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Feb 8, 2012

The Coat Project: friend or faux?

The latest on the Seventies coat saga:  After digging around in the Garment District yesterday, I have decided to go ahead and make my coat, and -- tentatively -- to make it in faux fur.

There is so much faux fur to be had, readers, but I found the widest selection on 39th Street at what used to be H&M and is now called It's a Material World (!).  Parenthetically, they say they're under new management but it sure looks like the same old lousy management to me, as well as same staff, same stock, etc.  This is one of those stores that's always a mess and stinks of cheap incense.  I counted more than a dozen sticks burning there yesterday and I could hardly breathe.  The fur is upstairs (it's a two-level storefront space) and the incense smells even stronger there.  That said, they have dozens of bolts of faux fur, some of it absolutely wild and wacky and totally fun.

What I hate about this place is that the prices seem random.  Is the faux fur really $20 a yard, or might it be $15 if I made a fuss, or spoke to a different salesperson, or had big breasts?  I don't like to bargain in fabric stores, do you? 

I also saw some faux fur at Chic Fabrics and a few other places on 39th St. (even Kashi at Metro sent me to 39th St. -- he hates stocking the stuff since it takes up so much space), but nothing can compare to the quantity at It's a Material Word, so I guess that's where I'll make my purchase.

If I do the whole coat in fur (and not just the front facings and collar), three yards should do it.  I have some fabulous instructions about working with faux fur from an online class at Pattern Review that Kenneth King led a few years ago.  I have all the recommended supplies, including cold tape (this was one of the mystery notions I quizzed you on last summer; nobody guessed it right), electric razor, wig brush, and afro pick.

King recommends using a pattern with a self facing in front, rather than a separate facing.  You want to eliminate as many seams as you can and keep it simple.  My coat pattern (I'm leaning toward the classic McCall's 2979 from 1971) has separate facings and a notched collar.  I spent some time yesterday looking at photos of faux fur coats for sale on Etsy.  Most have notched collars, the best looking ones anyway.  I think (hope) I can handle it.

I love this one with the pelts running horizontal beneath the waistline.  A faux fur Seventies coat can't be too busy and ideally mixes a few different furs and has a fake leather belt at the very least. 

Here are a few more gems in the tacky/fabulous category.   The faker, the better!

Other than these notched collar coats that look like something straight out of Superfly, the other popular style is similar to my Miss Vogue Pattern (8144).

OK, so this coat is listed as unisex and the guy is hot, but is this not a man in a woman's coat in your opinion?  (For sale on Etsy here.)

I also love this version -- I think it's by Jordache or Sassoon, or one of those classic Seventies/early Eighties brands one associates with what were originally called French (and later designer) jeans.

More Seventies-era faux fur coat pics here.

Now I just need to get my energy up.  Michael and I are actually invited to a Valentine's Day theater-related party next Tuesday, so if I could get this done by then, that would be great.  I'm a little nervous about this faux fur thing, I won't lie to you.  I've worked with thick polyfleece but this is a different ballgame.

Anybody worked in faux fur before?   Did you have to vacuum constantly?  Did you wear a disposable face mask?  What were the results like?  I'd love to know!

Have a great day, everybody!

PS -- Our cabaret show, Noah's Very Unusual Insight got reviewed!  (Read it here.)


  1. Oh yay! I wondered if you'd ever try something like this. And I was so excited to read as I'm working on one right now (with leather trims). The pile on my fabric is very short, though--should make things easier. Burda mag comes out with fur patterns every year and they are usually really simple (no collars, fold-over facings, etc), nothing to ease. I'm kinda partial to the superfly collars, though.

    Blurgh, incense... Doesn't the fabric soak that up?

  2. Cut it and them put it in the dryer on fluff. It will take away all the extra fluff and you can sew with out being covered in the stuff. Good luck.

  3. Love the coat pattern!! Incense? Horrors!!!! I am quite sure I was held for ransom or beheaded in a monastery in a past life and it makes me sick to my stomach.

  4. Three things:

    Great review! I'm intrigued and would love to hear Michael sing.

    Dude totally looks like he's wearing a woman's coat (incidentally, this may be way off, but all those boxy faux fur coats look more 80s than 70s to me).

    Will you be modifying your pattern to have cut-on facings as Mr. King recommends, or will you try to manage the separate facings?

    Fascinating as always!

  5. Congratulation on the rewiew! I wish I could see it, but there is an ocean between us...

    I worked with several different faux fur, four to be precise, for some costumes last season. It was my first time too and well, though I did some mistakes at the beginning the overall work was easier than I thought! I just found one tip concern to the faux fur and I passa to you. One should cut them from the back with the tip of the sissors in order not to damage the fur. Hope it helps...

  6. First up, that guy is sizzling while he cross-dresses. Clearly the seller is trying to broaden the appeal of the coat.

    Congratulations on going faux! If anyone can, and tell the tale, it's you.

    As for strutting in style; Cathy will be working that ensemble over-time!

