Costume,  Doctor Who,  My Blog,  Rose Tyler,  Sewing,  The Idiot's Lantern

Idiot’s Lantern Dress Update Prt. 1

It’s been a while since I updated everyone on how version 3 of my Rose Tyler Idiot’s Lantern dress is going. I had some time today to take photos and make a post so… here we go!

The sequin sewing progress has been slow. Very slow. Not because I gave up working on it, but because so many things happened the past few months I forgot I was making the dress. It wasn’t until I almost knocked over my container of sequins that I remembered I was working on the dress. So, it’s back on my list of to-finish sewing projects. Since I forgot about this dress, sequin sewing progress is… well… not as impressive as I want it to be right now.


This is the back of the dress. Like I did with the first dress, I worked on the back first to establish the rows and then worked my way out from right to left. I work in this direction because I’m right handed. Since I’m a right handed person, I can hold the fabric that needs to be sewn in my left hand and control the fabric better. I also sew by hand from right to left whenever I can for the same reason.

I’ve begun to sew the sequins onto the right side of the zipper. I’m doing that now so when my sequin sewing reaches the zipper, I don’t have to worry about making everything nice and straight for the zipper. Instead, I have to worry about matching the sequins and making them blend into each other.


This is as far as I’ve sewn on the left side of the dress. I’m not sure if I said this before, but I marked how far I want the sequins to be sewn to. I did this using a water soluble marking pen. I don’t like to use chalk for this part because I’m know for working slowly (In my mind at least) and in between the time I set the dress down and pick it back up, the calk will rub off and I’ll have to re-draw everything over again. The water soluble pen will stay on fabric, in my experience, for years and still comes off when dunked in cool water. (Warm water will make the markings permanent) So, its best for my long term projects like the Idiot’s Lantern.

In other Idiot’s Lantern news, I’ve been doing some research about the dress and I came across the Bad Wolf Closet on Tumblr along with Rose Tyler Costuming and Collecting on Facebook. I didn’t know these pages existed until a few months ago and I’ve since read them as much as I could. Probably the most helpful to me was the Tumblr page’s breakdown of the Idiot’s Lantern outfit. In the post, I found out the fabric used for the real dress is Duchess satin. Also, there are photos of the real dress’s sequins. After searching some more online, I found the photo of the dress on Flickr…

Photo of the front of the dress. Photo found on Flickr

This photo is located here on Flickr and all the photography credit goes to Anthony Beal on Flickr. Since I couldn’t see the sequins very well, I cropped the photo to show what it looks like.

Cropped photo of the front of the dress, focusing on the sequins.
Cropped photo of the front of the dress, focusing on the sequins.

As you can see, the sequins are pink pailletes circles sewn on with silver thread. According to an interview done with costume designer Louise Page (Quote from the Bad Wolf Closet Tumblr) the sequins are sewn onto silk chiffon. Also, the fabric was bought with the sequins already sewn onto the fabric as was very expensive. Since I have a hard time finding sequin fabric in any color where I live, I can imagine how expensive it would be for a yard of this fabric. The fabric I’ve bought uses man-made materials (Such as polyester) as the backing, but I have yet to come across fabric made using silk.

Now you might be wondering “That’s nice, but why did you mention this in a dress update post?”. The answer is simple: I thought about making a 4th version of the dress. This time I’d make it as accurate as I could to the real dress with the information that I found online.

I even began to make the dress out of Duchess satin and chiffon. This is the chiffon I was planning on sewing the sequins onto…


Fortunately, I came to my senses and gave up that idea before I could go accuracy crazy.

The reason why I became so determined to make this fourth dress is because I wanted to one day enter a masquerade with the dress. Sometimes contests and/or the judges can be very particular about accuracy so I wanted my dress to be as accurate as possible. One night after working on what was supposed to be the accurate dress and the dress I mentioned earlier in this post, I came to the realization that the whole reason why I started to make this dress back in 2011 was not because I wanted an accurate dress or I wanted to enter a contest. It was because I wanted a dress with hand sewn sequins on it… and I already have one. It’s not done, but I have one. It was then I decided to be satisfied with my hand sewn sequin dress. Is it accurate? No. But it is the dress I always wanted.

As for the would-be fourth dress, I still have all the parts of the dress I made and I want to finish them one day, but instead of wearing the dress I plan on selling the dress. I’ve been asked before, especially around the time of the 50th anniversary special, to sell or take commissions for making a dress. Because of these requests, I had to make this post about why I do not accept commissions. Still, I feel bad that others cannot have a pretty, pink dress of their own to run around and be Rose Tyler for a day or so.

Now, before everyone get excited about buying a dress made by me, I’m not working on it now. In fact, I have no plans to work on this dress until I’m done with several other costumes, dresses, and general clothing, including my current version of the dress. This means the dress will not be finished for at least another 6 months. Probably more.

Still, I hope this posts helps anyone who is planning on making their own dress and wants to know what the accurate sequins look like or needs help finding detailed information about the dress or the whole entire outfit. I wish I had all this information when I began to plan to make this dress back in 2009! (Yes, I wanted this dress that long)


  • Eres Riddle

    This is amazing! I look forward to seeing the finished outcome.

    I know the feeling of how sequins can be a slow process. I’m planning to do a cosplay that involves scale-mailing and my friend requested to have a hauberk made completely of rings, so the chain-mail will take a long time to finish.

    Best of luck to your work!

    • essieofwho

      Thank you so much!

      I never made scale-mailing, but I’ve watched others do it. It takes a lot of time and patience. The best of luck to your work too!

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