I can’t say that a fur coat was ever on my sewing list. It all started when I ordered some samples from Croft Mill for myself, and just for the lolz the husband added on a sample of totally cray-cray long pile fur. Things very quickly got out of hand from that moment – When it arrived, he actually really loved it and then requested that I make him a fur coat from it, with Snoop Dogg/Huggy Bear as the inspiration. Basically what he wanted me to make for him was a pimp coat. Errrrrrm sure why not ?
To be fair, Snoop Dogg actually does have some awesome outfits going on in the remake of Starsky and Hutch. I mean – HOW awesome would it be if men dressed like this instead of wearing boring grey suits and stripy shirts to the office? ????
Once we had the fabric for the pimp coat of his, the search for the pattern began. Turns out there aren’t many pimp coat sewing patterns – strange, no? ?? I searched around my usual haunts – eBay and Etsy – and it seemed that it’s actually quite hard to find even “normal” fur coat sewing patterns. I saw a lot of coats-with-fur-collars, but no actual full-on furballs. I stumbled across this Kwik Sew one on eBay and it was deemed acceptable by the husbeast, so I bought it and waited patiently for it to land on the doormat while wondering what I’d let myself in for.
It’s quite a simple pattern, construction-wise – but then it has to be because you’re working with fur. You ain’t sewing no fancy-pants darts or welt pockets into long pile fur, trust me. This was the reason that I was searching so hard for a fur-specific coat pattern, because most regular coat patterns would be too fussy to make with this muppet fur I’d bought.
Feeling like a proper grown-up, I did some research before I went steaming in to this coat as I knew that I’d have to approach pretty much every stage a bit differently, because, y’know, my fabric was like an inch thick and furrier than the dog. And that’s saying something, because our dog is a Floofmeister. (He’s also a fatty, but that’s another story). There was no pre-washing, for a start. I *think* the fabric is washable, but I wasn’t going to risk it turning in to a bird’s nest and have to spend time brushing it out. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
When it comes to cutting out pieces from fur, scissors (not your rotary cutter) are your friend here. What you’re aiming to do is just cut through the knitted backing of the fabric, NOT the pile. It’s easier to place the fur with the pile downwards (and the knitted backing facing up towards you) and keep your scissors as close to the top of the fabric as you can, using small snips of the scissors so that you don’t accidentally go lopping off a chunk of fur. After you have finished cutting, your cutting mat and the surrounding area WILL look like you’ve massacred a muppet family.
**Oh look! There’s our fluffy dog I was talking about.**
When I lined up the pieces of the coat to sew them together, I was careful to tuck the fur pile back away from the seam so that it didn’t all get caught up. for most seams I sewed them as normal on my machine and then ran them through the overlocker afterwards, trimming off as much of the seam allowance as I possibly could. You could alternatively sew the seam with a straight stitch and then manually trim the pile off the seam allowances with scissors, but this seemed like the method with most faff so naturally I went with the overlocker option. Running a double layer of faux fur through the overlocker is NOT an enjoyable experience, for neither me nor the overlocker, and THE FLUFF GETS EVERYWHERE. I REPEAT. THE FLUFF GETS EVERYWHERE.
From this… to this:
After you sew each seam, you then have to go along and unpick the pile out of it from the right side – I used my bamboo point turner for this. Long, but not *too* painful.
I was a bit unsure about whether to put the pockets in the coat or not, as I was worried that doubling up the fur layer on an already thick coat was going to make it look like a puffa jacket… and it did. Once the main body of the coat was put together, we had the first try-on and I could see that those pockets were a bit of a problem. The pocket bags didn’t stay in one place, and they bunched up and made weird little lumps at the sides like he’d been shoplifting oranges. I did consider taking the pockets out completely, but instead I first tried anchoring them down against the main body with little stitches to see if that would help (because I HATE unpicking). Thankfully it did… so no unpicking was needed! Huzzah!
**Yeah. Excuse all the dog hair that’s stuck to the back of the fabric. There came a point where I just didn’t care that everything was covered in both dog hair and fur shavings**
There was a lesson to be learned with this coat, and that lesson was DO NOT GET SLOPPY WITH YOUR MARKINGS WHEN YOU TRACE PATTERNS. With this wonderfully abnormal pattern, you use the same template for the sleeve and the lining but there’s a cutting line about an inch higher than the bottom of the sleeve, which you would *assume* is the lining cutting line. Because linings are always shorter than the sleeve outer, right? WRONG. And how did I find that out? The hard way, that’s how. I actually blame the husband for this one, because he was the one that traced the pieces and didn’t mark the higher cutting line as ‘fur’ not ‘lining’. (yep, I totally got him to trace the pattern pieces for his own coat. Fair trade, no? If I have to sew the coat the least he can do is trace the pieces ??).Not that I’m pointing the finger or anything, but yeah it’s totally his fault. I didn’t realise the error until it came to attaching the lining to the coat, when it became clear that the lining was *extremely* taut in the sleeve – so out came the pattern envelope, the massive sheets were opened up and the fatal error confirmed . Thankfully, the husbeast has got short arms so the sleeves kinda needed to be shortened anyway… so the cuffs were unpicked (the OVERLOCKED cuffs I’ll add, unpicking those was really enjoyable) and an inch lopped off the sleeve. Not only did this make the sleeves the right length but it also went some way to bridging the lining/cuff gap.
The only adjustment I made to this pattern was to take a fair chunk of width out of the sleeve – the sleeve template is pretty wide, and you’re to put in a pleat at the cuff. When I say the sleeves are ‘ pretty wide’. I mean they are insane-in-the-membrane wide and there’s not really any place for them now that we’re no longer in the 80’s. I slimmed it enough so that no pleat was needed.
The coat closes with an elastic loop and a vintage button from a massive tin I bought off ebay for a tenner. The pattern instructs to make ties and attach them into the side seams of the lining – which I thought sounded like a massive effort so I didn’t bother with them – but I shouldn’t have been lazy because actually, they would have allowed the underneath layer of the coat to sit right when the coat is closed. The weight of the front untethered means it just sort of hangs down at a bit of a weird angle… so yeah if you’re in the same sitch, don’t skip the ties.
I survived my first experience of sewing with fur… yes it was a bit intense, what with the fussy cutting methods, the fluff getting everywhere and not to mention the struggle of trying to wield a muppet through the overlocker, but it hasn’t totally put me off. Even the fact that I was breathing in fluff for a fortnight afterwards hasn’t put me off. The best thing though is that the husbeast totally loves it, and that makes all the work 100% worth it. I’m happy that I’ve made something that makes him happy.
The coat has been an almighty success – I’ve lost count of the number of comments from strangers he’s got while wearing it. People have proclaimed their love for it by shouting across the street, and another lady came up to him at London Bridge station just because she had the overwhelming urge to touch it. These photos are once again from our Paris trip earlier in the year, but obvs it was me behind the camera this time instead of in front of it, which actually reminds me how much I enjoy photography. Which then also reminds me how bloody lazy I am because I bought the domain for a website months ago with the intention of using it to showcase all my best/favourite pictures, but of course I’ve done absolutely nothing to get it off the ground yet ? Too many things, too little time ⏰
And finally, just for funzies, his response when I told him he looked like an 80’s version of a grizzly bear. ? I love that after 13 years of marriage he still makes me laugh ?
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a little looky at some of the vintage patterns I’ve bought myself recently ?️?️ Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!
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