Monday 21 October 2013

Cosy Parka - How to DIY a Mr & Mrs Furs multicolour fur-lined parka

Set your world on fur with a spot of style and sewing!
This latest Chic Cheat outing entails another foray into fabulous faux fur with the characteristic bold colour scheme that sets the class of autumn 2013 apart.

As synonymous as fur currently is with luxury and opulence - or cruelty, wherever your principles lie - its recent resurgence in the field of fashion had me thinking of a 'fact' I read in Camilla Morton's book, How To Walk in High Heels: A Girl's Guide to Everything. It alleges that Cinderella's glass slippers were a mistranslation of fur, owing to a mistranslation with two very similar French words (i.e.' verre,' meaning 'glass' and 'vair' meaning 'fur.') The resident myth-police at Snopes beg to differ. First of all, they argue, the account of the famous Cinderella story we know and love (at least those of us who haven't been subjected to pantomime interpretations!) was written by Charles Perrault in 1697, by which time, the word, 'vair' had been mostly phased out. Secondly, when they say "written" they mean penned (perchance quilled?) by Mr. Perrault's own fair hands. So, assuming he knew his own mind and was compos mentis at the time of writing, hapless skinned woodland creatures weren't on the agenda! Glass slippers were one of his personal touches to a story that had already been told from Ancient Greece to China, as long ago as the ninth century. In a lot of versions, Cinderella is not helped by a fairy godmother but by her late mother, reincarnated as a cow or goat - I guess that part might have been harder to stage!

All joking aside, it wouldn't be fair to judge an otherwise well-written book on a minor oversight, given the humour, wit and advice from designers on how to do things as fabulously as (super)humanly possible. It wasn't so easy to access and verify information in the years of inspiration and networking leading up to the book - but then, that was what gave monetary value to print journalism and literature for so many years and allowed so many talents to be nurtured.

As for me, let's just say timing never was my strong point! Thankfully, DIY adaptations of coveted couture items are a bit more of a strength, so...

You will need...

Author's note: The epic fur-gasm of a fabric I used is available here at £40 per metre (it's a metre-and-a-half wide, so you won't need any more than that).

At the other end of the scale, I picked up the parka for £6 from a charity shop (yes, I was definitely a winner!).

NB: If you are using faux fur like mine, make sure your parka's a dress size or two bigger than you'd normally wear as the fur's pretty thick.



I'm covering my back quite a bit here; most of the alleged difficulty comes from the fact that this particular project entails sewing with a tricky fabric. I didn't struggle much and with the methods I used to overcome the fabric issues (which, of course, it'd be rude not to share) it became pretty straightforward. Fear not - you're in safe hands!

Total cost

Taking into account the unavoidable cost of the fur, mine came to £46, which you'd be hard-pushed to beat. It also helps if you're lucky with charity shops like I was.

I paid less than an 80th of the price of the original, which, as of this entry, will set you back £3,720. Yes, almost four grand - and not dollars but pounds! So, while the project wasn't exactly on a modest budget, my wallet definitely avoided taking a pounding in the scheme of things!


What's not to like? Unfortunately, the real kicker here is that it was near enough a two-day job, what with all the sewing and meticulous cutting. Time was definitely the biggest issue with this project - as well as an issue in general, what with my 45-hour working week and hellish commute!

Fur of flying colours...

First of all, you have to work out your pattern pieces by pinning your pattern paper onto each panel you want to cover (In my case, the back, sides and hood. Note that I didn't do the sleeves.) so that it's completely flush against the lining. Trace around the edges and cut them out. Don't worry about seam allowance at this stage. Also, if your back panel is seamless, only trace around one half. We'll cut this on the fold to make sure it's symmetrical.
Fold your fabric in half and place your back panel on the fold, so that it can be cut into a perfectly symmetrical piece. Trace around the edges of your pieces but don't cut them out yet.

Use your patternmaster to trace a seam allowance of 1.5cm around each of the edges. Cut your pieces out.

You should have some unmarked sides opposite the ones which had pattern paper pinned onto them and shapes traced. Mirror these by measuring a 1.5cm seam allowance inside your edges with the patternmaster, as before, and mark them out.
Cut your fur as flat as you can along the seam allowance. This should make joining the panels together - with a mortal domestic sewing machine - a hell of a lot easier!
Pin your seams together and sew them. Then, place your new lining inside the parka.
You should have some flat edges 1.5cm wide, which we cut earlier, around the outside and armholes. Fold them back on themselves and pin them in place. Finally slip stitch them to the parka.N.B. Going on the logic of the video I hyperlinked, you need to pull your thread through the fold of the faux fur and into the base fabric of the jacket.
DIY MR & MRS FURS Multi-coloured Fur Lined Parka
...and you should have something that looks like this!

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