Star Trek TOS uniforms: Quick-n-dirty

The kids wanted to go as Star Trek TOS officers for a 60s/70s costume party we attended; the 4yo was Spock while the 7yo wanted to be Uhura (“because her skin colour is the closest to mine”. Indeed.) . The design of these costumes is quite simple, almost pyjama-like. Quick to sew with a serger, and probably also with zigzag stitches on a sewing machine; sure beats shopping around for red and blue turtlenecks in the right size! These costumes were made mainly for one evening, so they are quite slapdash – no hems, no finishing, and the threads don’t match the fabric colour. 🙂

To make a certain character’s costume (e.g. Uhura), you need to know the colour of their uniform (red), and the insignia on their badge. The top can be made with two layered knits: an inner black turtleneck, and an outer long-sleeved shirt.

The materials you will need are: the coloured knit fabric (1 yard was plenty for the 7yo, and 3/4 yard for the 4yo), the black knit fabric for the inner turtleneck (1 yard; I skipped the sleeves as they just add bulk and don’t show anyway), and scraps of a silvery material for the badge.

Step 1: Cut out the shirt and turtleneck. For the measurements, I simply outlined a current long-sleeved shirt for each of the kids, and added a 1/2 inch for ease/seam allowance. I added several inches for the Uhura dress.

Note: The fit at the neck was too snug in my case; I suggest widening the neck by an inch total. Also, I overlooked the V-neck in Spock’s shirt; oh well.

Outline the torso piece and sleeves separately. I cut two pieces for each sleeves and joined them down their length, so there is a seam there. You could make each sleeve one piece to avoid this seam. Here is a horrible picture of the sleeve outline. The pinning around the border is to steady the fabric while cutting.

Yes, Pokemon cards in the background. Everyday working conditions.

Things to be careful of include: 1) making sure that the length of the garment (length of top and length of sleeve) are along the side of the fabric with the greatest stretch, 2) folding the template shirt at the chest/sleeve edge so that you outline the entire sleeve and the entire chest piece respectively.

Repeat the process for the turtleneck, but don’t add sleeve pieces. Also don’t extend at the neck; the neck piece will be a different piece of material.

Step 2: Serge the top piece together. I first pinned each sleeve to the chest piece, and serged each connecting seam. Next I pinned and serged down the sleeve seam, so that now the sleeves are closed. Finally I serged the shoulder seams and down the sides. I set the serger up as I would for making leggings, with stretch needle and all 4 threads.

Step 3: Put together the turtle neck. Serge the shoulder seams and down the sides. Don’t turn right-side out yet.

Step 4: Add the neck on the turtleneck. Measure neck circumference, and add 2 inch; call this X. Now cut a rectangle X inches long by 2 inches wide. Sew the short side closed to get a cylinder. For this I set up the twin needle on the sewing machine, just as I had for sewing the waistband on the leggings; but I’m not sure a zig-zag stitch wouldn’t work. Finally, pin the neck piece to the body, and stitch on the sewing machine (again, using twin needle).

Here is a view of the turtleneck turned inside out. Notice the serged sides, and twin needle stitches at the neck.

Finished turtleneck

Step 5: Make the badge. I found an extremely light, practically gauzy, silvery material for this. The symbols were drawn on in fabric marker. Finally the badge was attached to the body using heat-bond. Very light touches with the iron were sufficient for the initial and final fusing. I found direct, but gentle, application of the iron, more effective than using a cloth between the iron and the fabric.

And there you have it, costumes for space adventuring and philosophizing.