The service tunic (a.k.a. "standard duty tunic", a.k.a. "uniform shirt") is the quintessential men's costume pattern of STAR TREK: The Original Series.
Being the most omni-present Starfleet uniform, several variations of the TOS tunic evolved through tweaks made to cut and style over the course of three seasons. Its innovative design also served as the basic building block for Captain Kirk's green wraparound tunics, and Dr McCoy's short sleeve tunics.
Obtaining and customising a well-fitted tunic pattern are essential first steps for those who wish to create their own replicas, and there is plenty of selection — going right back to a draft by original costume designer William Ware Theiss that is still readily available.
This article details the known options, and provides some insight on the differences between them.
Starfleet.ca Default Pattern
Following the logic that "you can't get more accurate than the original", articles and tutorials on Starfleet.ca use as their basis the vintage pattern drafted by costume designer William Ware Theiss for Lincoln Enterprises under Majel Barrett-Roddenberry.
Specifically, the Lincoln Enterprises (LE) pattern in vintage size "Large" (40) is employed, unless otherwise stated. This pattern (described in more detail below) is still commercially available as of this writing.
Additionally, it is the author's assumption that concepts presented on this website should translate to any other functional version of the pattern, as all are composed of the same five basic pieces.
A functional tunic pattern comprises five standard pieces (front, back, side panel, sleeve, and collar) and yields a uniform replica with lines and shaping within the general* design parameters of those seen on-screen in ST:TOS.
*N.B.- There were many variations between tunics seen on-screen. Minor details such as collar size and shape could vary between characters as flattered the individual actors, while more sweeping changes to overall style were made between seasons. Thus, any pattern may be more or less relevant for replicating a particular character's uniform from a given season, or suiting the body type of the intended wearer.
Lincoln Enterprises - "Classic Men's Uniform Shirt"
The Lincoln Enterprises (LE) pattern is the oldest of the commercially-available patterns, and authenticated as genuine by the Roddenberry family.
The pattern was originally offered by Lincoln Enterprises under Majel Barrett, which later became the Roddenberry Shop and affirmed: "You've seen copies, but these are the real design as created by William W. Theiss and worn by the Enterprise crew."
Unfortunately it is limited in its sizing, with only 'Small', 'Medium', and 'Large' being included (just a subset of the wider range of stock sizes available on the production).
Moreover, measuring the pattern indicates that it uses vintage sizing, corresponding to chest sizes 36, 38, and 40 - the equivalent of a modern X-Small, Small, and Medium, respectively.
Included instructions are basic and seem to have been authored after the fact, reproduced in full here: le_pattern_instructions.gif (135 KB).
As a pattern that would have been built by a professional costume shop, familiarity with sewing is assumed and little explanation is given on some of the finer points of construction. The pattern itself, however, is highly detailed and perfectly functional.
On the current market, this pattern has been superseded by (and included within) the Lincoln/Kerezman ("Joe K") version detailed next, although original copies can be sought from sellers of collectables.
Lincoln/Kerezman (a.k.a. "Joe K") - "Men's Uniform Shirt"
The Joe K pattern is an extension of the Lincoln Enterprises (LE) pattern, featuring a complete unaltered copy of the original (vintage sizes S-36 / M-38 / L-40) as well as Joe Kerezman's grading up to sizes 42, 44, and 46.
All pattern pieces are printed on standard 20lb white paper rather than the original newsprint. A CD containing new instructions with photos by Joe K. is included, supplementing the original basic instructions that remain printed on the LE pattern sheets.
Due to the original 3 vintage sizes being named 'Small', 'Medium', and 'Large', the extended sizes are labelled 'XL', '2XL', and '3XL'. However, it should be noted that according to standard modern sizing, the range of this pattern would actually be XS-2XL, not S-3XL.
As of this writing, the Lincoln/Kerezman ("Joe K") pattern is both more economical and accessible than the Lincoln Enterprises (LE) original and has thus superseded it.
Katarra PTN-017 - "Starfleet Officer Duty Uniform - Male Shirt"
This modern draft is based on the original and was released by Kathy Pillsbury ("Katarra") in 2006.
The main strength and purpose of the Katarra pattern is its proliferation of sizes. Included are "5 childrens sizes, as well as adults P, S, M, L, XL, XXL [which covers chest sizes 34 inches through 50 inches - or 86 cm through 127 cm]".
Whereas the quoted description implies six adult chest sizes, there are in fact eight: 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, and 50.
Interestingly, size 40 is labelled 'Medium/Large' and size 44 is labelled 'Large/Extra Large'. It is unclear why the pattern-maker chose to give those particular sizes "in between" names, when simply labelling them all consecutively (P/XS/S/M/L/XL/2X/3X) would arguably be more accurate. However, that is a purely academic question.
Also included with this pattern is a booklet of detailed, step-by-step illustrated instructions "similar to Simplicity and McCall's patterns".
