Sunday, May 5, 2013

Clara Dress Planning

So I have a confession: I'm a big fan of Doctor Who. I got started on it a couple of years ago by a friend, and now I'm hooked. I love it for all its cheesy plotlines, silly special effects, and all-around campy goodness. The characters are surprisingly well-developed and it appeals to my general anglophilia.

Imagine my delight when I found out that PEERS is hosting Doctor Who-themed ball this summer: The Doctor Dances. The ball is set in London in 1941, so either 1940s dress or Doctor Who inspired clothing is appropriate. At first I wasn't certain which direction I would go in, but after viewing the Christmas special in December, I had a clear vision: I would make one of the 1880s dresses worn by Clara, the Doctor's new companion, in The Snowmen. 1940s is not an era I have any experience in, so something Victorian would be more my speed.

At first I thought I would make the beautiful and formal day dress she wears through most of the episode, when she is working as a governess to two children:

Clara on the left — I love this dress. It's elegant and graceful, and rather historically accurate for a popular TV show!

The more I thought about it, however, the more I was worried about dancing in this dress. The long sleeves and high neck don't allow for ventilation, and the whole thing feels a bit too buttoned-up for a ballroom. Luckily, this isn't the only dress Clara wears in this episode. In the beginning of the show, she moonlights as a barmaid in this spicy red number: 

Much more suitable for dancing, no? Lower neck, shorter sleeves, and though you can't tell in this picture, the hem sits about 6" off the ground. Perfect for swirling about in a ballroom!

The dress appears to be 4 separate components: the scarlet brocade bodice, a matching draped overskirt,  a dark reddish-brown ruffled base skirt, and a red underskirt. I plan on using TV460 1885 Cuirass Bodice as my pattern for the bodice, and an assortment of diagrams in books for the skirts. I'm also knitting the shawl (there's a minor plot point involving it — it would be a shame to leave it out), and I'll wear my new American Duchess Tavistock button boots with the ensemble.

This is my first time attempting a close replica of an existing costume or gown. I'm already enjoying the process immensely. I've been researching and planning for several weeks, and I've managed to find all the necessary materials The sewing should be quick and easy — I'll post again soon once I've made some progress!


  1. It is very beautiful. This is my favorite style...

  2. Oooh, fab. I'm guessing you haven't watched the latest episode the crimson horror yet? Lots more lovley frocks.

  3. Hi dear! I stumbled across your blog and was excited to see this post! I made Clara's governess dress for a friend, and to be honest it was trial trying to figure out the draping of her odd blue bustle. I'm looking forward to seeing your progress of your dresses!