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How do you sew a fur covering?

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Dagger Claws, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. Dagger Claws

    Dagger Claws Well-Known Member

    I'm interested in building myself a puppet, out of polyfoam, with a fur covering. I have some interesting colored shag like fur that I'd like to use to make a puppet. Now, I only have limited eperience sewing on a machine and none with sewing by hand and I would really like there to be no visible seams once he's built. I'm unsure of a pattern to use, but I was thinking of using the "Blue Boy" pattern. Can anyone out there help me out with learning how to A) Sew a shag fur covering (as well as arms and hands) for a polyfoam puppet and B) Create an inside lining for the puppet as well, one that will run from the bottom of the puppet up to the neck. Buck, Fozzie, Puppet Planet, can any of you guys help me out?

    Thanks and I hope to hear from someone soon,
  2. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    well i suggest u learn to start sewing by hand, machine stiching fur is somethingthat can be done, but it is not really good for the machine, the fur pile can get stuck in side, and it is really only reccomened for somthing of a really large scale like a walk around. i think you should practice a simple wip stich by hand, its not difficult to do, and once you get some practice you will find that it is also really quick, youll want to keep the seams close togother, don tbe tempted to space them widly to save time it will only weaken your work and cause seam breaks and seperation.

    good luck,


    as for cutting he fur , ii would use a double face razor blade on the fur backing in order to prevent cutting in to the fur pile, dontr press the fur done, just make a small cut and follow it along your pattern like a surgen with a scalpel.
  3. Dagger Claws

    Dagger Claws Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much Ravage. Now, what is a whip stich? :confused: And I've tried cutting fur before, and I've always ended up with the cloth backing being exposed, like there will be a little of the backing exposed. Do you think that's from cutting the fur?
  4. Show and Tell

    Show and Tell Well-Known Member

    Whats the "blue boy" pattern? Where can I get it?
  5. MuppetQuilter

    MuppetQuilter Well-Known Member

    I've found it quite easy to sew fake furs on a machine. You do need to use the right needle and you need a good machine, but a decent sewing machine can manage fur with no problem. I've done dozens of stuffed animals and puppets out of fur on machines-- been doing it for about twenty years.

    To avoid exposing the backing, leave a decent seam allowance when you cut-- 5/8" is the standard in sewing clothing. Craft patterns often call for 1/4" but that will be too small for fur. The backing will be exposed when you cut, but not when it is sewn together. Next, trim the fur pile in the seam allowance. Often people skip that step and the pile gets caught up in the seam and draws attention to the seam line on the finished product. If you trim the fur in the seam allowance you won't have long pile to get caught up in the seam and your seam should be quite subtle. Finally, pay attention to the fur when you cut-- you want the fur lying in the same direction on either side of a seam so you have to keep that in mind when cutting your pieces.

    A whip stitch is a very basic hand sewing stitch, this site may help.

    Good luck!
  6. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I would caution against sewing shag furs on a machine if you're not familiar with sewing machines. It's true that most good machines (with the correct needle) can do it, but the problem is there are a lot of low-priced lousy machines on the market. I tend to hand sew everything (using a whip stitch) unless it is a lining or something inside the puppet that won't be seen. This is just because I've gotten very obsessive about seams. That and I'm a masochist. Mostly `cause I'm a masochist. :D
  7. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    , it might be the fur your using or your cutting tohard and cutting hairs on the pattern edge, you need to use alight touch, it could also be that your to close to your work , try stepping back , even though you know were the seamis it should disapear, also you might need to pick the edge of the seam after it is sewn with a needle to pull any traped hairs loose
  8. Muppetsdownunder

    Muppetsdownunder Well-Known Member

    When I made my first attempt puppet, I probably broke all the rules by gluing the fur onto the foam rather than sewing it. I used hot glue to glue all the parts other than actual pieces of foam together ( I used foam adhesive to glue the foam). The hot glue seems very strong, I cant get the fur off the foam even by pulling it off tight so it seems strong enough. Thats an example of making a puppet by most probably breaking the rules.
  9. Show and Tell

    Show and Tell Well-Known Member

    Oh thanks so much MuppetQuilter. I printed that out. I've been meaning to look for some web sites that show how to make different types of hand sewn stitches.:) That helped alot. About the only handsewn stitch I knew to do was the wip stitch. Oh that and the running stitch. Only I didnt know it was called that. I like the look of that backstitch.
  10. leliebel

    leliebel Well-Known Member

    When I was walking past the hairdressers today, I started thinking on how to make your own fur if you want a specific multi colour. First it thought you'd have to sow it on by hand in little plucks, but you'll always end up with the sown on end being more or less visible. Then I figured I could just by white plush and die it, but since it's synthetic IO don't know if that will work very well... I guess I'll have to look into wigmaking, and I haven't got the time for that right now :)

    That was my rambling for today, in this topic at least.
  11. MuppetQuilter

    MuppetQuilter Well-Known Member

    Buck's right about the sewing machines. I forget how many bad machines are out there. I'm spoiled by Bernina. ;) But I also hate hand sewing and go to great lengths to avoid it-- I don't even sew buttons on by hand.
  12. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Well-Known Member

    I'll hop on the soap box and give ya'll my two cents worth. :crazy:

