Sewing with fur

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I have a cape I would like to duplicate and line with fur from on old beaver
coat. The cape is a copy of one Queen Victoria used to wear and was in fact
sold as a 'Victoria cape'. It is wrist length, buttons up the front to the
neck, simple collar, slash pockets and is buttoned several inches from the
side seams to accommodate the arms. (A really simple and lovely garment, I
get compliments whenever I wear it.)

However, I'm having difficulty finding directions on how to sew with fur.
From all I can find out, I have two major tasks 1) piecing the fur to fit
the cape and 2) taping the edges of the fur to sew to the neck and front
facings of the cape.

If I do all of this by hand, are there any special tools or needles that I
will need? I have an Elna 6003 - is there some attachment that I can use to
sew fur? Which needles would be suitable for this?

I plan to make the collar out of the fur, lined with the coat material.

Any suggestions you can give me on this project would be much appreciated.


Re: Sewing with fur
I know little about sewing fur, but you will need leather needles, as
real fur is attached to "leather". You are going to have to be careful
to make sure that the fur does not get brushed into your seams before
they are stitched, but brushed away from the seams so that you do not
get a "tucked in" look at your seam lines, which will make your seams
very obvious.

A note on cutting: You will want to cut the fur from the reverse, and
not use scissors, but a razorknife (or similar cutter) as to not
"shear" the fur accidentially, which would make your seams stand out.

I would experiment with seaming the fur, you may find that well butted
seams work best with a zig zag stitch.  This would give you less bulk
at the seams on the body of the furpiece itself. You will probably
have to brush the fur well after seaming to hide the seams.

As for the seams where the fur is attached to your fabric, I suspect
that you are going to need to use a leather needle there as well..
However, I would take a scrap of fabric and a scrap of leather ( or
plastic) and test the leather needle with the combination of the two
items to make sure that the leather needle does not cut up your fabric
too badly when stitching. (Leather needles have a "knife edge" to cut
through the leather, which regular sewing needles do not posess).

I think I would start by piecing & stitching the fur together into the
correct shape to match your pattern using a leather needle (this
needle will likely require frequent changes), making sure that I was
not brushing/tucking the "nap" of the fur into the seams.  After I had
my main "furpiece" together, I think I would edge the whole piece with
a satin type binding (in a appropriate colour for the fur and cape),
sewing it to the fur side of the furpiece, which I would then turn to
the reverse side of the fur (mitering any angles, as appropriate),
leaving a small (1/8"-3/16" ? ) "reveal" all the way around the edges
of the fur (the "finished" furpiece should be slightly smaller than
the "finished" cape itself, as not to protrude around the edges). This
would serve to finish the edges of the furpiece, and would provide a
point for attachment to the cape.  I believe that most of this could
be done with machine..

When I was ready to attach the "furpiece", I would hand sew the
furpiece using the satin "reveal" I created earlier as the point of
attachment to the inside edges of the cape's facings, with a fairly
large, very even overcast "whip" stitch, which is how the fine family
heirloom furs I own are finished.  In other words, the hand stitches
around the edges are quite visible if you look for them.

The collar would be the same process, only much smaller, and the
"finished" fabric portion of the collar would be slightly smaller than
the  "finished" fur portion (so that the fabric does not show around
the edges of the finished fur collar when it is in place.)


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Re: Sewing with fur
Thank you very much!  Contrary to your assertion, it seems you know a good
deal about sewing fur.


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Re: Sewing with fur
me wrote:
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I haven't sewn fur, but I do sew leather all the time and after a few
early experiments I gave up on leather needles entirely.  They have a
sharp edge to them that actually cuts the leather.  I get much better
results using a regular sharp needle (size 18 or 20).


Re: Sewing with fur
me wrote:
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Seams can be done by butting and backing or by shaving the fur off the
bottom piece and doing a skived lap seam using a good hide glue and
stitching. Watch the grain of the hair follicles on the fur. IF the coat
was properly made the grain should run vertical with the follicles
naturally falling toward the bottom. Because  beaver pelt is a softer
leather I would not use a leather needle, I would use a heavy 16-18
sharp. It will not slice the leather while sewing like a leather needle
normally does and it will give you a stronger seam.

Steve W.
Near Cooperstown, New York

Re: Sewing with fur
AmyAlice had written this in response to  :

me wrote:

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I have found this article very helpful but I have one question....I would
like to know what kind of thread to use to sew my fur onto leather.  I am
working on a pair of caribou gloves that are trimmed with fur that is worn
out and which I am replacing.  These gloves were made 20 years ago by a
Cree lady from the far North.  The beading and hand stitching are
exemplary.  The fur trim came off easily because it is old and brittle but
I cannot break the thread she it is very tough.  It looks like
linen but I do not believe it is. I was going to remove the thread and
reuse it but decided against it because it is also fastening the flannel
lining [baby patterned flanelete].The gloves are in excellent shape with
all seams intact.  I wear them every year and even though they have been
washed many times the caribou hide remains supple. The hide was tanned by
the Cree and is renowned for its toughness.  These gauntlet gloves are
heavily beaded and are precious to me because they raise many fond
memories of my time working in on Reindeer Lake in Northern Manitoba near
the Northwest Territories. I  do hope you can help me with information.
Each glove has a band of fur around the wrist and the top of the gauntlet
- they are beautiful.  I will appreciate any help you can offer.
Thank you,


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Re: Sewing with fur

Dear Rita.

As you already have ascertained, you must piece first.  You cut the
back, not the fur.  Make sure that when piecing, all of the hair is
going in the same direction.  I use a single edge razor blade.  After
getting a piece the right size, draw with permanent marker on the
leather side.  No seam allowances are used.  Cut throught just the
leather with the razor blade.

For best results, you should have an interlining of batting between two
layers of gauze.  The edges should be bound with bias, then the bias is
attached to the garment.  I usually use satin bias that goes with the
outside of the garment.

Be sure that the fur is in good condition before going to all the
trouble of piecing it and sewing it.  If you pull on the hairs and they
come out in your hand, don't bother with it.  That means that the fur
is infected with a virus that will make it shed continuously, and
cannot be cured.


Re: Sewing with fur

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How interesting.  This explains what I see on another coat - under the
lining the pelt is not visible but is lined with what you describe.  I
didn't understand what it was.
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I had no idea fur could infected like that.

Thank you all for your excellent responses.  It was very instructive.


Re: Sewing with fur
I sandwich fur between two pieces of paper and use my regular needle--tear
off the paper when finished--works great
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