Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Polka-dot Cravats - creating artwork

As I mentioned recently, thanks to some friends, I have had unique access to an entire Six Costume and have been able to get pattern traces for a majority of items.

The first thing I want to have a go at making a set of replicas of are the cravats. I had access to the red and yellow versions (see right), from which I have taken detailed measurements, photographs and most importantly, direct scans of the fabrics.

I had previously handled a turquoise cravat at the Bonhams Auction in 2009, and took some decent detail images at that time (see left).

After comparing the images from the auction with the red cravat, I think I can use the same artwork for both, just choosing an appropriate colour match for each.

I took a direct scan of one end of the red cravat so I have the correct shape for points as well as the size and spacing of the polka-dots (see below). Creating the red and turquoise cravats should therefore be relatively easy.

Firstly I took the scan I had of the original into Adobe Illustrator and drew the polka-dots to size and found the spacing between them, vertically and horizontally (see below).

Next I traced around the image of the cravat end to give me an accurate pattern shape. I had taken a tape measure length of the cravat tip-to-tip and I repeated and flipped the tracing to match this. It was then a simple matter of joining the lines, narrowing it to the correct width in the middle.

I then had the nett pattern size for the cravat.

Studying how it had been made I found it was simply folded in half along the long point-to-point edge, and hemmed around the other side.
My pattern therefore needs to be a flipped copy of the shape I have, with a fold line down the centre (see above).

My next stage is to create the necessary seam allowance all round. Luckily there is an easy way to do this in Illustrator: under the Object menu there is an option to Offset Path, which gives me the chance to enter the seam allowance I want and automatically create the line I need (see above).

Finally, I will be cutting the polka-dot cravat on the cross, so I need to have the pattern in two halves, with a diagonal splice in the centre. This is easily calculated in Illustrator, and a seam allowance is incorporated here too.

To get the artwork printed I need to make a jpeg that I can upload to the Spoonflower website, and so export it from Illustrator in the required format.

Up to this point I have done my artwork in black and white (see above), as it will be much easier to change the colour in Photoshop to match the red and turquoise, and I will have to go back fewer steps to make changes later.

I do need a little control over how the artwork is imposed, so I prepare this in Photoshop (see left).

All nice and simple. Lovely jumbly.

While I had access to the original, I used a Pantone colour book to find a best-match reference for the shade of red used, and I match this in the Photoshop file, as well as finding a good match for the turquoise as well.

The only fly in the ointment is how they fit on the fabric and how much I have to use to get at least one set made. I can fit four on two yards of material, with a little waste in the corners, but otherwise I can do it fairly efficiently.

As well as getting a perfect colour match for the red, I also was able to compare the cravat to some fabric swatches I have from Spoonflower, and make a best-match choice for material type and weight. Happily there is a very good match that I will be using, so I can now place an order to make some initial prototype cravats . . . .  watch this space!
My ultimate plan is to make the cravats available for sale.
If you are interested in buying one, drop me a line to register your interest so I can gauge quantaties and which is the most popular to do.


  1. how much are the cravats?

  2. Cravats are GB£30 each, or GB£55 for two, or GB£80 for all three colours.

  3. i gonna have to save up but i would like one

  4. do you make the coats as well?

  5. It's on the drawing board . .. .

  6. I would love any piece of costuming relating to the 6th Doctor, including the cravats. Plus, I just love cravats...
    I would love to hear more and am enjoying your blogs, which I've only just discovered.
    I'd even settle for any pattern scans or material information you have and learn the hard way about construction. Well, I'd have help, but yeah... :-P
    I'll leave my Live Journal details for you. Thanks.

    (sounderpressure on LJ) or rhornud at hotmail dotcom.