‘Fun furs’ are wild and colourful deep-pile fur fabrics, not intended to bear any relation to any real animal’s skin. They are made from a variety of fibres, including acrylics, polyesters, and pure wool, and most have knitted backings. They are available in a wide range of textures and colours —even checks and tartans—and are particularly light and warm. All are flame-resistant, and most are spongeable or washable.
As with simulated furs, fun furs are increasingly available by the yard (metre) in department stores, and in the same widths, which make their possible uses, and the effects they can create, almost limitless.
Uses in the home
As the length and quality of the pile of a fun fur varies, so does its suitability for certain functions. Long, shaggy fabric in wild green or orange makes a stunning rug in a brightly decorated bedroom; a brown boucle look would make a cosy bedspread, while a baby’s cot cover in a soft pink or powder blue short-piled fabric would be light, warm, safe and washable as well as attractive. A room divider or screen covered entirely in a warm-looking fur fabric will not only soften the appearance of the room, but also give a certain amount of sound insulation. A panel of fun fur hung on the wall above a bed—perhaps matching a furry bedspread—gives any bedroom an inviting look. Many of the same limitations apply to fun fur fabrics as to simulated fur, particularly their lack of suitability for upholstery, but their use can enliven virtually any decorative scheme.
Cutting and sewing
Unlike real fur, simulated fur and fun fur fabrics can be sewn quite simply with a domestic sewing machine. Remember that prominent fur markings must be matched as carefully as a patterned fabric, and that the nap or pile must always run the same way (normally it should be arranged to run downwards). If the fabric is washable, make sure that the lining you choose is also washable.
Short-pile fabrics can be cut with very sharp cutting-out scissors, but a one-sided razor blade or hobby knife is necessary with thick fur. Cut through the backing only, and avoid cutting the pile.
When sewing fur fabrics, it is wise to test the stitching on a scrap beforehand, to check for tension. The heavier the fabric, the thicker and stronger the needle and thread will have to be. A thread with some elasticity, such as pure silk or a synthetic such as polyester, gives good results.
Plain seams are the most suitable for fur fabrics, with a fin. (16mm) allowance. If the fur fabric has a slippery long-piled surface, tack the seams carefully first. Most other simulated and fun fur fabrics can just be pinned together before sewing.
When joining simulated fur to a plain fabric, tack it securely in place to prevent it from slipping, and stitch in the direction of the nap with the plain fabric on top.
Above. This inviting bedspread, which spills on to the floor, is made from shaggy Chinese goat skins. It is set against a background of multi-coloured sheepskins sewn together to form a patchwork wall hanging.
If you are using straight stitching to join the seams, use 8-10 stitches to the inch (3-4 per 10mm), with a fairly light tension. With most fur fabrics, the surface pile on the seam allowance can be shaved with a razor or sharp scissors after stitching to reduce bulk, and the edges of the seam caught back on the underside with neat loose hand stitches (Fig.10). With long-haired fur fabrics, it is easier to do the shaving before you stitch the seam (Fig.9).
Simulated furs with flexible knitted backings should be sewn with a narrow zigzag stitch. A method of seaming which eliminates excess bulk, but is not very strong, is to join the edges with zigzag stitch, taking no allowances.
Whichever method of stitching you use, make sure that as little of the pile as possible catches in the seam as you work. If some fur does catch, lit can be teased out with a needle or pin after sewing (Fig. 11). For seams subjected to strain, use seam tape under the stitching (Fig.1 2).
Most seams can be pressed open with the fingers and rubbed on the inside with a thimble to make them lie flat. Never iron pile fabrics, and do not expose them to steam.
If the fabric is likely to fray, the seams should be finished after stitching. They can be bound with bias tape, oversewn by hand or machined with a wide zigzag stitch. You can also slip stitch the seam allowance to the backing, thus finishing it and holding it flat at the same time.
Zips are best sewn firmly in place by hand, as it is difficult not to catch the fur in the seam when using a machine. Shear the pile from the seam allowance before stitching to prevent it from catching in the teeth of the zip.
The manufacturers of some simulated furs recommend that their products should be dry cleaned by the method used for real fur; it is important that their advice should be followed, as professional fur cleaning is quite different from ordinary dry cleaning.
Many simulated furs and fun fur fabrics are spongeable, and some are washable, particularly those with knitted backings. These can be machine-washed, but it is wiser to hand wash them, taking extreme care. Once dry, the fabric will benefit from a good shake, which lifts the pile.
Real ‘imitation’ fur
Expensive and rare furs have been imitated with rabbit and (sad to say) cat fur for some time, generally without much success. Recently, however, the quality of these ‘real imitations’ has greatly improved thanks to modern techniques. So now you can get an expensive effect at low prices—and expect that your deception will pass unnoticed.
Inexpensive furs such as coney (rabbit) and kid are made up into ‘plates’ 24in. x 48in. (0.6 x 1.2m) and stencilled to look like more expensive furs such as zebra, tiger and leopard. These plates can be bought quite cheaply. They are easy to make into impressive-looking cushion covers, or will smarten up a sofa if thrown over the back.
All plates of this kind are made out of real fur, and should be treated as such in cutting, sewing and maintenance.