Saturday, July 21, 2012

Putting your "Horrible" pieces together.

Please see my First Dr. Horrible Blog post for directions on creating the pattern pieces.

My husband putting on his best "Mad Scientist" face.  :D

For the final construction of the coat, you will need:

- A sewing machine, sharp scissors, chalk or bar soap for marking, an iron, and lots of pins!
- Your altered pattern pieces from Simplicity 5386 (see link above).
- Around 4 yards of 60" wide off-white cotton twill
- Matching thread.
- 1.5 yards of fusible interfacing
- 10 matching 3/4" buttons.  The ones on the original lab coat are mother-of pearl, but you can use off white as well, as I did.
- Optional: extra wide twin needles for topstitching your flat felled seams in nice straight lines.

Okay, first you need to cut out your pieces.  If you managed to get 57" to 60" wide fabric, you should be able to lay out your fabric as I explain below.

With the selvage edge folded in on BOTH sides toward the center, right sides together, place your front piece on one fold, and your back piece on the other fold and cut out.

Now open up the remaining fabric. To cut the inner front flap, fold the center front edge of your front pattern piece under 2", and place it on a single layer of fabric, grain running the same way.  You need to make sure you place the pattern piece so the RIGHT side of the fabric will be facing out at the right shoulder.
Place the Facing piece next to it, and it should be facing the opposite way.  I wanted the right side of my facing to face out also, even though it is on the inside, so I placed it that way.  Pin and cut both pieces.

You will have a large piece left fold it in half the opposite way, (down), and place your sleeve piece on this double layer, pin and cut.
At the bottom, place your collar and backs trap pieces on a double layer, pin and cut.
Cut pocket on a single layer.

You will also want to cut one piece of fusible interfacing to match your facing piece, and one for the collar piece.
Following manufacturers directions, fuse your interfacing to the WRONG side of your facing and one collar piece.

Now for the actual sewing part!

Front and front Facing:
-Using a long basting stitch, stitch 1/2" in along the outer edge of your facing. Clip just inside the stitching at the rounded area twice, and iron under.

-Place facing and front piece right sides together at right shoulder, matching raw edges, and stitch 5/8" seam along shoulder edge, armscye, and outer right side.
-Trim seam to about 1/4", turn facing to right side, and press.
-Topstitch the facing along your ironed under edge.
-You should sew in the 3 buttonholes along the shoulder, and the 4 along the side now, before sewing the front piece to the garment.  It is easier to work with at this stage.  Don't cut them though, just in case!  Wait until the collar is on to be sure your measurements were correct.

Finished front facing, view of inside.

Inner Flap:
-Take the inner flap piece, and turn the long straight inner edge under 1" and press.
-Turn the inside of this under 1/4", and press again.
-Pin and stitch close to edge.  Press again.
-Now take your inner flap and sew it to the back right shoulder, right sides together.
-Take the front piece, and sew the left shoulder, right sides together.

-Make flat felled seams along the shoulders (with the edges facing front).  This is where a double needle will come in handy, as you only have to stitch once instead of twice, and the lines will be perfectly parallel.
If you don't know how to make a flat felled seam, here is a great youtube tutorial.

Yo may want to practice a couple of times on scraps if you are new to this.  It matters which side of the seam you trim, as it will cause the upper edge to face AWAY from the trimmed seam side, and you want all the seams to be facing the same way on your coat!

Side Slits:
-Now sew your side seams, stopping just at the point where the side slit flaps begin.
-Flat fell both side seams, with edge facing forward.
-Snip in 5/8" at the top of the flaps, and Iron the flaps in (now 1-1/4" ).  Tuck the edge under 1/2", pin from the RIGHT side, and stitch close to edge.
-Do this for all 4 side slit flaps.
See how I've made diagonal tucks at the top of the side slit?  Makes a very neat finish.

-Using a long basting stitch, sew 1/2" and 3/4" inside the sleeve cap.  You will use this to gently gather the sleeve cap to ease it into the armhole.
- Sew sleeve seams, right sides together.
-Flat fell seams, again with edge facing forward.
-Pin sleeves into armholes, right sides together.  Make sure you match the notches and dots (single notch means front, double notch means back).  The dot at the sleeve cap should match the shoulder seam.
- Pin the sleeve at the bottom seam, the shoulder seam, and the 2 notched areas.  Now gently pull the bobbin thread from your gathering stitch and distribute the gathering evenly, until the sleeve fabric matches the bodice fabric, as shown.  This is only lightly gathered, so try not to get any areas where there is an actual fold or pinch in the fabric.  Pin every 1/2" through gathered area.  This helps prevent accidental pinches or folds in the fabric when sewing.  Carefully sew in sleeves.
-Flat fell your armscye seam.

