In 1985, Marty McFly and Doc Brown went to the “future” of October 21, 2015. Today is Back to the Future Day, baby.
Weirdly, despite having been born a good 20 years after the movie was made, Shadowboy and his best friend are both huge BTTF fans. It goes without saying that this year they wanted to go as Marty and Doc Brown. And this is the year that it finally happened: Shadowboy broke my heart and requested a costume consisting entirely of premade clothing. (He came close a couple of years ago, when he was the 11th Doctor, but at least I was able to make his tweed jacket by hand. This year…bupkis.)
Fortunately I was able to console myself with Shadowboy’s friends: His best friend wanted the “future” version of Doc Brown rather than the white coverall worn in the first movie, and Shadowboy’s other friend, for whom I traditionally also make a costume, announced that she wanted to be a frog. (She resisted any suggestion of something that would tie in with the other costumes, such as a poodle skirt, but such is life.)
For the pieces of Marty’s costume I tried to be reasonably screen-accurate. In the movie, Marty wears a red T-shirt layered under a Tattersall shirt, a jean jacket, and the iconic orange vest. I happened to get Shadowboy a Hill Valley High T-shirt as a gift for his birthday, and realized that it was the right color for the costume. So even though you’ll never see the lettering, we know it’s an authentic BTTF item. The Tattersall shirt was a cheap number from Amazon, found after comparing Tattersall patterns until my eyes crossed. After scouring thrift stores for a jean jacket with no luck, I happened to remember that I had an ancient one stuffed in a closet. So that’s an honest-to-goodness vintage 80s piece, brought 30 years into the future the hard way. The vest was from Land’s End, another birthday gift (Shadowboy had a very BTTF-heavy birthday, at his request; he even got some Calvin Klein underwear). The jeans were…y’know…jeans. The sneakers were sneakers. I’m really mad about not being able to make any pieces of this costume, you guys.
Doc Brown’s costume was a mid-80s stab at what 2015 fashion would look like. I’m not sure if I’m sad that they were wrong or not. He wore a long jacket, matching short pants, a Hawaiian shirt, and a transparent necktie (which only shows up in publicity photos because it’s really hard to photograph).
The shirt was Simplicity 4760, with the pockets omitted. I couldn’t find a fabric pattern that matched the one in the film, so I just picked an appropriately garish one. The jacket was a modified nightshirt from the McCall McCall’s M5992 pattern. The pants were McCall M6973, lengthened by several inches. The necktie was made freehand with clear vinyl and swearing. The wig was a costume-shop Mad Scientist’s Wig (I wonder what Einstein would think about his hairstyle being shorthand for “mad scientist”) and the glasses were a serendipitous discovery in Shadowboy’s toys; they were included in a novelty coloring book that was supposed to be “3D.”
And then there was the frog. I spent weeks scratching my head, trying to figure out something that said “frog” that was not a shapeless one-piece green overall thing. Shadowboy and his friend had a couple of years where their costumes were all overall-type things and I swore a blood oath to never make another one. Whilst I was haunting fabric stores to pore over their pattern catalogs, I’d occasionally see fabric that struck me as froglike and would buy a yard just in case.
I finally decided that my best option was a costume that looked like a frog sitting on a lily pad. The main part of the dress was Simplicity 2817, with a bodice and sleeves made of different material. I welded that to the “petals” from Simplicity 1305, half of which used the same fabric as the sleeves. I also made a little Kermit-the-frog-style neckpiece using much smaller petals.
The underskirt was tulle in a seafoam-green made from Simplicity 1122, which gave the skirt some bulk and made it look like a floaty lilypad. The headpiece was made freehand by attaching some stiff cardboard to a headband, blanket-stitching green felt to cover the cardboard, then gluing on some oversized googly eyes I found at a craft store. I completed the look with green striped tights.
My sewing room is covered in glitter and I’m still picking bits of tulle out of the serger, but overall I’m quite pleased at the results of my labors. Here are a couple more photos of the trio: Sitting, Standing.