Sewing with faux fur is a great way to add a bit silliness or elegance (or maybe both!) to your projects. I adore a good novelty faux fur, and many of my favorite sewing projects over the years have used faux fur (my most recent favorite obviously being my Monster Hat & Mittens), but sewing with faux fur isn’t without some challenges. What follows is 10 tips I’ve learned for getting the best finished project while leaving behind the smallest mess.
1. Cut only through the backing and NOT through all of the fur. You can do this by using your scissors carefully (I find making short snips helps). Some people like using a straight razor to cut the back. Don’t use a rotary cutter because you will have to put too much pressure to cut through the backing and you will likely cut through the fur as well. I’ve included a short video showing how I cut faux fur.
2. Immediately after cutting your pieces, tug on the cut edges of your pieces to pull the bits of fur fluff off that were released by cutting. You can also achieve the same effect by vacuuming the edges of your fur if you are careful not to suck the pieces into the vacuum.
3. Run your pieces through the dryer for 5-10 minutes right after cutting them. Use the NO heat setting since you don’t want to melt or damage your fur. It will help blow out some of the cut fluff and help keep it from shedding everywhere.
4. Draw the nap direction on the wrong side of your fabric using chalk or a marker (you won’t be able to see marker on the right side because of the fluff of the fur). This will help you make sure you’re not cutting pieces upside down!
5. Trace around pattern pieces on the wrong side of the fur and then cut them out instead of pinning because the pinning through a bulky fabric can distort the shape of the fabric and the pattern piece. You can use chalk or a marker (it doesn’t even need to be fabric safe although it should be waterproof, like a sharpie) because it won’t be visible on the right side because of the thickness of the fur.
6. Trim the fur out of your seam allowances before sewing. This is especially important when using fur with a heavy backing or a thick or long napped fur. With lightweight or short nap furs you can get away with sewing without trimming although you might still want to trim the fur out of the seam allowance after sewing the seam to reduce bulk.
7. Never topstitch through faux fur. Instead, you can sew the seam allowance to the backing of the fur by hand from the wrong side. In the picture above I have used a catch-stitch to sew the seam allowance to the lining side to act as understitching. You can also sew the seam allowances open in the same manner.
8. Sew each seam with the nap of the fur pressed away from the seam. This gets more and more important the longer the nap of your fur as it will help to keep the fur out of the seam and thus minimize the amount of fur that needs to be picked out of the finished seam. In the photo above you can see that I brush the fur away from the seam as I pin (or clip) my way down the seam.
9. Use a comb or awl or a pick to pull the faux fur out of the seam allowance after you have sewn the seam. From the right side of the fur, look for any fur that is making a loop because it has been sewn into the seam and gently pull it out. Depending on the fur and your personal preferences, you may find your fingers, a comb, or a small pointed object easiest. This will be harder the longer your fur nap is. Don’t worry if you break some fur while you pull it out.
10. Use clips instead of pins (I personally love Clover wonder clips. Pinning through bulky fabric can distort it. Clips have the added bonus of hold fur out of the seam better than pins.