Great Tips for Sewing with Faux Fur

People tend to shy away from sewing with faux fur because they assume that it is just too difficult to manage. But faux fur garments usually have simple lines, with no darts and little fitting. So before you avoid sewing with faux fur, read these tips by Katrina Loving from Stitch Fall 2010 and make this charming bolero for yourself:  

Faux fur bolero by Katrina Loving from Stitch Fall 2010
Faux fur bolero by Katrina Loving
from Stitch Fall 2010.

When transferring the pattern to the wrong side of faux fur, use a brightly colored fine-point permanent marker; the markings won't be visible on the fabric right side. It is also important to mark notches clearly with ink that won't disappear before you have completed the project. Marking the notches, rather than cutting them into the fabric, is preferable, because the pile makes small notches difficult to see.

  • To cut faux fur, slip the scissors blade below the pile, close to the base fabric,and cut only the base fabric. When a pattern piece is cut, pull it gently away from the remaining fabric, separating the pile.

  • Always cut faux fur in a single layer,not folded. To cut pairs of pieces (e.g., a right front and a left front), cut the pieces singly, flipping the pattern over for the second piece.
  • When working with faux fur, it is much easier to keep the seam allowances even if the pile is trimmed from the edges before sewing. Trim the pile along the entire seam allowance before sewing if desired; to facilitate trimming, draw a guideline just shy of "1/2 (1.3 cm) from the cut edge on the fabric wrong side and staystitch along the line. Flip the fur to the right side and use sharp fabric shears to trim the pile outside the staystitching, leaving the base fabric intact. Work over a trash can to catch the trimmings. Keep the trimming a bit shy of the full "1/2 (1.3 cm) seam allowances to allow for inevitable slight variations in accuracy during sewing. Because the sample fur is not super-thick, trimming the pile along the edge even with the base fabric edge is sufficient (this makes the base fabric edge more visible). After pressing the seam allowances open, trim the remaining pile in the seam allowances to reduce bulk. Practice sewing on a doubled scrap of faux fur to suit the chosen fabric.


  • Faux fur bolero by Katrina Loving from Stitch Fall 2010
    Bolero back.

    When sewing on fur, increase the stitch length on your machine to about 3.0 mm and always sew with the nap.

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Have you ever sewn with faux fur? What did you make? Any tips to add? Let us know in the comments section below!

Happy stitching!

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Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and SewDaily.com. She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and SewDaily.com. She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

7 thoughts on “Great Tips for Sewing with Faux Fur

  1. My tips for sewing fake fur are pretty much the same as for sewing real fur. Here’s a tip sheet I wrote for a friend some time ago, about taking a fur coat apart for recycling:

    There are some excellent resources about working with fur. Most of my experience with this is from making teddy bears, so I’m sure the books I’ve got on hand won’t be as helpful.

    Just a few hot points that apply no matter what you’re making …
    *It’s all about the NAP!! Orient your pattern as carefully as possible. Take into account any patterning that the old coat might have, such as inserted leather strips, striping, or long/short trimming of the fur itself. There is no
    more important time to fussy-cut.
    *When marking the fur to cut, don’t rely on pinning a pattern. I lay the pattern on the back (leather) side, using pattern weights if it’s too awkward to hold in place, then trace with a pen (I generally just use ball point or Sharpie),
    and cut from the back using a sharp utility knife (I have an Olfa snap-blade knife I love). Cut the leather only, so as to not cut the fur itself (hairs). I do this with real fur as well as fake fur.
    *Stitch length must be longer than usual to avoid perforating and weakening the seam line.
    *Use a leather needle, as small as you can get away with. Many coat-weight furs are light enough to use a size 14, you may have to go with a bigger needle for thicker skins. The leather needle has a “wedge” point that slices, not punches a hole in the leather.
    *Many resources say to trim the fur within the seam line before sewing. Personally, I prefer to trim AFTER (if at all, remember my projects are stuffed), so that you don’t end up with bare spots or too-short hairs at the seam lines. I sew, then pick out the fur with a pin or stiletto from both sides, a little at a time so it’ll come easily. It does take a while to pick out the fur, but the beautiful and full results are totally worth it. Can’t see the seam lines at all if you do it right. You can use a pet hair brush to “comb” the project when it’s done.
    *You cannot pin the seams before sewing. Some people use paper clips, but I find that binder clips work great and I keep some in the sewing room for just this purpose.

    Oh, probably something to mention … if the old fur coat is losing hair, or if the fur is easy to pull out, it’s probably not worth putting the time into reworking it. When I make teddy bears out of old coats, I always line with a cotton fabric to help reduce stretching of the leather while stuffing and to keep seams strong. Just sew as one layer when putting it together.

    IMPORTANT!!! NO FUSIBLE INTERFACING!!! Trust me, it doesn’t work (and ruins the fur), I’ve tried!

    That’s what comes to mind right away, these are probably my most important tips. Best advice is to jump in and do it, experience is the best teacher. If you’re still nervous, do a Google on fur sewing, and I’m sure you’ll get some helpful results. Leather sewing tips apply too, so review basics there as well. Hope this is helpful!

  2. I agree with CyndiM9 … I have made almost 6,000 bears and bear friends from faux fur, real (recycled) fur and mohair plush. I do use pins… long quilting ones… for everything but real fur. I cannot stress enough the need to pick the seams after sewing whether or not you have trimmed the fur beforehand ! You will have a much nicer looking item!
    I have never pressed a seam… I don’t think that would be good for the leather on real fur… and I’d worry about heat damage on the pile of faux fur.
    If you want to make something from a recycled fur… be careful! A very old mildew-y fur gave me a fungus infection in my lungs. I don’t make things from recycled fur anymore!!

  3. I also make teddy bears with fake fur. Cut carefully and shake outside before the next steps since cutting into the fur always makes a mess. Sometimes I will put masking tape to hold long fur away from the seamline to reduce the need to pull the fur out of the seam after sewing it. I seldom trim the fur in the seam area before or after sewing, maybe I should give that a try. I trace the pattern on the back side with a dark marker. I’m using some dark “beaver” style fur now, and using a white chalky marker. I also use long quilting pins to hold things together on fake fur.

  4. I also make teddy bears with fake fur. Cut carefully and shake outside before the next steps since cutting into the fur always makes a mess. Sometimes I will put masking tape to hold long fur away from the seamline to reduce the need to pull the fur out of the seam after sewing it. I seldom trim the fur in the seam area before or after sewing, maybe I should give that a try. I trace the pattern on the back side with a dark marker. I’m using some dark “beaver” style fur now, and using a white chalky marker. I also use long quilting pins to hold things together on fake fur.

  5. Once you’ve sewn your garment, turn it over on the right side and using a sturdy darning needle or sewing pick, go over each seam and gently pick out/pull up all the hairs that are caught in your stitching. It makes for an almost invisible seam. It’s also a good idea before sewing crossing seams together, to carefully clip back the fur diagonally on each corner so that you avoid skipped stitches or jams where four layers intersect. And lastly, search out thrift stores for clean, fresh smelling coats or jackets. Fur side against the wrong side of your garment, they’ll make great liners for vests, cold day raincoats, scarves, hats and throws, etc. Recycle and reuse!

  6. I just made one of those simple asymmetrical vests out of faux fur: basically cut out some armholes and hemmed it so it would look a bit more finished. It was slippery, but forgiving. The end result is a cuddly soft and trendy vest.

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