Doctor Who: the Fourth Doctor's Scarf




The scarf I made is based on the one worn by Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor in the British Sci-Fi series Doctor Who. This oversized, multicolored scarf is perhaps the most iconic piece of his wardrobe. Usually reproductions of the scarf are knitted. I know nothing about knitting. I was on a tight time budget with no time to learn how to knit. Instead I decided to do some upcycling and make my scarf out of sweaters from a thrift store. I made a reproduction of the original Doctor Who scarf that was worn by the Fourth Doctor in seasons 12-14.

Step 1: Materials, Tools and Supplies

-a pattern (from this website)
-7 sweaters, one for each color*
-sewing machine
-hand sewing needles
-embroidery floss

*notes on choosing sweaters:

-when I went hunting for sweaters at thrift stores I made sure to bring along multiple reference pictures to get the colours right. Look for the biggest sweaters you can find to avoid running out of a particular colour..

-There are seven different colours needed for this scarf. The knit pattern in the material I looked for consisted of small vertical rows on the "right" side of the fabric that looked braided. I tried to maintain continuity by choosing sweaters with approximately the same size rows or the same knit, otherwise it looked goofy on the side I was using.

-I used the "wrong" side (inside) of the sweater as the outside of the scarf.

-I wasn't particular about the content of the sweaters being all the same; some were cotton, while others were synthetic. Color mattered more to me. (I would only hand-wash the scarf anyway)

Step 2: Pattern Conversion: Rows to Inches

The measurements for each colour on the pattern I used were all in units of knitting rows, not inches.

I added up all the rows in the scarf. I knew that the scarf had to be 13 feet long (or 156"), I divided the total number of rows by 156, and came out with a conversion factor of 8.06 rows/inch.

(the photo is my complicated-looking conversion chart)

Step 3: Sewing the Pieces Together

For this scarf I used a 1/2" seam allowance. Use a zig-zag stitch for the entire scarf because the thread is less likely to break as the material stretches.

Each section of scarf should be cut 13 inches wide.

As with most projects, the first couple tries are disappointing until you find the right technique, and this was the case with my first few seams. They turned out squiggly-looking. As those of you who have sewn knits know, they can be a pain. The knits stretch as the fabric goes under the presser foot and when the fabric relaxes as it comes out the other end, the squiggly seams appear on the right side of the fabric. After a bit of pondering and experimentation I figured out how to make it less noticable. As I sewed instead of just letting the presser foot do the work I forced the fabric under the foot by squishing it together. It doesn't totally eradicate the problem but it lessens it. I'm sure you could use a walking foot to help too, but I didn't have one at the time.

Make two identical lengths of scarf so they can be sewn together and then flipped right-side-out. Everything is done twice. I would recommend that you *not* cut out the bands ahead of time, but instead do it as you go along.

Step 4: Blocking

Blocking is a technique that I am new to but it came in handy for this project. Blocking is the process by which you stretch a knit fabric while it's damp and iron it to make it lay flat.

Spritz each seam with water and stretched it to open the seam. Then lay a thin piece of cloth over the seam and spritzed that with water as well.

With the iron on medium heat setting, iron the seams flat (since the content of the sweater pieces is probably different you wouldn't want to melt any synthetic fabrics, even with a layer of cloth in between). After this you should have no more squiggles!

Step 5: Sewing the Two Lengths Together

After many, many rows of stitching, you will have two identical 13-foot-long pieces of scarf.

Lay the pieces one over the other, right sides together. Make a chalk mark down the very center of the scarf. Then make parallel lines that are 5.5 inches to either side of the centre line, and that becomes your stitching lines. On my scarf I knew if I just sewed down each side, the scarf wouldn't turn out to be 11inches wide because the material stretches and it's hard to measure accurately. By making a centre line the seams turn out more even.

Next, pin very carefully along the stitching line so that all the seams lined up properly--and believe me there are a lot of seams to line up. If you end up way off on matching a seam, just seam-rip that section and restitch.

Leave about half of one end open to turn the scarf inside out. Before turning it inside out, block the perimeter seam. After you turn the scarf right side out, sew the opening shut by hand. Using the cloth again, ironed down the perimeter seam to help it lay flat.

Step 6: Making the Tassels

The tassels on either end of the scarf consist of all seven colours. Normally these would be made out of whatever yarn you're using to make the scarf, but you can improvise with embroidery floss.

Match the colours as best you can. You'll need two skeins of embroidery floss per colour, one for each side.

Cut the floss into 2 x 10-inch pieces for each tassel. Wind the floss around a 10-inch long piece of cardboard and then snip the top and the bottom. Make 15 tassels for each side.

Step 7: Attaching the Tassels

All those pieces (14 per tassel) probably won't fit through even the biggest needle. Instead, use a sewing awl to make a hole where you want the tassel. The sewin awl enables you to make a hole without breaking any of the fibers in the fabric.

Then make a loop out of fishing line and thread the group of embroidery floss through it. Poke the tail of the fishing line loop through the hole you just made in the scarf. Pull the floss all the way through, then cut the fishing line, leaving a loop of embroidery floss on one side and the tails on the other. Then I pulled the tails from one side through the loop on the other side and pulled tight. The image here helps explain this.

Step 8: Wear Your 4th Doctor Scarf With Pride

And you're done! Enjoy!



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    23 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Interesting & innovative approach, Nice!

    After 30 years-worth of requests with my wife, who is a "witty little knitter", I am three months into kitting my own. I may have to pause while I try your method.

    I award you Three and one-half Sonic Screwdrivers (out of a possible four).


    5 years ago on Introduction



    5 years ago

    Doctor Who totally rockd


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I can't see the pattern :( hope I can find the right color sweaters. really want one. thank you :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    If your sewing machine has a differential feed, you can adjust it to eliminate that stretch. I use thrift-store sweaters for many projects and find that it tends to work the best. I use somewhere around 1.5-2, depending on the fabric. Usually you can find it on nicer overlock machines. I picked up an older nice one at a sewing machine repair store all refurbished for around $200. I'm very happy with the purchase.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Mr Fro ... Tom Baker ... was my intro into the world of Dr Who. ... You scarf beat a celery stick any day!

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Tom Baker rocks, and this is great for those of us who can't knit!