Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Budd Shirtmakers - tying up loose ends

So far I’ve shown how Budd Shirtmakers have provided shirts for both Peter Capaldi and Matt Smith.

Well, while I was chatting away to them at their Piccadilly Arcade shop, I found out they also made a number of Matt’s bow ties!!!

Specifically the final three worn in the latter part of series seven.

The first they made appeared in the episode Cold War.



This was shot in very dark and often coloured lighting, so its a bit hard to make out the true shade of the fabric, but I think it is a dark grey to olive colour with a design of light coloured circles in a grid formation.




Their next featured exclusively in The Name Of The Doctor.

Again the episode was shot in mirky, dim lighting so it’s near impossible to fathom the true colour.

However, with luck this bow tie was given away as a prize in the Anniversary week issue of the Radio Times, along with a nice clear photo to illustrate it.



I showed the guys at Budd that it had been a competition prize, and they didn’t know it had happened.

Finally they made the more widely seen bow tie that featured in The Day Of The Doctor, and The Time Of The Doctor.



This is a deep purple colour with a open-spaced polka-dot design.

Abby Shot have made a replica of this bow tie.

When I found that Budd had made these bow ties I naturally asked if they had any left, or if they could remake them to order.

They then told me the curious story behind their creation.

The bow ties they make are best thought of as a by-product.

As well as making shirts, Budd produce top quality silk dressing gowns from short run silks sourced from a variety of weavers. Once the gowns are made the off-cuts - so they do not go to waste - are recycled into bow ties!

This makes them very thin on the ground as only a handful are ever produced in any one fabric.

We had a rummage through the box of left over silk, but none matched these ties.

I even suggested that if one of the dressing gowns was still for sale I would buy it and have it cut into bow ties!
Sadly all were sold and they weren’t too sure what the workshop would think about butchering one to recreate what they regard as purely a by-product of their work!

So, funny to think after finding just a white shirt, the same source has turned up a further screen-worn shirt and no less than three bow ties!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Fabric Friday - Cashmere tweed

This week on Fabric Friday I come to one of the most misunderstood tweeds to grace The Doctor’s back - the purple Cashmere.

This is really the one fabric that inspired my weekly sharing of Doctor Who materials, since it is the one I am asked about most often by readers.

Many come to me with alternatives or even thinking they have found the real thing at another outlet, but none have its distinctive weave, which unless you see it close-up you won’t appreciate.

For such a difficult fabric to match you’ll be surprised to find it is made from only two yarns: one is a deep purple colour, giving it the base hue; the other is an almost burgundy brownish colour, which criss-crosses in a grid.

It is the brown yarn only that is highlighted with sky blue flecks.
The fabric came in a full width 54 inches wide.


These images are directly scanned from fabric that was part of the bolt that was cut to make Matt’s screen-worn frock coats. They have then been colour-matched back to the material to give the best visual representation of the fabric.

Being a true 100% cashmere it is the softest fabric you’ll ever have the pleasure of touching and brings a smile of envy to anyone who gets to stroke it!

This fabric was an absolute exclusive to W Bills and is not available anywhere else. Only one bolt was woven in this colourway, and it sat on their storeroom shelf for a few years before it came to the attention of the BBC.


The scarify of the yarn - especially the brown with the sky blue flecks - has meant that weaving a perfect match is simply not possible, though W Bills did look into it knowing it would eventually sell out.


Sadly nothing came of it before W Bills was sold to a new owner.
Only time will tell if they have interest in taking it further.

Here is what one of my favourite archive books has to say about Cashmere.


CASHMERE is a fine, soft, silky hair obtained from a goat in Tibet. There is an all-wool cashmere made from worsted yarns. Coburgs, Henriettas, Jockey cloths, Paramattas, are all cashmeres.

Check back next week for the exclusive on another fabric from Matt’s wardrobe - something I bet you didn’t see coming!

The Day Of The Doctor -
definitive ID on the blue shirt

If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you hopefully will have seen news that the white shirt worn by Peter Capaldi has been definitively identified as coming from Budd Shirtmakers, of Piccadilly Arcade in London.

If you were very astute you might have noticed there were two shirts on the counter when I was speaking to James MacAuslan, their talented young cutter who made the shirt.


The second is a stock blue shirt which I found out was THE shirt worn by Matt Smith in The Day Of The Doctor!

Yes, for once The Doctor was wearing a simple off the shelf shirt, I gather because Matt was always too busy to come in for a made-to-measure appointment.

It is Budd’s Blue End On End shirt, and is freely available to buy online at their website and costs £125. The days of The Doctor shopping at TopMan are long gone.

However, before you buy if you sign up to the Budd online newsletter you get a special discount code which will give you £20 off your first purchase.
Signup here, or on the Budd website For £20 Off your first Shirts

Personal Information


I will just mention that having seen the shirt in-hand, the colour on the website is not an accurate match. It is bluer and definitely the right shirt.


