More on Sewing with Fur

One faux fur vest for the big girl and one for the little girls.

Because I just finished a faux fur vest for my DD, Megan and one to be shared by my GD, it seems appropriate to spend a little more time talking about how much fun it is to sew with fur.

When I saw my sister Liz at Christmas, she had just completed a faux fur vest for my niece.  The fabric from fabric.com is a 1-1/2″ long animal look-alike that’s soft as cashmere and it so fashionable on my niece.  Liz was kind enough to give me the left over fur so I could make a vest for Megan.  Always trying to get one more garment from a piece of fabric, I was barely able to squeeze out a vest for my GD.

While faux fur vests are fashionable, very cute and inexpensive compared to RTW, you really need to love someone to sew a garment made from fur.  We were selling our home and preparing for an open house and there were nasty fur fibers everywhere.   Not just for one day but for days after the vests were finished – just like when we had a German Shepherd!  Made me realize that we need a new vacuum too.  Now I’ll stop whining.

Tips for Making a Fur Vest

  • Use a pattern with minimal design elements, buttonholes, etc.  Megan’s was made from Burda 7289 which is a fur vest pattern.  It has a front dart however I skipped it.  The little girl’s pattern was self-drafted from a shrug pattern.  For both vests, the back and lining is a mid-weight poly.  Both are fully lined.
  • When cutting, use pointed scissors and cut only the fabric backing – the fur will separate easily after the backing is cut.
  • To control the effects of shedding, store everything in a plastic bag before and during sewing.
  • Just like the fur collar, clip the fur from the backing of the seam allowance to reduce bulk and to make it look professional.  If your seam allowance is 5/8″, clip the fur for 5/8″ of the seam allowance.
  • Sew the seams as you would sew any other seam.  Hold of on trimming the seams…..
  • Before  trimming and clipping the seams, on the right side of the fabric, use a needle or leather punch to pull the fur fibers out of the seam.

Oops – when I sewed the bottom of Megan’s vest to the lining, I trimmed the seams before pulling out the fur fibers.  Because some of the long fibers had been cut short,  the vest hemline looked like my mother used dull scissors to hack off my bangs.  To fix the problem I sewed a new seam which resulted in a vest that was 1″ shorter than I intended.  The second time I pulled the fibers out of the seam and then trimmed it.  Sorry, I forgot to take photos so you could learn from my error.

  • Clip the corners like any other fabric.  Despite this there may be some bulk.
  • Use hooks or ribbon to fasten the vest – it’s nearly impossible to make buttonholes, especially when working with long fur.
  • When pressing, avoid steam and protect the fur fibers from the iron with a pressing cloth as the heat will melt the fibers or make them curl as if singed.  Yes, I learned this by experience too.
  • Step back and enjoy your accomplishment.  You deserve it.
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Sewing a Fur Collar

First of all, thank you so much for the many wonderful comments on my coat.  You made my week.

Now it’s time for me to give back to you and share some of the techniques.  Let’s start with how to sew a fur collar, and next I’ll do a post on pad-stitching.  It had been a few years (like 30) since I made a fur collar which required me to do a little research and to think through the process.

Starting with the end:

The fur – a piece of dyed lambswool approximately 24 x 24″.

Dyed Lambswool

Fur Alert!

The following steps resulted in small green fibers of fur in every corner of our house.  You’d have thought I had a fluffy shedding pet who followed me around the house.  Ugh!

Tutorial:

1.  Select the piece of the fur from which you wish to cut the collar.  All fur is not created equal – some parts of the pelt were clearly not usable as the fur was sparse or just didn’t look good, and I hoped to have enough left for cuffs.

2.  When planning for the collar, if the pattern doesn’t have an upper collar piece which is larger than the under collar, increase the length and the width of the upper collar by approximately 1/2″.  You will need this additional fabric so the collar turns well and to keep the fur visible and the under collar not visible.

3. Using a pointed scissors, cut the collar from the back side of the fur, only cutting through the pelt or fur backing.  The fur fibers will separate without the help of a scissors.

4.  As you plan to sew the upper and the under collar,  for the width of the seam allowance, cut away the fur from the pelt or backing.  Note: Do not cut away the actual seam allowance.  This step reduces bulk when sewing the upper to the under collar.

Fur is cut away but NOT the pelt

5.  Pin the upper and under collar together.  Baste if you are so inclined.  For leather you will need to pin in the seam allowance.

6.  Sew the upper and under collar per the pattern instructions.

7.  Before you trim the seam, turn the collar right side out.  Use a pin or needle and pick out the fur fibers that got caught in the seam.  If you don’t take this step, your collar will look like this:

Use a pin to pull out any fur fibers which are caught in the seam

8.  Trim the seam in the same way as if you are working with fabric only

9.  Now turn the collar and press.  This was quite challenging for me as I didn’t want to burn the delicate lambswool.  Good thing is that it didn’t need much pressing.

Back side of the turned collar.

Now continue with your coat or garment construction.