I never got into cosplay as part of the Geek Pantheon. I worked in theatre, so I guess I got my sewing fix without having to pour over film stills, looking for the best fabric to make my Klingon come to life. And on those rare occasions when I actually get to go to a Con, I’d rather worry about my comfort level, versus how my facepaint is holding up. But, I have always loved Halloween, and (like most all Americans) would start planning my costume MONTHS in advance. This is Baby Alex’s first Halloween, so I knew I had to go all out for his costume. But what would he be?…
…Well, of course, it would have to be Doctor Who. For those of you who don’t know, DW has been a running theme in our relationship. We met over an article I wrote that featured the Doctor. Monkey got David Tennant to ask me to marry him (I know, I know, you have every right to be jealous). I quoted Amelia Pond in my marriage toast. So, obviously, it *had* to be the Doctor.
Here’s the thing, folks: This show has been going for almost 50 years. There is a universe (several universes, in fact) of material to draw from. So, what should I dress my son as in homage to my British hubby, who loves DW and doesn’t quite get Halloween?
The Fifth Doctor.
Monkey’s Doctor was number Five. It’s the Doctor he grew up on, it is *his* Doctor. Unfortunately, none of the Doctors are known for their simple outfits. Below follows my process in dressing my child as a Timelord, or how you can cosplay without breaking the bank.
The process started a few months ago, by scrounging the local charity shops. I found a button up white collar shirt and white cardigan for a few pounds apiece, and a corduroy jacket that, while not matching the fabric or color of the Doc’s jacket, at least is the spirit of the outfit. I also found a little baby hat that *might* be starchable into the Doc’s fedora.
GEEK TIP: Do not freak out when creating cosplay. It’s not about breaking the bank, it’s about having fun. Unless you are entering a costume contest where they get wicked nit picky, it’s not a big deal.
Now, the pants were a whole other issue. There was no way I was going to find a striped pattern in a kid’s size. I could find some light baby pants and then paint on stripes, but that would drive me insane. Clearly, I was going to have to make them from scratch.
Using the pattern provided by the amazingly talented Ms M ofSpaceCraft, I cobbled together a basic pair of pants, sans elastic (I chose to make them a bit bigger, and use a drawstring, as I was designing all this a few months in advance, and babies grow ridiculously fast). I also scoured fabric stores looking for a pattern which approximated the DW look, while also looking normal on my kid. I think this pattern does a good job of looking baby-normative (the stripe isn’t too wide).
Putting the charity ware and pants together does give you an idea of where the costume is headed. However, there is a long way to go.
GEEK TIP: If you are not a master seamstress, get some basic pieces and adjust them as needed. Cosplay is why God invented hot glue guns.
Next up was embellishing. I haven’t embroidered in a lifetime, but after a large amount of puncture wounds, I was able to get the question marks on without too much bloodloss.
The trim on the jacket took forever, but wasn’t too bad either – I found using clear nylon thread for EVERYTHING to be a Godsend, as I didn’t have to worry about a contrasting color within a pattern.
GEEK TIP: If you are also in London, go to Goldhawk Road and Shepherd’s Bush Market in W12 for all your cloth and notions needs. I got really nice trim for 30p a yard, and they will help you find everything. Love them. Also, Nylon thread is a win. If not in London, search your local out of the way shops, they are a treasure trove!
The toughest part was yet to come, though. I had to figure out how to make a baby cardigan a cricket sweater. By the time I got around to tackling it, Baby Alex had grown out of the bloody thing – it wouldn’t fit under the coat. So, I very carefully cut the arms off of the sweater, and made sure the arm holes were intact.
As a basic knitter, this was terrifying – I was whispering apologies to whatever little grandma had lovingly knit this for their baby as I unraveled yarn. However, after a bit of sweating (and a lot of swearing), the arms were off and colored ribbon was sewn onto the neckline to give the illusion of a V neck.
GEEK TIP: If you are freaking out about making the “perfect” costume, don’t make one at all. I only know of one person out there who is an absolute master of it, a Miss Kelly Bailey in California. She has been featured on Entertainment Weekly and multiple other publications and books because of her creations. No one will ever be as good as her in my book. So don’t worry, just do your best and have fun.
Finally, I needed to do the hat and pattern. Starching was out of the question (I couldn’t find any that would make the hat stand up and not bother baby’s skin), so I focused on the hatband. Some enterprising geek has actually created the hat band for sale on the fabric site Spoonflower (which is a fabulous site by the way), but I couldn’t spend $20 (plus postage) for essentially a shoestring sized piece of fabric. So, I bought some cheapo ribbon, some Tipp-Ex (White Out in the US), a Sharpie marker, and did my best. Not too bad, I think.
GEEK TIP: When doing cosplay on a budget, think outside the box!
The Doctor’s major accessory is his celery stalk, and while I am sure my kid would love to nom on roughage all day, I wanted something a little less of a choking hazard. A quick crochet and knitting later (no pattern, just winged it), and this stalk will stay fresh forever.
Putting it all together, I’m pretty proud of the result. Sure, it’s not perfectly canon (the stripes on the shirt are missing a white portion, and the jacket is the wrong color and fabric, etc), but it’s obvious to a geek who he is, and more importantly, to my husband.
FINAL GEEK TIP: Cosplay is about celebrating the world of your favorite creation. The best cosplayers are the ones who truly take joy in their geekdoms, not the ones who get hung up on the cost, or get overly pedantic on the details. Enjoy your geekiness. Baby Alex does!