard but had to order whole yard increments.

  2. This is awesome!! 🙂 I’m planning on this being my Halloween costume. What kind of sequins are these? I’m looking for the right kind to make the top for the dress.

    1. Unfortunately it looks like the place I got it from, Spandex House, doesn’t carry the fabric anymore! It was seq-451, a light/dusty pink 3mm flat sequin stitched onto 2 way stretch mesh.

      I’ve seen a lot of people make this dress with a pink sequin tube top. There’s LOADS on eBay!

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