The shirt forms part of their current core range and is still available in all sizes, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting one.

It may well be just a blue shirt - but it is THE blue shirt!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Fabric Friday - Shetland tweed

This week on Fabric Friday, I turn my attentions to the Shetland tweed used to make the jacket first seen in A Christmas Carol.

The jacket was a smarter, more tailored cut compared to the Harris tweed and Donegal versions seen in series five.

The elbow patches were dropped - though this seems to have been an oversight since they reappear in the very next episode.

The tweed used came from W Bills and has been likened to a plaid, though it is not truly defined as such.

The fabric has a distinct orientation, with bold vertical stripes of darker brown mixed with a lighter beige colour.


These images are directly scanned from fabric that was part of the bolt that was cut to make Matt’s screen-worn jackets. They have then been colour-matched back to the material to give the best visual representation of the fabric.
The only discernible pattern repeat horizontally are some narrow orange stripes, which are at irregular spacings, alternating between 35mm and 45mm.

This can make the fabric a bit awkward to use when pattern matching, as the true pattern repeat is effectively 75mm.

Woven in 100% pure Scottish wool to a full width of 54 inches wide, it comes from the island of Shetland off the coats of Scotland.



According to one of my favourite vintage tailoring books, Textile For Tailors, the Shetland tweed is woven in a twill, or common twill.

This creates the distinctive diagonal banding in the stripes.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Fabric Friday - Donegal tweed

This week on Fabric Friday I’m bringing you the second of the jacket fabrics from Matt Smith’s wardrobe.

After shooting a handful of episodes with a single vintage Harris tweed, the costume department produced a number of jackets for Matt to wear, all made from Donegal tweed sourced from W Bills in London.

The hand-woven fabric was made on foot operated looms, and so was only a half-width 36 inches wide.

The weave is very simple: a light coffee colour in one direction in a plain or hopscotch weave with a dark chocolate colour in the other direction.
The lighter of the two colours has a flecking in the same shade, which gives the fabric the slightly corse appearance.

I have seen a number of very similar Donegal style fabrics, but their flecking has been in other colours such as red or green. These can ruin the appearance of the fabric.

With the very nature of the weave the fabric is reversible and looks the same from both sides, though it does need to be orientated consistently.

These images are directly scanned from fabric that was part of the bolt that was cut to make Matt’s screen-worn jackets. They have then been colour-matched back to the material to give the best visual representation of the fabric.


Here is what one of my favourite archive books has to say about Donegal Tweeds.

DONEGAL TWEED is another fabric of cheviot quality woven either in the plain or the two and two twill. The warp yarns usually spun from natural-coloured wool and the weft yarns from fibres of different colours dyed before spinning. The cloth has excellent tensile strength and good elasticity; the surface fibres are usually levelled by cutting in the finishing routine.

My book also has some information on the style of weave.


I’ll publish the next tweed from Matt’s wardrobe soon, so check back to see the ever popular Shetland Tweed.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Fabric Friday - Harris tweed

Each week I get a number of emails from readers asking for help with patterns or fabrics.

Aside from suggesting a few sources I can’t really help much with patterns.

My assistance with fabrics also has to be a bit limited as I’m getting mine from the original suppliers, which don’t come cheap; or using my own weavers to recreate discontinued lines which takes a lot of investment and time.

So I thought I’d create Fabric Friday, and each week bring you a bit of detail on the materials used to create the Eleventh Doctor’s wardrobe.

Many readers are on budgets, so screen accurate materials can be prohibitive. Their only chance is to find something similar or evocative that can do the job - so long as you don’t look too closely.

The most requested at the moment is the Cashmere used to make Matt’s frock coat.
I’m asked what is it like - or is this or that fabric close enough to use.

Only once you see the fabric in-hand can you realise how unique it is.

So what I’d thought I’d do is share some detailed scans of the fabrics used for Matt’s wardrobe to once and for all give the definitive reference guide, going through from series five to seven.

Worn for the first episodes shot was a vintage Harris tweed jacket.

The jacket dated from around the 1970s and was made from a Mackenzie two-by-two dogtooth fabric.




As you can see, it’s woven from a beige, brown russet and green thread.


Here is what one of my favourite archive books has to say about Harris Tweeds.

HARRIS TWEEDS are tweed fabrics made from pure virgin wool produced in Scotland, dyed and finished in the Outer Hebrides, and hand-woven by the islanders at their own homes in the islands of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra.
Originally, hand-spun yarn was always used, the carding and spinning being done by the women during the long winter evenings at the fireside. Later, in 1911, the Harris Tweed Trade Mark required that all processes, with the exception of carding, should be done by hand, but owing to the ever-increasing demand for Harris tweeds it was found necessary to obtain yarn from mills on the mainland.
Today, most Harris tweeds are Woven from machine-spun yarns, but the term “ hand-spun” is used in the case of those tweeds made entirely from handspun yarns. The yarns are thick and fibrous, and the fabric is made in the plain or a simple twill weave. Harris tweed has all the characteristics of a good cheviot fabric — elasticity, a fibrous surface, good strength, and good colour tones. The natural dye called crotal and the drying of the cloth by the heat from the peat fires give the fabric its characteristic aroma.
Owing to the scarcity of crotal dye synthetic dyes are now being employed in the colouring of yarns for Harris tweeds.

