Faux Fur: Use and Care
Autumn is here, and with the scarves and long coats, the fashion world also brings faux fur! Faux fur is an excellent alternative to real fur products, and it’s an exciting and unique way to spruce up a garment. Plus, probably my favorite thing about it, is that it keeps you warm in chilly winds and temperatures.
I’m sure you’ve heard, though, that faux fur is a bit of a hassle, huh? It’s true that damaging it is very easy to do, but it’s just as easy to take care of and avoid those damages! Faux fur needs a little more effort than other everyday fabrics and garments, but if you take care of it, it can last you a long time.
Caring for your faux fur garments helps maintain the its intended look: the sheen, the fluffy quality, and the colors will all last a lot longer if you take certain measures when caring for your garment and avoid other measures. Improper care can lead to actual damage of the fur fibers and can ruin the intended look of the fur with things like mats and clumped piles of fur. You don’t want that!
And so, we’ve compiled key tips and rules for faux fur maintenance and care for your convenience down below, from storage to cleaning to sewing!
Rules for Faux Fur Storage
First up is storing your faux fur. A few things to avoid when storing, whether it's attached to a garment or not:
It’s very important to store your fur where it can stay dry and away from humidity. Faux fur CAN get wet since it’s not real and it’s typically made with synthetic fibers, but humidity can still make it frizz, which won’t look good!
Packing faux fur garments in something like a garment bag or container is ideal. It will flatten if it is packed between other garments too tightly, and you want the fur to keep it’s fluffy volume and look! So even if you can’t get a container or garment bag for it, make sure the fur has room to breathe!
And lastly, do NOT store your faux fur somewhere that has light or sunlight constantly. Over-exposure to sunlight can cause discoloration to any fabrics, and it can ruin the fabric fibers, too. So make sure your it is safely tucked away in the dark until you’re ready to wear it again!
Faux Fur Maintenance and Cleaning
We know we have a long list of important details for maintenance here, but they all are necessary! There are three sections for cleaning faux fur: weekly care, machine washing, and spot-washing.
When it comes to weekly care, there isn’t much more to do so long as you keep up on the storage rules, but there is the weekly brushing that you should keep up on, especially if you wear your garments often.
Using a soft-bristled brush, brush the fur WITH the grain gently. Brushing your faux fur helps to remove surface-level dirt and debris build-up and remove and prevent matting of the fibers. This keeps it looking nicer for longer without having to wash it! You should also smooth your hand over the fur to make sure it lies naturally after you brush it. You can do this as necessary, or once a week is fine!
Washing and Cleaning
In contrast to real fur fabrics, it is possible to wash faux fur fabrics and garments, but you still shouldn’t do it more than necessary. With real fur, both water and heat will damage the product, but faux fur is made of synthetic fibers, so water doesn’t damage it, but heat still does. Avoid using heat on your furs (with one exception being steaming, but we’ll get to that in a bit).
It is safe to wash your faux furs in the washing machine. However, you need to change a couple of things before just tossing your garment in to the wash:
Turn the garment inside-out! This helps reduce friction and agitation on your fur fabrics and it will help them last longer.
Wash the garment in cool or cold water settings with a gentle detergent. Remember, we want to remove heat from the process as much as possible. This also helps to prevent the faux fur piles from frizzing. And using a gentle detergent will keep the fibers from matting.
This also means no dryers! Period. Don’t even think about it. You’ll regret it if you dry your faux fur in a dryer, even on low heat. It doesn’t ever turn out well. Clumps and matts galore. And no amount of brushing will ever get them out.
With that said, air-drying is a must! Hang your garment up somewhere dry and warm so it can dry out safely.
So in a shorter summary, when washing faux fur/garments, turn garment inside out, machine wash with cold water and gentle detergent, then air dry.
If you’re worried about the possibility of your machine ruining your faux fur or if your machine doesn’t have the above settings available, you can also use spot-cleaning to take care of stains on your garments! Spot-cleaning is great for exactly that—spots that need cleaning when the rest of the garment is fine otherwise, and it should be used as needed before going to machine washing.
To spot-clean your faux fur garment, you’ll need a washcloth, warm water (note: NOT HOT!) to soak the washcloth in and clean with, and gentle detergent. This method is more for general use (i.e. don’t except pen to come out easily!) and should be used as soon as possible after the stain is made to improve chances of lifting the stain.
