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Pattern Roundup: Trench Coats

Sew an always fashionable, always functional raincoat with crisp military touches.
Threads #203, June/July 2019
The Isla Coat by Named Clothing is rated as a challenging design to sew, but it has many details to recommend it.

A trench coat is a challenging sewing project, but the effort pays off because the useful finished garment is a timeless style. From its original purpose, protecting British officers from the elements in World War I trenches, the trench coat has evolved and branched into high-fashion interpretations. Fabrications have evolved from waterproofed linen twill to evening versions in satin and lace, and casual renditions in cotton twill.

Famous trench coats include the traditional gabardine version worn by Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon (1941). Bogart wore a trench coat in another classic film, Casablanca (1942). The characters he portrayed were smart, resourceful, and enigmatic, qualities that transferred to the garments he wore, at least in the public imagination.

In January 2019, Christie’s auction house sold a pink silk faille trench coat designed by Yves Saint Laurent for French actress Catherine Deneuve. It was part of the designer’s Boutique Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2000 collection. Deneuve was a muse to Saint Laurent for more than four decades. A single item in a large collection up for auction, the trench coat sold for the equivalent of $5,040, more than four times its auction value estimate.

If you are ready to create your own trench coat, know that sewing patterns for this utilitarian garment can vary in the details as well as the textile recommendations. These looks delve into the many elements that go into a true trench coat, such as storm shields to shed rain, wrist belts to close the cuffs against the cold, and epaulets to securely hold a bag strap. Enjoy the challenge—and the results—of sewing a trench coat.

Click on these pattern links for pattern illustrations and to purchase any of the designs:

Sewaholic Patterns Robson Coat

Robson Coat

Cashmerette Chilton Trench Coat

Cashmerette Trench
See the Threads review of the Chilton Trench for additional details.

Burda Style Trench Coat 125 | 02/18

Burda Style Twill Coat

Named Pattern Company Isla Coat

Named Clothing's Isla Coat is rated as a challenging trench coat design to sew.
The Isla Coat by Named Clothing is rated as a challenging design to sew, but it has many details to recommend it.

Silhouette Patterns Barbara’s Trench

For a faithful take on a famous trench coat maker’s classic design, check out the Silhouette Patterns Barbara trench coat. It is double-breasted with set-in sleeves, wrist straps, epaulets, and a left-front storm shield. In addition to the details in the design, this pattern has two important fitting improvements: It comes with separate pattern pieces for B, C, and D bust cup sizes, and it is designed with a French dart for a more feminine shape.

Burda Style Plus-Size Trench Coat 09/10

A plus-size trench coat in short or long lengths, BurdaStyle magazine’s Plus-Size Trench Coat 09/10 is available in European sizes 44 to 52, for busts from 39.5 inches to 48 inches. It has raglan sleeves, prominent epaulets, and a topstitched oversleeve seam that helps maintain a crease in the sleeve. The back waist is slightly gathered by elastic for shaping. The look is recommended for fabrics with body, such as midweight cotton and cotton-blend wovens.

Vogue Patterns 8884

Vogue 8884 offers a sleek rendition of the trench coat, with a strong silhouette. It does not include storm shields, a back cape, or epaulets. However, shoulder pads and a set-in, two-piece sleeve give the coat a strong shoulder line and trim sleeves. A topstitched yoke seam lends the visual impression of storm shields. The seams are topstitched throughout, and the welt pockets add another sharp detail. This lined and partially interfaced design, rated average for skill level, is a good choice to achieve the look of a refined and contemporary trench coat relatively quickly. The size range is Misses 6 through 22, for busts from 30.5 inches to 44 inches in circumference. Recommended fabrics are poplin, cotton canvas or gabardine.

For Insiders: See more information about fabrics, designs, and sewing tips in “Sew Fashionable Rainwear” by Claire Meldrum, Threads #148 (April/May 2010), “Sewing Vinyl Fabrics” by Don Morin, Threads #184 (April/May 2016), and “Fabric Lab: Laminated cotton” by Rae Cumbie, Threads #191 (June/July 2017).


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