“It’s smaller on the outside!” The Clara Oswin Oswald Christmas Special Costume

Clara Oswin Oswald, Dr. Who Christmas Special. Copyright BBC Television

Clara Oswin Oswald, Dr. Who Christmas Special. Copyright BBC Television

When it was decided that Grace was going to be joining me for Gallifrey One, she had a long list of costumes she wanted me to make.  We narrowed it down to 4, with one of them being one she could do herself, via thrifting (Amy Pond).  She really wanted one of the Victorian outfits that Clara, the Doctor’s new companion wears in the Christmas Episode.  Once I saw the other two costumes, I decided the barmaid one was the way to go.  It was more casual, didn’t require a corset, and I already had the boots for it.

TV 416 bodice pattern.

TV 416 bodice pattern.

I used the Truly Victorian 416 Pattern, the 1875 Ball Gown Basque pattern, that I then heavily modified.  I changed out the sleeves for tighter elbow length sleeves, opened the front, and closed the back with a zipper.  (Yes, it is a white zipper, because I had nothing else at home in my bin that separated.  It will be replaced at some point…)  The front doesn’t actually open, but is instead sewn closed.  The buttons are sewn on top and came from my stash.  The lace is not actually lace, but a looped home decor trim in a coordinating color.

Full length.

Full length.  The front apron is slightly askew.

I found the heavyweight upholstery fabric at SR Harris, which is our local version of Mood Fabrics.  I had found a better match pattern-wise at Joann Fabrics and tried dyeing it, but it didn’t get dark enough and I ran out of time to try to dye it again, so I bought this fabric, which was closest to the photo in terms of color and general design.  It worked well and draped very well.  It was lined with cotton and had no boning because it was pretty solid and didn’t seem to need much.

Back of the bustle.

Back of the bustle.

The apron and bustle part were draped on Grace.  The front apron is actually a modified version of the front panel from the Truly Victorian 301 1870’s Tie-Apron Overskirt.  I had remembered the design of the front panel and drafter a version that was smaller and without the side ties.  This panel was then gathered up in front via ribbons at either side of the front apron.  A waistband was attached to the apron and closes via hook and eye and snap.

Side view!

Side view!

The back piece was pleated at the top, then bustled onto ribbons hanging down from the inside.  It attaches to the waistband of the apron via hooks and eyes.  The bodice covers it.

The underskirt was a coordinating color taffeta in an orange/brown color.  The actual taffeta looks to be a crinkled brown/orange/blue taffeta.  I was unable to find it locally and didn’t have time to order it, so I bought regular taffeta and ran it through my ruffler.  The bottom edges are pinked so as to give the frayed look of the original.  I put a ruffled bit of taffeta that is pinked on both sides at the top of the top ruffle.  There is a crinkled fabric lining underneath.

I used a photo of the dress and the measurements of my daughter and algebra to figure out the length, height of the ruffles, etc., so the outfit itself is proportional to the original outfit.  I would like to put an additional petticoat underneath to give it some more volume.

Sassy hair!

Sassy hair!

Because Grace has very short hair, we used a wig.  I bought a dark brown wig with a part down the middle from Lacey wigs.  I tried to style it as closely as possible to the photos.  This was redone very quickly for photos today.  The photos from the Con are a better rendition of the hairstyle.

Finally with the shawl!

Finally with the shawl!

I didn’t have time to finish the shawl (I woefully underestimated the amount of time it would take to make one the right size), and so she was only able to wear it with the costume today for photos.  I matched the yarn color to the fabric, and purchased the yarn at Joann Fabrics.  The pattern I used is featured on my Ravelry page here.

A very large shawl.

A very large shawl.

It turned out very close to the original.  I did the top several inches in brown, as Clara’s shawl has a different color along the top of it.  Grace and I were very pleased with it, despite the fact that it took FOREVER to make.  Decreasing down from 160 stitches every other row is not something that can be done overnight.

Action shot!

Action shot!

All in all it turned out well and Grace was very pleased with it.  I was too.  And the best part was when Grace discovered at the con that she was only one of two people wearing the costume.

Clara meets Clara.

Clara meets Clara.

The other one happened to be Chloe Dykstra from the Nerdist.  Grace’s little Doctor Who and nerdy loving heart was filled with glee.

And what is better than a happy daughter AND a happy Mom?  🙂

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on ““It’s smaller on the outside!” The Clara Oswin Oswald Christmas Special Costume

    • Laura says:

      I would recommend checking the website of Truly Victorian. Their patterns are very user-friendly and historically accurate. I have used many of them and they are great. I would look in the late bustle or Natural Form/Belle Epoche sections of their patterns for possible suitable options.

  1. DFP says:

    You mention that the hairstyle is better rendered in the con pictures, but I don’t see them linked. I have a daughter with long hair who wants to fix it up like Clara’s barmaid hair; can you point me in some useful direction? (I’m sort of lost.)

    • Laura says:

      I basically just googled photos of Clara. The way her hair is done is that it is first parted down the middle. The sides are pulled back (so the part still shows) and swooped down a bit towards her ears. That hair is then gathered in back (possibly with more hair) into a high ponytail in back that is turned into a small bun. The rest of the hair is lightly curled. The best photo is really the first one of her on this post. We made the hair on the sides lower than hers because we were trying to cover Grace’s hairline with the wig. Good luck to your daughter!

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