Sunday 18 October 2009

Seven Hat Bandana

I know I have started this dedicated blog, but I must admit that Seven cosplay is not entirely my thing as Sylvester McCoy was not my favorite Doctor (sorry Seven fans and sorry Sylvester!).

However, I had an interesting request from a friend in the US recently who was looking to make a replica of the handkerchief that is wrapped around The Doctor’s hat, bandana-style (see left).

One of the original screen-used props had come up on eBay and a friend of his had managed to grab it.
The screen-used hanky had apparently been bought by costume designer Ken Trew from a tobacconist shop in London, and as a result it had been referred to as a Smoker’s Handkerchief ever since.
If you put ‘Smoker’s Handkerchief’ into Google you only get links to a few unrelated sites plus, who were the first to describe it as such (see right).
I have no doubt that in 1987 it was regarded as a Smoker’s Handkerchief, but I have found that if you put in ‘Paisley Bandana’ into Google,you get pages and pages of links to very similar hankies, many shown being used in a similar way, but none with quite the same design as The Doctor’s.

Anyway, the ultimate idea was to reproduce The Doctor’s hanky using Spoonflower and offer them as a group buy option to fellow Seven fans.
Since having fun with Spoonflower has become a hobby of mine recently, I could certainly see the possibilities . . .

An identical hanky had been scanned, but it had to be done in sections, since it was too big to fit on a scanner in one piece. Below are the six main usable scans.

Click to enlarge

To see what I had to work with, I quickly cobbled the pieces together to find that they did not match up as well I would have hoped.
Being a thin, woven fabric, the hanky had skewed out of shape and not of the scanned sections were remotely square (see below).

Click to enlarge

I looked at distorting the sections to get them back to their original shape, but it proved too difficult, as though I could get each part to look okay in isolation, they failed to meet up when brought together.

A bit of lateral thinking was needed.

It dawned on me that the hanky’s pattern had rotational and mirror symmetry, so I only needed to accurate create a eighth of the design, which I could then repeat to create the full image (see right).

It was then simply a question of finding the best sections from which to make up the required eighth, making the task seem a lot more manageable.

As a guideline I drew a triangle to show the segment I needed to do.
I then straightened the edge boarder to match and skewed it so the mirror symmetry lined along the diagonal of the segment. Once I was satisfied I had the segment as perfect as I could get it I could start step-and-repeating it around the hanky.
I took the eighth (below top left) and reflected it to make a quarter (below top centre) and then repeated that around to complete the four sides (below to right).

Click to enlarge

Luckily for the centre of the hanky a separate scan, however this too was somewhat distorted.
After tying to clean it up, I found it best to simply repeat the process I did for the rest of the hanky and perfect a single quarter (above bottom left) and repeat that around to complete the rosette (above bottom centre).
This then finished the design.

All that remained to do was prepare it for useable artwork by extending the area of the hanky to allow for a seam allowance when cutting them down to size and hemming the edges to make them neat and tidy.

All in all fourteen layers were needed to restore the hanky back to a complete form (see right).

Finally, having made an image I could upload to Spoonflower, I needed to work out the most efficient way of printing them.
Spoonflower offers a number of options when printing fabric: 8 inch square swatches; quarter yards; then multiples of full yards up to five, plus an option for 25 yards.

Annoyingly the hanky is too large for a quarter yard, so a minimum of one yard is needed to fit at least one full hanky, though you can fit two up on a yard. This does, however, leave a large amount of wasted fabric so I found that doing three yards was the most efficient, as it was possible to get ten full hankies together on one run of fabric.

Before doing a full test run, I waited until I had an order to send to Spoonflower and included a 8 inch swatch of part of the hanky so I could check how the colours and print quality was holding up.

I am just waiting for the swatch to arrive any day now . . . .
This project would not be happening if it wasn’t for the web of Who fans who have contributed along the way.
TimeLord25 (aka Bob Mitsch) for setting the ball rolling on reproducing the hanky using Spoonflower.

Seventh Doctor Fan (aka George Chase) who own the screen-used hanky from Dragonfire. He gave us the accurate size for the hanky.

Cyber did the scans from a hanky belonging to his brother.

Doris Wildthyme was the first to identify the handkercheif’s style and circulated images of one he owned on the Doctor Who forum, though they were never of high enough quality to use for this project.


  1. Awesome!
    As a long time photoshop user I can really appreciate and be impressed by what you did here.
    Very clever.

    Heres hoping it comes out well when printed!

  2. Looking forward to seeing the finished product with these hankies. Have paid for 2 of them. thanks for setting up this group run.

  3. Looking forward to seeing the finished product with these hankies. Have paid for 2 of them. thanks for setting up this group run.

  4. Thanks for your comments.
    I too can't wait for the Spoonflower order to arrive and see how they have come out.
    It's been a nice little project to do, and it's been fun sharing it with anyone interested in listening!

  5. The finished hankerchief looks brilliant. Thanks for making them pumpkiny.