Welcome to February everyone! Can you believe the first month of the year is over already? I. Just. Can’t.
Almost a year ago, we were in Paris, fabric shopping and photographing a few makes for the blog in the freak snowfall they were having.
If you were reading the blog back then, you’ll likely remember THAT fur coat that I made for the husbeast photographed outside Hôtel de Ville:
(Which I actually stole from him last week to wear to work, when it was freezing cold. I was happy to discover that the coat is really comfy and super warm. I was worried about the open collar – usually I prefer coats that fasten all the way up – but I can confirm that the coat is a total furnace after wearing it for about five minutes. I also discovered that the pocket bags could do with being a little bit bigger and there should really be a tie on the inside to hold the inner front panel in place – improvements to make for the next one!)
The Handsome Husbeast been hankering for another fur coat ever since I finished that one – and while we do have some brown fur stashed away for that very same purpose (which I got from the Knitting and Stitching show a couple years back, saved from being bought by a woman who was eyeing it up to make teddy bears with ????♀️?) I haven’t yet got started on it – mainly because we’re not 100% settled on the pattern to use.
Vintage Kwik Sew 1476 was the pattern that I used for the first fur coat:
(One of the successes from my 2018 Make Nine)
I’ve also got this vintage Simplicity 5225 pattern that I recently snaffled off eBay, which could be a contender for the aforementioned brown fur:
For myself, I have that ridiculously bright pink fur that I picked up from Mood Fabrics in NYC which as yet has a fate undecided. Fur coat patterns seem to be few and far between (and nearly all of them vintage – more specifically from the 80’s) so at the moment my only options are the two patterns you see above. Based on my experience of wearing the Kwik Sew coat last week, I think I’d like to use that same pattern for my pink fur… but let’s see.
THE HUSBEAST GETS YET ANOTHER FUR COAT
When Minerva Crafts asked for product testers for some faux fur, I jumped at the chance – fur fabric is usually quite expensive so it would give me the opportunity to practice my fur-techniques without the hefty price tag. The fur on offer was more the husbeast’s colours than mine, so it was destined to become something for him. We’ll swiftly move on from the fact that I’ve now made TWO fur coats for him and zero for myself ?
Rather than make another pimp coat – although pimp coats are totally cool – we settled on a bomber jacket. This Burda number, to be precise:
No pockets, nothing complicated – just what I was looking for. A couple of metres made its way to me, and Fur Coat Round Two began.
**(In the end, there was a good piece of those two metres left over, which we’ve loosely talked about turning into a blanket for the already spoiled daddy’s girl that is Leela the dog. She already has many – MANY – blankets, and knows that if she wants to get out of her bed and into ours in the middle of the night because she’s ‘cold’ there’s only one person that’s gonna budge up and sleep in an awkward position to make room of her. Clue – it ain’t me)**
the spoiled princess’s Leela’s current overnight sleeping situation. If it’s *really* cold, a hot water bottle can be found underneath her. That white blanket under her head is actually my christening blanket which I inherited from my Mum… she kept it for all those years just for me to give it to the dog ???
We decided that view A of the Burda jacket would be made, but with the fur collar from view B (rather than the ribbed collar of A).
FUR-ST THINGS FIRST
I remembered quite quickly what I’d learned from making the first fur coat – that the prep takes just as long as the sewing. If you only remember one thing about sewing with fur – let it be check, double check, and then TRIPLE check that you’ve got the nap going the right way before you even bring the scissors anywhere near it. There ain’t no going back if you cut it out the wrong way up. And yes – use scissors, not the rotary cutter. You only want to snip the knitted backing of the fabric, not the actual pile – otherwise your finished coat might end up looking like it’s had a proper dodgy haircut.
Even if you’ve cut fur before, nothing quite prepares you for the amount of trimmings that end up on the floor, up your nose, stuck to your clothes, and stuck to the dogs/cats/anything that moves. Keep the hoover nearby, because you’re defo gonna need it after you’ve finished cutting your pieces out. It’s going to look like you’ve murdered the cast of Sesame Street. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
As far as actually sewing the fur fabric goes, a ballpoint needle will work better (so that the needle tip doesn’t split the fibres of the backing) and those little wonder-clip-thingies will work better than pins, especially if you have thick long pile fur. Also, don’t forget that after sewing each seam you’re going to want to unpick all the fur that’s been caught in it – I use my point turner to do this but a crochet hook or knitting needle will also work just fine ??
