Occasionally people ask what's involved in making things so I thought I'd quickly run through the process of stuff as it landed on the workbench and time allowed.

First up is the fur mantle, it was originally designed when I read the brief for Wintermark at Empire but it fits well with quite a few briefs.

Picture 1, The fur. All the fur I use is synthetic. The quality of this has come on leaps and bounds since the early days when we ran around in fun fur. Best places to look for it are remnant stores such as Abakhan or E-bay. I'd recommend seeing it in person if you can as the quality isn't always obvious in the pictures. It's also called faux fur.

Picture 2, The pattern. I actually use the pattern from our hood mantle as it sits in exactly the same place. It's roughly a ¾ circle pattern so not too tricky to make your own pattern. Start by cutting a rough circle out of newspaper, then cut the ¼ and the neck hole. Try it on and go from there. You're looking for the newspaper to mostly sit flat all the way round your shoulders. It's easy to cut more out or tape bits back on and it doesn't matter if you cock it up completely, it's only newspaper.
I'm going to cut it from the back using a scalpel(craft knife will do). From the back because it's really tricky to mark the fur side, and using a scalpel as you don't want to cut the hair, just the base layer it's woven into.

Picture 3, Fur cut out. I've cut bigger than the pattern because I want the mantle bigger than my hood one but also I'm putting some variation in the edge profile so they don't look too regular.

Picture 4, Edge binding. While the fur won't unravel because of the weave it still a good idea to give it a hand in the areas of most wear. I use a leather binding strip which is just a 40mm wide piece of upholstery leather. I use 40mm as it give a 20mm edge which looks about right to me. Bias binding would work just as well to keep everything neat and could be sewn on a domestic machine.

Picture 5, Sewing the first seam, Start from the back with the binding. You can put witness marks on the back so your binding is even all the way round. It's really tricky to get this right if you start from the front. If you want to use leather but the machine isn't up to it you might be able to punch the sewing holes by running the strip through your sewing machine on the longest stitch length but without any thread in it. This gives you a much easier time with the needle. Don't forget to do both sides of the strip though.

Picture 6, Sew the second seam. From the front this time roll the binding over and sew it down. It's not always easy at this point to tell where the edge of the fur is but if you use the stitch line of the first seam and take it slowly you won't be too far out. With hand sewing it just takes times but you should be a lot more accurate.

Picture 7, All the way round. Repeat part 6 and 7 with the rest for the inner edges. I do the two front edges first, then the neckline and I complete both front and back of each piece before moving onto the next one. Doing the two straight ones first allows you to get your eye in if you haven't made one for a while.

Picture 8, reinforcing tabs. It's only fabric when all said and done so if you're going to put some sort of fastening on the mantle you need to reinforce the mounting area. I'm using a toggle for this one so I'm using offcuts from the binding strip to put to 40x40 patches on the inside, where the cord for the toggle is going to go. It just spreads the load. Same applies if you're riveting anything on. A rivet will work it's way through the fabric in less than one event but a leather patch will hold it for years. Don't make the mistake of just riveting through leather without stitching it on though. It won't give as much reinforcement.

Picture 9, Eyelet the holes. I eyelet the holes as well, again to spread the load, make it more durable.

Picture 10, Tie the toggle on. Simple horn toggle, wood would work as well. I prefer 2 hole toggles as I think they line up better than single hole but both work. I use a microfibre (synthetic) suede cord as it's tough at the thickness and come on 100m rolls but you can use thin strips of that upholstery you cut the binding from. Getting the cord the right length is a pain. I usually tie the toggle so it's on the centreline of the split, turn it inside out and then tie the loop one tight on the toggle.

 

And that's it. If you've got any questions just put them in the comments and I'll get back to you. I'd also appreciate any feedback about this whole concept.