Doctor Who – Clara Oswald (Robot of Sherwood)

This costume has long been in the making. As soon as photos taken during the filming of the Robot of Sherwood Doctor Who episode began to surface, plans were being made.

JS35092902DW Robot of Sherwood

Work was done by other Clara Oswald cosplayers to identify the jewelry and accessories, so my biggest concern was the dress.

According to the Clara Oswald Cosplay page, this is the breakdown of Clara’s costume in this episode:

Robot of Sherwood costume

Robot of Sherwood (outfit #2, main)

  • KG by Kurt Geiger Selina shoe boots 
  • Topshop Mixed Finger and Midi Rings
  • Topshop Embossed Section Headband
  • Topshop Mixed Stud Outlaw Earring Pack – Wing Earrings
  • Red tights
  • Custom or borrowed dress

I was able to purchase the Topshop items (although the headchain was more than I originally budgeted, I will have replicas on sale in my shop after Gallifrey One). The original boots were out of my budget at about $200. I was able to find these alternates on eBay for $32. And of course, the tights/thigh highs came from Sock Dreams.

These are the screen accurate booties worn by Jenna Coleman in this episode. They originally sold for over $200 but now sell for $120.

These are the screen accurate booties worn by Jenna Coleman in this episode. They originally sold for over $200 but now sell for $120.

These are the alternates I found on eBay and purchased for $35!

These are the alternates I found on eBay and purchased for $32!

Now, the dress. You can tell from the way it flows that it’s silk velvet. And there are areas on the skirt and sleeves that have had the silk burned out. Burn out velvet requires chemicals being applied to the velvet. The chemical removes the natural fibers (the silk) while leaving the synthetic (rayon) behind. The pile on most silk velvet makes up the silk portion. There are also little gold dots that are hot fix adhered. And there will be black paint/dye that to be applied to the burn out areas in a floral pattern. We used a stencil to apply the chemical for the burn out.

Collecting all the materials needed was challenging. I chose to use Period Patterns #21 since it has a basic cotehardie pattern and I didn’t feel up to drafting my own pattern. The velvet in Moroccan Red was purchased from SY Fabrics. From photos found online of the filming, it became obvious that there was an undergown. I decided to go as historically accurate to the period as I could for the fabric choice and went with linen in firecracker red for the undergown. There were several modifications made to the pattern in order to make this costume as screen accurate as I could possibly get it.

Velvet & Chemicals Shiny! for tassel, trim and sleeves

I decided that for additional support, Kayle could wear the muslin we did for fitting as a slip under the linen undergown.

MuslinGrommets & Lacing in muslin

The linen went together beautifully. It was decided to make the sleeves end above the elbow since the sleeves shown in the episode have burn out on the velvet. The original plan was to hand sew that part of the sleeves onto the linen undergown when it’s going to be worn. Being able to remove the burn out sleeves from the linen will preserve the wash-ability of the linen. What happened instead was that she’d simply slip on the sleeves – they are tight enough that they do not need to be affixed to the linen.

Cutting, cutting, cuttingLinen Undergown, lacking sleeves

Here is the finished 2nd layer. The hem is dragging because she’s barefoot. The booties will add several inches.

Linen Layer - Front view Linen Layer - Back view

And then work began on the velvet gown. The opening for this gown will be down the front and will use dark silver grommets. A pattern had to be drafted for the sleeves as well. Some other minor changes were made as well. The top will not have a facing around the yoke. It will simply be given a turn under hem.

velvet gown other side in progress Velvet gown side front in progress Velvet gown side in progress

The grommets have been added to the gown. To reinforce the velvet, we added cotton quilt binding for strength when the gown is laced up. At this point, Kayle was very thankful for my grommet press and dies.

Kayle adding grommets to gown

The application of the Fiber Etch for the burning out went well. Time consuming, but well. We both felt like we were massacring the fabric though. It’s hard to think about adding chemicals to fabric that costs this much. Two stencils were used. One was purchased from Michael’s and the large stencil was purchased from Creative Stencils. The Fiber Etch and paint were both purchased from Dharma Trading. The paint was stenciled on using the same large stencil that was used for the Fiber Etch. (Note: If you’re interested in experimenting with burnout, be sure to watch the videos and read the instructions on Dharma Trading’s website. The instructions on that little bottle are limited.)

Beginning of burning out the velvetDuring application

Once all the burn out was complete, we began the painting process. It went on with no issues (except I had to order another bottle of paint).


The “inner” sleeves also required a pattern to be drafted. They are very snug and form-fitting in the episode and we achieved the same snugness.

Inner sleeves - grommet markingsInner sleeves - Fiber Etch applied

The last step to finish the gown was to apply the hot fix jewels. We applied 84 Swarovski jewels and 192 gold studs to the inner sleeves and gores of the gown. After seeing it on stage for Masquerade, we need to apply additional jewels.

And the final piece to be completed was making a tasseled belt.

Finished gownFinished gown

This project has been challenging and Kayle & I have learned a lot. It is the first medieval gown that we’ve made. Kayle did the most work on this costume that she has done for all of her other costumes combined. Using new techniques made us both learn new processes. Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome of this project, both in the finished costume and the level of participation that Kayle had with it.

The fact that everything for this costume was made by the 2 of us (except for the socks, booties, longbow and the Top Shop accessories) is fantastic!


Kayle has two props for this costume. One is an English longbow and the other is a golden arrow. The longbow was purchased, but is handcrafted. The arrow was made by Kayle and I. Sculpey clay was formed around a narrow wooden dowel rod. The point was sculpted and fletchings were added. Kayle then had me get additional spray paint to make it even more golden. Luckily the day she painted the arrow, it wasn’t very windy.

DW Robot of Sherwood11 arrow

sculpted arrow

painting arrowfinished arrow (except for protective spray)

Shots from Gallifrey One

DSC_0154DSC_0152Looking out the TARDIS. From the TARDIS Poolside posing Poolside posing


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