Xscapes PTN 017 - "Men's Duty Tunic"
This newest draft by Xscapes Sci-Fi Originals seems heavily geared towards those who wish to replicate Season 3 tunics in specific, but not exclusively so. It carries the same PTN 017 number as the Katarra pattern described previously, but the reason is unknown as the two patterns do not seem to be related.
Sizes range 'Petite' to 'XXL', and two separate size charts are given for the same pattern pieces: one for season 1 & 2 velour fabric (38,40,42,44,46,48), and one for season 3 nylon double-knit fabric (38,41,43,46,49,51). The stated explanation is that "the Double Knit allows a larger and tighter sizing, because it is designed to stretch and move with the wearer".
Dye formulas for all three division colours are included, and while not specifically labelled as being the Season 3 colours, by assumption they must be. Only the nylon double-knit can be successfully dyed, while the modern "craft velour" replication of original Season 1 & 2 "robe velour" is pure polyester and must be manufactured in the desired colour.
Many lines and curves are highly congruous with those of the original, but diverge in any comparative size towards several design conventions reminiscent of season 3 tunics:
- The sleeves and torso appear to have been lengthened by approximately 1".
- The back tapers down to a narrower width and thus pulls the side panels slightly more towards the rear at the bottom hem.
Two other changes were observed that are not Season 3 specific:
- The long ovular collar shape of the original pattern has been corrected to the rounder shape that was much more commonly seen on-screen.
- The side lines of the side panel have been altered to be significantly straighter so that they do not "pull in" as much by default (but can certainly still be altered as much as needed via the addition of the side fitting darts). This presumably allows the pattern to fit a wider range of body types out of the box, but breaks the original design convention that the front and back slopes of the side panel are congruous with the slopes of the front & back pattern pieces.
The introduction in the instruction booklet does acknowledge that the original pattern has been "re-graded for a better fit" — but of the above observations, only the lengthening of the arms is stated specifically as an example.
Finally, an optional shoulder fitting dart has been added to the sleeve piece. I have never observed this feature on a screen-used tunic. However, in the final few episodes of Season 2, hero tunics worn by Captain Kirk and other characters can be observed with anomalous 2-piece sleeves that have a full outer sleeve seam in addition to the usual inner seam. I theorise that this may have been a temporary measure due to the production coming to the end of its velour supply in preparation for the change-over to double-knit. Perhaps the Xscapes team observed this detail and interpreted it as a dart. Unless a sleeve dart is confirmed on a screen-used tunic, this feature should certainly be omitted.
Star Fleet Technical Manual - "Duty Uniform - Male"
A beloved volume of fan libraries to this day, the STAR FLEET TECHNICAL MANUAL by Franz Joseph in 1975 uniquely included a male duty uniform pattern on page TO:01:03:11
Unfortunately, much of the book is non-canon or "not quite accurate", and the SFTM pattern falls into these categories — despite that it seems a viable piece of clothing would result from its construction.
Costume designer William Theiss is mentioned in the book's acknowledgements on page 3, but it is unclear if he actually advised on its contents.
The SFTM pattern suffers from two incorrect fan assumptions of decades past:
- The hidden zipper (as originally revealed on-screen in the episode “Miri” [1x11]) is drawn only as a shoulder zip, when in reality it continues down the front-left seam of the tunic to a mere few inches above the bottom hem. A shoulder zip would certainly allow for the fitted collar, but is not sufficient for avoiding hair and make-up, which was one of the invisible zipper's key production purposes.
- The side panel ("gusset") is incorrectly drafted as two separate pieces, with the misconception that the fitting dart seen running vertically down its centre is a seam. Additionally, it should not be called a "gusset" (because it isn't one) — although this particular piece of bad terminology is now entrenched and widespread. At one time there was an equally pervasive fallacy that "only tunics tailored for wear by William Shatner featured a unique double gusset design". In truth, the fitting dart was a standard feature and present on most tunics. Due to the age of the SFTM, it is unknown whether the book fell victim to these rumours, or contributed to creating them.
Simplicity Costumes - "STAR TREK" Pattern 8028
Simplicity patterns are intended to be easy-to-make costumes, and 8028 is certainly not anything greater.
Described as "MISSES', MEN'S OR TEEN BOYS' OR GIRLS' COSTUMES", this pattern provides pieces for both a male tunic & pants and a female dress. Neither are anything close to accurate.
Intended only for stretch knit fabrics, the chest sizing range of 28" to 44" may indicate the Simplicity pattern's only potential use: making easy Halloween costumes for children.
This pattern once briefly surged into popularity on eBay, and copies with unused chest insignia iron-ons were particularly desired. Given the other options available, the Simplicity pattern is now only a curiosity from Trek costuming history.
A non-exhaustive list of vendors who sell uniform patterns & accessories is available on the Links & Resources page.
Online auction sites such as eBay can also be excellent resources for finding patterns for sale.
If unclear as to the specific version of the pattern being offered, the customer is strongly advised to verify with the seller prior to purchase.