Costumes and Performances by Tab Kimpton


How to Paint a Space Suit

Hiya! It’s been a while so I’m starting with an easy tutorial to get me back into the flow of things.

Now for the last few years you’ve been able to buy nebula leggings, backpacks, heck I even sell T-shirts myself  but I’m a fancy guy and I wanted to make something which suited me (har har) better.

So last summer I decided to paint a Space Suit.



I wanted something to go with Christian’s Dr Who coat, but I don’t look like anything from Dr Who, so after several jokes about my ego and cosplaying ‘All of Space and Time’ I bought a £10 suit from ebay that had a bleach stain on it, took the trousers in to actually fit and then began the painting process.

This method can make basically ANY FABRIC into a nebula pattern.

I know, I’m excited too.



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Firstly I used some half water, half bleach solution to make the suit as light as possible in splotches. I then rinsed the entire thing in water and hung it up to dry to get all of the itchy bleachness out. This step only works if your garment has some natural fibres in it. Try to pick something light to start to get the most vivid results.

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 These are the magical tools I used to make it happen. The most important thing was Acrylic Inks- these are much more flexible than standard acrylic, they’re water tight and permanent. I also have a spray bottle, some regular white acrylic paint, some brushes and a tooth brush. No fancy tools needed here, oh no.

I already had these anyway from past projects, but this setup shouldn’t cost you more than £30. 2014-10-21 11.27.21

Also important is a sheet to cover your floor. This is gonna go EVERYWHERE. 

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I started out with the lightest colours first- I prefer warm tones so I tried to include some yellow but everything looked a bit vomit-ey so I’d stick to blues, greens and pinks if you can.  

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Then I painted some black down in the shadows of the nebula clouds- it helps to have reference photos of space near you to get some shape ideas!

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Here you can see the back taking form.

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With the trousers I made sure the crotch didn’t have a weird stain/anything that might make me look like I’d actually peed myself.

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I mixed up a spray bottle with 1/3 paint to water for each colour and had fun spritzing it on, but slowly over time I just switched to a paintbrush and occasionally smearing it with my (latex glove covered) hands.

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It’s important to stop periodically and let the suit dry out. Wet paint always looks much darker so you don’t get a real feel for the colours unless you let it dry out and come back a few hours later.

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I got tired of the yellows and almost completely covered them with pink instead. Here you can see that I’m darkening the blacks and using white dry brushed on there to increase the contrast in the suit. My art teacher would be so proud.


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The nebula on the back starts to take form! To give you a time scale I spent about 1 hour a day over a course of a week painting this thing.


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At some point I got tired of the floor and put my kitchen table back.


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See how the colour palette has changed to pretty much exclusively pink and blue? It would be possible to do a yellow or red but much harder on fabric that started out grey.

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Time to add stars! I found the easiest way was to mix up a batch of white regular acrylic to ketchup consistency, smear that on a small piece of card and then use the toothbrush to flick it down over the suit. Very satisfying.


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The back is my favourite bit.



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And some finished trousers!

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The final suit was a bit stiff so I then soaked it overnight in some water with a splash of fabric softner inside.

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This is a great costume because I can put anything in the top pocket and cosplay several fandoms close to my heart.


Or even wear a TARDIS pin and match Christian’s Dr Who Coat.



Awww yissss


This suit has given me a good year worth of wear with no signs of stopping. To clean I febreeze the jacket and hand wash the trousers in warm soapy water then hang to dry. Good luck making your own universes!



1) Bleach it

2) Use watered down acrylic inks to paint it, starting with the lightest colour first

3) KEEP PAINTING for many days, letting it dry out each time and increasing the contrast between the colours

4) Add highlights and stars with regular white acrylic paint and a toothbrush. Don’t use too much or it will make the fabric too stiff.

5) Soak the finished suit in fabric softener and hang to dry.

6) Wear your space suit and become a walking pun



A Tale of Two Doctors, Part 9- Shoulder pads and lining

I’m currently tailoring a jacket that isn’t going so well, so here’s a tutorial to perk me up about costumes!

Onward to inserting the lining!

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Best Sewing Trick of 2015!

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If you load your bobbin with embroidery thread, and sew from behind you can sew couching on machine in a fraction of the time by hand.


I found this while (being the exciting person I am) I was watching brother foot attachment videos. You don’t need to buy anything new to do this, just watch this video for more details


A Tale of Two Doctors- Part 8-Collar and lapels




Next step is sewing the lapels in and trying to get a beautiful crisp edge.

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A Tale of Two Doctors- Part 7-Collar and lapels


Time to add those classic collar pieces!

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A Tale of Two Doctors- Part 6- Canvas, horsehair and pad stitching.



I’ve always wanted to do the fancy tailoring thing where you use a pick stitch to roll the lapel and get a smooth curve- well here it is!

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A Tale of Two Doctors- Part 5- Pockets that are bigger on the inside

coat tabs


A bit of research later and turns out the back thingy on coats is called a tab- yet another thing to add to my name sake!

Now it’s time to make the pocket lining- an an opportunity to make some huge, decent sized pockets that you can actually fit useful things inside. A pet peeve of mine is fake pockets, or even worse pockets so tiny that you can’t even fit a standard phone inside.



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A Tale of Two Doctors- Part 4, Pockets and the Mystery Back Piece…

So, time to make those pretty pocket pieces!



I cut some dark felt out to help line the spoon flower fabric and give it more weight.


Now the secret of this task- invisible hem tape! I used it to iron the check, felt and lining layers all together in a sandwich of power.

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A Tale of Two Doctors- Part 3, The Master Coat Cutting


The mock up came back from the customer- we had some issues on the arm placement and the back needed to come in a bit so I made some adjustments then started scribbling! Labelling is super important for this project or you’ll just get lost in a sea of slightly triangular pattern pieces.



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A Tale of Two Doctors- Part 2, the pattern

Now onto the pattern! Some of these fabrics are really expensive so I needed to make sure the coat fit properly. This is the epic tale of scaling the pattern up to the commissioners size and constructing it in linen. I chose linen because I’d be using that as the support lining for the flimsier bits of fabric and would give me a good idea of fit and a great surface to write on!

I started with a burda 2471 and massacred it. I bought a bunch of these a few years back for a set of Full Metal Alchemist uniforms I made so I happen to have one cut to most men’s sizes. Here I’m working with a 38″ chest and someone about 5’8″.



I joined the seams up to create a back panel, moving the shoulder seam to a more normal place. To be honest it would have been easier to start from scratch but WHATEVER, let me have my weird ways.


I then split the back panel and removed a slither at the waist. I think it’s important that a man’s coat is tailored to show off his… assets.

DrWhoCoat2 DrWhoCoat3

The magical world of pinning a concave curve to a convex one. The key seems to be to have the convex curved piece on the bottom and pin

the concave (one that curves in) on top, using many, many pins to gather it.


Ironing this is extremely satisfying. You can clip the seam to reduce the bulk but I think that weakens the seam and I didn’t want to risk fraying here.


This back is a tailors dream, seriously.

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