100 Days of Fur: Day 82

To read the full story on the 100 Days of Fur experiment, click here.

First of all, thanks to Rebecca Tay to filling in for me while I was fur-less in Maui. To read her posts, click here and here.

I am coming up to the last few days of my experiment (my wool coats will be very pleased to know this) and I will be spending nine of those last days attending London Fashion Week (and wearing fur, of course.)

Last week I had one of my most exciting fur moments so far… I picked up a custom-made fox stole from Pappas Furs, which I had made from a pelt I’ve had for 13 years. I’ve documented the process with a few photos. This will be one of my main pieces for London Fashion Week (I won’t be able to bring more than one or two coats in my suitcase, it will have to be all about the fur accessories!)

First, I brought in this snow-tip fox pelt (it is dyed red and the tips are bleached, hence called “snow tip”) and showed it to Walter, the Master Furrier at Pappas Furs.

fox, pelt, fur scarf, Pappas Furs, custom made fur

fox, pelt, fur scarf, Pappas Furs, custom made fur

The fur on this pelt is very thick and lustrous, it is a fox from a Scandinavian farm.

First, he tested the elasticity of the pelt to see if it was still in good quality, and then he suggested a few options of what I could do with it. We decided on a scarf. Walter made a muslin for me (using a fake fur) and I came in a few weeks later to try it on.

fox, pelt, fur scarf, Pappas Furs, custom made furfox, pelt, fur scarf, Pappas Furs, custom made fur

I returned a few weeks later to pick up the finished product. The scarf itself was way longer than the pelt, and there were no visible seams. By investigating the remnants, I was able to figure out that Walter had used the letting out technique to construct the scarf. The is a technique where a pelt is slit into many long, thin strips, which are then re-sewn together to make a larger, longer piece. Here is an image of one of the leftover scraps, and a photo of a fur swatch of the letting out technique.

fox, pelt, fur scarf, Pappas Furs, custom made fur

Center image shows some of the seaming used in the scarf, and right image shows how the seams are totally invisible from the right side of the fur.

fox, pelt, fur scarf, Pappas Furs, custom made fur

A sample of the letting out technique.

And here is the finished product! I tested it out yesterday and I LOVE it. It is super soft and extremely versatile. Can’t wait to show it off properly!


Fur Tips: Dealing with Moths

It goes without saying that moths are probably the most evil creature in the world when it comes to fashion. I’ve lost a great deal of coats and sweaters to moths, and I hate that they always go for the most expensive stuff, like cashmere. What’s even worse is that they love to eat fur.

I once went into a great furrier in London with a little fur blazer that was shedding. The furrier politely asked me to remove the jacket from the premises, and suggested I throw it away, as it was infested with moths. I sadly went outside and shoved in into a garbage can. Very depressing.

A moth eaten fur coat. Sob!

After losing a fair number of garments to moths, I began to be very vigilant with my closets. I spray cedarwood oil in the closet (away form the clothes), or place cedarwood oil-soaked cotton balls in the corners of my closets and drawers. I freeze all my knitwear in September or October (48 hours in a freezer should kill all the moth eggs, and keep your sweaters safe for another year.) I also tend to give my closet contents a good shake as frequently as possible and I try not to stuff them too full, so that no critters can make themselves comfortable in there. Lavender can also be a great moth deterrent.

When it comes to moths and fur, there are a few things you need to know. Here’s what Walter, the Master Furrier from Pappas Furs, told me about what you should do if you catch one of those hideous critters trying to make a meal of your favourite mink jacket.

A sign of moths is if the fur is shedding. The hairs will come loose from the leather, and fall out. Don’t confuse shedding with breakage. Delicate furs, like rabbit and chinchilla, are prone to breakage with heavy wear. And don’t become overly paranoid about shedding, some furs will shed a little. My first moth experience in a fur was the above mentioned blazer, and the fur was coming out in clumps. It was beyond shedding.

Don't let moths eat your precious furs.

