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Inspiration

Sew a Coat Inspired by Inauguration Fashion

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Coat styles varied at the 59th Presidential Inauguration. From left: Second daughter Ella Emhoff, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, and Vice President Kamala Harris. Photos, from left: Win McNamee/Pool/CNP/Polaris, Europa Press via AP; Phil McAuliffe/Polaris, Europa Press via AP; and AP Photo/Evan Vucci.

Politics aside, if you liked some of the winter coats worn by dignitaries and other attendees at the 59th Presidential Inauguration this past week, you may be able to create a similar look for yourself.

The tailored winter dress coats worn by five women—Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden, former First Lady Laura Bush, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, and the vice president’s stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff—were classic, yet had notable details.

Consider similar patterns as a starting point for re-creating these garments, and learn some techniques from sewing experts for sewing, finishing, and altering the finer details. Take a cue from the women in the spotlight, and don’t shy away from declarative colors in your version.

Vice President Kamala Harris’s purple coat

Vice President Kamal Harris and Second Gentleman Dough Emhoff on inauguration day
Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, walk down the steps of the U.S. Capitol as they participate in Inauguration Day ceremonies, January 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Designed by Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson, the coat features a notched collar, two-button front closure, and angled welt pockets.

The Rumana Coat from By Hand London, reviewed in Threads #212 (Dec.2020/Jan. 2021), would be good starting point for creating a coat similar to the vice president’s. The pattern has princess sleeves and a different pocket design, but the silhouette and set of the lapels are similar. You’ll like the easy mock-welt pocket in the Rumana design.

First Lady Jill Biden’s ocean blue coat

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden on Inauguration Day 2021
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden descend the Capitol steps during inauguration ceremonies, January 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

 

The coat was created for the first lady by Alexandra O’Neill, designer and founder of the Markarian label.
The Associated Press reported: “The matching coat and dress included a velvet collar and cuffs on the coat, and a chiffon bodice and scalloped skirt on the dress. The neckline of the dress is embellished with Swarovski pearls and crystals. The same crystals adorn the coat. The outfit was handcrafted in New York City.”
McCall’s 8156, view C has similar lines to this design, and the blog post “Understanding the Basic Shawl-Collar Pattern” explains how to draft your own shawl collar.
Another McCall’s pattern, 7478 View A, has a higher shawl/roll collar and sleeve cuffs you could shape to echo the first lady’s version.
StyleArc’s Bronnie Tuxedo Jacket has a similar shawl collar, and could be lengthened to emulate Dr. Biden’s coat.

Former First Lady Laura Bush’s light blue coat

Former First Lady Laura Bush arrives at the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremonies January 20, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool Photo via AP)

The former first lady wore a light blue, single-breasted coat (designer unknown), with an interesting neckline that featured contrast facings turned back to form lapels. The coat also has an inset front shoulder yoke, set-in sleeves, and welt pockets with flaps.

The Marfy 6107 coat, reviewed in Threads #201 (Feb./March 2019) does not share all these details, but it can be sewn with contrast facings that may be worn folded back for a similar neckline treatment. It is from Marfy’s Evergreen pattern collection, and it includes an optional belt.

National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s yellow coat

Amanda Gorman at the podium in a yellow Prada coat
National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recites her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 59th Presidential Inauguration. (Phil McAuliffe/Polaris, Europa Press via AP)

In a sunny yellow hue, this double-breasted Prada coat included gold buttons, notched lapels, a waistline seam, and large inset front pockets with button closures.

Ella Emhoff’s embellished checked coat

Ella Emhoff wearing an embellished plaid wool coat
Ella Emhoff, the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, arrives for the inauguration of President Joe Biden at the Capitol. (Win McNamee/Pool/CNP/Polaris, Europa Press via AP)

The second daughter’s embellished Miu Miu coat made her a standout, according to many news reports and social media posts. A CNN.com headline published January 21, 2021 declared her “the U.S. presidential inauguration’s breakout fashion star.”

Her checked wool coat included a contrasting embroidered spread collar, a large button at the top front, gathered sleeves, cinched waist, welt pockets at the hips, and crystal-embellished shoulders.

A possible starting point is Vogue 1669, which has a similar silhouette and pockets. You can learn three ways to apply crystals to garments in our free video tutorial. Though it mentions knits, the methods also work on wovens and could yield beautiful results on your own stunning coat.

 

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