Take your washcloth and soak it in the warm water and put a drop of the gentle detergent on a wet spot. Scrub the washcloth together first to agitate the soap—you don’t want to just drop detergent onto the garment. Use the soapy spot and, in small gentle circles, try to scrub out the stain. Only use more effort to scrub if there isn’t any improvement in lifting the stain. You want to avoid leaving any detergent residue if possible. Once you have lifted the stain, use a clean and still wet part of the wash cloth and wipe at the area to remove any lingering detergent. Let it air dry and you’re all done!
Another spot-cleaning method is specifically for removing odors around the under-arm areas of faux fur garments (it applies to most fabrics in general, too!). Steaming this area of a garment helps remove bacteria which cause the odors, so keep this in mind if you’re ever trying to clean here!
WEARING FAUX FUR
Just a few things to keep in mind when wearing faux furs: unlike real furs, faux furs CAN get wet, but it doesn’t mean they should. It’s best to keep it dry whenever possible. Snow and rain won’t ruin it, but use an umbrella when possible to protect the furs.
Same thing goes for humidity. Humid weather (y’know, those gross, cold, rainy days?) risks frizzing for faux furs, so make sure to let it dry out at home and brush it after to help it look like itself again!
Sewing with Faux Fur
And lastly, we wanted to go over a list of things to keep in mind when sewing with faux fur. It can be intimidating at first, but knowing the details listed below will help you feel more confident to tackle a project using furs. It’s not hard once you know the precautions you should take!
Your tool belt for working with faux fur should include a soft-bristled brush, a pattern pen or marker, hand-sewing needles, thread, and a razor/box cutter/X-acto knife. Scissors are NOT on the list intentionally! They cut the fur piles and ruin the fur.
CHOOSING YOUR FAUX FUR
When choosing which faux fur to use, keep the nap, or the direction the fur goes, in mind when designing your project and pattern. You want all of your fur to lay the same way in the final product! You should also consider how thick of a fabric you’d like to use. The thicker the fur piles, the harder it is to put it through the machine—it’ll be like sewing multiple layers instead of just two because of all the fur piles. If you’re working with fur for the first time, consider a lower pile to start with.
CUTTING YOUR FAUX FUR
When it comes to cutting your pattern out you must do these things: work with your fur flat and with the backing facing towards you. You want to be able to trace your pattern on the backing of your fabric—on the wrong side. Trace your pattern using a pattern pencil or marker, and give yourself a ½” seam allowance. Because of the bulky fur piles and thick layers, your seams might not come out as straight or clean as you’re used to (this is okay!)
You also need to cut your faux fur fabrics without scissors and instead use a razor of some kind (listed above). When cutting faux fur correctly, you do not cut through the layer entirely—you only cut the backing fabric, like this:
Cutting the fabric like this prevents the piles from being cut, and the fur is able to separate nicely and without being damaged. If you just bluntly cut through the faux fur, you'll get a piece looking like this:
And that's not what you want!
SEWING YOUR FAUX FUR
Another very important, and possibly the most time-consuming, step in working with faux fur is hand-basting your seams to keep your edges lined up correctly. Remember that you’re working with big layers here, so basting with a hand-needle is crucial for preventing your pattern pieces and fabrics from sliding around. When you hand-baste, sew a running stitch and put the needle straight through the fabric layers—don’t do it at an angle. Keeping the straight stitches helps the fabric keep still better.
Using longer stitches is best for working with faux fur. Somewhere between 2.5-3 for the stitch length is good. Remember to keep the ¼”- ½” seam allowance on all of your pieces, too. And if you’re sewing a lighter-weight fabric to your fur layer, keep the lighter-weight fabric on top when putting it through a machine. This prevents the lighter fabric from bunching up or getting caught in the machine like it would if you ran it through the machine underneath the fur.
After each seam you sew, use a brush and free any fur piles that get caught in the seams (you can brush them out of the way before pinning them down and sewing them, too). You should also trim your seam allowances down to ¼” to reduce bulk from the faux fur layers.
And that’s it! There was a lot of information, but thinking about it as a whole, it’s just a bunch of little stuff that will come naturally to you after taking care of your faux fur and working with it a few times. Did you see any tips that you hadn’t known about before? What’s your favorite part about faux fur, or working with it? Let us know!