Behold A Fur
Its beauty and luxury celebrate its process of creation. Truly one of the last completely handcrafted articles of clothing, fur fashion is produced from the meticulous workmanship of artisans that combine hundreds of years of experience and weeks of labor.
The process begins with the designer. His thoughts about shape, texture, and fashion begin to find their realization in sketches and notes. These start to become reality when they are translated into a pattern by the patternmaker, who must attend to the practical considerations of fit and the workability of the pattern, with the fur specified by the designer. Often he will make several muslin mock-ups of the garment to check and correct the fit with the designer before the final fur garment is produced.
Matching and Selection
Pelts are matched by an expert for their proper color, size, and texture. He must choose which are the correct ones for each part of the garment. By studying the pattern, he determines the number of pelts necessary to make the garment and lays them out for the cutter.
The cutter begins by trimming and blocking the pelts so they are flat and ready for cutting. He lays them out on the pattern and determines the lengths needed, calculating the amount of cuts necessary for the let-out process. The let-out process is a method for elongating and narrowing a pelt to allow for continuous, unbroken stripes in the construction of the garment. These stripes not only provide the structure but also are used to create a pattern, generally vertically, but also in other directions depending on what the designer has envisioned. By making many closely-placed diagonal cuts and sewing each section slightly lower progressively, the pelt will become longer and narrower.
The sewers job is to sew the work which the cutter has done, forming the stripes and putting them together. Working against the pattern, which has been drawn out on a board, the sewn pelts are laid in place and marked for final sewing which prepares the garment for blocking.
The blocker or nailer - a term that comes from the nails that were used years ago – takes the sewn garment, wets it with water, and staples it against the pattern which has been drawn on a board made of soft material. His skill comes in shaping and lining up the stripe so the finished product will have an even pattern that’s straight and regular. He must also use care to ensure that the pattern is covered completelyso the garment will accurately reflect the original design and fit. After his work is finished, the garment is allowed to dry overnight, and when released from the board, will mirror the pattern perfectly.
After the garment has completely dried the squarer removes it from the board and lays the pattern on top of it, marking its shape with a pen. Binding tape is then placed around the edges to prevent them from stretching when the parts are sewn together. Using a special knife, he trims away the extra fur outside the pattern lines. The garment is then glazed using steam to fluff up the fur, which has been matted during the nailing process.
The closer takes the body pieces, the sleeve, and the collar and assembles them together by sewing them on the over-cast fur sewing machine. He places the pockets and binding tape on the edges, hangs the garment up on a fitting form and checks it for any problems. It is then given to the finisher for the final work.
The finisher takes the closed garment and hand sews the lapels, collar, sleeve and bottom edges, adding padding, shoulder pads, or any other finishing touches. She cuts the lining and hand sews it into the garment. After completion the garment is given its final inspection and is ready for sale.