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Sewing with Faux Fur

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Today's faux fur gives you the luxurious look and feel of real fur at a fraction of the price and without harming any animals. And, because of recent improvements in fabric manufacturing, it comes in an amazing array of rich colors and lush textures. It truly starts out beautiful on the bolt. But if you treat faux fur like regular fabric, your project can end up looking like a bad haircut.

You can't cut it out like regular fabric. You can't just sew it together like regular fabric. And if you pronounce it "fowks" fur instead of the correct "foe" fur, somebody will make fun of you. (They didn't offer French at my high school.)

But don't worry. Once you learn the proper pronunciation and the few tips below, you'll enjoy a whole new world of sumptuous sewing.

Choosing the best project

Basic is better. Faux fur makes simple projects look terrific. And even if you could wrestle the material into intricate twists and turns, that type of detail wouldn't show up very well anyway; it gets lost in the plush.

Projects specifically designed for faux fur usually make an allowance for fullness. But you can use it to sew projects not designed for fur. Just choose a simple design with limited seams, a minimum of pleats, gathers, and darts. 

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You may also want to substitute all zippers and buttonholes with fur hooks. However, we've done a pillow project with an invisible zipper, and it went in slick as a whistle.

Marking

Fur has a ‘pile' and a ‘nap'. Pile is the term for the hairs, they can be long or short, smooth or fuzzy. Nap refers to the direction in which the hairs lay

Most faux furs (like real fur) have a specific direction to the nap. If you have trouble seeing the way the fur is laying on your fabric, hang it over a chair and step back a little. It should become obvious.

Once you've figured out the direction on the nap, mark it on the back of the fabric. You'll want the nap going in the same direction on all your pieces when your project is finished - or it will look like a bad taxidermy job.

In fact, you should do all your fabric tracing and marking on the wrong side of the material.

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Also, because you only cut out one pattern piece at a time, you won't be able to fold your fabric over and cut mirror image pieces at one time. For instance, if you have a pattern for a sleeve, you'll need to flip the pattern paper over to get the mirror image for the second sleeve.  (Hmmm... fur sleeves; there's an idea.) Think twice before you cut and you'll be fine.

Cutting

Here's where a little patience will pay off with better results. The trick is to cut your pieces out without giving your faux fur a haircut. Because it won't grow back. Here's what it can look like if you just start hacking away. You'll have a bald spot when you try to sew the seams together.

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When cutting, the idea is to cut only the backing and not the fur pile. Use just the tips of your scissors. With the wrong side facing up, slide the bottom blade of your scissors up next to the backing.

Cut with short, deliberate snips, being careful to cut just the backing. If you feel a drag, you're starting to cut the nap. Back off and start again.

Practice cutting on a scrap and you'll quickly get a feel for it.

Presser foot and needle

A standard presser foot and universal needle are fine for faux fur. Just remember, as always, to start each new project with a new needle.

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Pinning

Lay your faux fur pieces to be sewn, right sides together. Using ball head pins, pin along the seam at a right angle, this will allow you to sew right up to the pin before pulling it out.

Tuck the fur to the inside as you pin; an aluminum knitting needle works well as a tool to tuck in all those hairs.

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Sewing

As with the presser foot and needle above, standard sewing thread will work fine with faux fur.

Choose thread in a color that contrasts somewhat with your fur. It won't show on the front because of the deep pile of the fur, but if you need to take stitches out for any reason, the contrasting color will make it a lot easier to find the seam.

Choose a longer stitch length. Sew your seam with the direction of the nap.

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If you followed our 'tuck and pin' suggestion above, you should have a clean seam. However, working from the right side, you can also use a dull pencil or a knitting needle to pick stray fur hairs out of the seam. Tweezers would also work but you need to be careful not to break the hairs.

If you feel you need to reduce the bulk in your seam, use snips to clip-away the fur inside the seam allowance.

When right side out, and with the fur fluffed and/or combed into place, your seams should be virtually invisible.

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Another option that creates a hinged seam is to use a zig zag stitch. Follow the same 'tuck and pin' method described above. Then, set up your zig zag so the right hand swing (I guess that would be the 'zig') falls off the edge of the fur.

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Make sure you practice these sewing steps on some scraps before trying them on your final project.

Final faux warning

Once you become proficient with faux fur and show your friends what you've made or give them items as gifts, everybody is going to want you to make them fur cuffed gloves, a scarf or a luxurious throw.

Of course, you could always share this article with them and then they can easily sew their own items.

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Comments (20)

everydayLoki said:
everydayLoki's picture

I tried your technique to cut fur last night and it totally worked!!  It was not as time consuming as I thought and it just looked so fabulous afterwards. Thanks so much for sharing these fabulous tips with us.