My book also some some information on the style of weave.



I’ll publish the next tweed from Matt’s wardrobe soon, so check back to see the Donegal.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

My tailor's bookshelf

I’m often asked where I get my patterns from and for tips on how to make garments.
Since tailoring is now my full time profession I’m not at liberty to hand out the patterns I have created and refined.

But what I can show you is my bookshelf of reference material I use when I’m in need of some direction or inspiration.

I use a mixture of modern and antique books.

Many of the vintage books I have contain contemporary instruction on how to draw up frock coats, lounge jacket and waistcoats, all with that distinctive Edwardian twist.

The more modern books give me construction ideas using up to date fabrics and interfaces.

It is a mix of these two that helps me do what I do.
Here’s the full current content of my library.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

W Bill - The End Of Time

I can announce some very sad news today.

W Bills, the supplier of tweeds for Matt Smith’s costumes, has been sold and is changing hands. It’s future is currently uncertain.

W Bill has provided cloth for a number of Matt’s costumes, from the series five Donegal tweed; to the series six Shetland Tweed; and finally the gorgeous Cashmere frock coat from series seven.

All of these began their lives as bolts of anonymous cloth on these shelves in W Bills basement showroom a couple of streets from London’s Savile Row.

The longstanding stalwart of their showroom, Ray Hammett - who has worked for the company since 1947, when he joined aged just 17 - has retired, although reluctantly.

From what I gather large amounts of stock are in the process of being transferred to the new owner’s premises in Exeter, leaving a skeleton range of short lengths.

It is unclear if fabrics exclusively woven for W Bills will be repeated or requested by the new owners.

This means the Shetland Tweed used for Matt’s series six jacket could well be discontinued.

If it is picked up by the new owners, there could be a gap in production while they review and replenish stock.

Luckily I found out about this change of hands shortly before it happened and was able to secure the entire remaining stock of Shetland Tweed, just over thirty metres.

This means I can make a few jackets yet, or if anyone wants to buy the fabric by the metre, they can drop me a line and I can give you details.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of getting a jacket made in the original fabric - NOW is your possible last chance!

All Saints boots on eBay

Just to show the All Saints Layer Boots can still be found on eBay, a pair is currently up for sale.

The seller knows what he has, so the Buy It Now asking price is a full £250!
Ouch!!!

All Saints Layer Boots
I am selling my second pair of these boots.

Worn by Matt Smith in Doctor Who.
Good condition, see pictures.
Comes with original box.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Matt Smith’s costume tests

Some photos have been doing the rounds on the net, and I’ve avoided reprinting them here, but the latest was posted by Karen Gillian herself, so I’m kinda thinking they aren’t being seen as too confidential.

Most of the photos relate to a costume test day held to finalise Matt Smith’s costume as the Eleventh Doctor.

The first shot shows Matt wearing a cream coloured long coat.

From what I understand this is a costume Ray Holman was developing for the Eleventh Doctor to wear. For whatever reason it was shelved.

Ray can be seen in the mirror taking the photo.

Next Matt is seen in a short sleeved white t-shirt, under a black high-cut waistcoat, worn with black jeans and a leather belt.

It’s hard to tell, but Matt may or may not be the All Saints boots which were his specific choice.

Next Matt adds a simple three-quarter length black coat.

Matt then changes outfit, adding a large dark grey coat, with a grey tie and shirt and the black waistcoat.

It’s amusing to remember that costume designer Ray Holman also choose the Belstaff coat for Sherlock, and this look isn’t so far removed from that.

The next look is all a bit piratey, with a red and white striped t-shirt under another waistcoat.

This waistcoat doesn’t have the extended points at the bottom.

The jacket over the top has brass military style buttons.

Matt looks less impressed with combining the striped t-shirt with an overcoat.
Next Matt changes the the striped t-shirt for a checked shirt.

The discarded t-shirt can be seen hanging on the rail behind him.

The jacket and waistcoat look to be the same - don’t be distracted by the very different lighting between this and the previous shot.

Matt then switches the brass-buttoned jacket for a leather one.


Finally Matt tries on a Paul Smith shirt, with braces and a bow tie -
The Doctor is in the building!


The last photo, which Karen Gillian posted on Twitter, is the very first time Matt and Karen were taken together in full and final costume.

Matt’s jacket is the Harris Tweed seen in Time Of Angels and if you look closely he is wearing a blue bow tie with the burgundy shirt (as above), a colour combination never seen in series five.