Hot! The “Case of the Melting Detective” Outfit

The Facts

Fabric: 5 yds brushed wool tartan $34.95 (£22.13), purple duvet cover for lining from stash.
Pattern: Construction based on Simplicity 2517 ($1.99) but significantly altered for my big head, overall shape and (lack of) stature.
Year: Contemporary.
Notions: Black skull button $3.75, 8 cuff buttons $3.80, 8 Spectemur Acendo buttons $6.40, fusible interfacing & thread from stash.
Time to complete: 32 hours (this was a biggie).
First worn: 27th August 2012.

Wear again? Yep.

Total Cost: $48.90 oops my most expensive to date I think, but I console myself that’s only £30.98 so not too bad for a hat and coat.

I have a confession to make. I read the challenge brief wrongly. It was only last week when everyone started going on about looking forward to the Children’s Book Challenge that I realised that this week’s inspiration had to be taken from a kid’s book or novel rather than any book or novel….it’s a blooming good job I didn’t go with my original plan of Eustacia Vye gets consumed by Egdon Heath ensemble!

However, in my defence, I have been reading Sherlock Holmes tales since I was a young teenager and my love of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales has stayed with me ever since. I’ve also been delighted throughout the years with the various audiobook, radio plays, tv and film versions of the consulting detective. I am Sherlocked. He’s our British super hero (far better than James Bond…who frankly isn’t fit to kill the Speckled Band that slithers down Sherlock’s bell pull). Brainy is the new sexy.

So this week I’ve been having a complete Sherlockfest whilst sewing. I’ve watched 2 Basil Rathbone movies, the 2 latest Robert Downey Jr versions, the first series of BBC’s Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock, listened to numerous audiobooks from my library and watched the entire 4 series of Jeremy Brett’s The Adventures/Return/Case-Book/Memoires of Sherlock Holmes. I’ve been in heaven. All it leaves for me to do now is to tell you the tale of the Great Rat of Sumatra…..actually no, the world is not ready to hear this yet, I’ll leave that one up to Moffatt and Gatiss.

I nearly made this for the Reality Check Challenge as I don’t actually own a coat. I used to have a coat, back in the UK, but for some reason I seem to have mislaid it in my trip across the Pond. And now I live in Arizona there isn’t much use for coats (this could also be due to me growing up in Teesside and being ‘ard as nails….we never used to wear coats down t’disco).

But why I chose to make a double layered and lined wool inverness cape in the middle of August when the temperature today is 110F/43C I’ll never know. Dingbat.

And OK, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia would tell me this coat and hat are a bit costumey, but have you met me? I am Mrs. Costume, and honey you should see me in a crown. (Yes, I did just engineer that whole sentence so I could reference that, but seriously you should see ME in a crown).

So you see those ruddy red cheeks in these photos, that aint rouge…..that’s me, despite hiking the air con up whilst I took the photos, slowly melting in the heat of my wool deerstalker and inverness cape. Blimey I got hot. But no pain no gain when it comes to Sew Weekly!

I also had lots of plans for the photoshoot, but as you can tell if you spot the zapper remote in my hand again, I was taking my own photos again, so it took double the time and it was hot, so I didn’t track down my magnifying glass (which has to be somewhere around the house….unless it’s in my coat pocket in the Atlantic), chemistry books or rearrange the furniture in my study. I did start taking photos to fit a story that included an Edwardian wedding dress and parlour maid’s outfit I’d made previously, but it was too darn hot. You do get to see my bedroom though, it’s slightly London London London…please try not to notice the unmade bed.

I used a men’s pattern, Simplicity 2517 as the basis for my cape with quite a few amendments….decreasing the breath across the shoulders, increasing the hip width, shortening the arm length (though keeping enough to cover my hands because I like it like that), increasing the length of the cape by 3 inches because it seemed a bit weedy according to the pattern. Otherwise it was pretty straightforward to make. The only thing I wish I done differently was I forgot that the height/placement of the pockets would be the length of a bloke’s arms… the pockets feel a little far down for me.

I’ve added a few extra nerdy details to keep me happy. The buttons down the front of the coat bear a crest and the motto “Spectemur Agendo” (let us be judged by our conduct, or actions) which I thought pretty appropriate for Holmes. On the top of the deerstalker I opted for a black skull button instead of the recommended fabric covered one….just in case Mrs Hudson takes my skull…..again. And as a nod to my current favourite incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, I added a single red button hole on the collar.