Bethany Egerton said:
Bethany Egerton's picture

I want to cover a large pouf with fur for my new living room update and all of your tips and tricks will be helpful. I just have one question. when hemming do you need to fold under twice? use bias tape or just zigzag and fold once? I wouldn't just leave it alone would I? any other tips for sewing a square pouf from fur?

Thanks 

Bethany

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Bethany Egerton - it really depends on the design of the project as well as the length of the fur's nap. If cut correctly as shown above, you don't have to hem if the fur is long enough to comb down over the cut edge - the fabric backing won't ravel. Bias tape will mash the nap, so that's not the best option. A double fold hem is likely to be too bulky. You could do a simple single fold, but you'd still want to make sure it worked with the nap. If it is just the bottom of the pouf's skirt all around, if at all possible, simply cut and then brush the fur down over the cut edge. If the nap is too short, a simple single fold is probably best. As we often suggest, test your options on a scrap first to see what looks best to you. 

Mama K said:
Mama K's picture

Just finished a fake fur poncho with cowl collar.  The tutorial made it easy to do!  Great instructions and I can't wait for the next fake fur project.  Thank you so much!!

Dr Aunt said:
Dr Aunt's picture

I have been asked to sew faux fur rug with my neice. I have cut it out and have a heck of a mess. 

I am afraid to start sewing it. Is there a quick zig zag or something I should be doing before putting it together with my 10 yr old neice? 

Help please. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Dr Aunt - did you cut it out as shown in the tutorial? It's hard to really know what "one heck of a mess" really means  when trying to troubleshoot long distance. All our best tips are listed above. If you've cut into the fur rather than just along the backing, you might be able to trim it again, just a bit smaller, carefully cutting just the backing. Then, when sewing, make sure you poke the fur out of the way.

Sharon Need to sew more said:
Sharon Need to sew more's picture

I made my sister a faux fur pillow, just cut it out with scirrors, bought some faur fur & a jacket patern, was afraid to make it yet, Knew to cut this with an Xacto cutter for the back side, but with this information, on the tucking in the fur with a knitting needle, that I have, and the different colored thread, this is going to be a doable progect.  Thank you!

 

JulieR88 said:
JulieR88's picture

Thank you so much for the tutorial and tips... i recently was given a bunch of fur fabric, and havent decided eactly what i am going to do with all of it, but was definitely wanting to make some pillow covers. now i wont be quite so terrified that i am going to ruin the fabric. 

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

I'm embarking on my first adventure with fur fabric tomorrow. I'm working on a bear scoodie for a friend of mine (Hollaween item to wear). these tips are going to be a big help. I've been a little reluctant to start on this because I was so afraid of ruining it but now I'm a little more confident. Thank you so much ^_^ I hope my scoodie turns out well, though I'm confident it will if I follow these tips

Taiga said:
Taiga's picture

I love this tutorial! Thank you! I've just started making animal costumes with a friend of mine and it's not the easiest thing to work with faux fur! Also, does anyone have any ideas where I can find really long -- 3" + -- faux fur?

Gloria3133 said:
Gloria3133's picture
thank you, this was very informative. I had wondered why the seams on one side looked strange and the other side looked right. That tuck and pin is the answer. Previously, I had just clipped the fur where the seams would go so it would look right, I like the methods you have shown.
Sewingmyway66 said:
Sewingmyway66's picture
Just finished faux fur vest out of Fabric.com's Lynx fabric for my granddaughter's Christmas gift. It's beautiful!!! & was so easy to sew. This was my 1st time to sew faux fur & I was petrified to cut into that beautiful fabric. I used all the tutorials & absolutely flew through the entire profect. I am looking forward to the next faux fur project. It is truly fun.
stephen.saylor@gmail.com said:
stephen.saylor@gmail.com's picture
I don't really sew.... at all.. but I thought about hot gluing faux fur onto a backpack just to make it look more nifty or onto a jacket for a costume. Any thoughts?
gritsgirl said:
Thank you so much for this tutorial, I'm about to embark on my first attempt with faux fur. Making a jacket for my youngest DGD and vest for the older two DGD's. I think I will try the fur cuffed gloves too and if I have any left I may do something for their Mom, my DD!
AshleyL said:
AshleyL's picture
Just a little tip. It is so much easier to cut fur with a craft knife than scissors. You don't have to worry about damaging the fur at all since you do it from the backside and only cut the backing.
Egypinay Mie said:
Egypinay Mie's picture
Your tutorial is very clear:'smilies/cry.gif, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to learn fast. Thanks ;smilies/grin.gifsmilies/grin.gif
Michele in IL. said:
Michele in IL.'s picture
thanks! haha, says my comment is too short. So thank you very much, I learned allot from your tutorial.
SheRog said:
SheRog's picture
Looking forward to the blanket project! My daughter's friend wants me to sew one for her, and I've been putting it off because I've never sewn with faux fur before!

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