River Song, Day of the Moon (Doctor Who) - scratch build

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glasscannon

Member
This is my first build thread, so let me know if I'm going about this wrong or if there's anything I could do to improve the thread itself -- within reason of course, as I'm into full-on DragonCon-is-almost-here freak out mode. ;)

So a few weeks back, with five weeks to go until DragonCon, I decided that I absolutely had to have a River Song costume this year, and narrowed down on the dress she wears in Day Of The Moon, A Good Man Goes To War, etc:



I gathered a bunch of reference pics and read up on it, and found out that the screen-used costume was a dress from AllSaints that is now out of production -- and wouldn't have fit me even if I could get ahold of it. But it didn't look like it would be outside my sewing abilities, so after a few sketches I launched into a muslin mock-up.



(Pardon the terrible mirror pic.) For the mock-up I started with a princess seamed muslin I'd previously fit to my figure, then drafted in an extra panel on the side (for a total of 10 panels) and added a curved drop waist. The skirt is 11 panels that I drafted from scratch, using the curved waistline of the bodice and the length of the adjoining skirt panel to draft each. The skirt ended up being about equivalent to 3 full circles (or, say, a heavily gored full circle skirt). I've changed the front hemline since this picture, and managed to work out all the various fit and construction issues on this mock-up, so I was able to launch right into the real fabric without having to re-fit or spend time figuring out construction.

The screen-used belt was also from AllSaints, and while I'm keeping an eye out for one on Ebay (and may hand-make one in the future, but not for DragonCon this year), in the meantime I'm using a cheapy from WetSeal that I thought had a similar feeling.

With the mock-up finished, I picked half of it apart to use as a pattern and launched into the final fabric. I decided to go with an olive green polyester suiting -- poly so it won't wrinkle during the con (I've seen other builds of this dress where they used linen for some reason, wrinkles horribly) and because I thought the drape and sheen were similar to the original (nylon, I think?) dress's fabric. The screen-used dress is a bit of a difficult one to nail the color down on. AllSaints lists the color as taupe, and I have screenshots where it looks tan, others were it looks gray, and a bunch where it looks olive green, just depending on the lighting. Green looks better on me than tan or gray, so I went with that.



I hand-dyed the zippers to match (well, complement anyway), and for future reference, RIT dye does exactly nothing on zippers, but iDyePoly on stovetop does wonders. The three zipper pockets (two on the front of the skirt, one at the low back of the bodice) are all functional, and the front two are big enough to stash my DragonCon badge in for pictures, along with my phone, keycard, etc.

Since this picture I've sewn the bodice together and flatfelled and topstitched each of the seams. Today I'm draping the back collar and finishing the armscyes, then turning the waistline under so it's ready to attach to the skirt. Less than two weeks left to go until DragonCon, so here's hoping I can get it done in time! I'll post more pictures and updates as I have them, and I'd love to hear what you guys think!
 

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glasscannon

Member
Thanks guys! Draping the back of the collar is being a bit of a pain (omg do I need a dress form), but hoping to have a few new pictures by the end of the evening. :D
 

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Risu

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
This is great! You're the first River costumer I've seen actually make something instead of just buying close-enoughs. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
 

glasscannon

Member
Thanks all! It's a huge morale boost to see responses like these. :D

So the under-zipper bit was giving me fits last night, to the point that I had to just put it down for the night and walk away. Woke up at 4am with an idea of how to fix it, then spent most of the morning ripping out everything I did yesterday, hehe. But my 4am idea panned out well (I was trying to attach the under zipper flap too far away from the zipper, so it didn't want to lie flat and kept pulling at the bodice weird, but attaching it closer to the zipper fixed it), so I was able to knock out that bit and the rest of the detail work on the bodice.



Turning under the armscyes and the waistline next, and the skirt is all ready to attach once that's done. I'll post more pictures when I have them. ;)
 

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glasscannon

Member
Since I last posted I finished the armscyes and waistline and got the skirt mostly attached . It's so huge that it has to be put on in stages, heh. Hoping to finish that today, do the topstitching/flatfelling at the seams of the skirt to match the top, then the hem (including a bit of drawstring in the back, like the original, I think), and it'll be done, woot. Might even have time to work on a few props if I'm lucky.

 

glasscannon

Member
Got all the topstitching/flatfelling done, did the button tabs and drawstring casings for the back panels of the skirt, and trimmed all the skirt panels so they're ready to hem.



Hoping to finish up the hem today, and then that'll be it for this costume! Still hoping to squeeze in a little time to work on props to go with this, but at this point I may pack before I devote much time to it, heh.
 

peytonriley

Active Member
I'm gonna have to make one of these soon so this thread is very awesome as in timing lol, great work on the progress, cant wait to see it finished n.n
 

glasscannon

Member
I'm gonna have to make one of these soon so this thread is very awesome as in timing lol, great work on the progress, cant wait to see it finished n.n
Oh, glad to hear of someone else attempting a scratch build on this one, lol. Let me know if you have any questions about it, happy to share knowledge when I can. ;)
 

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peytonriley

Active Member
One of the things i noticed is that on the Zeeda dress that was sold on Allsaints the skirt was plain and on the dress River Song wears it has like a collar and cuffs at the end of the skirt, i dont know if this was added to change the appearance a bit, but you can see it in the promo pic above. For now i'm only trying to makethe base dress, i'll see later if i can figure out how to add the collar and cuffs :3

And also, i just wanted to make clear i HATE HATE HATE the color of this dress cause it changes so much in every pic T.T
 

glasscannon

Member
One of the things i noticed is that on the Zeeda dress that was sold on Allsaints the skirt was plain and on the dress River Song wears it has like a collar and cuffs at the end of the skirt, i dont know if this was added to change the appearance a bit, but you can see it in the promo pic above. For now i'm only trying to makethe base dress, i'll see later if i can figure out how to add the collar and cuffs :3

And also, i just wanted to make clear i HATE HATE HATE the color of this dress cause it changes so much in every pic T.T
Oh, good catch on the collar and cuffs at the bottom of River's dress but not on the AllSaints dress. I've spent so much time looking at high-rez images of the AllSaints dress I didn't take the time to compare it back to the promo pic, heh.

