Introduction: Doctor Who Waistcoat

This Instructable is all about upcycling, and transforming a bed set into a garment. If you don't already have an old Doctor Who set, you might find one in your local charity shop/thrift store.

Before we start, make sure you have the materials you need and wash all the fabric you plan on using.

We'll assume you are familiar with reading a pattern, and spend more time highlighting the hacks and deviations from it than on the instructions themselves.

Waistcoats aren't as tricky as they seem, but for a result out of this time and space, don't blink while you make them!

Ready? Allons-y!


  • Dr Who bed set
  • Contrasting/Matching fabric (light blue in the pictures)
  • Matching thread
  • Waistcoat pattern (shown in this tutorial: Simplicity 4762, model B, size L)
  • Tracing paper + Chalk or fabric markers
  • Iron-on interfacing
  • Sewing machine + implements
  • Iron for pressing
  • 5 buttons (or as many as needed in the pattern)
  • 1 buckle (if required in the pattern)

Step 1: What We Have to Work With

For this waistcoat we have a single bed set comprised of a front with different full length characters and elements (not much use in our case, but it might make a nice apron), and the back with a repeating motif of Daleks and TARDISes. We also have 2 small pillow cases; 1 with two Daleks on one side, and a TARDIS on the other, and 1 with a Dalek & the TARDIS on one side, and the same repeating motif as the main sheet on the other.

Start by seam-ripping the main sheet to have 2 separate panels. Also separate the panels of the pillow cases.

Step 2: Planning! Planning! Planning!

To avoid ending up with a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, we need to plan out our waistcoat pieces very carefully. Since the base material is a bedsheet, any wrong cut could be unforgiving.

Start by transferring your pattern onto tracing paper. Pattern paper is usually very fragile and rips easily, it is better to work with sturdier pattern pieces.

While we are mostly following the pattern, we will make some small changes and additions to the finished waistcoat:

  • Use of contrasting fabric on the top layer of the lapel, and on the back fastening
  • Adding 2 internal welt pockets, 1 on each side
  • Readjusting the buttons (because of the added pockets)

Lay out your pattern pieces on the parts of the sheet you plan to use and ensure everything fits (also plan for pieces that need to be cut twice!)


- Make sure the fabric for the lapel faces the right way as they need to be mirrored. Only cut 2 + 2 more in the contrasting fabric

- You can cut the back pieces in 1 go instead of 2 separate panels to avoid pattern mismatch. If you do, don't forget to remove the central seam allowance.

- Only cut the front panels for the outside in the motif fabric, as we'll use the pillowcase for the inside panels

Step 3: Pattern Hacking

Instead of using the same motif throughout the garment, we'll make use of one of the pillowcases and hide some Daleks on the inside – just in case the wearer happens to be a turncoat and needs a suitable outfit for world-extermination.

To avoid mismatching, we'll cut the Daleks with the pillowcase facing the wearer, so cut the panels with the middle of the pillowcase being the front opening of the waistcoat. Do place the pattern pieces to maximise the amount of Dalek visible on the panel. Make sure you have enough fabric to reach the bottom of the piece.

Chances are, the pillowcase will be too small for a full panel, in which case we'll make the shoulder part using a piece of the main motif, as shown in the second picture.

To do so, pin your Dalek panel to the pattern piece, and trace the missing bit (with a lot of allowance at the bottom) on the motif fabric. Cut and pin the motif piece the the pattern panel and pin the join between the Dalek fabric and the motif fabric in a straight line, using the same seam allowance as the rest of the garment. Repeat for the second panel, making sure the join is at the same level as the other one.

Sew the join in a straight stitch on the wrong side, cut the excess fabric motif and press the seam open.

Step 4: Secret Pockets

Every good Doctor should have secret inside pocket to keep their sonic close to their hearts.

In this instance, we use a double welt pocket template. Cut the top of the pocket from a bit of the pillowcase (from a dark area, as it needs to blend with the Daleks. The rest of the pocket can be in the contrasting fabric.

Warning: Adding pockets will make our waistcoat bigger on the inside!

To measure the width and length of your pocket, use your phone or wallet to see what the minimum size should be. The contrasting fabric needs to be twice as long as your phone (+ margins), and fit the width easily.

Add interfacing on the wrong side of the dark area and draw the five lines of your welt (check tutorials for "five-line method"). Align the central line with the grid of your Daleks, making sure the folded pocket is far enough from all seams. Pick another line of the grid if need be. Once happy with the placement, pin in place and replicate the position on the second panel. Proceed with making a double welt pocket.

Step 5: Adjusting Buttons

Transfer the button position to the right side of the garment using pins. Before you sew the side panels closed, make sure the waistcoat will fit your (human) model with the button positions.

It is likely that the pockets will be in the way of the button, meaning you won't be able to sew the buttons on through both layers of the panel. If that's the case, add a strip of interfacing on the wrong side of the outside front panel.

Press and sew closed as per pattern.

Make sure you practice your button holes on a piece of scrap fabric beforehand. Adjust the zigzag spacing as per your machine's instructions. It is recommended to use (Galli-) fray stop once you cut open the button holes.

Re-check the position of the buttons on your model and sew them in place, making sure they're aligned vertically and horizontally.

Step 6: "It's Not the Time That Matters, It's the Person."

Fandom Contest

Participated in the
Fandom Contest