("Missy - Dark Water / Death In Heaven" Cosplay Build Diary

If you want "Just The Facts" of the costume's components, visit my costume breakdown page.

February 2015

Further real-life problems prevented any updates but here's the conclusion. I just barely got the costume ready in time for Gallifrey One and I'm quite pleased with it. I'll be making some more tweaks but given some last minute screw-ups (you don't want to know how I almost ruined the skirt) I'm glad it turned out as well as it did. Here, have some pictures! Click to enlarge, of course.

      

(At the "Idiot's Lantern" show Gallifrey One, 2015. The Master finds himself set up on a blind date with a strangely familiar woman...)

(One thing I learned after I saw the second photo: tack the lapels down from behind if you have to!)

And a whole slew of us had a meet-up because that's what you do at conventions!

(Some Post-Dated Progress Photos)

December 2014 and January 2015

  

Flush with success from drafting the blouse pattern, I decided to draft the jacket pattern from scratch, too. "How hard can it be?" I thought. Answer: for a neophyte drafter, very hard indeed. The version on the left was the third mockup and, really, I should have done a fourth but I was running out of time. I've since taken the jacket in about 3/4" in the back to get something more like the snug fit of the original costume, but I think turned out okay in the end. 

One thing, though. If you're going to use a fabric with even the tiniest amount of stretch, stabilize the stuff before putting in welt pockets. I didn't and I paid for it. The openings are wobbly and even that took me about an hour per pocket to achieve. 
 


 

The almost-final version of the blouse (minus buttons and buttonholes) with the brooch I was lucky enough to score. WARNING: the Spoonflower fabric *will* bleed if you wash it in anything other than warm water. It's not much and there's no noticeable fade, but there is a some ink loss. Guess who had to spot treat one of her sleeves and ended up with a blotch? I'll be remaking the shirt at some point - sigh. Fortunately, the jacket hides it.

December 2014

I've been busy with Real LifeTM stuff but progress is ongoing... The big news is that I caved in and created my own version of Missy's blouse fabric on Spoonflower.

And I gained enough confidence in my pattern drafting class that I've drafted custom patterns for the blouse. The test run for the blouse is below (yeah, it needs ironing and there are some goofs). The jacket is still underway.

Click for larger

November 2014

So, now we've had the "big reveal" about Missy's identity. For ease of writing and because, oddly enough, someone might visit this page and not already know, I'll keep referring to her by that name... I just don't want to plough through all of this and update the text. ;)

October 2014

About a month ago, I saw the leaked/advance pictures Missy's purple walking suit and fell head over heels for it. It's Edwardian and gothy and stylish and, like most SF fans of a certain age, I love purple, so I decided that I have to make it! I haven't actually started sewing yet and I'm not sure I'll get it done in time for Gallifrey One in February - because I'm already up to my eyeballs in a massive cosplay project for that convention - but I feel obliged to share the reference pictures I've gathered and what I've gleaned about the costume. I hope you find this page useful.

(Apologies, my CSS skills have failed and the layout on this got all funky on me. A fix is underway...)

A Whole Lotta Pictures - The Suit

Click on any of the pictures to see them full size.

 

 

 

  

     

   

(the last two are from the Doctor Who Experience, Feb 2015. Credit sought.)  

Not Quite As Many Pictures - The Blouse

Click on any of the pictures to see them full size.

 

 

Accessories: The Brooch

Click on the picture to see it full size.

 

(BIG pic - good detail of the blouse too - and the safety pin apparently keeping the brooch on!)

Accessories: The Hat (And Hair)

Click for larger

 

Accessories: Rings and Bracelets

Click on any of the pictures to see them full size.

 

Accessories: The... Thing? (And Other Things)

First image is click-for-larger, the second two are, alas, tiny little images shown full sizes.

 

 

      

So, What's Going On Here?

I'll tackle this in the same order as the pictures presented.

The Suit - Jacket and Skirt

The script describes Missy as "a gothic Mary Poppins", so a logical place to start would be the setting of that story: the Edwardian Era. Research shows a lot of similar matches, so if you want to use someone else's sewing pattern rather than drafting your own (because if you're doing that, you probably don't need to read this!) you can find a lot of options via a range of companies.

The fabric: is almost certainly a wool suiting. If you have a lot of money to spare, you can find purple wool suiting at various places, including my favorite store for such things, B. Black & Sons (details below). Gaberdines in wool/poly or even pure polyester can do the job. Be sure to flat-line anything that's on the lighter side.