-Take the un-interfaced collar piece, and sew basting stitch along the bottom, long rounded edge.
-Turn under and press along this basting line. You can trim this to 1/4" as well, after pressing.
-Pin the two collar pieces right sides together, and sew from the bottom seam line (5/8" up), up the side, across the top, and down the other side.
-Trim the seam, cut diagonally across corners, turn right side out and press.
-Sew the buttonhole on the collar.  Don't cut it though, wait until the collar is attached, just to be safe.

-With right sides together, pin collar to neck edge, starting at the edge of the faced front, and finishing at the edge of the inner flap, and sew.
-Trim inner seam, and press collar and remaining seam allowance up. The seam allowance should now be sandwiched between to two collar pieces.
-Machine topstitch stitch from the front 1/8" above seamline.  Normally I sew the inner collar in by hand so the stitching is invisible, but on this lab coat, there is topstiching here so might as well use it!
-Press again to meld stitching.

-Topstitch 1/8" in, starting at bottom of the collar near the inner flap.  Continue up and around the top of the collar until you reach the corner of the collar on the outside of the jacket.  Carefully pivot, and continue the 1/8" topstitching down the edge of the collar, the shoulder edge, armscye, and down the entire outer right side

I like to pin along an area I'm going to topstitch, it helps prevent the fabric from "creeping".
Back Tie:
With right sides together, sew all sides of the back tie, leaving a small 3" wide opening at the bottom center for turning.  Trim seams and corners, and turn right side out through opening.  Press, and slipstich the opening closed.  Sew horizontal buttonholes 3/4" in from each end.

If you are hand embroidering the Caducus, you'll want to do it before you cut it out.  If you are using an iron-on patch, do that now.
-Iron under 1/4" on sides and bottom point, 3/4" (and another 1/4") on the top.  Topstitch the top.
-Pin into place on jacket (I eyeballed the placement while hubby wore the coat, and just made sure it was straight), then topstitch it down.

Now cut all your buttonholes, and sew on all of your buttons, along the shoulder, collar, side seam, and 2 in the back.

-Turn the hem on the bottom up by 2", and under again 1/4", press and sew close to fold and press again.
-Do the same for both sleeves.

Ta Da!  You are done!  Congratulations on your new Dr.Horrible Lab coat!


  1. What! No comments. It's a lot of detail, and it gives me a view into what you're up to, and how you do stuff and how you solve problems. It's good that there aren't too many posts, that way I can read them all.
    I know that this is an art project for you, and it's like performing your new guitar piece, and the audience didn't show up. Well, in that case, you have to be satisfied that you did an excellent job, and you damn well know it.

    1. Well, thank you so much! I admit it was a bit disappointing not getting any comments, but I am proud of the lab coat, and it looks very good, so in the and, like you say, I have to take pride in it on my own. :) Thank yo very much for the comment though, I really appreciate it a lot! :D

  2. Wow, that's awesome. I totally would want to sew one like that too!

  3. Impressive. It's too late for this year but I now have a year to work on it. Thanks for posting this.

  4. This is really well done, congratulations, it looks great! I'm working on one for my daughter right now, thanks so much for posting your work, it's been a great help.

    1. You are very welcome! I'd love to see the finished coat for your daughter, if you ever get a chance. Good luck with the project!

  5. Thank you for this awesome how to! My guy has been wanting a howie style lab coat for ages and is delighted to now have one of his very own. I have to say it was a bit daunting as my first real clothing project but I was pretty pleased with the result. Had to leave a couple of things off for now (pocket and back strap) so that it was usable for Halloween, but have every intention of finishing them too. Couldn't have done this without your help! Thank you so much! :)

    1. I'm so glad you found this helpful! I'd love to see your finished lab coat, if you want to share. :)

      Hope you had a very happy Halloween!!

    2. This isn't the best picture, but I think it's the best at showing the coat itself here. The rest of the gallery is here if you wanted to see more :) Thank you again!

    3. Wow, that's an amazing job! You should be really proud of yourself, very professional looking finished lab coat. Your guy looks awesome, great goggles and accessories, too!
      I hope you both had a really fun Halloween. :D And I'm sooo glad this blog helped. :)

  6. Success... finished sewing buttons on my homemade Dr. Horrible (red evil league of evil) coat on October 30th to wear at Disney World for Halloween. Thank you for the guidance, my success was dependent upon your photos, comments and a friend's help. Amazing how many folks identified with it, evil laugh...

