The first item I decided to try to tackle was the crew shirt. In appearance it is basically a white work shirt with large pleated patch pockets, pen loops, and other assorted “greeblies” added. I spent quite a bit of time looking at publicity photos, screen captures from the movie, and surfing forums to find as much information as possible. There is an excellent thread at The RPF with large amounts of information about the Nostromo Crew Uniforms, and I spent a good bit of time sorting through it. I even found a few photos of what were purported to be original screen used shirts:
It seems that quite a few people have used a Dickie’s work shirt as the starting point to make this shirt, which seems like a reasonable idea. Unfortunately, I’m not a reasonable kind of guy, so I ended up making mine from the ground up. The first problem was where to come up with the basic pattern upon which to build. In my case I ended up making a pattern from one of my favorite shirts: A safari shirt from Cabelas.
I read about the technique I used to get a pattern from existing shirts from David Coffin’s book: Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing. It is an excellent book which taught me everything I know about shirtmaking. Well, this book and watching a lot of videos on YouTube. If you don’t have the book here is a good video illustrating the pattern making technique. I created my own patterns for things like the pockets, pocket flaps, sleeve pocket, pen loops, epaulettes, and the rectangular panels on the shoulders. I tried to make relative measurements from various photos to determine the sizes and positioning of the various elements (assuming certain measurements to make this possible.) The patterns that I came up with will be uploaded in a separate post. Who knows, maybe they will be useful to someone else out there.
There are a few oddities about the originals: Pink piping around the pocket flaps and collar, brass snaps instead of buttons, and some funky rectangular panels on the shoulders that seem to serve no purpose (I’m pretending they were put there to reinforce a wear point when worn under a space suit.) The originals had the piping sewn under the pocket flap and collar, not into the seam. I’m going for how I think it would have been if the shirts were purpose made by the company as crew uniforms instead of cobbled together for movie production, so I sewed the piping into the seam. A few patches and pins add the finishing touches. A Nostromo ship’s patch is worn on the right sleeve, a set of embroidered wings are worn above the name tag
holder on the left breast, and in my character’s case, an executive officer’s pin on the left pocket flap. The wings are different colors for different characters, but for Dallas, they are gold.
The wings have presented a little bit of a dilemma for me. I had ordered a pair of embroidered wings, but then I discovered that the screen used wings were not your normal, everyday patch. From the one photograph I have seen that showed any real detail, they don’t seem to be normal satin stitch embroidery at all, and have more the appearance of military gold work embroidery. It looks like I may be learning a lot more about gold work hand embroidery to make them.
My completed shirt was made from a cotton twill, which in hindsight may have been a little heavy for this project. I had some issues sewing certain bits of it where there were a lot of layers to stitch through. In all, I think I ended up with pretty good results. As it stands right now, I still need to sew on the shoulder patch, add the pin to the pocket flap, and make the gold wings.
Unfortunately I didn’t really think about starting a blog about this whole thing until after I had almost completed this shirt. I didn’t take many in progress photos of what I was doing. Oops. Here is what I do have: