Friday, February 17, 2012

Fur Friday - Identifying your fur

Hello Everyone and welcome to the very first post of Fur Friday's!

I thought I would begin at the point where you have either been given a fur coat by someone else or you have rescued a fur coat from either a thrift store or a garage sale or what possibly an inheritance... and now that it is yours you are looking at it wondering what it is or what it used to be?

In Nancy's book she has a wonderful chart to help you break down the possibilities of what your coat might have been before it became a coat! The coat I have been given seems to fit into the category of: seal with a collar of either mink or sable. My guess based on the description in Nancy's book that the collar is sable as I feel it is too long to be mink.

I want to add a very important note: If you have received this coat and are not sure where it has lived in the past... it is important to place the coat in the freezer for at least 48 hours. This will kill any mites and bugs that might be living on the coat! You should not put your real fur coats in a plastic bag so I will make a bag for my freezer coats out of an old sheet!

Here is the description of Seal and Sable from Nancy's book:

Seal: short and usually black in colour, with an extremely soft texture. The pelts are medium in size. Usually the longer guard hairs have been removed!

Sable: Beautiful, soft, dense fur with long guard hairs. Brown or black.

Here are some examples of each of these types of fur that I found on my google search:




Here are two photos of the coat I will be working with!

So what do you think Nancy... have I guessed it correctly?

Now here is the next issue: There are no furriers in my town and no dry cleaners here clean fur coats! So this means I have to send my coat with my Mum back to the big city to see if she can get it cleaned and to see if she can get verification on what type of fur my coat is! This also means I will have to either pay to have the coat shipped back to me or I will have to wait until my Mum's next visit to get the coat back. These are all things that should be taken into consideration if you choose to take on a commissioned work as these are all costs and time that need to be negotiated with your customer!

You will all have to wait patiently while this takes place and I will be waiting patiently with you! I have made my uneducated guesses as to the type based on some words and one or two photos but when you cannot touch and feel to compare it is more difficult than you might expect! The other thing is I really have not been around fur much in my life so I am a real novice at identifying where some of you might have owned your own fur coats so you might be one up on me already. 

There is a part of me which would like for this to never come about where I need to know what type of fur it is! Then it is simply just a piece of fabric... once I know what it is I will have a little face to go with it.... Okay Nancy... I am pushing past that and seeing only the teddy bear face to come! Deep breath... I can do this!


1 comment:

  1. Comment by Nancy Tilberg 4 hours ago
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    You're right about one thing fur sure....when you can't touch or feel, it can be very difficult to guess. I'm pretty sure you've got the seal and the sable collar right. Not positive about the first coat. I could be sheared beaver, sheared raccoon, mouton or even synthetic. It looks a little dense to me to be seal, but it could be.
    Your coat: Again, could be one of the above mentioned sheared varieties, mouton or synthetic. The collar may be fox.
    Cleaning and identifying: Rather than shipping it off at what will likely be a great expense to you, take the coat apart. You'll find that much of the 'dirt' (oils, perfume, dust etc) are in the lining. This can usually just be hand washed if you are going to use it. Often the pelts will be stamped with the type of fur that it is, so that will help you identify, especially if it's seal. If not here are some more clues:
    Check the size of the pieces that make up the coat back.
    Large pelts: Seal
    Medium size pelts: beaver
    Smaller pelts: raccoon
    Check the pelt thickness:
    Very thick pelts with short dense fur will be mouton lamb. If it's mouton, it can be very difficult to sew and turn the pieces. Hand sewing is recommended. Go for a large bear or the pieces won't turn right side out.
    If the backing is a knit, then you've got a pile made to look like mouton.
    Synthetic mouton (knit backing) can be washed. Hang to dry.
    All other real furs: Purchase a Dryel home dry cleaning kit at Walmart. Tumble as per the manufacturer's instructions for 10 minutes. Air dry. This works for all but the strongest mould or cigarette odours as well. If the coat smells heavily of mould or rot, wear a mask if you wish to continue. This is not something that you can remove. I've tried professional cleaning, and even that couldn't remove the smell entirely.
    Happy sewing! Can't wait to see next week's progress!