Clara Oswald,  Costume,  Doctor Who,  My Blog,  Renaissance Festival Costume,  Robots of Sherwood,  Sewing

Clara Oswald’s Robots of Sherwood Dress- The Work in Progress Post

As with the past few years, I’ve been working on a complex dress to wear to the 2015 Arizona Renaissance Festival. This year is another Doctor Who dress: Clara Oswald’s Robots of Sherwood dress.

Despite making progress on the dress in October, progress was slowed down due to all the hand sewing I needed to do on the dress. It’s been frustrating, but as of this post I’m almost done with my dress.

I’ve been making posts on my Tumblr about the progress I made on the dress, but I felt sad I never mentioned the dress or the progress I’ve made on it here on my main, formal blog. So, here’s some progress pictures and notes about the dress!

The first thing I did was find fabric for the dress. I began in May of this year and, although I found lame, chiffon, satin, and crepe fabric in the right color, was torn between using silk velvet I found online and stretch velvet I found at Joann’s. I ended up settling for the stretch velvet for cost and availability reasons. Here’s what all the fabric looks like together…

Clara Oswald Robots of Sherwood Fabric

For this dress I did something different than I normally do. I purchased the fabric before I decided which pattern I’d use. It’s not really a wise thing to do because I usually purchase less fabric than I end up needing. I was fortunate that I had enough fabric for almost all the parts of the dress. I ended up needing more chiffon not because I didn’t get enough when I bought my first round of fabric, but because I realized the skirt wasn’t full enough for my liking. The skirt was the right fullness for the dress used in the episode, but I like my skirts full. So, I made it fuller.

These are the patterns I planned on using for the dress. The McCall’s pattern was for the main part of the dress, the Simplicity was the sleeves, and the Butterick was the under sleeves. I originally planned on making the underskirt using the Butterick pattern as well, but I ended up using another pattern.

Clara Oswald Robots of Sherwood Patterns

When I made my dress, I began making the sleeves. Since the orange color of the velvet was showing through the silver lame, I ended up making an inner lining of white cotton to stop the color from sowing through.

clara robots of sherwood sleeves

After I made the outer sleeves, I made the inner sleeves. The inner sleeves are made out of crepe and chiffon overlay with velvet detail on the edge. I sewed rhinestones onto the velvet to make it look pretty. After that I made the bodice, sewed it together, then sewed the sleeves to the bodice. I know I’m skipping how I did this, but you can read it on my Robots of Sherwood tag on Tumblr. (Be warned. You’ll also get reblogs of Robots of Sherwood stuff on Tumblr as well.) Once that was done, the bodice and sleeves looked like this…

clara robots of sherwood bodice

After that I worked on the skirt. The skirt on the real dress is made out of see though fabric, like chiffon. After studying photos of the real dress, I believe the fabric used for the dress is burned out silk velvet and the chiffon-like fabric on the bottom of the skirt is the burned out part of the velvet. Of course, that’s just a theory.

Although I really liked my theory (And still do unless someone proves me wrong) I had no idea where to find burned out silk velvet the same color as Clara’s dress. I could’ve made my own burned out velvet, but I did research into that years ago. After reading about how to make burned out velvet, I realized I really do not like the process so I do everything I can to avoid making burned out velvet. Since burned out velvet is out, I ended up making the skirt out of chiffon and sewing it to the bottom of the bodice. That way it would look like the burned out velvet skirt but wouldn’t require the frustrating process to make burned out velvet.

I started out making the skirt. I used the same McCall’s pattern for the bodice for the skirt. I added triangle inserts into the skirt to make it fuller, but I added the inserts to the back only. I took creative liberties with the skirt and making the skirt fuller is one of the liberties.

This is what the skirt looked like after I finished sewing it together and the bias trim onto the hem…

clara robots of sherwood skirt3

The next thing I did was sew the scalloped edge and rhinestone trim to the bottom of the skirt. The scalloped edge is the same velvet I used for the bodice. I hand sewed the velvet onto the skirt. Once that was done, I sewed rhinestone trim onto the bottom of the skirt.

This is what it looked like when I was gluing the edges of the trim onto the velvet. Although I was hand sewing the trim, the edges of the trim wouldn’t be able to be sewn on and the only way the ends wouldn’t be loose is to glue it down. It’s just the way the trim was made. *sigh*

clara robots of sherwood skirt2

After I glued the trim ends down to the velvet, I sewed the trim down. It took about a week to finish.

clara robots of sherwood skirt1

After sewing the trim down was done, I put the bodice onto my dress form and pinned the skirt onto the bodice. I ended up pinning, and sewing, the skirt onto the bodice so the skirt will have a train. I’m not sure how well this will work out at the festival (The train will be hitting dirt) but it really does look pretty and I feel like a princess!

This is what the dress looked like with the skirt attached to the bodice and laying flat on the ground…

clara robots of sherwood dress

After many days of rain and finishing the underskirt, I was able to take some photos of the dress outside with the underskirt…

clararobotsofsherwooddress clararobotsofsherwooddressside

And here’s what the underskirt looks like…


The underskirt was made using Simplicity’s 1215 view A.

As of this post, I need to fix the lining so it will lay better and make the silver cord for the waist and then the whole entire costume will be done!

I also made some earrings to go with the costume…


Since I already had the screen accurate head piece, I wanted to get the screen accurate earrings to match. Unfortunately, the earrings are for pierced ears and I don’t have pierced ears. If I wanted to use the earrings at all, I’d need take the earrings apart. I wasn’t fond of that idea, so I found some wing dangles (I can’t remember the formal name of them at this time. Sorry!) at the store and made my own! I decided on using the clasps that screw on instead of snap closed because I have sensitive ears and I can adjust how tight they are on my ears.

As for the headdress, I have both the screen accurate headdress and an alternate I found on Etsy. I’m not sure which one I’ll use, but they’re both ready for me to use! Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of them to show what they look like.

Although I’m very happy with the way my costume is turning out, especially how close it is to being done, I’m not sure if I’ll get to wear it to the Festival. Since my car accident in January, I’ve had problems getting transportation. My car was totaled in the accident and although it’s getting repaired, it’s not finished so I don’t have my vehicle. I’ve been borrowing a vehicle from my parents, but that one has begun to have mechanical problems as well. To make a long story short, if I don’t have a vehicle, I can’t go. I also don’t have a friend I could call to go to the Festival with either. So, as much as I might try, I think I’ll miss the Festival this year. Rats. But my dress will be done and ready for next year’s Festival. Yay!

I think that’s about it for now! Thank you for reading! 🙂


  • Hannah

    You said the velvet is orange, but to me it looks red, so is it actually orange? I’m trying to make my own version and I’m trying to find the closest colour possible. All I can find is red or an orange.

    • essieofwho

      The fabric looks orange to me, especially in the light of my sewing room, but the color really a more like an orange/red color so I think it can be called either orange or red.

      The store I bought the fabric from, Joann’s, calls the color “Scarlet” and it’s usually is grouped with the red fabrics instead of the orange. When I was looking for fabric for my dress, I had a difficult time finding the right fabric color because it the name of an orange/red fabric depending on the fabric shop or store. In addition to the color called “Scarlet”, I’ve seen it called “Blood Orange”, “Moroccan Red”, and even “Red”. If you have trouble finding fabric in a color you like, try looking for fabric in the colors I mentioned.

      I hope this helps and if you have any questions or need a clarification, feel free to ask!

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