Jacket notes: the FRONT of the jacket features a 'fisheye' dart running from bust to below the waist, and then a second dart running from just below that point to the bottom edge of the jacket, not princess seams. The lines of the darts almost align to the seams of the center front panel on the skirt.

The BACK of the jacket does not have a seam down the center back, but it has a vent at center back (oy) and if you look very closely at it, you can just about see the princess seams running up the side back from the bottom of the jacket to the armhole. Yes, that means it's darted in front and princess-seamed in back. Usually, a garment will use one style or the other, not a mix of both, but this one seems to be an exception to the rule.

The buttons are not functional. The front is probably held closed with hidden hooks and eyes. Functional welt pockets. Five buttons on the jacket's center front, three buttons at each cuff. Notice how high the lapels are. Also note how closely the jacket is shaped to the actor - it's very clear when you actually watch the episode and observe the costume "in motion". Speculation is the original item is made of wool and was shaped with seams AND steam.

Skirt notes: The skirt looks like a pretty standard "walking skirt" of the Edwardian era. Be sure to make it to "walking" length, not full-length. Take a close look at the seams on the center front panel. I'm still deciding if that's a wee little pleat or a welt seam on either side of the center front panel. Why is it there? Beats me. It makes me think of a riding skirt, but that's not what this is. The waistband of the skirt seems to have been sacrified to practicality - it looks like rubber/elastic to keep the skirt in place and to hold some wireless microphone rigging. It's not a detail I'm going to worry about, personally. Pattern suggestions to follow in the What I'm Doing section.

Also note, the actor is wearing at least one petticoat under the skirt - you can see it peek out in some of the shots. You absolutely want to do the same with your cosplay, else your skirt will hang funny.

The Suit - Blouse

Through various photos, I've eyeballed one off-white and two different striped blouses. One of the striped blouses appears to be a fairly simple brown/cream alternating stripe. The other one features stripes of several different colors on a cream background. More on that in the "What I'm Doing" section.

All three blouses feature a yoke front and back and what I'd call Edwardian-ish styling with a full bodice gathered into the yoke and the full, blouson sleeves of the Edwardian era. I think the costumer wanted something that evokes the period, but without so much bulk, as that would be uncomfortable for the actress. Furthermore, I've seen some hyper-accurate Edwardian blouse-waists made to conform to the "pigeon breast" style so popular in that period and it's really unflattering. Who wants that? Fabric and pattern suggestions to follow in the What I'm Doing section.

Accessories: The Brooch

A left-facing Victorian cameo, purported by some eagle-eyed fans to be of Persephone, but it might just be some generic figure. The setting is plain gold. More about that in the What I'm Doing section

Accessories: The Hat

This is probably an antique piece - or a repro of one - dating anywhere from the 19-teens to the 1940s. Often called a "tilt hat", the crown is too "squashed" to call it a boater. Black straw, with black and red cherries decorating the brim. Suggestions for lookalikes to follow in the What I'm Doing section.

Accessories: Rings and Bracelets

A flat-topped ring of silver on the right hand. Several skinny rings of an unidentified metal on the left hand. Both of them look like costume jewelry pieces to me. Suggestions to follow in the What I'm Doing section.

Spiky bracelet featuring several rows of pewter/dull-silver spikes. Probably a fashion/costume piece, given that I've found something that looks like it all over ebay. More to follow in the What I'm Doing section.

Black/dark grey bracelet with motif of 3 (or more) circles. It's a custom-made piece, fabricated from plastic or rubber. Relatively easy to make something good-enough under the "ten foot" rule with upcycled leather scraps.

"Swirly" braclet, presumably of stamped leather. Another fashion piece. No likely match found, as yet.

Accessories: The...Thing?

This is clearly a prop made to order and you're not going to find anything like it at the toystore. Now that we've seen some good images of it, I'm pretty well convinced that it's built from vintage TLR (twin lens reflex) camera parts and a lens/filter case for same, and possibly a lens cover, too. Alas, acquiring such parts are beyond my budget (although I browse ebay and local thrift stores in hope) but a person could probably have a lot of fun building something that passes the "ten foot" rule. 

Here are some images of the parts I think were used. Click for larger.

        

What I'm Doing (Under construction - be patient!)

The Suit - Jacket

I originally contemplated this pattern by Sense & Sensibility (click for larger).

