I don't quite remember exactly how I got the idea of doing a Harry Mudd costume. I think I was hanging with the Star Trek people at a Con, looking at their big pile of tribbles. That got me to thinking about the guy who sold the tribbles, but his costume wasn't that interesting to me. So I got to thinking about the other somewhat unscrupulous salesman in Star Trek (the original series), Harry Mudd. I thought the costume he wore in the "Mudd's Women" (pic at right) was interesting... and figured it would be pretty easy and low-cost to come up with something similar.
I was sure I already had something pretty much like each of the pieces,
with the exception of
the belt and side hangy-things.
I was right about that, but it wasn't all quite as simple as I
I had a hat in the same style which I'd gotten many years ago. It's actually maybe a bit nicer than the screen hat, being made of canvas. It did have a patch on the front for Disney's Animal Kingdom (where I'd got it from), but I figured that could be removed.
When I pulled it out and tried it on, however, I noticed it was uncomfortably tight on my head. (It fit OK when I bought it, but hats can shrink after they've been worn and you sweat into them.) I tried a couple of things trying to steam it and stretch it, with limited success. (The steam was very helpful, however, for removing the patch, which had been glued on.) Then I looked on good ol' amazon and got a hat stretcher, which worked much better with the steam to more properly shape the hat into a new size. (It was only about $15, and I figured I could get more use out of it because I do have other hats.) Below, pic of my hat as I'm getting the patch off.
I had a silk shirt that I'd originally considered but then rejected for part of my pirate costume. I thought it would be almost perfect for Harry Mudd, but after I tried it on, I just didn't like it that well. Mainly, the sleeves weren't poofy enough. I realized that I probably wouldn't be able to get a shirt that looked the way I wanted unless I sewed it myself. Good news was, I already had what I thought was a suitable pattern.
I dug out the pattern. It was from my old work days, for a tunic blouse. I actually preferred the tunic style to the screen-accurate tucked-in style; I thought it would be more flattering. And I'm not a stickler for screen accuracy anyway. The pattern had a Peter Pan type collar, but it would be easy enough to omit the collar and just keep the collar band--very similar to the screen shirt. It had a front placket that went partway down the chest, not almost all the way like the screen shirt, but that's to be expected wih a girl's shirt, so I didn't feel the need to change it. Although the sleeves were already somewhat poofy, I decided to try making them fuller by adding 2 inches to their length and width.
Having decided the pattern was OK, I went to get fabric. I was looking for cotton in a pale rust color, and I found some that was kinda close, maybe a little oranger (I think the color was called pumpkin). But I was hoping to find something similar in a textured fabric, because I just love the textured weave of the screen shirt. I did find some nice textured cotton fabric, but the colors were wrong--the most suitable was something like khaki. Also, it was more expensive, although the total would still be under $20. So, I had to debate, should I go closer to the color or closer to the texture? I went with the texture, because that was just more interesting to me.
The fabric was a bit difficult to work with, but not too bad. After a couple of weeks, I had my shirt.
I had 2 pairs of wide-legged blue dance pants, in different styles, that I thought could work. Either one would need shortening, because they were full-length pants and Harry wears shorter, Gaucho-style pants (as seen in pic at left). There was one pair I would have preferred to cannibalize for the costume, because I liked them less for dance purposes. Alas, upon closer investigation, I decided it was going to be too much work to make the top part usable (they had an extra decorative layer attached to the waist).
The other pair had no problem with the top, but before I committed to changing the length on them, I decided to check what good ol' amazon might have. Sure enough, they had pretty much what I wanted at a reasonable price (about $15), so I went with that.
This was the part I knew I'd have to make myself. I did have an old belt with fairly large, square belt buckle. The belt was made of plastic and was falling apart, so I had no problem cannibalizing it. Alas, the buckle was also plastic, so it would need to be painted to look like metal, but that was no biggie.
I also had on hand some brown woven fabric with a sort of suede-like texture that I figured would work fine for the belt and side hangy-things. A simple matter to make a long belt and attach it to the buckle:
The side pieces, however, required some thought. It's not perfectly clear exactly what they are or if they serve any purpose other than decorative. I decided they looked like they were hanging off the belt, and that they would have pockets in them to make them useful. Here's a pic of one before I added decorations (the top is to the left):
Looking at the decorations on the original, I can see the two sides don't match, which makes it easier. What we can see looks kinda like strands of pony beads, and maybe some fancy cording or something. I actually already had a few strands of strung pony beads, from doing lap beads at Relay for Life with the Anti-Cancer Belly Dancers. I figured those would work perfectly. It wasn't hard to find a few other odds and ends, like trim pieces and Mardi Gras beads, to finish the side pieces off (see pic at right). And just because I'm a Firefly nut, I decided to include a Browncoat patch (which is actually attached with Velcro so I can switch it out or put it somewhere else if I want).
