The Horrible Lab Coat Project

Introduction: The Horrible Lab Coat Project

About: Hello all! I'm Michelle, a recent electrical engineering graduate working in the automation industry. All those electronics at work mean I sew things a lot at home.

Hello there! It's Michelle, back with my second instructable. This was my first attempt at pattern modification and I think it turned out rather well. So, I believe this is a good project if it's your first time doing something of this nature. As always, I suggest you read through the entire thing before starting out, as it may save you quite a bit of hassle in the long run. This instructable assumes you can read and follow a pattern, but if you feel I should explain something in greater detail, please let me know.  If you have any thoughts/comments/suggestions please share. Also, this instructable is an entry in the 4th Epilog Challenge and if you think I deserve it, a vote would be great. Skip on down to the last step to see how I'd put that laser cutter to use. 

Why make a lab coat inspired by Dr. Horrible? Well, it is a possibility that myself and some friends may go as the cast for Halloween, but it's also good practice for someone just learning how to deviate from following a sewing pattern. I didn't see a clear step by step on how do make this coat, so I did it myself. And now, onto the fun part. I hope you enjoy, and please comment, rate and vote! Comments make me smile. :)

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Step 1: Collect Your Stuff

Alright, here's what you're going to need to make your spectacularly awesome lab coat.

Required and Pictured:
  • McCall's Pattern 2233 in your size
  • White All-Purpose Thread
  • Roughly 4 yds of white fabric (For a Medium)
  • Just a little fusible interfacing.
  • A Measuring Tape
  • An Iron and Ironing Board
  • A Fabric Marking Pen / Tailors Chalk / Whatever you prefer
  • Straight Pins
  • Seam Ripper
  • A Pair of Scissors to Cut Paper
  • A Pair of Scissors to Cut Fabric
  • Big Roll of Tracing Paper
  • Red and Green Embroidery Floss
  • Embroidery Needles
  • 10 White Buttons (I used 7/8")
Required and Not Pictured
  • Yard Stick
  • Sewing Gauge
  • Little Embroidery Hoop
  • A Helpful Friend, Willing to help with Markings and Measurements
Not Required, but Recommended, and Pictured
  • Helpful Cat and / or Dog

Step 2: Take Some Measurements

First, go ahead and throw your fabric in the wash to get that whole shrinking issue out of the way. It'll have plenty of time to wash and dry while we do some other stuff. 

Let's see how much longer we need the coat to be. It will differ for everyone, so it's time to remember variables. Check the back of the pattern for the 'back from normal neck line' measurement. Find your size and remember that number. Now, measure from your neckline to just below the back of your knee. Now, subtract the measurement you took from the measurement on the back of the pattern. That number is going to be x. Remember it, write it down, don't loose it. That's going to be how much longer you need to make the pattern.

The other measurements you need are across the small of your back, which will be z", how much you're going to have to extend the collar to overlap, and from under your arm to your hip. To find the collar measurement check a collar on a coat that fits you. The underarm to hip measurement is going to be y".

Step 3: Get the Pattern Ready

You're going to need pieces 2-8 from the pattern. Since the front of the coat is going to be different, you don't need piece 1. It's a one size pattern, so you can cut them out, or not. I did, but it isn't necessary. We're going to modify some of the smaller pieces first. 

For the collar, take the collar pattern piece and make a new piece on the tracing paper that's the same width as the pattern but is 1/2 of your measurement plus 5/8" long. Make sure to transfer all the markings onto the tracing paper.

For the back band you want to mark out a rectangle that's 3 1/4" wide and 1/2 Z" + 5/8" long.

Cut both of these out and set them aside.

Step 4: Making the Big Alterations

For the back piece of the jacket, we're going to start by making a line x" from the bottom of the tracing paper, straight across. Then, line the bottom of the pattern up with that line and trace the pattern, extending the sides to the bottom of the tracing paper. Make sure to copy all the important markings. The pictures will probably make this clearer. Cut it out.

For the front of the jacket you want to start by making a line x" from the bottom once again. Then, you're going to line the 'center front' mark on the pattern up with the edge of the paper. Copy everything over once again. Cut it out.

Now, on both of these pieces, make a mark y + 5/8 " from the under arm. 

Step 5: Cut Stuff Out

Alright, go get your fabric from the dryer and press and fold it in half. Here's what fabric you need to cut out.

On the Fold:
  • 1 front
  • 1 back
  • 2 collar
  • 2 back band
Others on Fabric:
  • 2 upper sleeve
  • 2 under sleeve
  • 2 sleeve facing
  • 1 pocket
  • 1 front
On Interfacing:
  • 1 collar

Make sure to transfer all the markings with tailor's chalk or a substitute. 

