Today’s faux fur gives you the luxurious look and feel of real fur at a fraction of the price and without harming any animals. Plus, because of recent improvements in fabric manufacturing, it comes in an amazing array of rich colors and lush textures. It truly starts out beautiful on the bolt. But… if you treat faux fur like regular fabric, your project can end up looking like a bad haircut. Not to worry. Once you learn a few tips, you’ll enjoy a whole new world of sumptuous sewing.
Choosing the best project
Basic is better. Faux fur makes simple projects look terrific. And even if you could wrestle the material into intricate twists and turns, that type of detail wouldn’t show up very well; it gets lost in the plush.
Projects specifically designed for faux fur usually make an allowance for fullness. But you can also use it to sew projects not designed for fur. Just choose a simple design with limited seams, and a minimum of pleats, gathers, and darts.
You may also want to substitute zippers and buttonholes with fur hooks. You certainly can insert a zipper into faux fur; it just takes a bit more patience to hold the nap out of the way. Take a look at the S4H Plaid & Faux Fur Pillow Pair project to see how we inserted an invisible zipper.
Fur has a ‘pile’ and a ‘nap’. Pile is the term for the hairs which can be long or short, smooth or fuzzy. Nap refers to the direction in which the hairs lay. Most faux fur (like real fur) has a specific direction to the nap. If you have trouble seeing the way the fur is laying on your fabric, hang it over a chair and step back a little. It should become obvious.
Once you’ve figured out the direction on the nap, mark it on the back of the fabric. You’ll want the nap going in the same direction on all your pieces. Otherwise, when your project is finished, it will look like a bad taxidermy job.
In fact, you should do all your fabric tracing and marking on the back side of the material.
Here’s where a little patience will pay off with better results. The trick is to cut out your pieces without giving your faux fur a haircut, because it won’t grow back! Below is a photo of what it can look like if you just start hacking away. You’ll have a bald spot when you try to sew the seams together.
When cutting, the idea is to cut only the backing and not the fur pile. Use just the tips of a pair of sharp scissors. With the wrong side facing up, slide the bottom blade of your scissors up right next to the backing.
Cut with short, deliberate snips, being careful to cut just the backing. If you feel a drag, you’re starting to cut the nap. Back off and start again.
Practice cutting on a scrap and you’ll quickly get a feel for it.
Presser foot and needle
In general, a standard presser foot and universal needle are fine for faux fur. Just remember, as always, to start each new project with a new needle. If you have any trouble with your fabric shifting, try a Walking/Even Feed foot or better still, engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, like the amazing Janome AcuFeed™ Flex Feeding System.
Layer your faux fur pieces to be sewn, right sides together. Using ball head pins, pin along the seam at a right angle, this will allow you to sew right up to the pin before pulling it out. Make sure the nap of both pieces is running in the same direction.
Tuck the fur to the inside as you pin; an aluminum knitting needle works well as a tool to tuck in all those hairs.
As with the presser foot and needle above, standard sewing thread will work fine with faux fur. Choose thread in a color that contrasts somewhat with your fur. It won’t show on the front because of the deep pile of the fur, but if you need to take out stitches for any reason, the contrasting color will make it a lot easier to find the seam.
Choose a longer stitch length. Sew the seam with the direction of the nap.
If you followed our ‘tuck and pin’ suggestion above, you should have a lovely, clean seam. However, working from the right side, you can also use a dull pencil or a knitting needle to pick any stray fur hairs out of the seam. Tweezers would also work, but you need to be careful not to break the hairs.
If you feel the need to reduce the bulk in your seam, use snips to clip-away the fur inside the seam allowance.
When right side out, and with the fur fluffed and/or combed into place, your seams should be virtually invisible.
Another option that creates a hinged seam is to use a zig zag stitch. Follow the same ‘tuck and pin’ method described above. Then, set up your zig zag so the right-hand swing (I guess that would be the ‘zig’) falls off the edge of the fur.
Make sure you practice all these sewing steps on some scraps before trying them on your final project.
By: Liz Johnson, Senior Editor, Sew4Home – a Janome Exclusive Studio