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Sewing with Threads Podcast

Alex Beard Makes It Sew: His Patterns Create Authentic Star Trek Looks | Episode 57

Video: Threads magazine

In October, many sewists look forward to Halloween and the opportunity to create unique costumes. Costume sewing is an art unto itself, and many of us have developed a passion for detailed, accurate, and skillfully executed designs. Wearing those designs to parties and events is the ultimate reward for many costume sewists. In Episode 57 of the Sewing with Threads podcast, meet Alex Beard, also known as the Obsessive Costuming Dude on social media, who has become an expert on authentic Star Trek costumes.


Star Trek TNG admiral jacket comparison
A comparison of admiral uniforms from the CBS television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Alex Beard studies screen-capture images and screen-worn costumes to inform his pattern work.   

He examines costumes, many used in sci-fi Star Trek television or movie productions and preserved by collectors. Then he shares his analyses online. Alex also creates patterns and in-depth tutorials to help other enthusiasts make their versions of authentic Star Trek costumes.

Creating a rub-off pattern from a screen-worn Star Trek Costume
With the rub-off technique, Alex pins muslin to a screen-worn costume and traces the dimensions of garment sections.
Side by side comparison of a screen-worn Star Trek garment and a replica by Alex Beard.
A side-by-side comparison of a screen-worn costume from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Alex Beard’s version. Note Alex references a dye mix to match the screen-worn color. The Obsessive Costuming Dude also offers detailed fabric and color information for an authentic result.

In this episode, Alex shares why he started sewing costumes, how he improved his sewing skills and learned to make patterns, and his thoughts on seeking authenticity in cosplay.

From kid to costume dude

Since childhood, Alex Beard has been a fan of science fiction entertainment like Star Wars and Star Trek.

His fascination with these series and his interest in sewing and improving his skills led him to work on more detailed costumes and blog about it. When he met his wife, Katherine, he found she shared enthusiasm for costuming in additional genres such as fantasy and the BBC series Dr. Who. All the guests at their wedding–which they dubbed “Wedding Con”–came in costume.

Alex worked for a time in a tailoring shop, then at a Joann Fabric and Craft Stores location. He has been running the Star Trek Costume Guide blog for about eight years, along with other costuming blogs. As he enhanced his sewing skills and continued to write about costumes online, Star Trek collectors began reaching out and offering him a chance to analyze authentic Star Trek screen-worn costumes they had preserved from the series and movies.

Adapting onscreen looks to costumes

Alex took to developing patterns based on the screen-worn costumes. He’s created jumpsuit and skant designs from Star Trek the Next Generation, as well as numerous Star Trek jacket variations under his Tailors Gone Wild brand.

His analyses for the costumes contain many screen-capture images to focus on details of the costumes in use and on different characters. With his sewing knowledge, Alex can share how these costumes were made in minute detail. His analyses make it possible for others to look behind the scenes of some iconic sci-fi franchises.

Alex, who also works as a digital composer, recently completed a lengthy analysis of the elaborate engineering radiation suits worn in the Paramount Pictures productions Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and other films based on the original Star Trek CBS series.

He shares the details from a screen-worn suit, including hundreds of close-up photos, in the Star Trek Costume Guide and has recently released a pattern and tutorial for the design in men’s and women’s versions.

Star Trek engineering radiation suit patterns
Men’s and women’s patterns by Alex Beard to recreate the Star Trek movie-era radiation suits worn by the engineering crew.

Alex has also recently started TailorsGoneWild.com, an online sewing school.  His goal is to help cosplay enthusiasts develop their sewing skills to make costumes that interest them, to their desired level of detail.

Tailors Gone Wild Intermediate Sewing course promo.
Tailors Gone Wild will soon offer sewing skill-building courses intended for costume enthusiasts. The four courses (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Tailoring) will be available separately or in a bundle.

To find out more about Alex’s work:

Follow him on Instagram @obsessive_costuming_dude
Visit the Star Trek Costume Guide
Check out Tailors Gone Wild

Images and graphics courtesy of Alex Beard.





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