Anyway, as you can see, by the end of the photo-taking, I melted.

The End……………………………………?



Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.


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  1. I just love your posts! That coat and hat are pretty awesome. Especially love the hat.

  2. I am COMPLETELY Sherlock’d!!! One of our local reviewers, whose opinion I trust, said of the second season “This series will KILL all other television for you. If you ever want to watch tv again and enjoy it don’t watch this series” or something to that effect. Well! Who could resist a challenge like that?? Not me : ) SO I watched…and I loved…and then I netflix’d the first season “I’m not a psycopath, I’m a sociopath!” and that was that. TV is ruined for me, I find solace in old episodes of M*A*S*H.
    Your outfit is seriously cute but yes, why on EARTH did you decided to do this this time of year? You’ve got some spunk : ) And where did you get those adorable pops?

    • Thank you so much KC, you are too kind :)

      • Sorry that was weird, that reply was meant for KC below…but I got the “you are typing too fast” comment and it popped up here.

        What I meant to say in reply to you Loran, was yes, BBC’s Sherlock is fantastic and anyone who hasn’t seen it on Netflix (well only Season 1 there at mo) really should do themselves a favour. Can’t wait for Season 3 next year once ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Watson’ (in particular) are done Hobbiting.

        As for making a winter coat in 110 heats, well, I’m a bit mad me, but I thought you’d have guessed that by now. Cannot wait to see your post, it looks superb. And the pops are from Fresh and Easy, they were selling them during the Olympics.

  3. OMG. This is just fantastic. I’m so impressed! And love that you made it despite your complete and utter lack of need for such an item given your current home. You’ve done it again! Brilliant.

  4. You are so funny and so talented! I was chortling by the end of this post, plus it’s a fine-looking coat and hat!

  5. Great post as usual. Love the Sherlock Holmes outfit. But who said this was a children’s book challenge? I totally overlooked this and when I wanted to check the dashboard just now I realised that the old challenges aren’t up there any more (although the book challenge isn’t old yet, is it?). I haven’t had time yet to look closely at the other contributions (apart from Leimomi’s fruitbat bustle because the Terry Pratchet reference immediately caught my eye…but hey, Terry Pratchett isn’t a children’s author…at least not primarily). Good thing is that I was going to use a children’s book anyway but I am still fighting with the unfriendliest online fabric seller in the entire universe – she didn’t send me the fabric I ordered and refuses to reimburse me or send the correct fabric…so there goes my book challenge down the drain. :( Anyway, love that coat and love all the English props.

    • It said it in the brief on the dashboard. I’d read it wrongly and thought it could be any book, novel or text but when Krista left a comment on my post she said I bet you can’t wait till the Children’s Book challenge, or something like that, and I thought uh oh, children’s? So checked the brief on the dashboard and it did indeed say Children’s book, novel or text. I’m glad I got away with Sherlock but was relieved to see Liz is doing Sherlock too….can’t wait to see her Study in Grey. Oh dear, I hope you get your proper fabric from that online seller. That’s really annoying. Good luck.

      • Omg. Love it and it’s just the coolest thing ever. When you come to NYC for a visit, this will be perfect. Hint. Hint. Hot boots to and gosh, the photos are just awesome. Yeah. Tempest is back in full swing. I needed a good laugh today, rough day at work. Thanks!!!

      • Wow. I completely overlooked this and I must have looked at the dashboard at least 20 times…it’s weird that it doesn’t state it here on the website – it just says “literature”. Well, this would have been MY challenge *sigh*.

      • I totally read it like you both did – any book, and Children’s was just the first example. But I think we’re allowed a pass if we were wrong. Our inspiration is just too awesome to ignore!!!

  6. It’s my absolute pleasure Krista, I love to make people smile. I shall give you a heads up next time I’m in NYC….though that’s not on the cards at present, too strapped for cash.

  7. The coat is great. I’m deeply in love with capes at the moment – and Sherlock, of course. I also read the books as a young teen and still love them now. :)
    Oh, and I looooove the Robert Downey Jr. movie version for the looks and the way it is filmed, I also adore the BBC version for the great updating they did. And such lovely characters!

    • I like the Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law version too, totally different take but I think just as valid because it gets kids interested in Sherlock…..and since I’ve been getting back into the originals as audiobooks I’ve been pleasantly reminded that these versions have more in common with original text than I thought.