  7. "Rachael Maddow in a lab coat".....tee hee

  8. I want that faux leopard coat, and I'm not afraid to admit it. Incense otoh would send me to another store no matter how great the prices were. But faux fur is actually a lot of fun to work with; I find it easy to sew and not too messy as long as I carefully cut just the backing of the pieces and then run the vacuum around a few times. Go for it--into each life some fur must fall!

  9. Love the checked coat and the glitter fur!

    I made a stuffed animal a while ago out of fake fur. I wasn't very scientific about the process, and it sewed up just fine, but the cutting left a HUGE mess all over the carpet. I could have (should have) been a bit smarter about how I was going to cut to prevent all the separated fur bits from flying about.

  10. I've used faux fur; the best tip I picked up was to cut it with a small tip craft knife, from the back. Draw your pattern shapes on the back of the fur, then cut. Also, trim the fur from your seam allowances before you sew them. Helps alot...good luck!

  11. When I was making teddy bears I found the longest part was brushing the seams. It takes forever but if you spend the time to really brush them well you can make the seams disappear.


  12. Congratulations on the great review! I love it that you used a cello to accompany ...

    I had an aunt who always wore the latest fashions, and she once handed off a fake fur coat to us. This would have been c. 1970. It was a hideous long-haired thing (think Chewbacca), with wide brown and white horizontal stripes. Made anyone who wore it look like the Michelin man. I'm sure it was expensive, though.

  13. Did you see that Sew Daily had tips on sewing with faux fur today? Coincidence or are you a trend setter? ;)

  14. Oh, the white furry coated man made me LOL! I prefer the lion ;)
    I made a Max (where the wild things are) suit last year, white fake fur-I was finding it everywhere weeks later!

  15. I am in love with the leopard-and-black-"Super Fly"-collared jacket (but not the mismatched brown belt). I would absolutely wear that with everything! If I had the funds I might be tempted to kill someone to make it mine.

    Good luck with the jacket adventure.

  16. This coat is one I've had since the 70's and I still wear it, I call it my my Anita Pallenberg coat:

  17. I have another great fur coat inspiration for you, it's wild!:

  18. I made a Cowardly Lion costume for my daughter about 2 years ago. My black dog was covered in little tan fuzzballs for months. He kept finding them no matter how much we vaccuumed. It was not hard to work with the fur, though. Much eaiser than I expected.

  19. There is nothing too wild and wacky when talking 70's fake fur coats. My best friend in high school came to school one day (circa 1970) in a teal green/blue long haired fake fur coat. It was the most outrageous coat. I had to practically rip it out of her hands 20 years later to toss it. It was worn down to the nubs at the cuffs and hems. She did love that coat!

  20. I must admit love for fake fur. Anyway, hair will GO EVERYwhere, such is the price for fabulousity. It is amazing how much hair you will find for weeks after you're done. I've heard some people cut the nap back in the seam allowance before stitching - me, I do not. I pull the hairs out from the stitched seam using a tapestry needle and then cut back what remains in the allowance. Of course, lay patterns onto the backing-in reverse. My first faux fur coat was done with no research and I couldn't believe how easy it went together. Peter, don't sweat it - this us much easier than poly charmeuse.

    Keep scraps too. I made a fur bed cover (I realize this sounds tacky, but it's so warm and fluffy! I just don't care!) and have used scraps from that project for sweater cuffs and doggie blankets.

    Ps. The hot guy in the coat: Blatent Fashion Victimization.

  21. When you're buying your faux fur, try a stick-to-everything test. I had one faux trimmed coat that I couldn't walk in as the fur facing stuck to my skirt/pants, wrapping itself progressively tighter around my legs until I stopped and unstuck it. Coat went to the Goodwill. I should have chopped it down to pea coat length, but, by that time, I was so ticked I didn't want to look at it any more.

  22. I seriously want an emerald green faux fur coat!

  23. I've only made a faux fur hat, many years ago. Cutting only the backing, with a craft knife or by sliding the scissors under the pile, is the way to go. And use a bamboo skewer or similar to pull the fur out of seams if you want them to disappear. I've seen yes and no as to trimming the pile out of seam allowances, it seems to be dependant on how thick the pile is.

    Thanks for the link MooMama, I have some tiger faux fur waiting to become a coat, and I could use some refresher pointers.

    JustGail, who can't seem to log in today.

  24. Following this log made me drag out my 'fake badger' look coat from the 90's!

  25. Read your review. I wish I could have seen your show. But there is no cabaret in the woods in Oregon, only deer and red-tailed hawks. (Sam, my chihuahua, cannot play alone outside, right?) No faux fur around here.

  26. You've gotten so much great fake fur advice...I'm taking it all down.

    Some of those coats could have been called "chubbies" as I recall. Not an attractive name for a garment I'd want to wear.

  27. I use a bunka brush for fake fur and Minky seams. The thin metal spikes do a great job of getting the trapped fibers out into the dayight

  28. I LOVE that checkerboard coat! What a score that would be! The lapels should be black, though, IMOHO.


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