Sunday 11 April 2010

11 shirt - Screen accurate cuff modifications

As the broadcast of the first Matt Smith episode drew nearer, we started to get more publicity images of Matt in costume.

The only image til now that showed the cuffs on the burgundy shirt had the jacket over the top, so it was only possible to see the edge of the cuff and two stripes burgundy around it (see right). At this point it was thought that the sleeve straps had been butchered and adapted to modify the cuffs, which at the time made sense.

Later, through a reader of my blog, I found another variant of the shirt in the blue, which appeared to have a lot of the modifications needed already done – and the cuffs were pre-striped into the bargain.
The stripes, however, covered all of the cuff, not just a couple around the edge (see left).
This had caused a flurry in the forums, as it started to look like I had acquired a more likely Paul Smith shirt compared to what had been found to date.

A clue to confirm this then appeared a few weeks later in the 3-D trailer, where it was very briefly possible to see that the blue shirt had more than just a couple of stripes on it (see below).

My new shirt was looking more and more like the real thing. But we still had not seen all of the cuffs on the burgundy shirt. Could this be fully striped too, like my blue shirt?

Then finally, as the broadcast of the series drew even closer still, one particular image published in The Sunday Telegraph Magazine caught my attention (see left). It shows Matt wearing the shirt, but without the tweed jacket, so for the first time we got to clearly see the cuffs, and yes, they were just like the blue shirt I had!

There was then some criticism of those who had done the sleeve strap modification, saying it was all wrong – which in truth it was. However, the straps are not that long, and even when pressed out fully, they only gave enough fabric to add two stripes around the cuffs. It would never have been possible to add stripes to the entire cuff using this method.

This calls for a plan B.

So, I have a fully striped cuff in the form of my blue shirt, and I have already scanned and found the pattern repeat of the shirt body, so all I need to do is the same for the cuff. Spoonflower will do the rest (bar the sewing!)

It’s not quite possible to flatten the entire cuff out to scan it, but I can get most of it in there (see right).
Despite what you might think, scanning fabric never gives an accurate colour result, plus the weave shows through the image, so this will need to be retouched out. The process of doing this will change the colour further, so I am not even trying to retain the colour that is there – at this stage I am just after the design and shapes that make the pattern.

What I am aiming for is a mono artwork, which I can then colour match to the burgundy and the blue as needed (see above).

One annoying quirk of the Paul Smith design is that for some reason the squiggles between the stripes on the straps and cuffs are actually a much darker colour, almost black, so I need to mask these off and colour them separately.
It’s a bit time consuming, but worth the effort.

Next I need to pattern trace the blue cuff so I have a template for the artwork. This way I can make sure I have enough length of stripes to cover the cuff.

Finally I can colourize the mono artwork to the burgundy and blue (see left).

The cuff’s buttonholes complicate things somewhat, so the plan is to not bother even trying to retain the existing cuffs – I will instead create and entirely new replacement cuff which I will swap for the existing one.

My artwork done, it’s now just remains to order the Spoonflower fabric (see below) and wait for it to arrive.

Check back soon to see how my new cuffs look once the fabric arrives.
If you have one of the standard Paul Smith shirts and would like to have your cuffs replaced with more screen-accurate ones, please get in touch with me for a details.

Email me at


  1. The sleeve straps were the best we could do with the info we had, and they still look cool but whatever.

    What I find really interesting is how in some pictures (like the first one) there is a solid stripe right at the end of the cuff. But on other pictures it is actually a squiggly line at the end of the cuff. I know that the production probably has quite a few of the same shirt, but that variation is strange and doesn't seem like it would be a workmanship error.

  2. Informative as usual. I was wondering how you were going to tackle the cuffs and it seems like a lot of these projects it proved a little more complicated than it seemed. Great work as usual :) And agreed- before those pics came out using the straps was the best one could do (or assume) at the time. I shall be following up about upgrading my Paul Smith shirt for sure!


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