Isolate the infested garment. And keep in mind that the moths may have moved onto your other clothes as well. Now it is time to sort out your house. Fumigation is one solution, but I’ve dealt with moth problems by simply cleaning and/or killing the moths on my clothes, washing and/or freezing everything, and then bleach cleaning the entire closet like a madwoman, followed by an overdose of cedarwood or lavender, to keep them away.

Fur, unlike wool and cashmere, cannot be frozen to kills the eggs, as that will ruin the leather. Unfortunately, the only way to remove the moths is to get a professional fur cleaning. If it is a jacket you bought for $50 from a vintage store, you may want to consider getting rid of it, instead of cleaning, but that is of course your choice.

The aforementioned London furrier, after he let me back into his studio once I had discarded the moth-ridden coat, showed me a $80,000 Russian sable coat that had been moth infested. He has removed the lining and all the “dead” fur, and cleaned it. What was hanging were the scraps of what was once a sublime fur coat. About a third of the coat had been consumed by the moths. He was going to fix it by replacing the skins he had removed. Not only was it a huge job, but I imagine it was quite expensive too. And sad.

Thanks to Walter from Pappas Furs in Vancouver, who kindly supplied me with this useful moth tips.

Images from Beautifully Canadian, except moth-eaten fur coat from here.

100 Days of Fur: Day 8

My first 8 days of fur wearing have been completely hassle and abuse-free. However, the past few days have ended up being a fur learning curve for me, as my last post about my fur problems resulted in some very educational responses from people working in the fur industry.

Rather than recap what I have learnt, I am quoting one of the lovely people from the fur industry, who shed (pardon the pun) some light on my fur problems.

The first one was the shedding, last week I left a trail of hairs everywhere I went…

“Your coats are shedding because they are vintage, but also (especially) because RABBIT is one of the most FRAGILE (and least expensive) of all the furs.  Fox can also be quite fragile.  You wouldn’t be having the same problem with mink or beaver or raccoon or other stronger furs.  So it’s great that the price of rabbit is accessible (and it is soft, and fun, and a by-product of food production), but the price you pay is that it is quite fragile and often sheds (although I hear that some of the rabbits now being sold are dressed differently and are stronger….especially the “Rex Rabbits” — which can mimic chinchilla  — which is another fragile but expensive fur.)”

And with regards to worries about wearing my bag on the shoulder, and therefore destroying the the fur on the shoulder…

“As for wearing out the shoulders….same story.  One has to be very careful with fragile furs; not really for mink, beaver and stronger furs.”

My grandmother's beaver coat.

I wasn’t surprised to find out all of my coats were cheap and old, I figured this would be the root of my fur problems. So I told my mother I was desperate for a beaver coat, and she whipped out the number above. It belonged to my grandmother in France. It is very heavy, but has a great cut as it nips in at the waist. And it is WARM. I will be wearing it this week.

However these past few days have also a very sad time for my fur collection. I have a beautiful fox and leather coat which I love dearly, and which is now falling apart. The coat is black leather and has chevrons of white fox. I wore it work on Thursday, and one of the chevrons tore. I managed to patch it up long enough to get me through the day, but the rest of the chevrons were beginning to tear as well.

The following day I took it to Pappas furs, and showed it to Walter, the Master Furrier there. He told me to throw the coat away (SOB!) This was not the first time this has happened, in England a few years ago I was told by a fantastic furrier there to throw away a gorgeous mink blazer as it had been infected by moths. Walter told me my chevron number had “dry rot.” We then discussed the dangers of buying second hand furs (I had paid $100 for that coat, and I have only worn it twice) and so I have decided to follow up with a  guide on buying second hand furs. Watch this space.

Fortunately the Pappas trip was not all disaster. I left them with a beautiful fox skin which Walter is transforming into a scarf for me, as well as a blue and a fuchsia fox tail which will be transformed into trinkets I can hang off a handbag. And I took home the beautiful number above. This tent-shaped grey coat has incredible volume and beautiful puffed sleeves. I can’t wait to debut my two newly acquired furs this week!