Unfortunately, I ran into an issue with adjusting the pattern that's beyond my meager tailoring skills. The sleeve is two-part historical sleeve - which gives a much nicer look to a garment, it's true - with an sleeve cap that isn't quite symmetrical because it's constructed using Edwardian techniques, not the modern approach. The sleeve cap needs to be "slashed and spread" in order to raise it up to give that "poof" at the shoulders. If this was a modern sleeve, I wouldn't have had any issue with it, but my brain panicked and crashed at the very thought. That said, if such alterations are within your abilities, then by all means consider this pattern. It needs a few more alterations, besides - close the pleats in back (restore fullness via the back/side-back seams), add a vent to the center back and re-draft the lapels so that they're smaller. But if you can tackle that sleeve, those other adjustments should be very easy for you.

My current fave for the jacket is this costume pattern. Yeah, yeah, it's from "The Big 3" and therefore automatically disdained by many costumers, but I'd rather adjust the collar, add lapels and tweak the back vent then muck about with the historical pattern so... sorted. 

Update: Did a mockup in a black doe suede that I hope to use to flat-line my gaberdine with. Here's how the top half looked. Honestly didn't think to take a pic of the full garment. It was the lapels and the shoulders giving me all the grief, so I focused on them. I did some further tweaks to the lapels and to improve the fit around the waist since taking this photo but forgot to record them. If you look at the set photo, the collar (or "upper lapel" as some folks call it) is almost square. The shape doesn't follow the current fashion, so bear that in mind when cutting your own if you're using a commercial pattern as I did (I grafted a lapel from another Butterick pattern on to this one). Click for larger.

I should also mention that the dress form in this photo is much smaller than I am, but it was the closest one to hand...

Update to the update: I'm now working on drafting a custom pattern from scratch because I've been taking a class in pattern drafting and there's nothing as dangerous as a little knowledge. One thing that has become very clear to me: that jacket is SNUG. Look at how closely it fits to her, even when she's moving around. The costume is not as roomy as a regular outer-wear coat.

Finding a match for the jacket's braid led to my tramping around the LA fabric district for six hours and finding something that's good enough. The trick is in finding something wide and chunky. That braid is not some lightweight guimp. It's got real dimension to it. (2015 update: the costumer has gone on the record saying it was a silk guimp). If you're not lucky enough to have access to a garment district such as found in London/New York/LA, your best bet are the online suppliers such a MJ Trims.

The buttons: The originals look a lot like Victorian black glass and probably are. The good news is that you can find Victorian glass buttons all over the 'net. Modern Czech glass buttons are also an option. The bad news is that the odds of finding an exact match are slim. You can either hunt for ONE button that's a good-enough match (make sure it's big enough!) and resort to making a mold from it and pouring resin replicas. Or you can hunt for a set of buttons (vintage or new) that pass under the "Ten Foot Rule".

Me? I decided to buy these buttons from EBay: 

I've not yet seen any good pictures of the buttons on the sleeve of the jacket, but it's a LOT easier to find a matched set of smaller glass buttons - even antique ones. Expect to pay $5 - $7 dollars per jacket-front button and $3 - $4 per sleeve button, if you opt for glass, old or new. Plastic is an option of course but it looks... like plastic.

The Suit - Skirt

I had the Sense & Sensibility "Beatrix" skirt in my stash, and I originally planned to use that (see below, click for larger). 

This pattern by Folkwear (#209 - Edwardian Walking Skirt) is also acceptable, imho.

In the end, I drafted the skirt from scratch too, although getting those pleats in the right place proved surprisingly difficult. Definitely do the jacket first and THEN the skirt in order to get your pleats in the right place in relation to the darts on the jacket. 

Fabric For the Jacket And Skirt

If your budget can afford a nice wool suiting then, by all means, use that! I can't imagine that the original item is made of anything but wool. B. Black & Sons in Los Angeles has an absolutely gorgeous Italian wool that I covet, but simply can't afford at $25/yd. If you happen to like the look of it, the item number is visible in that photo and they cheerfully accept mail orders over the phone. As of November, 2014, the wool was still in stock. 

2015 update: I used the gaberdine and it looked.... okay. I had a financial windfall and went and bought the B. Black wool and I'm glad I did. I have since learned via the DWE pix (above) that the suit is almost certainly a wool melton (HOT and EXPENSIVE). Heck, I'm happy with what I used, in the end. ;)

The Suit - Blouse

Missy wears several blouses. I decided on the blue/brown stripe one because, heck, I like stripes. Unfortunately, I goofed when picking up my yardage and I'm resorting to a bit of cheating in the actual shirt's construction. I should use a Gibson-girl-ish blouse pattern but those are a bear for yardage. And I'm not super-keen on the "pigeon breast" look. Nor will the shirt be all that visible under the jacket. So I've decided to take the easier path and use a contemporary shirt pattern by Vogue. It has a yoke, which is the essential design detail as far as I'm concerned - you can see the stripes changing direction on Missy's blouse - and the pattern is sized for up to a D-cup, which is a big (ahem) plus for me, as I have to engage in only minimal faffing about to make it fit. I'll have to adjust the shape of the collar, but that's all. Don't forget that the collar is solid white, even on the striped blouse.

