Hi, guys! Thank you all for your kind words about my furry Gerard! It sounds like many of you are interested in sewing with faux fur, which really makes me happy! So I wanted to be sure to get this tutorial up quickly so you can get started right away! Of course, there are always multiple ways to do things, so I’m not saying this is the right/only way to do it… it’s just how I handle faux fur!
First things first, gather your supplies!
- faux fur (the one I used for my coat has a woven backing, but some that I’ve used at work have knit backings)
- small scissors (larger than embroidery, but easier to control than shears)
- awl (something like this is fine)
- comb (this is a regular comb like my dad always used on his hair, hee)
- spray bottle filled with water
- riveting audiobook (sewing with faux fur gets boring! a $2 download of The Count of Monte Cristo was a lifesaver during this project and several others… it’s 60 hours long!!!)
- vacuum (furry bits fly everywhere and things get really messy really quick!)
First things first, think long and hard about your nap. Faux fur is directional- take a look at it, pet it, and you’ll see what I mean! You really, really, really don’t want to end up with one piece of your coat, for example, with the nap running a different direction than the rest! Where this gets tricky is when you’re dealing with things like collars and facings. I find it really helpful to mark an arrow on the pattern pieces to help me remember which way things need to be oriented. Also, if you’re making something like a coat, it’s good to think through what actually needs to be cut out of the fur. You might want to use another fabric for some of your facings or line to the edges to cut down on bulk. Once I’ve confirmed how things need to be cut out, I lay out the pieces and trace them directly onto the backing. I use a yellow sharpie- it writes much more smoothly on the bumpy backing than chalk does, and I don’t have to worry about it being visible through the fur.
When you cut, do small snips into the backing rather than large cuts. The goal is to just be cutting the backing, not the fur itself.
Here are my two pieces, side by side. You can see the nap is going in the same direction. Pin ‘em together with long pins. Sometimes I use regular wooden clothes pins (the kind you use to hang laundry on the line), too, if things are getting really thick. I always pin perpendicular and always use pins with a colored ball head… dressmaking pins will get lost in the fur!
Now, when you sew with faux fur, you want to sew in the direction of the nap. Normally when you sew garments, you sew them in a way that makes the grainline happy (usually from the bottom of the garment up, from wider to skinnier). But with fur, nap is more important! At work we aren’t using fur for garments, and the seams don’t need to be flat, so we use a zigzag stitch and sew about 1/4″ seams. But for this coat, I just did a regular straight stitch, but I lengthened it to about 3mm to get a normal-looking seam in such thick fabric. I put a lot of pressure on the two layers to help them go under the presser foot as flat as possible. Now, hide your kids and hide your wife before I tell you this terrifying fact: I leave the pins in as I sew and just go right over them! Naughty, right?! But it helps to keep the fur from shifting. I also like to sew in little stretches rather than one long seam, so I can stop to make sure everything is still oriented correctly and the layers haven’t shifted too much.
This is what the seam looks like from the wrong side. OK, I know that some people like to trim the fur out of the seam allowance before sewing, but I don’t do that (I don’t want to accidentally trim too much and have an ugly seam!). It’s totally cool to disagree with me here… this is just how I like to do it. OK, before trimming, I use the comb to gently pull the fur out of the seam allowance by combing against the nap.
See how much fur was caught in the seam?? Then I use my small scissors to trim it close to the backing (some people shave the fur, but I don’t have an appropriate tool and I’m sure Man Friend would have a fit if I tried using any of his shaving equipment for this!). This is where your spray bottle can come in handy. I spritz it lightly so the fur bits don’t fly away as much and are more manageable. The water has never bothered any faux fur that I’ve used, but it’s probably a good idea to check on a swatch just to make sure.
OK, that’s better, but there’s still some fur caught in the seam. So I use my awl to gently pull any tricky bits out of the seam.
That’s the ticket!
OK, let’s take a look at the front!
Looks a little gross. So, let’s use the comb, against the nap, to lift the fur out of the seam allowance.
Let’s just use the awl to pull out a little bit more…
Looks good to me! One last thing to talk about is pressing the seams. I’ve never tried to iron faux fur, so for the coat, I just finger pressed it and then catch stitched the seams open by hand. I didn’t have one handy, but Claire Schaeffer suggested trying a clean paint roller to press your seams open, which sounds like fun! (Also, Claire Schaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide has lots of information about sewing with faux fur if you want some further reading… I have an older edition of this book that I bought used for just a few dollars and it’s really, really useful).
Alright, I hope this is helpful! Anyone have any other tips to add or different techniques that have worked for them? Please share! :)