  8. Wow, how fabulous. I’m afraid I am a David Suchet as Poirot girl (LOVE Miss Lemon) but you nearly had me voting Sherlock there… fab photo-shoot again and what lovely details, the buttons are inspired. Brilliant.

    Btw I read last week that benedict Cumberbatch’ fans call themselves Cumberbitches. This has put me off him a bit, if I am honest ;0)

    • I have to admit watching if it comes down to watching rather than pure;y reading I like Miss Marple best of all….and controversially like Geraldine McEwan…. The costuming in the Poirot episodes are fantastic (and I’ve been interviewed for a job in the building they use as the facade for his apartment, rather pathetic claim to fame). Oh poor Benedict, it’s not the poor boy or his cheekbones fault that he has some rather obsessive fans ;) I think Martin Freeman is pretty fab too.

  9. So inspiring! Beautiful job with a major project– completely worth the time and cash. I fall hard for the hat, the red buttonhole, not to mention pairing the ensemble with those sexy shoes. I’ve had a cape/coat on my mind for a while and have been sweating this (expensive) pattern, though I would make it longer: When you visit nyc maybe I’ll have made it and we can scour the city for clues together.

    • That Watson jacket is fabulous! I’m eagerly awaiting Leimomi’s plaid entry this next week….it looks cool too from the feature picture in the pending files. I love little details, so the buttons and red buttonhole make me smile. If I had tons of cash there are some fab Sherlockian prints on Spoonflower ( I would have loved to have lined the coat with, but the deep purple duvet cover aint bad as a lining.

  10. Brilliant!
    I do love a good detective story, especially a Holmsian one. And BBC’s latest Sherlock incarnation is my favorite (Benedict…I swoon!).
    Lovely coat and hat. Too bad you won’t get much use out of them in the AZ, but perhaps a trip up north this winter is in order?

    • I’ve always been a great fan of the Granada TV Jeremy Brett Holmes and have to admit I was a little worried about hearing the Cumberbatch BBC version was bringing it up to date (I had bad memories of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock defeating the Nazis) but have been blown away by the writing and acting in it. I’m trying to keep an open mind about the Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Lui Elementary starting soon on CBS…..please don’t be awful…..

      • Arggh! I do not have high hopes for the new CBS variation. I fear it will be terrible. No one can beat the Cumberbatch!

        (It’s an ear hat!)

  11. I too liv in Az- You’ve just motivated me to finish a suit that I have been putting off till the weather cools

    • Isn’t August a killer as per usual, this summer always drags on and on, I got so excited last week when the temps dipped under 90 for a day or too. Doooooo itttt, make the suit, you’ll be so glad you did in…..erm, October? Good luck!

  12. Ahhhhhh!!!! I love it!!!! I’ll tell you right now your hat is 100% nicer than mine turned out. But I don’t imagine I’ll have much need for a deerstalker ever again, lol. After this week’s photoshoot my husband sort of hinted that he also wants a Sherlock coat – he has more of the height like Cumberbatch – I’m seriously considering doing it for him. I liked hearing how you got on with this pattern.

    Fabulous job as always. We should start a Sherlock Holmes convention (if their isn’t already one) just so we can wear these again!

    • Don’t you dare go comparing Mrs! You work, I don’t….I have much more time to sew. The fact that you have kept up at all whilst holding down a job AMAZES me! From just the little pic in the pending files I love the grey of your cape and hat, and LOVE that brick wall you found. Have you noticed how fashionable tweed and capes are this year? Check out Burberry’s Fall 2012 ad campaign in particular.

      I’m contemplating making my hubby a Watson outfit ;)

      And we should go to this, check out Solanah’s fabulous outfit for Reichenbach Day at the fantastic Multnomah Falls: I soooooooo want to go there one day.

  13. I could do with that right now over here … went down the shops at lunch time and they’re full of autumn/winter stuff … it’s so cooooold!

  14. WOW you made a freakin coat? my god woman, of course you can manage a suit. I love the colour and the cape and the buttons…. and the everything.

    I have to let you know that I snorted as I laughed reading this, you are a laugh a minute with super sewing powers. Brilliant Tempest

  15. That coat is amazing! I’m super impressed with your sewing a wool COAT and thoroughly entertained by your post. The pics are fabulous. Thanks for all the info on the BBC series. I’m going to look that up.