Star Trek TOS Uniforms

Star Trek Original Series Uniform(s)

(original part posted 11/30/16)

After I decided to join the 1701st Fleet Star Trek fan group, in Spring of 2016, I knew I'd be needing a uniform. No big deal; they're readily available on There are lots of choices, because the uniforms vary among the 5 TV series and the various movies. You also have a choice of color, which represents your area of responsibility (Operations, Science, Engineering). I wanted to go with a basic shirt-and-pants style, because it seemed easy and comfortable. I liked Next Generation, and I thought it would be a good look, without having to deal with the mock-turtle undershirt. And I knew I wanted to go with Science (Blue) or Engineering (Gold)... So I bought a shirt (which came with the comm badge and rank pips), and got some really nice black pants to go with it from Goodwill. Wore it for the first time to work the 1701st table at Fandomania in Ft. Pierce in June 2016 (right).

But buying a costume isn't really that interesting, and I wouldn't be posting an article about it if that's all I did. What's more interesting is that at some point I noticed I had 3 long-sleeved T-shirts in my closet (left over from my working days) that were in suitable Trek colors (1 light blue, 1 light teal blue, and 1 red), and realized how easy it would be to make TOS (original series) type shirts from them: Just need to add some black around the collar, the emblem on the chest, and some gold trim at the end of the sleeve. I've gotten very little use out of those shirts in the last several years. I figured that, now that I was involved with the 1701st, I'd get more use out of them if I converted them to Trek shirts.

Research - TOS shirts

So, as usual, first some research, mostly via Google...

The chest emblem was done like an applique, directly on the shirt. It's easy to buy patches with the right designs, or to find patterns so you can make them yourself.

The trim at the end of the sleeve is an indicator of rank. Lots of detail about that in the Memory Alpha Wiki. As of this writing, I'm still an Ensign in the Fleet, so my shirt wouldn't have any stripes (unless I was cosplaying a specific character of different rank).

The black collar has one peculiar characteristic--it has a crew-type neckline but the black part has a little bit of a V-shaped dip in the front. Also, there is no visible seam where the black meets the color. I could tell that collar was going to be the trickiest part, but I also observed that many costumes fudge it.

I also found a couple of videos on YouTube that provide instructions on how to do what I was planning: "DIY Cheap and Easy Star Trek Costumes (TOS)" and "How to Make Star Trek Uniorms (TOS)".

TOS Shirt 1 - Blue

I decided to try the light blue shirt first. One of the videos had advised using a glue gun to turn down the edge of the T-shirt collar to form the V-shape with no seam line, so I decided to try that. I was concerned that using hot glue would make the neck area stiff, so I decided to try fabric glue (which I already had anyway) instead.

Alas, the fabric glue I had would sometimes bleed thru the fabric and leave a visible mark. I was glad I had started on the back part of the neck where it wouldn't be so obvious. But I was going to have to do something else for the front. I decided to fudge it and just stitched the edge where I'd turned it under. So much for the no-seam-line.

The same video called for a separate black shirt under the colored one, so its collar would show above the neckline of the colored shirt. I didn't really want to be wearing 2 layers of shirts, so I took an old black T-shirt and cut it down so it was more like a dickie.

Meanwhile, I had acquired a couple of Fleet emblem pins, similar to the comm badges that were used in the later series. I figured this would be reasonable to use in place of the sewn-on emblem. If I got ambitious later, I could easily switch it out for the sewn-on one.

And because I was an Ensign, I didn't need the sleeve stripes, so I was done. I haven't worn it anywhere yet, so the only pic I've gotten thus far is this quick selfie I took just to check it out. The color is off; the shirt is actually bluer than it looks.

Sherry R test cosplay in diy Trek TOS blue shirt

(below section added 4/2/17)

Update - Emblem

Sherry R diy Star Trek TOS emblems

I wanted to try making a proper chest emblem, partly to see how easy or hard it would be, but also because I thought it would be interesting to be able to say, "This shirt cost me nothing, literally" (because everything used to make it was stuff I already had anyway). Also, the pin really doesn't look right on the TOS shirt.

As mentioned above, it's easy to find patterns for the emblem online. I had gold lame' fabric scraps, and suitable backing fabric I could attach to it. It was an easy matter to cut the outline and draw the design using a black Sharpie marker, which actually didn't look too bad by itself. But I wanted the embroidered look, so I tried embroidering the design by hand. Alas, my embroidery skills have been unused for a long time and have atrophied. (That's my attempt on the left in the pic at right--I decided it wasn't even worth the effort to try to complete it.)