For mine, I decided to keep with a similar look and feel, but not try to replicate it exactly. This thread over at dw-cosplay LJ has good shots of the AllSaints dress's skirt laid out flat. The dress has some definite oddities to it, like curved seams in the skirt, making the whole thing feel like a repurposed bit of military surplus. Maybe the DW costuming team added the collar and cuffs to the skirt to add to the feeling.

Of course, this does mean that all the River costumers who buy pieces from AllSaints aren't really screen accurate, but I won't tell if you won't. ;)

And I'm with you on the color. :p I actually had a tshirt like this in high school, that was green inside under florescent lights, but tan outside in the sunlight. No idea how it did that, or what to look for in a fabric to replicate that, heh. For this dress I just went with olive green as that's a color I actually wear, whereas I don't really wear much tan or gray. And I think the green shade is more recognizable as this outfit, given that River only wears it outside for a couple of seconds.

Also: this might be the longest hem in this history of hemming. It's seriously getting out of control. ;P
 

glasscannon

Member
Machine hem is finally done. I did it in two phases, front and back, and still ran out of pins for the front, lol. I haven't measured the mileage of the hem, but given that the pattern pieces formed about three full circles when laid flat, I'm sure it's just huuuuge.

So down to just a little handsewing now: fixing a few little bubbles in the hem, attaching buttons to the back skirt flaps, and tacking down the upper edge of the drawstring casing in the back of the skirt. Then just trimming threads and it'll be ready to pack, woot.

I've finally managed to rope hubby into some costume work, so he's started sanding a little water pistol I want to paint to look like River's gun. Not completely necessary for the costume, but it'd be nice to have a prop for pictures. Packing for DragonCon on Wednesday, but here's hoping I can still pull it all together! I'll post pictures of the whole costume after DragonCon, but hopefully I'll be able to get a couple of shots of the finished dress this weekend too.

Oh, and then to finish the handsewing on my Daenerys dress too, of course. As long as I'm not handsewing on the plane I'll be happy, lol.
 

peytonriley

Active Member
Oh, good catch on the collar and cuffs at the bottom of River's dress but not on the AllSaints dress. I've spent so much time looking at high-rez images of the AllSaints dress I didn't take the time to compare it back to the promo pic, heh.

For mine, I decided to keep with a similar look and feel, but not try to replicate it exactly. This thread over at dw-cosplay LJ has good shots of the AllSaints dress's skirt laid out flat. The dress has some definite oddities to it, like curved seams in the skirt, making the whole thing feel like a repurposed bit of military surplus. Maybe the DW costuming team added the collar and cuffs to the skirt to add to the feeling.

Of course, this does mean that all the River costumers who buy pieces from AllSaints aren't really screen accurate, but I won't tell if you won't. ;)

And I'm with you on the color. :p I actually had a tshirt like this in high school, that was green inside under florescent lights, but tan outside in the sunlight. No idea how it did that, or what to look for in a fabric to replicate that, heh. For this dress I just went with olive green as that's a color I actually wear, whereas I don't really wear much tan or gray. And I think the green shade is more recognizable as this outfit, given that River only wears it outside for a couple of seconds.

Also: this might be the longest hem in this history of hemming. It's seriously getting out of control. ;P
That sounds.. Overly exhausting T.T i still havent started with the patterns, i had bought a dylon dye for the zippers and ribbons cause i couldnt find them in the right color, it was 53 desert dust, which, on the front, it looked like a similar color, only a bit more tan than grey...

It wasn't like that at all. It was like a toasted brown :/ luckily (or unluckily?) the zippers didnt dye but all the cotton stuff got a super dark brown color T.T oh dylon why has thou forsaken me?

So anyway.. I hope i can find the stuff i need in the color i need it soon cause i have a ****load of work for halloween and this just sets me back days and days..
 

glasscannon

Member
I could've sworn I replied yesterday, but I guess not, hm.

peytonriley, if you have iDyePoly in your area (or can order it online), that's the only thing I found that managed to dye zippers. iDyePoly only comes in basic colors, but you can mix them (so maybe brown and green for an olive green?), and they seem to completely cover up whatever color the zippers were previously, rather than mixing with the previous shade like dyeing natural fabrics does. I got a cheap stockpot and did it on the stove top and got great, dark color after about 30 minutes. If that hadn't worked I was going to use fabric paint on the zippers instead, since it's not that much square footage to cover, but I'm glad the dye worked.

Anyhow, I finished the dress yesterday, every last little button in place and every loose thread trimmed, woot. I sewed the drawstring cases for the side-back panel of the skirt, but I don't think I'll use it for this con. The button tabs at the center back panel are cool though, much nicer than I thought they'd be, honestly.

I'll get pictures in full costume/hair/makeup at DragonCon, and take a few more detailed shots of the dress for you guys after I get back, but until then, here's the impromptu costume test run from yesterday. ;)

 

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