The other pieces I already had just fine:
I wore the costume at Florida Supercon, July 2016. I had brought along a fake moustache to bring the finishing touch to Harry, but alas, once I put it on, it just did NOT look right. Fortunately, I had an alternative plan: I skipped the moustache, let my hair down from under my hat in a ponytail, and went as "Harry's sister, Harriet." Here's a pic from the cosplay photo booth that shows the costume best:
My only problem with the costume (besides the moustache) was that the belt was a little too flaccid, but otherwise I was happy with how it looked and felt. I'm a little less happy with the photos I got... I should've thought more about my "pose" for this one, because I would've liked one that showed the earring well, and one that showed the Browncoat patch. Maybe next time...
The flaccid belt had 2 specific issues. The first was that it would tend to bunch up and not lie flat, which made it look narrower than it was designed to be. So I added some heavy interfacing and a felt backing to fix that problem. The second issue was that it would slide thru the buckle too easily, considering I was relying on friction to hold it in place. That meant I was regularly having to re-tighten it. So I added some Velcro to address that issue.
So, I was able to wear the costume again, complete with moustache this time, at Supercon Retro in April 2017. Here's a nice pic from the cosplay photo booth, that shows the Browncoat patch:
The updated belt worked great. I also have black boots now, which I got to use with some of my regular Trek outfits, but they're more screen-accurate for Harry as well. So overall, I'm pretty pleased with the costume now. The only problem is that people think I'm Teddy Roosevelt, but I'm not sure what to do about that.
I figured it was mostly the khaki shirt that suggested Teddy Roosevelt, especially when I was wearing my glasses (which I sometimes need to do). Presumably a more screen-accurate colored shirt would help, but but like I said, I was feeling pretty happy with the costume, so I didn't feel any need to go seeking something out. If I happened to stumble on something great, then maybe I'd consider updating.
Well, it happened. 4+ years later. I saw an ad from Joann's for a fabric called "Bubble Gauze". After checking it out online (this was during the pandemic times so I wasn't going out shopping except when necessary), I thought it might well meet my criteria of texture, color, and fabric content (cotton). But it was kind of expensive, so I was a little hesitant. But when it went on sale, I decided to go visit my local Joann's to check it out in person, and it confirmed my feelings. So I got 3 yards of the Spice color. Not 100% screen-accurate, but close enough to feel it was worth my while to make another Harry Mudd shirt.
I planned to use the same pattern as before, but I figured as long as I was re-doing it, I should consider if there were any changes I might want to make. My one concern was that the sleeves hadn't turned out as "poofy" as I thought they should be. But, in trying to figure out how to make such an adjustment, I realized that because the original pattern had a raglan-style sleeve, it was going to be hard to add more width without mucking up the whole shoulder area of the shirt. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I'd need to change the sleeve to a set-in style... which is what the screen version has anyway, so might as well go for it. "In for a penny, in for a pound," as they say. I figured it wouldn't be too hard if I just separated the existing sleeve piece into 2 parts, separating the main set-in-able sleeve from the shoulder/neckline section. Then I started to realize I'd probably need to make some corresponding adjustments to the front and back pieces, since they'll need to connect in some smooth way to those changed pieces. Meanwhile, I'd noticed that the cuffs on the screen version are wider than my original, and I wanted to adjust those also.
This was all complicated enough that I'd need to create several brand-new pattern pieces... the only thing unchanged from the original would be the front placket/collar section. Plus, I'd need to make a mockup to check that they actually work properly together. Oh well, in for a penny...
The major reason I needed to do a mockup was to check if the new shoulder area fit together OK. To do that, I only needed to make one sleeve (with the new separate shoulder and sleeve pieces) connected to the updated front and back pieces. But I figured I might as well include the new cuff so I could check how it looked, and get a better idea of the sleeve puffiness. This was my first time making a significant mockup like this. It was also my first time tracing a large pattern onto the fabric using tailor's chalk (which seemed best because I was using craft paper to make the new pattern pieces, and I was concerned that it would distort too much if I tried putting pins thru it). But I've watched lots of Youtube videos showing the process, and I had the right chalk along with several candles-in-jars to use as pattern weights, so it went pretty smoothly. I did learn a couple of useful things during the process of assembling the mockup, such as that it was very easy to turn the shoulder piece backwards. But everything looked good enough that I was ready to go ahead and proceed with the final garment.