To reduce bulk, after sewing each seam I went along (with scissors) and trimmed the excess fur from the seam allowances, and then hand stitched them open against the main body of the coat. It didn’t actually take as long as I thought it would, and gave quite a nice finish. I’ll do this on future fur-makes. You could also use an electric shaver to trim the bulk on the seam allowances – but I’m not too sure how it’ll fare with facial hair once it’s been used on fur. If you’re planning on making a lot of fur garments, it might be worth investing in a cheap one just for fabric (the same way you have fabric scissors), but I got along just fine without.
Sewing with fur isn’t as tricky as you think it might be, especially if you go in with some level of knowledge of what you’re letting yourself in for. My regular domestic sewing machine and overlocker handles fur just fine (although you might want to clean the overlocker afterwards!)
This fur (available from Minerva Crafts here) has a couple of stripes running down it, which I managed to get central on the back piece and also tried to mirror as best I could on the front pieces. The sleeves I’m not sure I really matched, but hey. You can’t win ’em all.
The actual construction of the jacket was pretty quick, and simple – but then patterns which are drafted for faux fur usually are, because you’ve got so much going on already with the thick pile that you ain’t got room for fancy welt pockets or darts.
The jacket is meant to fasten with snaps, but we decided to leave the jacket without a closure. This is mainly because for some reason, it’s given itself (pretty oversized!) lapels and naturally falls open like a blazer ??♀️ One side of the front seems to have twisted itself and the fold along the centre front isn’t straight. Not really sure how that happened… I transferred the centre front markings, and I even had the stripes to help me keep it straight, but its gone off-grain somewhere along the line. If we try to hold the jacket closed as it’s meant to be, it all looks a little bit weird ?
I think it actually looks better open, with the massive pointy collar. Not sure I’d actually want to hand stitch snaps into that fur anyway, so maybe I had a lucky escape!
I know that Burda have a bit of a reputation for *cough* crap instructions but this pattern wasn’t too bad. To be fair though, this was quite a simple make and it would actually be quite the achievement to balls it up so much that a simple garment became hugely complex ??♀️?
The lining that I’ve used is also from Minerva (here)- we wanted to keep with the animal theme so went with brown animal print. It’s quite pretty and works well with the fur, but I am going to try and use linings that aren’t polyester satin in future – I don’t really like working with them, and they always fray like a bastard. And they’re not particularly breathable and can get a bit sweaty. In an ideal world, I’d prefer to use silk linings (which doesn’t actually stop the fraying issue, but would feel nicer) but I almost get the shakes at the thought of spending upwards of £20 per metre on lining fabric. BUT – make less and make better, right? ??
I’ve got that cashmere fabric that I bought in Paris last year to make us coats from, and it would be an absolute crime to line them in cheap polyester. So for those, I think I’ll have to bite the bullet, but it’s really hard to find a good selection of quality fabrics in a crazy print. Spoonflower would be IDEAL if only they could print on to silk satin rather than polyester satin. There’s a UK company that prints onto silk satin – Contrado – but unlike Spoonflower where the designs are there for you to choose from, with Contrado you have to design your own ? And although it would be cool to try, I ain’t no graphic designer. I’d rather let someone else with more talent be the designer, and I concentrate on the sewing. Fashion Formula is another UK option, but again they only print on poly fabrics (and cotton) as well.
SO HOW DID IT TURN OUT?
Despite the pattern being drafted for a lady of 5’5, and the husband being 5’5, it’s come out a little short on him. Longer male torso, perhaps ??
