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Repurposing or "crafting" furs


maktak
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Has anyone actually taken out an old coat and turned it into something else? E.g. a muff, a stole, a pair of mittens...? I hear stories about it here and there and the decent amount of "craft cutter" coats on eBay suggest this is very much a thing. What's it like? Supposing I wanted to remodel an old coat; any tips for DIY or commissioning someone else?

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I’ve never had the opportunity to buy a craft cutter coat and I’ve never taken a crack at sending one off to a furrier for recycling purposes. But my advice to you or anyone else who seeks to pursue these types of fur is this:

 

1) Let the buyer beware. I know that these coats are already junkers by their very nature, but unless you have the chance to inspect the pelts up close before you buy, you need to be careful what you spend your money on. This is especially significant if you are purchasing something online from an independent seller. A coat might look acceptable in pictures but does the seller indicate that ther extent of damage matches what is present in the photographs? Do the pelts have an odor? Do they seem dried out? If the answer is yes, then it might be better to hold onto your money until something else comes along because coats that are in that bad of shape are rarely salvageable.

 

2) This kind of project requires a steady hand with needles and thread. Unless you know someone who works in the bespoke industry or can restyle an old fur, don’t attempt repairs on your own craft cutter coat. Just because you put together a half decent tote bag back in Home economics when you were in 6th grade, it doesn’t mean you are qualified to take apart a coat that used to cost $10,000 or more. Talk. To. Experts. It may cost more than the $200 you spent in purchasing the coat, but what you spend in money, you earn in dividends through their experience.

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Panther10 made some very good points. Caveat Emptor

 

To properly sew fur, you need a fur sewing machine which can cost over $2000 used, or some leather sewing needles. If going for the manual method with a leather needle be aware that the leather of a fur piece can be quite tough and hard to poke a needle through. Leather needles are triangular toward the pointed end and quite sharp so that they cut a hole for the thread. Regular round needles do not make a sufficient hole for the thread.

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I have played around with this myself. I bought a old horizontal design 3/4 length mink for $100 . The skins were in excellent condition for a coat I think must have been at least 30 yrs old. The quality of the construction of the coat really impressed me, it was very well reinforced in the seams and shoulders. I bought a $100 Singer HD that can stich through a wooden yard stick( I tried it!) . I was able to sew the fur after some practice. You will not get a furrier machine type seam that lays completely flat and invisible however if you sew as close to the edge as possible you CAN sew fur with a conventional machine. I found that using masking tape on the back side of the fur keeps the stich from "bunching" up. For making throws, hats or mittens it will be fine.

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I found that using masking tape on the back side of the fur keeps the stich from "bunching" up. For making throws, hats or mittens it will be fine.
A word of caution - most glues used on various tapes will dry out the leather rather quickly if left on the leather. Thus always remove the tape after sewing the seam.
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I'm quite surprised to read that some here seem to be blocked by the idea of even try to sew fur by hand, which is quite simple. No need to get leather needles (regular quilting needles are perfect, I only use that model), no need to have a professionnal fur sewing machine (here in France we can found second hand ones under 500 €), only one stitch to know (here : http://yesterdaysthimble.com/tutorials/basic-hand-sewing/ choose Overcast Stitch, one of the simpliest to do)... And when sewing, just go slowly and take some time to push the hairs inside the seem to get a seam

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The tape is removed after stitching. You could use seam reinforcement also, I just didn't have any. Yes hand stitching will always work, just takes longer. I just wanted people to know that it is possible and if you feel like giving it a try you should!

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