Before I did that I did check online for advice on how to work with double gauze (since it was apparent it'd be a bit hard to work with), and it suggested using a finer needle, a longer stitch length, but most importantly to be careful how you finish your seams on the inside because it frays so easily.
I should perhaps mention that the pattern I was using as my starting point was Butterick #6753, which I think I must have purchased around 1980-85 or so. (As a hint, the price printed on the envelope is $1.50.) I had purchased 3 yards of fabric because the chart on the back of the envelope said 2-7/8 yards of 45" fabric for the full-length sleeve option. I was ordering online and they only accepted full yards, but I figured it was probably a good idea to have a little extra in any case.
As I started working on the pattern mods, I realized the width I was adding to the sleeve meant they weren't going to fit on the fabric according to the pattern layout. But then I had gotten rid of the raglan-esque tab at the top, so they'd be shorter. Would that help them fit? As I was testing the pattern pieces on the actual fabric, I realized the fabric was clearly wider than 45", and when I checked the online listing, I noticed it said 54". But the pattern didn't have a layout for 54", only for 60". But it said you only needed 1-7/8 yards with 60" fabric and I had a whole yard more than that, would that help me? I checked the suggested layout for 60" fabric and it showed the front and back directly opposite each other in the same yard of fabric (pieces 1 and 4 in pic at right), and I realized if I could make that layout work, I was fine--I'd have 1 yard for the front and back, which would leave 1 yard for each sleeve, which would be fine. The smaller pieces weren't going to be any problem. I took some measurements of the front and back pieces (slightly more than 13" at widest point) and the fabric (not quite 54" even when pulled pretty tightly, because I had washed it and it does shrink some as well as pucker up more). So it was gonna be close, really close. The shirt fits loosely enough that I figured I could probably fudge something enough to squeeze it in.
Although I wasn't sure if I'd have enough fabric, I went ahead and started cutting out pieces anyway, because there was really no reasonable way I could tell until I got there. But I did consider that I might have to buy another yard, and if I did that it might be a different dye lot and hence look a little different from the rest of the shirt, and if that happened I'd want to be sure the sleeves matched because if they didn't it would be more obvious than the front and back not matching.
So, I started at one end, opened up the fabric flat (since the widened sleeve wouldn't fit if it were folded), positioned the sleeve piece close to the end and one selvage, outlined it with tailor's chalk (another benefit from the mockup: getting practice for using tailor's chalk, because it was trickier on the loose-woven, somewhat stretchy Bubble Gauze fabric compared to the old sheet I used for the mockup), and cut it out. The I turned the pattern over and repeated the process close to the opposite selvage, as close to the first sleeve as I could.
Then I moved down to the other end of the fabric, folded the selvages to the middle and tried positioning the front and back pieces as in the suggested 60" layout. It was too tight, and I could tell part of the reason was the fabric wouldn't stay stretched out. So, I tried ironing it, which helped, but it was still too tight. I just needed a little bit, like 1/2". I was trying to figure out what I could do to just give me that little bit. The obvious choice would be to just move the pattern so it's a little off the fold line. That would make the shirt slightly narrower, but since it's a loose fit anyway, shouldn't cause a problem. But... it would also mess up the neck opening, and that would cause a problem. And as I was pondering how one might fix that, it occured to me there was more fabric between the end I was working on and where I'd left off cutting the sleeves, and I might be able to slide one of these 2 pieces down in that direction. The front and back weren't uniformly wide--both were narrower at the sleeve opening and at the shirttail. So I might actually be able to fit them close enough together that it'd work. So I refolded the fabric just enough to fit the first piece comfortably, close to the end, then marked and cut it. It was a bit fiddly to refold and position the second piece, but it worked! Plenty of room! It was then a simple matter to cut the smaller pieces (front/collar bands, cuffs, shoulder pieces).
I pretty much followed the pattern directions for the front and back: forming the pleats at the shoulders, hemming the bottom, and sewing in the band for the front placket. The only change was relative to the advice about finishing the inside seams, so, figuring that's usually easier to do before you actually sew the seam, I stitched under the edges of the sides under before sewing the hem.