The pattern is designed for fur (always a good start – you don’t want any fussy patterns if you’re working with fur), but they have you gathering fur for this jacket. That wasn’t going to happen, basically. You’re meant to gather the fur to the length of the waistband ribbing, but I thought that a better way to achieve this – surely – was instead to stretch the ribbing to the length of the fur, and stitch. That way, when the ribbing springs back to its non-stretched size, the fur will shrink with it, and – ta da! – gather itself. I don’t have a wonderful track record when it comes to even gathering, so this approach seemed like a win-win for me. I’m pleased to report it seems to have been successful.
This was the first time I’d used ribbing on a garment (I have a Wardrobe By Me Bomber jacket in progress but I haven’t actually got to attaching the rib yet), and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. We did actually consider shortening the cuff ribbing to the same length as the rib around the waist, because those cuffs looked LONG – but we left it as is. Just as well, because if we’d have shortened it the sleeves wouldn’t have been long enough.
Rather than a fur bomber jacket, what we’ve ended up with is a cropped jacket, which doesn’t close. Funnily enough, it’s much like my blazer that was on the blog last week, and just as unsuccessful ? Despite me thinking it looks bloody amazing on the husbeast, he’s not convinced of its practicality – if it’s cold enough for a fur coat, you’re probably going to want an actual full length fur coat rather than a jacket. And one that you can close, to keep the icy wind/snow/hail/generally crap British weather out.
So we’re using it as a statement piece, rather than a practical piece. What was intended as a regular jacket has turned into some sort of 70’s glam outfit… but it’s TOTALLY cool, right?! When we realised that this is what it had become, we started searching for a pair of glam boots for the photoshoot – but ran out of time and never found anything ??♀️ So my trusty eBay bargain from a few years back came into play – and I actually think they look pretty good. I mean, sure, it would be better if they weren’t open-toe, but they are the best we could do at short notice. I think the style works pretty well, and the husbeast put black socks on so the open toe wasn’t so in-ya-face.
**Total respect for him wearing the shoes, but it was pretty funny to watch him try and walk in them. It’s just as funny as watching a dog wearing shoes. I think he now has a newfound respect for guys that wear heels – especially stilettos – on a regular basis.
Yes, I spent a good ten minutes watching gifs of dogs walking in shoes while choosing this one. Cats in shoes, as well. And dogs eating raindrops. And carrying their puppies in carrier bags in their mouths. It was the best.
In other news, this week just gone was our first four-day week – eeeep! We spent our Friday getting all our fabric and zips and bits and pieces in order – they were all kind of strewn about all over the show but now we have some proper storage solutions to keep everything organised. I figured that we should probably start as we mean to go on, and get stuff tidy before we start going crazy making stuff. We also used the day to give the house a good sort out and get rid of all the pointless stuff we seem to have accumulated over the last year or so. I’d really love to embrace the whole ‘minimalist’ thing, but the husbeast is a hoarder ? I just chuck out stuff when he’s not looking, and so far he’s not missed anything ?
As we don’t have any shelving in the room, but we had two wardrobes that could be emptied, we bought a couple of those wardrobe organiser things and now the fabric looks much better ???
I had a proper sort out of my dressmaking fabric a couple of weeks ago, organising stuff into piles to keep, scraps to throw out, and pieces to donate. I gave a lady a couple of bin liners full via Freecycle, which helped clear a bit of space. Now all I need to do is get moving with reviewing the fabric stash apps that are out there, to see which one helps me manage it best! I know we’re only a month in, but I’ve kept to my New Years resolution of not buying any fabric for things that doesn’t get paired with something I already have. So that means if I’m making a skirt from denim I already have, it’s okay to buy lining to go with it if I don’t actually have anything suitable. I already have many beautiful fabrics at home and I intend to use them rather than let them sit there, so makes this year will be either from Minerva fabrics (as part of my Blogger Network posts) or from fabric I already have ??
It’s so refreshing to have a clear out, don’t you think? I’m not one for cleaning, but I love chucking stuff out ?
If it’s cold and snowing where you are, as it is in London, I wish you a Sunday full of warm tea, blankets, a good book and cuddles with fluffy furkids*
*(If fluffy furkids aren’t available, you could instead wrap yourself in leftover faux fur or fleece fabric).
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some more pics of the Handsome Husbeast – 70’s glam edition ??
Next week I’m talking about something a little different – craft subscription boxes! ?
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