Work Togs and Kit

Completed: 1940s Lab Coat from DuBarry 5497

At the beginning of the semester we were informed we would need to acquire lab coats for working in the conservation lab. I already have a flameproof one for chemistry lab, but I don’t really like it and the flameproofing is overkill for a conservation lab. I decided this gave me the perfect excuse to buy a DuBarry smock pattern that I had been ogling for a couple of years.

Image from Vintage Pattern Wiki

Time Frame: 2 months
DuBarry 5497 (1942) Size 16, B34
White cotton twill from JoAnn Fabrics, 3 yards ($36)
Thread ($3.5 but it was a jumbo spool), snaps from stash, buttons from JoAnn Fabrics ($10), serger thread
Cost: $46
Needle/Stitch Length: 16 denim, 3-4.

Aren’t the buttons fabulous?


  • I added 1″ to the hem. I’m only 5’3″, so I am usually taking out length, but otherwise this would have been more like a shirt length than lab coat length. The influence of rationing perhaps?
  • I added 1/2″ to the side seam allowances and stitched at 5/8″ instead of the recommended 3/4″.
  • In the future I will make openings in the side seams to be able to access my pants pockets. Apparently this is a feature of mass produced lab coats, and one that I actually like.
  • I added a fourth button since I lengthened it.


  • Clipping is needed at the end of step 2.
  • I quite like the silhouette. It is roomy, but not so shapeless that I feel like a blob either. It is more of a trapezoidal silhouette, which is shaped I think by keeping the gathers to the back yoke while doing two vertical darts in the front at each shoulder.
  • The only snaps I had were much too small (it calls for snaps at the wristband, which is better for conservation anyways as there isn’t a button on the outside to snag on objects), so I will eventually replace these with bigger snaps.
  • I don’t love the pockets. I think the shape is weird and while it kind of mirrors the collar, the placement is too close to the center.
  • I love the unique shaping of the collar and that it is cut all in one instead of being separate. It is just enough open at the neckline while still looking professional. The darts at the sleevehead are also a 1930s/40s design feature that I really like.
  • It would be interesting to try the short sleeve version as a regular shirt for summer, or even extend it, make a tie belt and turn it into a shirtdress!

2 thoughts on “Completed: 1940s Lab Coat from DuBarry 5497

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