The original pattern directions called for the sleeve to happen next, but my pattern mod turned that into 2 parts, and the shoulder piece needed to be sewn in first to connect the front and back pieces before the main part of the sleeve could be added. As I was first thinking about how to finish the inside seams, it occurred to me that if I cut 4 of the shoulder pieces, it would be pretty easy to use the 2nd one on each shoulder as a sort of lining on the first. As I thought about it more, I realized it wouldn't be quite so easy (in part because the piece is fairly small), and would require at least one line of topstitching (assuming I wasn't going to hand-sew it). I considered that would be bad because most Trek costumes are designed with no visible stitching or other fastening, but then I realized that this particular shirt already had visible topstitching around the cuffs and collar anyway. So I went ahead and did it that way.
The original pattern directions had said to stay-stitch the upper edges of the sleeve, but I didn't think that was necessary because a) my sleeve mod had basically removed most of the curves in that area, and b) most of what was left was going to be gathered anyway, so it wouldn't matter if it stretched some.
Then the original pattern gave directions to make a placket opening for the cuffs. I remembered thinking it was such a fiddly process when I made the first version of this shirt, and wondering then why they didn't just leave the seam under the arm open at the end. At the time I went ahead and did it their way, but in thinking about it since then, I realized it's because cuffs usually close with a button or cufflink, which would probably be irritating if it were on the underside of the sleeve and you were resting your wrist on a table or something; and besides, it's more decorative if the button/cufflink is visible. For this shirt, neither of those concerns applied: I was planning to use Velcro to close the cuffs, which wouldn't create an irritating bump; and it was actually preferable to not have visible fasteners. So, I figured if I finished the inside of the underarm seam nicely, then I could just leave the last few inches of the seam open to serve as the cuff placket and skip the whole separate placket part. That was something I tested with my mockup, and it worked fine.
So the only thing I needed to do to prepare the sleeves before attaching them to the body assembly was to finish the underarm edges with a narrow hem.
Another thing I was testing with my mockup was the sleeve poofiness. With my first shirt, I had added 2 inches in length and width to the original pattern. For this one I kept the same 2" length change but increased the width to 6" on the mockup. But I decided I wanted the sleeves poofier still, so I increased the width a total of 8" on the final pattern, which was a simple enough change that I didn't feel a need to make another mockup.
With that much width added, I had to make a gathered sleeve. My first idea when I was making the mockup was to gather the area between the notches, but it was quickly apparent that made the gathers too loose. Instead I eyeballed about 3-4" in from the notches, which worked better and was what I did when connecting the sleeve to the body on the final shirt. I finished the armscye seam inside with a zigzag stitch thru all the layers.
One of the tips I'd read about working with this kind of fabric was that because it's so loosely woven, you need to be extra careful not to make mistakes when you sew because if you have to unpick something, it's more likely to damage the fabric. Alas, I did make an error assembling the collar band -- I apparently misread one of the drawings in the pattern instructions and stitched incorrect sides together. The pieces were fairly small, so I had enough leftover fabric to re-cut new pieces to start the collar band from scratch, but I decided to try unpicking first. It wasn't too bad, but I think that's only because I'd already put on the iron-on interfacing, which helped stabilize the material.
Other than that, the collar went normally, the same way I did it for the first shirt (i.e., just did the collar band without the extra collar piece).
I decided to go ahead at this point, while I was in the neighborhood, and finish off the bottom part of the front placket, which the pattern directions didn't do until the very end.
After stitching the side/underarm seams together, the last thing to do was the cuffs. I knew I wanted to make them wider than the original, and I realized that meant they would sit higher up on my arm and so would need to be longer around also, and as it was the original ones were a bit tight to my wrist. I remembered the original pattern came with a 3/4 sleeve option, which would of course have a longer cuff so it would fit further up on the arm, so I decided to use that cuff option for the mockup. To change the width, I placed the pattern with the long unnotched edge on the fold of the fabric, so that I ended up with a piece that was twice as wide.
On the mockup, that resulted in a cuff that was about 3" wide, which seemed about right. However, I did think the cuff was a bit loose around the wrist, so for the final garment I folded in those side seam allowances on the pattern, and cut a little bit outside those folds. After attaching the cuffs for the final garment, the last step was to attach hook-and-loop for closure. It was here that I noticed that the cuffs were a little tight, although I wouldn't say they were TOO tight. So I think that folding the ends in on the pattern was an overcompensation, and I probably should've stuck to just using the hook-and-loop to make that small adjustment.
Part of the fun of making stuff like this is that it's a learning process. And on this project, I learned a lot, including some new processes I'd not tried before. Here are some observations.
I finished the shirt in the Autumn of 2021, but didn't get a chance to wear the updated costume until May 2022, at Megacon. Here's a nice pic:
I'm really pleased with how it turned out.
Return to main Cosplay page