I figured I could try doing it another way, by using the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine. After getting a bit digressed with making the red shirt, I finally tried that method, and, while it was a bit tedious, it worked out pleasantly well--the results are shown on the far right.

So then it was just a matter of sewing the emblem onto the shirt, using the same technique I used for the red shirt.

(following added 4/18/17)

I wore the blue shirt at Supercon Retro in April 2017, and here's a pic (modelled with "tricorder", described following):

Sherry R cosplay in diy Trek TOS blue shirt

(end of added section)

TOS Tricorder

It's handy, at Cons (like most other places one goes), to have some kind of bag to carry stuff in, especially if you don't have enough pockets. Usually I use a small black leather purse with a shoulder strap, which doesn't look too much out of place with most costumes. (In fact, it's an integral part of some, like my Indiana Jones.)

In Star Trek, there's a device called a "tricorder" that they use a lot, and in TOS it looked like a black box with a strap that was worn over the shoulder (as seen (partly opened) in pic of Spock at left). I figured that my purse looked similar to that, enough so it was OK to wear with a TOS costume. Then, at Treasure Coast Comic Con in Sept. 2016, I got to have a picture taken with a "real" replica tricorder (at right; I was wearing a TOS minidress-style costume that I had recently bought, so needed a TOS prop to go with it). I think that was what prompted me into thinking that it might be fun to get something a little more like a "real" tricorder to use for carrying my stuff when I'm in TOS costume.

They do make tricorder purses, but they're kind of expensive, or at least more than I wanted to spend. I found a couple of interesting DIY instructions using Google, including one where they made one out of a graham cracker box. While I was considering, it occurred to me that the back side of the purse I had was pretty smooth, so I could probably very easily just paint a design of a tricorder on it. Then I could carry the purse back-side-out, and it might look pretty good, or at the very least, it would look more like a tricorder than the plain purse.

So I did, using a silver Sharpie marker. It ended up looking pretty decent; first pic below is an "original" tricorder (with all its little doors closed), and the second is my drawn-on purse:
  Sherry R diy Star Trek TOS tricorder purse

And I got to use soon after, at Ultracon in October 2016:

Sherry R cosplay with diy tricorder purse

(below section added 4/2/17)

TOS Shirt 2 - Red

Sherry R cosplay in diy Star Trek TOS red shirt

I don't really consider myself a "red shirt" type of person, at least not in terms of TOS. But, as noted at the beginning of this article, I did have a shirt that was red.

After having issues trying to hand-embroider an emblem, I did some research on the pre-made patches, online and at conventions. They usually sell for about $8, but once in a while, you can find them cheaper. (The red-shirt ones seem to be easier to find more cheaply, perhaps because of the idea that red shirts are a death sentence in TOS.) So, when I saw a red-shirt patch for about 1/2 that price, knowing I had such a shirt, I had to get it.

Around this time, the 1701st set up an event where they wanted us to be there at 8:00am. I joked that maybe I should wear my red shirt because it was going to kill me to to have to get up early enough for that. There were so many positive responses that I decided I'd have to actually do it (even though it wasn't my original plan).

But I didn't actually have the shirt together yet, so I needed to do that. Not too difficult: No sleeve stripes needed, since I'm still an ensign. I decided not to mess with the neckline at all, since I wasn't totally happy with the way it turned out with the earlier blue shirt. That one had ended up being rather wider than I would prefer, and I had doubts I could make it any better on the remaining shirts, given the neckline style I had to start with. I'd just wear a black T-shirt underneath, and not bother trying to get the V-shape.

So all I needed to do was attach the emblem patch. No biggie, but I was able to make it even easier using 505 spray. Some time earlier, I had seen a YouTube video with Adam Savage making some costume, where he used that spray and desribed it as being like Post-It Note glue for fabric, in a spray can. It seemed like it could come in very handy for any number of tasks, so I had gotten myself some. Anyway, I sprayed the 505 on the emblem and placed it where I thought it should go on the shirt. Then I tried the shirt on, observed the emblem wasn't in quite the right place, and was able to remove and re-place it until I got it just right. Then I could remove the shirt, with the emblem staying attached, and easily sew right through it to make sure it stayed there permanently. Easy-peasy.

So, no problem getting the shirt ready for the event, and I didn't die either. Pic at right is the best pic I got of the shirt.

(below section added 8/24/17)

I decided to wear the red shirt again at Supercon in July 2017, and got this fun picture at a photo op with a couple of my Trek friends:

Sherry R cosplay in diy Star Trek TOS red shirt bridge photo op

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