If you live in a very cold climate, wearing a fur coat may protect you from harsh wind, cold, snow, and rain. But have you ever wondered how fur coats are made?
Fur coats are made by first treating and grooving the pelt. The pelt is then “let out”, or cut into diagonal strips that are re-sewn to improve its strength and suppleness. After being stretched to a blocking board to dry, the pieces are sewn together.
That being said, each process is more intricate than it may seem.
Unique processes like “letting out” and “blocking” require expert furriers to complete. In this post, let’s explore how fur coats are made, including explaining what fur coats are made of.
What Are Fur Coats?
A fur coat is a coat made of furry animal hides.
Some believe that the best parts of the animal when it comes to making fur coats are the back and the belly. The fur on these parts is denser, yet softer and referred to as full skin.
A quick and easy way to test whether a fur coat is real or fake is by simply feeling the fur. Real fur is always going to be softer than fake fur.
Fake fur is made out of synthetic fabrics, so you can easily tell the difference by touching it.
How Fur Coats Are Made
Fur coats have been around through thick and thin.
They used to be very bulky, but today’s garment is much thinner because of new manufacturing techniques. The new lightweight fur coats are also cut closer to the body, but they still provide old-fashioned warmth.
Today, fur coats are made for a changing market that values less bulk and more texture. Here is how fur coats are made, from start to finish:
1. Treating the Pelt and “Grooving”
The animal’s skin with its fur or wool, also known as the pelt, undergoes multiple transformations until it doesn’t even resemble the original pelt.
The first step is treating the pelt, which starts by steaming the fur to puff it up, then giving it a static charge to make the hairs stand on end.
The pelt then goes under a row of little blades several times. This shears fur so the hairs are uniform and the pelt becomes less bulky.
But because the downy undercoat is the most insulating part, this fur will still be warm.
Once the pelt has been treated, it will be grooved. Grooving is a new technique that involves carving a pattern into the dyed fur. The blades cut a zigzag pattern down the length of the fur, giving the animal pelt a unique look and feel.
2. The “Letting Out” Process
One of the most important and unique aspects of fur design is the process of “letting out”, which involves a steady and precise hand to cut the fur into tiny diagonal stripes that are re-sewn to improve the strength and insulating properties of the coat.
It may seem counterproductive to cut the pelt into shreds, but this process produces a new and improved fur, which is longer, narrower, and more supple.
To do this, the furrier feeds a pelt into the machine that slices it into diagonal ribbons.
The furrier then sews the diagonal strips together, arranging each a little lower than the last, by using a special fur sewing machine.
As the operator feeds the strips, the fur is pushed down so it doesn’t get caught in the seam and ruin the look. This particular process is something that takes skill and experience.
3. Trimming and Blocking
The narrow fur strips created by this “letting out” process will run the full length of the coat.
It produces a more flowing look than simply sewing whole pelts together, but it also makes the fur a bit rippled. A process called “blocking” will correct that.
The furrier wets down the leather of the pelt. Then, it is split a bit at the end to fit the pattern that’s been traced onto a board underneath.
The furrier then staples the fur onto the pattern.
After leaving it to dry overnight, the furrier traces the original pattern onto the leather side of the fur, now smoothed out from the stretching. The furrier then marks a spot for the pocket, and trim the fur to the pattern so the dimensions are now exact.
4. Finishing Touches
Specialized finishers sew a cloth pocket into the slit prepared for it. They stitch in the zipper, or zippers, and then cut out pieces of silk to line the coat.
Before they sew-in that lining, they build up the front edges of the garment by tacking lamb’s wool on the inside edging. This will add structure and help the fur hold its form as they put in the lining. Cotton tape now goes into the hem of the coat to keep the fur from stretching.
Hand craftsmanship has always been a key element of the fur industry. Every fur gets these hand-stitched finishing touches.
Once the label goes on, this fur coat is ready for a night on the town.
You may also be interested in: How Down Jackets Are Made
What Are Fur Coats Made Of?
Fur coats are typically made from the fur of animals such as mink, sable, chinchilla, fox, or lynx. In some cases, fur coats are made of beaver fur.
Here is what to expect from each type of animal fur:
Mink is considered the highest-selling fur in the world, partly because it is lightweight compared to other types of fur. Not only is mink fur soft and shiny, but it is very durable.
Since the pelts from female animals are softer and lighter, they are more popular.
Sable fur is considered the easiest to recognize among different types of fur because of its silky look and texture. You should be able to tell it apart from another fur simply by touching it.
A common trait of sable fur is its golden or reddish-brown color with natural highlights. It is similar to mink fur because it’s lightweight, but it usually comes in lighter shades.
Chinchilla fur is considered one of the most unique types of fur because it stands out due to its unique, slightly blue-ish, and grey color.
Because of its high hair density, chinchilla fur is very soft and warm. However, it is hard to sew considering how thick the fur is, making it more expensive than other furs.
Fox fur coats are popular because of their striking reddish-orange color.
In fact, fox fur coats can be found all around the world. Since fox hairs are longer than most animals, you can easily tell a fox fur coat apart by its golden shades and long hairs.
You should consider yourself lucky if you manage to stumble across a lynx fur coat because it is one of the rarest and most expensive fur coats in the world.
Apart from their rarity, lynx coats are pricey is because the fur does not shed.
Lynx fur coats are unique because they look like no other fur, however, one sign to tell it apart is by noticing a predominantly white fur with some light black and grey spots.
And there you have it, the breakdown of how fur coats are made, including what materials fur coats are made of. There are plenty of steps that go into making fur coats, so expect them to cost more than the average jacket.