Step 6: Start Sewing

Prepare the pocket following the instructions on the pattern and do the embroidery. It was my first attempt at embroidery, so I'm really not the best person to ask about it. There are plenty of instructions on that around. I copied this shape, though. It's the Caduceus as done by *Retoucher07030 on DeviantArt.  I'm not going to re-write the pattern instructions, because that would be silly, but there are pictures below to help you if you feel you need it. Just make sure you iron out the creases left by the embroidery hoop.

Then, stitch the pocket to the full front piece following the pattern directions. Finish the edge and shoulder of the full front piece opposite the pocket and the inside edge of the half-front piece.This can be accomplished with a double fold hem. The easiest way I can find to describe it in words is to fold to 5/8" then fold at 5/8" and then top stitch in place. It will end up about 3/8" wide.

Step 7: Construction

After now, I'm not going to remind you. Please finish and reinforce your seams. It makes it easier to just throw your creation in the wash and not worry about it falling apart.  

Stitch the back to the fronts at the shoulders. 

For the collar, follow the steps on the pattern up until pinning it to the jacket. When you pin the collar to the jacket you want to start pinning at the shoulder of the full-front piece and work your way around. You should end around the shoulder seam of the back. Proceed with the pattern directions and sew in the collar. 

Step 8: Construction Continued

Next comes the sleeves and sides. Follow the pattern directions to sew in the sleeves. When you sew down the sides, though, only sew to the mark you made that y + 5/8" mark. Made a double fold hem the rest of the way down the sides, so that there are slits up the side on both sides of the coat. I'd hate to try and walk in it without them. Follow the pattern instructions to do the sleeve cuffs, and then finish the bottom of the coat with a double fold hem. 

Step 9: Back Band

For the back band, there are no instructions, so I shall do my best to explain. Press under one short edge of each back band piece. With right sides together, pin and stitch the other three sides. Trim the seam allowances and turn right side out. Press. Edge stitch all the way around and set aside.  

Step 10: Buttons!

So now comes time for buttons, and because of that, button holes. Throw on your creation and pin it into place, how you would wear it. Get your trusty friend and/or family member to help you and mark where the buttons should go. There is one on the collar, three on the shoulder, and four down the side. See the pictures, if you're not sure. Once you get the buttons marked put button holes into the top layer of material. I won't go into detail, because every sewing machine is a little different. Once you get the button holes in, put marks for the actual buttons on the second layer of fabric and sew your buttons on. My sewing machine could sew buttons on itself, which was nice, but again, every machine is different. 

Step 11: Finishing Touches

Now, we need to sew the back band into place. Put your coat on once again and grab that friend. Have the friend pin the back band where it should be, fitting the coat a little by gathering the material on the back underneath it. Make sure the ends are an equal distance on each side from the side seams. Mine was 1 1/2", but everyone's different. I stitched the band on right through the buttons, so should it ever need altered it would be quick to take off and re-stitch. 

You're probably going to want to throw your coat in the wash now, to get rid of all those pesky marks from the process of finishing it. 

Step 12: Thanks for Reading! / Author's Notes

Thanks for reading my instructable on the Horrible Lab Coat Project. I hope you enjoyed yourself and hope you will leave behind a comment, rating, or a vote to let me know how I did. Now, go make yourself a Dr. Horrible Lab Coat!

Authors Notes

As an entry in the 4th Epilog Challenge I'll let you know how I'd use that laser cutter. First of all, I would make sure it was available to my school's FIRST and VEX robotics teams for use. Also, I'd use it to cut fabric for sewing, and use it in my jewelry making endeavors. Again, thanks for reading, and I'd appreciate it if you could vote for me!  

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    9 Discussions


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I'd say yes. Unless you have pattern drafting experience, in which case this instructable is kind of useless.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    maybe ill find anthor one day thank you for letting me know i cant get the pateren


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    If you can find any chef's jacket pattern, it should suffice.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hello! So I saw your instuctable and thought "hey this looks easy" (( last time I sewed was in jounior high school ) went to the shop to get your suggested pattern but then saw Burda 7458 and thought "hey this will be easier to alter as I'll extend the front and that's it!" wow was I wrong lol. So back to square one imaging to follow your instructable haha. That being said I'm confused with the collar measurement step "....the same width as the pattern but is 1/2 of your measurement plus 5/8" long" what do you mean 1/2 of your measurement? Which measurement?



    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry about the confusion!

    So, I measured the collar of a jacket I had that was the same style as the lab coat so I knew how long it had to be to overlap and button. You want to make the new pattern piece the same width as the old one, but take half the measurement you took of the coat collar (because it will be cut on the fold) and 5/8" for the seam allowance.

    Hope that helps!