Recycling Your Old Fur Coat

Many of us have old fur coats hanging in our closets or in storage that we have decided that we will never wear, but because of sentimental reasons we are not willing to part with them. A great idea for using these old fur coats is to turn them into a bear or a family of bears for everyone to enjoy. Check out how to have your old fur coats made into a Real Fur Bear for you at Bears & Bedtime.

Here are a few tips to make your foray into real fur bear making more enjoyable:

  1. When tracing your bear, cut out all the pattern pieces from cardboard FIRST. Lay your pattern out on the good side of the fur so you can pay attention to the natural stripes and patterns in your fur. Once you have decided where to lay your pieces, turn your fur coat over to the hide side and lay out your pattern pieces. Trace around pattern pieces with a permanent marker. Carefully cut out the pieces on the INSIDE of the pen line being careful to only cut the HIDE of the fur and not the hair itself. (If you cut on the outside of the pen line, your bear will grow in size and the pen, although permanent, could rub off on your hands and then onto your bear.)

  2. Fur coats are constructed with many, many tiny pieces of an animal hide, which are then sewn together. A fur coat, like your skin can dry out and become brittle. If you make your bear without lining it, later in its life, it could become brittle and start splitting its seams.
    This is by far the most important tip, LINE YOUR BEAR. Using polyester broadcloth, pillow ticking or just an old sheet cut out all the pieces of your bear from lining. When assembling your bear, simply lay the lining piece over the hide of the bear and sew all the layers together at once.

  3. When sewing with real fur, make sure you use a leather needle in your sewing machine and glovers needles for hand sewing. They are made especially for working with leather and will make life easier for you.

  4. When pinning your bear, be careful to keep the pins within the seam allowance – you don’t want your bear to have holes in his body! A way to avoid this problem is to use an alligator clip. They hold the pieces together well, and don’t make holes. Alligator clips are available at any electronic type of store.

  5. If the hide of your fur coat is very dry, try using Neatsfoot Oil on the hide of your fur to condition it. Please test the Neatsfoot Oil on a small piece of hide that won’t show before you use it on your whole coat – it can darken lighter leathers in some cases.

  6. When jointing a real fur bear it is best to use hardboard joints. Plastic joints tend to loosen and your bear may fall over and hurt his nose. You can use cotterkeys or nuts & bolts to secure your hardboard discs, but hex bolts are easier to use and tighten well.

  7. On regular bears, a hand-sewn nose can be re-sewn if you don’t like it. Noses on real fur bears can be more tricky. Because you are making a hole in the hide every time you take a stitch you don’t have too many chances to do it over. A good option to avoid hand-stitching challenges is a glass nose. They are inserted just like a glass eye and have a nice shiny, wet-nose look to them.