Initially, I decided on this as an option for the two-tone striped blouse. As of October, 2014, it's on closeout with that seller. You can find it online with the search terms "Vanity Stripe" (description) "Shell" (color). Be careful - Levine's has mislisted their inventory and if you order from there, you'll get sunshine yellow stripes. Yes, I made that mistake.

Update: I asked my boyfriend to take a look at the blouse worn in the Radio Times PR shot, above. My b/f is a digital artist who's forgotten more about how to wring accurate color readings out of a digital image than I will ever know and he came to the conclusion that there are FOUR differently colored stripes on the cream background of the blouse. Yikes! He even created a .tif of it for me.

So, being insane, I uploaded that .tif to Spoonflower did a bunch of test swatches and you can see the result for yourself here.

Accessories: The Brooch

Long story short: I got lucky. Very, very lucky. A user on Gallifrey Base found the item below, for sale and I bought it. I might be offering repros of it, once I've assessed it more closely. I don't want to damage it in the mold-making process! Watch this space, etc.

In the meantime, in looking for an acceptable lookalike, I'd focus on the following: the profile faces to the left, the lady wears a garland of fruit and leaves in her hair - that 'point' you see above her eyes is the tip of a garland/leaf, not the edge of a helm. Whoever she is, she's not Athena. The background color is dark brown. The setting is very plain. If you can match the general outline and color scheme, you're good to go.

Update: general consensus among the Missy cosplayers is that the cameo is of Flora - and at least three screen-accurate matches have been found among the community - and snatched up! I've bought a second one that I'm going to make molds from as it's in a simpler setting. I speculate that the design must have been offered as a "stock" design to jewelry makers via an industrial catalogue back in the day and hundreds must have been churned out by different manufacturers. Once you've seen several different ones for yourself, you'll notice subtle differences, depending on the material used and the skill of the creator.

Accessories: One of The Rings

 

I really like this one as a good-enough look-a-like, but it's not cheap and it's not easy to find. Use the search terms "Chan Luu" and "ring", but exclude "earrings" or else you'll get swamped in those.

This, however, is available here, albeit only in size 8. True, it's a bit too shiny. I'm wearing the ring as I type this and I plan to gently sand it to take a bit of the shine off. I'll probably paint it with pewter-colored nail polish, because that stuff is cheap and accessible, unlike my local hobby store. And then I have some more nail polish to add to my stash, too.

I have yet to see any good-enough pictures of the other rings on the actor's hands to suggest alternates.

Accessories: The Spikey Bracelet

I bought the above (click for larger) from a seller on ebay for about $3 and it looks great. If you do the same, be careful to pick it up in "pewter" or "dark silver", not bright shiny silver.

Update: spray it with some clear acrylic finish before you wear it for the first time. It WILL turn your skin green after a few hours! 

Accessories: The "Disc" Bracelet

This is a made prop, created from rubber or plastic. It's an open bangle, so it can be quite rigid. Some fans have met with success creating this item from upcycled scrap leather Your local thrift shop can yield great leather for scraps in the form of used jackets, skirts and even handbags. Alternatively, you can buy a raw brass bangle of the open cuff type and try painting it / finishing it in some other way.

Update: a chap on the RPF forum is gauging interest in a 3D-printed replica. Details here.

Accessories: The... Thing

 

As mentioned above, I think this is pulled together from various vintage camera parts.  If you have the budget to buy and the skills to dissemble a couple of old twin-lens reflex cameras, then go for it. I don't. I've bought an old Minolta Autocord (pictured way up at the top), but I've no idea what I'm going to do with it as I can barely assemble an Ikea bookshelf without help. ;)

A probably-good-enough place to start is a Logitech PlayGear pocket case for the PSP. You can find these on ebay starting at around $8. Then get busy with styrene, sculpey, glue, paint and god knows what else. To be honest, I'm hoping my very talented boyfriend will do something with the camera parts I'm accumulating - otherwise, I'll go without!

Update: the aforementioned chap on RPF is also gauging interest in a 3D-printed replica of this device. Details here

According to the fella who built the original prop, the "display" on one side is, in fact, an iPhone 4. Use that knowledge how you will. I understand some folks are building cases for their smartphones (of whatever variety they own) to replicate the device, which I think is a creative solution.

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