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Sewing with fur pelts

fbksak_fella's picture

Does anyone have any advise on sewing with fur pelts? I'm open to any suggestions at this point having just aquired several beaver pelts that are tanned and ready to put to use. I want to leave the guard hairs intact for a thicker look but other than that....... Anyone have experience with sewing natural furs?


Thanks, Patrick!

 

fashionlizard's picture

(post #22210, reply #1 of 8)

Sewing pelts.... all instructions for sewing leather apply and in addition, you want to comb the fur away from the edge where you will be sewing the seam.
There are some really experienced sewers of leather on this site, so hopefully one of them will chime in, but the thing to remember is that holes are forever! Really make sure that you have your machine settings tested on scrap before sewing your garment. I would use a slightly longer stitch than normal so as not to make perforations in the leather too close together. There are special leather needles that make it easier for your home machine to sew through more layers. My experience is that fur pelts have more fragile skin than say...buckskin type leather. In fact, some of the skin seems *really* thin in parts depending on what part of the animal you are looking at.... and you will want to make sure that any sections that are thin are not used in areas of high stress in your garment.


Fashion Lizard

Fashion Lizard

sewingkmulkey's picture

(post #22210, reply #2 of 8)

Patrick,


My grandmother (who taught me to sew) was a furrier with clients all over the country in the 40's, 50's and 60's.  She mainly did restoration to fur garments.  I remember that she had a "prized" machine that specifically sewed seams on pelts but before she acquired it she employed ladies to hand stitch the seams using a stitch similar to a buttonhole stitch and the stitches were very small and unobtrusive.  I personally have several pelts from her (30+ years old) that I've used as trim on garments and have treated them very gently (sewing by hand) with good success.


Good luck!


Karen

fbksak_fella's picture

(post #22210, reply #3 of 8)

Thanks for the input. I'm aware of the hand sewing methods but I am looking to machine sew as much as possible. There are a lot of natives here in Alaska who sew furs by hand and it seems to take forever though their results are often amazing. I don't reall want to spend the money to buy an actual fur sewing machine which compresses the pelts and sews with a needle from the side like the commerical furiers do. I'm using a fairly good quality Viking and I do have a serger as well that I can use without the blade attached.


Any construction tips??????


Thanks again!


Patrick

 

GorgeousThings's picture

(post #22210, reply #4 of 8)

Patrick, I haven't sewn with beaver, but I have sewn with mongolian lamb, which is a hairy pelt. When I buy the lamb, it is already pieced together into a rectangle, so I don't have to worry about piecing the pelts. But I think much of what I do will be applicable to you. First I trace my pattern onto the skin, using a sharp marker. I cut the pattern out, using very sharp scissors, being careful only to cut the skin, not the fur. Once the pieces are cut, I gently separate them from the rest of the skin, pulling the hair along with them. I trim the hair from my seam allowances with an embroidery scissors. When sewing, I make sure to keep the fur out of the seam allowances using my fingers to smooth it away from the presser foot. Other than that, I treat it pretty much as I do leather - using binder clips to hold pieces together while sewing, using a teflon foot and leather needle.

Good luck - what are you making?
Ann

fbksak_fella's picture

(post #22210, reply #5 of 8)

Thanks for the info, sounds like the same way you'd sew faux fur. I'm going to make a beaver coat for my wife. I live in Fairbanks, Alaska and it tends to get pretty cold up here in the winter. I have only limited experience with fur but a good bit with leather. From what you tell me you are working with fur plates.... my problem is that I'll have to make up my own plates before I can begin coat construction. My only real option seems (if I want it done right) to hand stich the pelts together in order not to see any seams where they join. Beaver is very round in shape when it's tanned so I guess I'll just have a lot of scraps. Any waste is expensive so I'm doing as much research as I can before I start tossing money away. I'm already at the $400.oo mark just in pelts but hey....I'm committed now, right! ;-)  Also if I get out of this project for under $1000.oo I'll be a very happy camper!


Patrick


 

 

GorgeousThings's picture

(post #22210, reply #6 of 8)

Patrick, it may not help right now, but the pelts were sewn together using a merrow machine. I think there is a specialized version for fur. I'm sure someone else on this forum will know. It may be worthwhile looking into one at some point if this becomes more engrossing.

Good luck! I can't wait to see your final result
Ann

evanthiaemig's picture

(post #22210, reply #7 of 8)

Yes, I agree, we always used fur strips with a seamallownace added to the edge, such as the coyote fur attached to a parka, you just sewed close to the fur itself, but not right on it, but very close.  or another way is to "bind the edges" depends on what you are attaching it to and how large the piece is


evanthia

raven2run's picture

(post #22210, reply #8 of 8)

I am a home tanner and have worked with many kinds of haired/furred, and not haired hides. I have also worked with commercially tanned hides and they are generally more consistent in thicknesses of hide. I agree, cutting the fur away from the seam is important or it will stick out from the seam, rather than laying flat..plus be bulky plus make sewing crazy making. Although I prefer to do most by hand, I have used a machine when it seems to be easier. I use a zig sag stitch, and if the hide is thin also add a thin strip of light weight bias cut cloth in between to give it more strength. That can take more attention so it doesn't show and has to be fed carefully. If the bottom hide seems to be dragging on the plate will add thin strip of tissue on the bottom piece, then take off as much as I can when done for a cleaner look..not that it really matters. If push comes to shove will glue the seams together first with leather glue as thin as will hold, as it can catch your needle and gum it up if too thick. Its been awhile, but as I recall there are needles for leather for sewing machines that don't have a round tip, but angular like hand sewing leather needles. You might want to look around for those.


Hope this helps.


Eileen