Faux fur is big fashion trend this season, but sewing this chunky, furry stuff may seem like quite a task. However, if you take the time to do a little prep and follow a few guidelines it will make sewing with faux fur a snap! If you want to try our Faux Fur Bolero bonus web project (at left) or any other faux fur project, here are some simple tips for sewing success:
Make sure that you choose an appropriate faux fur for your sewing project.
Always consider the weight and pile of the fur. The heavier the fur and the deeper the pile, the trickier it will be to sew. Although this shouldn't scare you away from experimenting with different furs, if this is your first time sewing with fur, start with a lightweight, low-pile fur and work your way up from there.
If you are creating a garment, consider the weight and drape of the fur. You'll want to choose a relatively lightweight fur that is pliable. This will allow for the natural movement of the body as well as comfort. You'll most likely want to line the garment, because the wrong side of faux fur won't be comfortable against the skin. Be sure to choose a lining fabric that will hold up to the bulk of the fur; so nothing too flimsy or filmy.
If the fur will be used only as an accent for a garment, such as on a cuff, collar, or hem, you have a little more leeway in choosing your fur. Although you still want the fur to be appropriate for wear, the fur may not need to be as pliable when used in this manner. However, you'll still want to consider how the fur will feel if it comes into contact with skin.
You'll have even more freedom when choosing a fur for non-garment projects, such as home décor and accessories because the fur doesn't need to be as pliable when used for a pillow or as a funky accent on a handbag.
Do a test sample and tread carefully with your sewing machine.
Regardless of the project you plan to make with faux fur, try sewing on a sample of the fur before you commit to a large amount of yardage, especially if you'd like to try your hand at a thick or high-pile fur.
You may need to adjust the tension and/or presser foot pressure on your sewing machine when sewing multiple layers of fur ue to the thickness of the fabric. Refer to your sewing machine manual for assistance with these adjustments.
If you are sewing a high-pile fur, the pile can get in the way of your seam and cause shifting, tangling, etc. To combat this, comb or brush the pile away from the seam line and check at intervals to make sure that the pile is kept out of the way.
Now, let's do a little test run:
1. Place your fur wrong side up with the nap running toward you. You need to place all pattern pieces in the same orientation on the fur so that the nap runs in the same direction. On a garment, you'll want the nap to run toward the bottom of the garment or away from the body (so on a sleeve, the nap would run toward your hand).
2. Trace your pattern pieces onto the fur, cutting each piece separately (you don't want to fold the faux fur to cut more than one piece at a time). I like to use a brightly colored fine-point permanent marker on faux fur because the markings won't show through to the right side (figure 1). Be sure to clearly mark all notches and don't attempt to clip or cut notches along the edge; they'll be too difficult to see among the pile (figure 2).
3. Cut out your pattern pieces; try to cut only the base fabric of the fur, leaving the pile mostly intact. Then, prepare your seam allowances for sewing. It will be much easier to sew evenly if you trim the pile away along the edge so that you can clearly see where the edges are. With the fabric held over a trash can (to catch the trimmings), trim the pile just along the edge with fabric shears (figure 3).
Note: If you'd prefer (or if you have a high pile that will get in the way), you can trim the pile from the seam allowances before sewing. On the wrong side of the fur, draw a line parallel to the edge, a little shy of the seam allowance (in my case the seam allowances were ½" [1.3 cm]; figure 4). Then, sew a line of staystitching along the drawn line. Turn the fabric right side up and trim the pile up to the stitch line, but not past it (figure 5). Brush any remaining pile away from the seam line.
4. Prepare your sewing machine by installing a ballpoint needle (the base fabric of faux fur is actually a knit) and make sure you use strong all-purpose thread. Set your stitch length to about 3 mm (a zigzag stitch is also appropriate for sewing faux fur). Pin the fur right sides together using long pins and then sew the seam, making sure that you are always sewing with the pile, not against it (figure 6).
5. Press the seam allowances open using a press cloth to protect the fur. Trim any remaining pile from the seam allowances to reduce bulk (figure 7).
6. Use a seam ripper or similar tool to gently pull the pile out of the seams from the right side (figure 8) and use your fingers or a comb to fluff the fur. This will help to camouflage your seams and give your piece a clean, professional look. All done (figure 9)!