    I used the blue boy pattern to make my son a grover puppet. I didn't have any problems sewing the fur on my cheap standard brother machine at all. I don't see how ya could because your facing the "right" (furry) sides together and then sewing on the "wrong" side. All of the fur is basically hidden while it's on the machine. One suggestion that I must impress if you want a positive effect on fur puppets...... brush the fur AWAY from the edges where your going to sew or cut, sort of towards the middle of the fabric so as not to pull the fur into the stiches or cut it off by mistake. This will help you in covering your seams later because when you brush the fur back into place then your seams will be hidden. :excited:

    About the lining: I made a lining for my sons grover puppet simply by tracing the entire pattern (minus the arms) on soft fabric, sewing it together and then turning in inside out and putting in inside the fur puppet (with wrong sides together), and then sewing along the hem line or waste area of the puppet and vola..... lining. :excited:

    Another hint since your new: If you trace the pattern on the fabric, and instead of cutting along that line when you cut it out...... give yourself an extra inch or two at least by cutting around the line you've traced. Also, USE PINS to hold it all together so it doesn't slide on you while your sewing. You can cut off the extra fabric after you have sewn it all together and you'll find that it makes the job much easier rather than trying to keep the sewing needle from slipping off the fabric on a small seam allowance. I still use this method.... especially around detailed fingers and toes on my puppets. :p

    I hope this helps and most importantly.... HAVE FUN with your building, otherwise, whats the point?

  13. Jinx

    Jinx Well-Known Member

    I, too, have had good results using my fairly low-end Brother sewing machine to sew fur, even longer fur. Really the only trouble I've had is backstitching the beginning of a seam. The presser foot wants to slip off the fur and not "ramp" back up, so I just have to adjust it manually until the seam is begun. Then away I go!

    I do find that in addition to making a nicer looking seam, the above-mentioned technique of brushing the fur perpendicular to the seam also seems to make the fabric run a bit more predictably, with less shifting. I also make sure that my left hand is taking up all the slack as the fabric exits the machine, since the feed dogs don't always get the best grip on fur-backing.

    The last thing I do while sewing fur is that I do remove my pins just before they enter the presser foot, instead of just sewing right over them like I do on everything else.

    I think that more than anything, just paying attention to how your individual machine behaves and adjusting accordingly will yield the best results, regardless of what you're sewing.
  14. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Well-Known Member

    YA! YA! Meeeeeee Toooooo! :excited:
  15. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Leliebel - re: Making Fur

    If you wanted to make fur, I know people who have done it using weaving techniques. Not sure exactly how they did it. It was time consuming, but looked very, very cool.

    A good way to make shag fur is to dye mohair. There's a supplier in Alberta who sells to a lot of doll and puppet makers. I have the contact info somewhere - if anyone every wants to know email me privately and I'll hunt for it. I think I may have posted the address here in the forum at some point.

    re: Brother Sewing Machines

    Brother for the most part seems make really good machines in any price range. I have seen people (and myself) try to sew thick shag fur on Omegas and other lesser-known brands and completely destroy the machine's tension. I did a large mascot on one machine a few years ago with heavy red fur that sent it to the repair shop. As Jinx says though, if you pay attention to what the machine is doing you're usually fine.

    My favourite machine to use is a 100 year-old Singer from the UK that's in the basement. It only has one stitch, no electricity, and no reverse stitch. Best-working machine I've ever seen. People have sewn through 8 (eight!) layers of leather on it!
  16. Jinx

    Jinx Well-Known Member

    Wow, that sounds like quite an impressive machine! I imagine its treadle operated?

    Growing up my mom had a Pfaff machine that I can only remember being in for repairs one time over a period of 16 years. I remember one time she sewed a yardstick (!) onto a weird costume for someone.
  17. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Well-Known Member

    And that would be the time it needed repair?:p

    HA! HA! HA! I kill me! hee hee hee, ehem. Anyway. :o
  18. Jinx

    Jinx Well-Known Member

    No, actually. The yardstick was no problem, As I recall the "repair" really consisted of a thorough cleaning after making my sister's prom dress. It was a 4 tiered skirt, very full. We measured the circumfrence of fabric on the bottom tier and it was 96 feet long! There was so much loose thread and fuzz that it kind of gummed up the machine.

    Now, back to fur. I just found this bit of advice on a website that i found with some hand stitching info.

    Sewing with fur, whether real or faux, is a bit different from sewing with fabric. When you cut the fabric, cut a single layer; cut only through the backing. Smooth the fur or pile away from the stitching line toward the fabric right side.
    For hand sewing, use a whip stitch.
    To sew by machine, use a zigzag stitch, with the "zig" going through both layers of fabric, and the "zag" falling just off the edge of the fabric. The seam should flatten out.
    Most seams will be invisible from the right side if you tease the fur or pile out along the stitching line.
  19. MuppetQuilter

    MuppetQuilter Well-Known Member

    I know people who swear by the Singer Featherweight-- one of the first 'portable' electric model. I still use my grandmother's from time to time.

    Brothers are good machines. In general I'd stick to known brands-- Brother, Viking, Pfaff, Jenome, Bernina. Vikings can be less than user friendly but they're good machines. I don't think newer Singer machines are up to their old standards. I've sewn foam on my Bernina using a basting stitch with no problem (told you I don't like hand sewing).

    As far as backstitching on fur goes, that's another good place to cut a little extra fur. Start your seam 1/2 an inch in and you'll be able to backstitch with no problem.

    Another note about sewing fur on a machine-- be sure to clean out the fuzz that collects around the needle plate and bobbin regularly.
  20. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Well-Known Member

    Yeah I know, thats the part I always forget, and Antron fleece can leave quite a mess in there. Gets the machine running like a bad car. :cry:

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