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Calling experts on sewing thin hide furs like Fox & Coyo


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I received a pm from Tryxies Trash, our resident fur-designer-in-training, about sewing fur. As I typed, I realized this might be a good topic for the den.

 

Her question was about using a fox wrap she has vs fox pelts on eBay as a hood with trim. So here it is:

 

 

Hi!

 

I only do minor hand repairs. I use a sharp needle and waxed thread and a furbond to reinforce.

 

Fox pelts have very thin hides and dry out within about 15(?) years, so not certain your wrap will hold a stitch well. Be careful buying pelts on eBay, sometimes they are old pelts. Old Fox guardhair can still look very nice on the surface and underneath the hide is literally turn to dust! If you tug on the fur it can come out easily in clumps!

 

As for using a sewing machine, there are specific fur sewing machines. I have them. But, from what I can tell, the real difference with them is the superior ability to control the "fabric". You can tuck the hair back as you stitch, so you know you are actually sewing on the hide and not just the hair. The tool that is used looks like an ice pick. It also is designed to not damage the delicate hide as it moves the fur. Another feature is the fur is "in-your-face" so to speak. So, you really can see what is happening with the seam. It also allows an quality of workmanship not available with a regular sewing machine.

 

A trick I learned in new york is to moisten the fur as you try to work with it. But, they didn't use water. They used pure alcohol I believe, in a spray bottle. But, I am not certain on this. Will see if I can find out. Or, maybe someone knows.

 

There is one other technique that you should know about. It is like a thin sticky sheet of specially designed material called Furbond. I believe it is in our links? If not it should be. You layer it on the fur after sewn to reinforce. It is unique from other products in that it does not dry the pelt. And, it will hold up for several cleanings, which is very hard on a fur.

 

One last thing. Pro's use a sticky seam tape along the seam to stop the fur from stretching as you sew. It is will dry the pelts if you don't remove the tape after sewing.

 

It is important to state I have been trained for a few days by THE BEST. But, I have yet to have the guts to set down at my fur sewing machine! So, take may information with a certain amount of caution. This is an art that can take years and years to learn. And, even then there is more to learn. Check out SAGA's site on all the new fur techniques.

 

But, it also sewing with fur is not to be feared! It is a fabric medium that is just unique. The hardest part is learning style, having patience, and good sewing skills. So, go for it girl!!

 

I hope this helps. And, other fur experts out there please feel free to comment or disagree, or just state a different point of view.

 

OFF, see if you can get your wonderful fur blanket lady to come in and comment. She would be a true expert on this. The reason I say this is she is a pro making blankets, pillow from used furs, fur plates, and new fur pelts. If we could get her to comment that would be just incredible!! (Pat, pretty please!!?)

 

Linda

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OK, I don't know what the original question was, but I will address some of the topics in the answer.

 

1. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER spray your skins with pure alcohol, it will zap all the moisture out of a fur faster than you can say "S**T, what did I do that for???"

 

If you are preparing to cut and sew skins together, you must first nail your skins out overnight to block them (fur side down). What we do prior to this is to moisten them with water from a spray bottle so that you get a little extra give to the skin itself (the water makes the skin pliable and easier to nail). Do not stretch the skin too far or the hair folicles will open up and the skin will either tear or the hair might fall out. We mix two capfuls of alcohol with one quart of water and add to a spray bottle (The alcohol just makes the water dry faster, thats the only purpose of the alcohol). Make sure the skins are DRY before you sew them together or else you will have a puckered seam.

 

2. A fur sewing machine is called a bonus and is the only machine that sews edge to edge, without a seam allowance. This is why you should, and really can only, sew fur on a fur machine and not on a regular sewing machine.

 

3. The seam tape referenced is actually just a pre-cut furbond material. When your skins are nailed out and you are drawing out your pattern on the skins, you will want to use the seam tape to reinforce the shoulders and armpits and other areas that get a lot of wear. While the tape does help the fur from stretching a bit while you sew, this is only a bonus. Its primary objective is to reinforce the seams you are sewing. So, with your fur machine you sew directly over the tape and leave it on there for extra reinforcement.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Tsarevich Furs

www.tsarevich.com

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T/S Furs,

 

Thank you!

 

On the alcohol, thanks for clarifying that. I am talking with New York this next week. I will have to find out what they were talking about.

 

Question: You block and nail remodeled fur? I watched remodeled furs being done in New York and that was not done. Also, most individuals will not have a nailing board and supplies. Is there a substitute you could recommend?

 

As for the sewing machine. The same stitch can be done with a regular sewing a machine can't it? I have watched it being done on both.

 

On the seam tape, maybe we are not speaking of the same thing. What I was sold in New York, I was told does dry your pelts if left on. It is not the same as furbond at all.

 

The important thing that our members need to remember is working with fur is a different medium. But, it is not something that requires you to be a fur expert. It is something that has unique needs and you can experiment with inexpensive pieces to learn.

 

The original question came from one of our members who is learning to work with fur in fashion.

 

Pat, the lady I spoke of before, promised to come on and give us her pointers in a week or two.

 

Linda

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Linda,

 

We don't work with old furs all that often, only when clients bring in their older pieces they want restyled. When we restyle an older fur, we usually take the entire coat apart skin by skin and resew, ensuring that the seams are tighter and the fur will last that much longer, so yes, we renail and reblock the fur we are redesigning~~its all about craftsmanship with us, we don't cut corners, much.

We don't have a nailing table either, but rather a room where we nail to boards of homosote laid down on the floor. One can purchase homosote at the hardware store for about 20$ for a 4' x 8' sheet and then cut to fit your workspace. We also use an office stapler to "nail" the skins down. Both make nailing skins easier.

