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One of the best things I like about Alien (1979) is the wardrobe. The choices that were made by Tiny Nicholls in the Costume & Wardrobe Dept. (based on the designs of John Mollo and Ron Cobb) fit right in with the well-used interiors of the old commercial towing vehicle.
An authentic RAF Mk 3 cold weather jacket used in the film is not impossible to find, but it cat require a large commitment to do so. And then there’s the amount of sewing alterations that are required. Those are things left to folks with the skill and adeptness to do it, and it kept me from making any sort of jacket for years despite finding much written about them.
After following the costume adventures of Adam Ezekiel, something finally clicked in my imagination and I thought: instead making an authentic jacket, why not try to make one that evokes the same look… for less than 100 USD?
Below, I’ll share the creation of it and after that, we’ll see if I met that goal.
I spent several months searching for a bomber-type jacket with a little business on the sleeve, and with a grayish color. This item is actually a very nice garment and sufficient for winters in the U.S. Gulf South.
Nostromo shoulder patches, Exec’s wings, and U.S. Tri-centennial commemorative patch.
What serious fan of Alien doesn’t have a few of these tucked away somewhere?
I bought this from Moosh89 several years back. I checked in as I wrote this to see if the stencil is still available, but currently it is not. I have found that most sign shops in my area can create these if you have the graphic image.
This is the unaltered jacket. The charcoal coloring is a little more evident and it has the coloringof the on-screen flight jacket lit by set lights.
To gently weather the outer shell, I used dampened coffee grounds, powdered graphite, scissors, and a couple of different sanding blocks of different grits.
Next, I placed the stencil on the back of the jacket.
This is basically a “reverse decal,” meaning it is sticky on both sides: you peel off the front cover and lay it on your garment. You’ll want to “burnish” it into the fabric for a nice seal, then gently peel off the backing so as not to tear the lettering or leave behind the circles that make the “O”s.
I feathered on three coats of the teal spray paint, at about an 8-inch height. After each coat, I took a piece of commercial paper towel, balled it up, and “stippled” the paint to give it a worn appearance.
Next came the shoulder patches, the Exec’s wings, and the US Tri-centennial patch (shown above).
To give them a weary appearance, I scuffed them up on a piece of unfinished concrete and then did some tea-dyeing.
I modified Christian Matzke’s popular template for the Balaji cigarettes package and skinned a box of Marlboro cigarettes. This size fits in my jacket’s sleeve pocket.
Taking further inspiration from a Adam E., I decided to add a clothing label. I found one suitably boring as a model, and used graphics software to add images and a crumpled background. This was printed onto a sheet of Avery Brand 3279 Fabric Transfers paper. To obscure the original label, I added a blank piece behind my printed label and ironed them on.
As I was wrapping up the jacket work, I came across the manufacturer’s card, attached with a small chain to the inside of the jacket. What to do with this?
So I thought: maybe there is some sort of TWIC-like keycard issued by a space station and used by the crew when they’re off the ship for access to amenities and entertainments. (Handy for using to chase after the party with Parker!)
I took a (very low budget) stab at it, just for kicks:
Assorted small rips, tears, and stains were added to the outer shell of the jacket. Then it was rolled up unceremoniously and stuffed into a closet-corner for a couple of days before hanging it out.
THE FINAL OUTCOME
At last the day came to try it on and see how it looks. I was pleased with the choice of color and layout of the patches and stencil. The jacket is comfortable and the lining is not stiff, so I think it drapes in a manner similar to the RAF jackets.
So check off one goal: Evokes the Look.
But how did I do on my goal of making this for less than 100 USD? Let’s see…
Here is the list of items that were used, and the final tally:
As you can see, I exceeded my cost goal by about 30 percent, but not too bad considering the availability of the things I needed. I am very satisfied with the final result!
This was a fun project and I’m sure I’ll continue to fine-tune the jacket with further wear. Now, I am weathering and distressing my “Brett cap,” but not to go with the jacket. (That many Nostromo patches on one man would be overkill…)
Thanks to Adam E. for inspiration, to Scott for the post idea, and to Susan for creative guidance.
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