Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fee Fi Faux Fur

Faux fur is everywhere in fashion this fall; vests, coats, even skirts and purses. The last time I sewed faux fur was back in the 80’s when it was called fake fur, and the craft world was experiencing a make your own teddy bear craze. Anybody else remember that? I believe I still have bear eyes and joints in a closet somewhere. In September, on an unseasonably hot day when the temperature was over 100 degrees F, I was checking the upholstery flat fold table at JoAnne’s Fabrics and found all kinds of faux fur on the bottom shelf. Nice feeling, realistic looking fur at reasonable prices. After getting 2 different pieces cut to length, I was standing in the cashier’s line and noticed the lady behind me eyeing my armful of fur with a funny look on her face. I was thinking, she must wonder why in the world I am buying fur in this weather. Sure enough she finally said “That looks hot” and I just burst out laughing.
I can now say I have sewn faux fur clothing. A vest and a jacket. It was definitely a learning experience. Translation - frustrating at times, hot, and messy. Both furs had a nap, and that had to be factored in when laying out the pattern pieces, which had to be cut from single layers of the fur. The fur backing was a knit, but not one with any recovery. All curved seams had to be stay stitched to prevent distortion. I used what I think is a pair of bandage cutters (we found it in my FIL’s things when he passed away) to cut out the garment pieces. These cutters have short, narrow, pointed blades that make it easy to cut the backing without cutting the fur fibers.

Fur Fashion - Vest

Fur vests look good on celebrities that I know are smaller and shorter than me, so I thought I might be able to wear one without looking too silly.
The fur I used for my vest had long pile, about 2.5 inches,in a soft tan color with longer hairs tipped in black. It reminds me of the fur of the Husky breed of dog. I went through my patterns looking for a long vest and found Vogue 8000, a Sandra Betzina pattern.

All the shaping in this vest was done with seams. It included a side panel with inseam pockets. The pile was so long I could not sew a seam without first trimming all the fur from the seam allowance. I did the trimming at one time, working outside over an unfolded newspaper.

Once that was done, sewing went quickly. I lined the vest to the edge. I did not use the collar piece provided in the pattern.
I love my family, but the Chewbacca (hairy Star Wars character) jokes get a little old. Just for that I am not going to help rake leaves. I will supervise from the Adirondack chairs.

Fur Fashion - Jacket

The jacket fur was a soft gold leopard print with short ½ inch pile. I was inspired by these photos.
I wanted a short jacket that was loose enough to wear over a dress or top, but with a little bit of shaping. I picked Kwik Sew pattern 3531.

Kwik Sew patterns come in Small, Medium and Large (S, M, L). Depending on where your actual body measurements fall within the range of a size, the finished garment may have a little or a lot of ease. The Medium size jacket’s finished measurements (measured from the pattern pieces) were 4” larger than my body measurements, which was fine for my purposes. There were darts on the front bodice and the sleeves for a little shaping and I added back shoulder darts. Darts were easy to sew in the low pile fur.

but to make them lie flat, I cut along the dart fold line to about ½ inch from the point and opened the dart wings.
I faced the jacket front with matching synthetic suede. Well, actually I cut the front and collar facings out of the fur and blissfully sewed them to the garments pieces before I realized that was a poor decision which resulted in 4 layers of fur in the center front where the lapels overlapped. I unsewed the fur facings and replaced them with the faux suede facings, which worked much better.
I finished this jacket just in time to wear it over a dark fitted sheath dress to the company sponsored recognition dinner for DH’s 25 years of service. Here is a picture of us heading out the door.
Sorry the photographer was in a hurry and chopped the picture off, but you get the idea. I have also worn this jacket with jeans for a fun casual look.