 

a fur machne and a home singer sewing machine cannot make the same stich. As said before, a fur machine sews skins flat, edge to edge with short tight stiches that run perpendicular to the edge of the skin. There is no seam allowance. That said, if one is crafting with fur onto clothing, one can use a home singer machine, but since there will be a seam allowance, the seam between fabric and fur will not be flat and will not look "the best." What fur machines do is allows every hair on a skin to face outwards, a regular machine will grab the fur for the seam allowance and make it really difficult to sew through and you will have hairs from the fur poking inside the garment and sticking straight outside the garment around the seam, making an unsightly puckered seam. Using a regular machine essentially doubles the time and effort it takes to sew fur.

I have seen used fur machines on Ebay every so often. For a fashion designer who wants to work with fur, it would be a good investment. We buy ours used from a sewing machine reconditioner for anywhere from $600-1000 depending on the model.

 

I'm not sure what type of tape you were sold. Ask for cold press tape next time, it is meant to strengthen your seams and is meant to stay on. Take one of the used furs you sell and peak through the bottom of the lining at the verso of the fur and you will see cold press tape used on the seams. (you can also get an idea what kind of seam a fur machine makes by examining them on the back of the coat).

 

Tsarevich Furs

www.tsarevich.com

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I have heard that fur garments have been hand made by professionals.

 

Many of our members are sewing to make repairs to inexpensive garments, accessories, blankets, pillows, and fur trim.

 

Bob and I only do hand sewing. Although, as I have stated, I have 4 reconditioned machines, plus 2 leather machines. We use a sharp needle and waxed thread. We also reinforce our furs where ever we see the need with Furbond.

 

Do you have any thoughts about this?

 

Just for future clarification for members, the Bonis is a brand of fur machine, there are others. It is such a common brand that most "Pros" call all machines Bonis. Kind of like Kleenex. They come in two styles, called A & B, as well as custom altered versions. They are for furs like mink and then the second kind is for furs like Beaver. The manufacturer that I work with in New York also has a customized machine for Chinchilla, due to its fragile hide.

 

The tape I have is cold tape. If this tape can be used as you are recommending, it would really save us time and we also would not have to uses as much furbond, which is much harder to work with.

 

I am very interested in talking with New York about a few other things, too. I am so glad you mentioned the alcohol issue. I had been told that with older furs not to use water. I will find out right away. I could have completely misunderstood. You may have saved me a good fur!

 

Thanks so much.

 

Linda

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Linda: We do use fur bond where needed, but very sparingly for the following reasons:

 

1. Its a relatively new product (I think about 2.5 years) and though the manufacturer says it doesn't dry out furs, that has yet to be seen as the test of time hasn't come into play. We do like the fact that it is available on the market though.

 

2. If a skin is in need of fur bond, we may not use it as that skin is well on its way to being dry and shedding, and we don't want that to happen to the furs we redesign for clients. We'd rather turn away a client with her mother's old dry coat than charge her for something she'll only get another year or two wear from.

 

3. That said, we will fur bond when we are making pillows for clients out of their own coats.

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Refur wrote:

 

"It is such a common brand that most "Pros" call all machines Bonis. Kind of like Kleenex. They come in two styles, called A & B, as well as custom altered versions. They are for furs like mink and then the second kind is for furs like Beaver."

 

It is true that there are two common models of Bonis brand, an A & B model. The A model works on all fur hides from beaver to mink to fox to chinchilla. The A model uses more stiches per square inch. The B model is a tougher version, having a larger needle and thicker wheels that move the fur along. The B model is best for thicker hides such as sheepskin and cowhide, or more simply for "livestock"

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I agree. I have only used the furbond on wearable cutter furs. And, for clients who insist on minor repairs on old coats that absolutley have to have it.

 

But, for many of our members who have furs for just private enjoyment, this is something that can be of value.

 

Linda

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Talked with New York today and had a chance to clarify the issue of alcohol vs water. This is the explanation they gave me.

 

The reason that you would add either is to allow pelts to be stretched without tearing them.

 

The issue that determines what you use is affected by age of the pelt. Any fluid cause the hide to "breakdown" and removes some of the natural oils, which is drying and shortens the life of the fur.

 

This "breakdown" is in direct correlation to drying time. The longer it takes to dry, the more the hide "breakdown."

 

When the fur mechanic determines the condition of the pelts he decides what mixture he will use. If the pelt is older, the immediate drying time of the alcohol is less damaging than the water. That is why I saw him use the 100% alcohol. It was a mink that was on its last remodel. Usually if a fur is to this point they recommend teddy bears or pillows. But, some clients insist on a vest or cape.

 

When I was there I was discussing making pillows with some of my old furs, so that is why he told me to use the alcohol. He also explained why. But, as with many things they tried to fill my head with, it just did not all stick! This was a great way for me to final tie it all together.

 

Maybe some of the others can add more to this.

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I missed your post about the differences in an A & B machines.

 

I didn't know that! I had somehow understood that it had to do with the dense longhair furs like beaver and the shorter hair furs, like mink.

 

Good to know!

 

Thank you!

 

Linda

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Thanks for the info guys. For what I planned on sewing I think I'll wing it with a domestic sewing machine and see what happens, its experimental and old fur anyway so nothing is lost. There was a fur sewing machine on ebay UK, going cheap, but I have nowhere to put it, it was on a cast iron frame, and they wanted me to collect, so I passed on it.

 

Tryxie

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