Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fun with Fur

I recently had the pleasure of refashioning a mink coat for a client into a muff as a Christmas gift for her SIL.   Honestly?  I had so much fun with this project.  I love to work with fur and leather and ripping things apart to see how they've been put together.  

This coat is in great shape and the first cut really scared me (I hope she's sure about this!).  I started by taking a stitch ripper to the lining and separating it from the coat.  You can see in this picture that fur coats are actually made by joining thin strips of fur together using a specialized machine for sewing fur.  You can also see the twill tape hand stitched along the hem and as a waist stay.

Often when opening up a fur coat, you will find sawdust that has settled into the hem or facings.  Not to worry!!  It's just a product of how the skins are cleaned.  Mind you, it can sometimes be a little alarming nonetheless:)

When cutting fur, it is very important not to cut the hairs, so scissors are out of the question.  I use a very sharp exacto knife to carefully cut the hide and then separate the fur with my fingers. 

Once I had my pattern cut out, I stitched twill tape (both new and that salvedged from the coat) to the seam allowances and whip stitched my pieces together by hand. My first iteration had the muff lined with some kasia and the coat lining, but when I tried it on to admire it, it didn't feel very warm and cozy.  So I took it out and lined it with fur.  Ahhhh, much better. 

I added a ribbon to go around the wearer's neck, accessorized it with a little mink pompom and voila!  A muff.  (please ignore the errant thread in the pic below!)

Gorgeous if I do say so myself.  I'm addicted -- I can't wait to do more projects like this!!  There's still plenty left of the coat so a stole is up next.  Squee!!!!!

I love that this project took something that wasn't being used and made it into a stylish accessory that is functional and that will hopefully get a lot of use.  I know fur is somewhat of a touchy subject for many people, but this way we are making sure to get as much use out of the skins as possible and extending the life cycle of the animals that went into it -- something I feel strongly about in this throw away time of our society. 

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