5 tips to sewing the perfect fur coat

5 tips to sewing the perfect fur coat

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Rachal from Rachal & the Redbones showed up at my door with a bag full of blinding white faux fur and a blurry photo of the top half of a vintage coat. She couldn’t find it anywhere, and knew if it existed it’d be perfect for her music video.


I had a week to make it happen, and I really wanted to make it happen for her. To make the perfect oversized fur coat, I'll summarize the pattern drafting process as brief as possible. I took her measurements, then added 2" in the shoulders (with a .5" seam allowance all around), 4" to the width, and 2" to the length. I added 4" to the sleeve length. This is your tip #1.

I then transposed those numbers onto poster board to act as my sloper, and cut the pieces out. The goal was to create the big, oversized look that made this jacket oh so cuddly and vintage.

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Cutting faux fur

I opted to make it out of five pieces:
- collar (2)
- front left side
- front right side
- back piece
- sleeves (2)

I then cut the lining:
- front left side
- front right side
- back piece
- interior pocket
- sleeves (2)

The biggest lesson (tip #2) to be learned in cutting out pieces of fur is to JUST CUT THE FABRIC.. NOT THE FUR. If you approached cutting fur the way you would regular fabric, you're going to see choppy spots near your seams, because some of these furs have long (2-3") fibers, and simply cutting a straight line is going to mess with the direction the fur lays. So when cutting furs, we turn it upside down, and using only the tip of your scissors, cut through the base fabric. This protects the fur from getting scalped, and protects your surface from a nightmare-ish invasion of faux fur strands). After a few emergency stops to pull those invisible strands of faux fur out of my eyes that must've been floating through the workspace (OUCH), it was time to make a jacket.

Sewing the fur together

By cutting the front pieces wide, the lapel is already attached and ready to fold to the inside. Short of creating a liner, I set my machine on a long stitch (.5") and pieced these fuzzy pieces together and we had the makings of a luxurious fur coat. The most critical part to sewing with faux fur (or regular fur, for that matter) is the size stitch. A half-inch stitch is just large enough to pick the fur out of the seams so that the finished product appears seamless (tip #3). I added a stay stitch around the collar for good measure, and stitched the two collar pieces right sides together. After flipping right side out, picking all the fur out of the exterior seam, and topstitching the raw edge, I attached the collar to the jacket. Next step: Dipping it in black tea.

Yes. You read that right. I passed the jacket off to Rachal to dip it in black tea. The fur was just too bright-white, so a good soak in black tea (tip #4) took the snow white color away and gave it a vintage-inspired glow. After a solid rinse cycle and hang dry, Rachal passed it off to me once more and I set it up for a polished finish.

Next step: Flipping the lapels in and installing the liner.

Once the lapels were turned in, I sewed the neck/shoulders of liner to the collar/neck of the jacket and turned the liner right side out so it fit into the jacket. I then turned up the cuffs on the sleeve and hand stitched the raw edges under to cover the raw liner's edges.

Once the sleeves were finished out, I folded the fur's raw edge under and continued to tack it down all the way throughout the lapels and the jacket's bottom edge. Fur seam allowances need more than you'd think because of bulk, so anyone working with faux fur should double the amount of seam allowance they think they need (tip #5). This gives you room to flip the raw edge up under itself, and ensures you won't see the liner should the jacket peek open, or they raise their sleeve.

 "Don't go, it'll be finished any minute!" This was one of my last custom pieces I made at home before moving into my studio.

"Don't go, it'll be finished any minute!" This was one of my last custom pieces I made at home before moving into my studio.

A week later Rachal came over to try it on for the first time and I watched that quiet, satisfied smile of hers creep into the mirror. My favorite thing ever was when she kept staring at herself saying “I just never thought I'd have this jacket.” Which is funny, because I never thought I’d be drafting a pattern from scratch and sewing a fur coat in the middle of April. 

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 Seriously though, how perfect does it look on her?? 

Seriously though, how perfect does it look on her?? 

I'm really happy with how it turned out, and I think she is too. She’s the next Bonnie Raitt with a voice that’ll chill your ears and heat your soul at the same time, and her music video for “Stay” just went live, so here it is:

What's in my mobile sewing suitcase

What's in my mobile sewing suitcase

Tour prep: Home Free

Tour prep: Home Free