Wednesday 20 May 2009

Revelation Of The Trousers

Sometimes you can spend too long looking at something and get too close to it and miss the bigger picture.
Every now and then, to avoid this, I take a step back and reset to the very start of things, just to check I am not missing some obvious.
Call it re-evaluation with hindsight.

One of these landmarks for me is part of a chapter in Doctor Who: The Inside Story, a book published in October 2006, so within a few months of finishing David Tennant’s first full season as The Doctor. The text draws a lot from interviews with cast and crew, including Louise Page, designer of David’s costume. She speaks at length about how the suit came to be and the stages they went through before they arrived at the final design.
Looking back at it, and now knowing what I know through researching the suit, there are a few comments which although they didn’t seem to make sense then, they very much do now . . .

Click on picture above to enlarge
I designed it knowing that David wanted a lot of “pocket acting” – he was going to put his hands in the pockets a lot – so we put the pocket flaps on the outside, which meant they wouldn’t keep flapping up.
After finding the right trousers, Louise Page needed to create a matching jacket.
Now, I liked the cut, style and shape of a completely different jacket, but it didn’t exist in the specific pattern and fabric of the trousers - indeed the trousers were just that, trousers, not part of a suit at all. So I used the jacket I had found, with weird pockets and strap on the back and everything, as a template and designed the jacket from scratch.
If that is to be taken as fact, somewhere out there are the trousers worn by Tennant in the series, if only they could be found . . . .

Well, it just so happens that Lisa, who recently sent me some really helpful detailed pictures of the pockets to the blue suit as shown in Faux Flap pocket fun, came across a pair of brown trousers with blue pinstripes (see below) while scouring charity shops for cheap costume pieces.

A little while ago I had been told a little insider information that the suit trousers as mentioned in The Inside Story had come from GAP, and the photos Lisa had sent me clearly showed the GAP label (see right), which got me seriously think that these could well be the trousers as described.

We don’t often get to see much of the trousers The Doctor wears, as he tends to keep his jacket on at all times. However, in The Runaway Bride he does lend Donna his jacket to keep her warm and we see him sitting on the ledge of the roof they are on. In the shot (see right) it is possible to see there are two back pockets with button closings, just like these trousers (see above).
Click HERE for a larger version of the screen grab.

Lisa also kindly too a close-up for me of the back pockets (see above), and it shows that the interior has the pinstripes running horizontally. Since the jacket had to be made to work with the trousers, I am going to use this style for how to do my outer suit pockets, the discrepancy of which had been highlighted by Lisa in the Faux Flap pocket fun posting.

It is my belief that these are THE same trousers mentioned in the book, and since David apparently wore the trousers unaltered, these are therefore identical to the real thing.

I contacted GAP, who for some curious reason do not have a UK website (what’s all that about?) and found they were no help whatsoever.
If anyone has any contacts at GAP and can find anything out, please get in touch.
Lisa kindly sent me a clipping from the hem of the trousers so I can study the material further (see below).

I took a closer look at the material and found that the pinstripes are woven, not printed as I first thought. The trousers are made from 100% cotton, and the weave is very fine, and the pinstripes are made from five vertical running threads (see below).

As a universal guide for a colour, the blue is an accurate match to Pantone 279, for those who are aware of the Pantone library.

The brown is surprisingly made from two different shades of brown; mostly a chocolate brown, but with a lighter beige woven in with it. If you look at the left side where the fabric had frayed in the picture below, you can hopefully see these two distinct colours.

The material is reminiscent of the elusive coat fabric; in-hand it looks very dark, making the Baron Boutique fabric not seem so far out, but when photographed with flash (as the pictures above) it looks a lot lighter.
So to a degree, like when I raised the What’s In A Colour? posting in the coat blog, it is all in the eye of the viewer as to what is ‘right’ here.

I think I would have to be very lucky to firstly find a pair of these trousers still knocking around in a size that would fit me, let alone enough copies of them to take apart and make into a jacket the way Louise Page did.
Moving forward, obviously I think this is invaluable to try and replicate it, but getting it rewoven may be financially restrictive. Coming up with a printing version maybe easier.
I am looking into Spoonflower as well as some other options.

So stay tuned . . . . .

I have further update the Comparing Fabrics entry, and from that posting, here is how the material measures up:

Type of fabric: 100% cotton (according to label)
Fabric weight: Lightweight
Colour of fabric: Chocolate brown/beige (approx 70%/30% mix)
Colour of pinstripes: Cornflower blue
Width of pinstripes (in threads & mm): 5 threads - 1mm
Pinstripe repeat: 11.5mm


  1. Oh my. This is like a Holy Grail of costume fans... I wanted to tell you, Steve, you're my hero. Your blogs make me happier than a gnome in a sock drawer.

    Also, thrift shopping for the win!!

  2. Hope you got my email with the updated patterns for the brown and blue material :D

    Especially the brown.

    And I agree with the above. You certainly are the stuff of legend.

    You perfect your items to the finest detail. I admire your commitment!

  3. Are you able to make me a suit with these fabrics?

  4. Maybe if I knew who you were!
    Contact me direct at to discuss it further.

  5. I might be going as the Tenth Doctor to an anime convention xD but I need to find the right stuff o.o

  6. Hello, if you're still active on here, I saw above that you might be able to make a tenth doctor's suit out of the fabric above? If so, are you still able to?? I am very interested if you can sir :)

  7. I agree with BenR24, if you are still able to make 10th doctor costumes, I would love more info! :D

  8. 1st, you're awesome
    2nd, the measurements don't work out. (the 11.5/1 ratio)
    my figure:
    if you meant that the 11.5 does not include the 1mm stripe, i should be able to put 23 pixels of brown and then 2 pixels of of blue. However, I compared this to the picture of the swatch with the ruler and the stripes definitely came too soon.
    then, i tried to assume you meant 11.5 includes the 1mm stripe. if you look at the ruler, 0 to 57.5mm on the ruler quite clearly (5x11.5) = 5 brown blocks and 4 stripes, or roughly 10.7mm per brown patch. I blew this up to make it easier to be exact. so I made brown patches of 107 pixels (10.7 mm), and stripes of 10 pixels (1 mm). then i compared this again to the swatch you have, and as you can see by the half-faded brown/blue pattern I've overlaid on the right side of the ruler those measurements don't quite line up either. it was only by blowing up your image and hand estimating that i determined a ratio of 1mm stripe -> 13.1875mm of brown -> 1mm stripe and so on must be the right fit. at the bottom i have labeled 2 pixels of blue per 26-27 pixels of brown, which is where i derived that measurement.

    i'm not trying to call you out so much as i am genuinely intrigued. am i doing the math wrong, or replicating this wrong somehow? you're the only one who has the actual material! :D

  9. Is there anywhere I can get sonethibg like this for a really low price??

  10. Can you recommend a Pantone for the brown as well? Thanks! =)

    1. This is one of these apparently easy, but in reality impossible tasks.
      Although the Pantone library is extensive, it is by no means definitive with every colour visible the the human eye. It tends to be lacking in the very dark hues, and this falls very much into that range.
      I've several times put a Pantone book to the GAP fabric, and never found a shade of brown dark enough to call a match.
      Maybe I'll have another go and see if there's a way to channel the colour productively.

  11. The trousers do look similar (as far as we can tell) to the screen-used ones.....and how many Gap trousers can there be that are brown with blue pinstripes BUT the quote from Louise Page states "with weird pockets and strap on the back and everything".....where are the weird pockets and the strap on the back?!