    1. Congratulations! I hope you can find time to share some of your pics. Disney World at Halloween, I bet that was a lot of fun!

  7. Just got done making my son a coat using your pattern and a couple of others. Great advice! Coat isn't as professional looking as BeastieVille's but I also only had 2 days to make it. Thanks for the great advice.

    1. I'm so glad this tutorial was helpful to you. :) I would love to see pictures of your sons coat if you get a chance! If you made it in just 2 days, you should get a huge pat on the back for that alone! :D

  8. Hello, I was doing a Dr Horrible lab coat using the Simplicity Matrix pattern and your instructions. While cutting out the arm holes and sleeves I didn't do the altercations you did because unlike your husband I'm a 36" chest with noodle arms and I didn't think it was necessary. I now wish I did.

    After pinning and basting the sleeve in, I notice the sleeve tends to bunch up along the armhole seam at the top, and pull up the coat at the bottom of the seam when I raise my arm. I think I can fix the top problem by cutting back the sleeve and shoulder at the top, but still don't know how to keep the bottom of the sleeve from pulling the side of the coat up and out. I don't want to trash this project since I've gotten so far. I wouldn't mind any suggestions you might have to fix this. I have enough fabric for new sleeves; do you believe that if I made sleeves that were bigger around that it would help? Please let me know. Picture of sleeve is at link below.

    1. Hi Doug,
      I'm sorry that the sleeve fit is frustrating you. Sadly, the problem on you isn't your bicep size or the sleeve itself, it's the armscye size. That part is cut into the body of the coat. For some stupid reason, commercial pattern make HUGE armscye (armholes), which causes that pulling. You will see that part of my sleeve adjustments was raising that armscye 1". Also, I see in your picture that the shoulders are hanging off you pretty far.

      My suggestion is to remove the sleeve (but keep it! I think your sleeve itself is fine), and make some alterations to the body of the coat. Measure how much the shoulder is hanging down from your actual shoulder point, and cut the body of the coat in that much just at the top shoulder. It looks like 1" or even more on you needs to be remove from the shoulder of the coat.

      You need to also bring up the armsye. Since the fabric is already cut low, you could sew the sleeve back on using a VERY narrow seam (1/4" or even 1/8" if you can manage it) around the bottom only. Keep your 5/8" seam around the rest of the armhole. That means you'll have to taper out as you sew, but don't worry, it's not that hard. :). That will raise it 1/2" and help the problem. Sadly, I do not think it will fix it 100%, but even on my hubbies coat, there is still some pulling, though not enough to be a huge issue anymore. I could have raised my own armsye another 1/2", I think.

      Since you have already cut the body of the coat, your only other option is trying to add fabric under the arm, so the armhole is smaller and tighter on you, but this would be difficult to do without looking a mess. If you want to try it, just use a long basting stitch in case you decide you hate it, you can remove it easily without damaging your fabric.

      I hope this helps. I'm sorry I cannot offer more suggestions. But really, I do think making those 2 changes to your sleeve hole will be enough to make the coat much, much more wearable.

      Please let me know how it works out! I will do my best to try and help more if there are still fit issues.

      Best of luck, and honestly, good job so far! Projects like these will always have their little flaws and difficulties, but that is how we learn. :)

    2. I thought I'd post an update here to let you know how things went.
      I had set it aside for a bit and then started working on it in early August. I ended up making new sleeves with about 1 inch extra on either side of the armscye seam. This was to counteract the fact that the armscye hole on the body was too low on the bottom. I also brought in the sleeve and the shoulder seam about 1" or so on the shoulder point. I didn't cut the fabric off at the shoulder but rather pinned, in case I made a mistake. Then I pinned, basted, tried it on, pinned again, basted again, ect. One sleeve went in easier, the other one I fought with over and over as I kept getting folds in it as I sewed it in, and I was getting the fold smaller and smaller.

      But in the end it worked! The sleeve is no longer tight, although it still pulls a bit if you raise your arms too high (but it's not as bad as it was). It fits well. I wore it to a con, without a shirt underneath (it was in the 90s), and it was comfortable and breathable. People told me that it looked great and professional. I still have to do a few small things (I want to add cuffs to it, as well), but it looks good.

  9. Thanks for such a wonderful, descriptive post. My son wanted to be Dr. Horrible for Halloween. I didn't have the pattern you modified, but was able to create my own based on your instructions and one of his shirts. It turned out pretty well. I would have been lost without your photos and descriptions.

    1. I am so glad you found this blog post helpful! I hope your son was happy with his Dr. Horrible costume. :)

    2. Linda,
      Can you make one for me. I need it for a character I'm playing. And if so, How much?