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  #1  
Old 10/01/09, 07:46 PM
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: NB, Canada
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Rabbit fur projects

Well I tanned quite a few of our pelts last year, and have been hunting all over the internet on how to sew leather/fur. There sure doesn't seem to be a lot of info on it though.

I thought maybe a good first project might be a rug. So I bought a set of glover's needles and some special thread. I cut some of the hides with a sharp exacto-knife (you have to cut the hide only, not the fur on the other side) and tried to sew all the pieces together. Sigh.... what a time.

I don't think I'm a very good sewer. I think this takes a lot of practice.
Not only that, but after cutting that first pelt, I realized there was going to be some wasted fur scraps too.

After a lot of thought, I've decided to make my first project a blanket instead, and make it another way, like the native people did. There doesn't seem like there would be as much waste this way? Link here:
http://www.primitiveways.com/rabbit_skin_blanket.html

I'll get started on it this week, but will have to wait until I get enough pelts tanned to finish it, maybe Nov. or so.

Here's a question - (silly as it sounds) these directions are for a blanket, but do you think I could make a scarf too? Well I mean if the frame were a lot smaller and scaled down to the right size?

Kyah

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  #2  
Old 10/01/09, 08:35 PM
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I weave (and often use odd things). This looks like it would be adaptable to any size. Your hides would have to be very softly tanned, so they don't break over...that is, they'll need to flow around corners instead of breaking over, but it should be doable. Might want to use a softer/smaller cordage...maybe a linen thread, or even a chenille type might work well for you.

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  #3  
Old 10/01/09, 08:39 PM
 
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Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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I don't see why it wouldn't work. It would make a very cool long scarf... almost a boa.

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  #4  
Old 10/02/09, 02:06 PM
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Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
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Sewing with fur takes a little different method than fabric. I use a triangular tipped needle in the sewing machine - see your local fabric store for a leather needle - and use the zig-zag just along the edges of the leather so one side is off the leather and the other side sews the two pieces together. Don't backup to tack your thread, because the needle actually cuts the leather, and if you over-sew too much, it will cut a line in the leather.

When you're finished with a seam, tie off the ends well, flip over to the fur side, gently pull the seam apart, and the leather should mostly lay flat, with the thread holding the two sides together. Then take a needle or pin, and run it along the seam to pull the trapped fur out of the seam. If you want your seams to be invisible, the fur should all lay the same way.

Rabbit is really soft leather, so you can probably use a good quality regular thread. For heavier leathers, I use upholstry thread or nylon thread, so the thread is at least as strong as the leather. Besides, a full leather coat or such is very heavy, and puts a lot of pressure on the thread.

You can also use iron-on reinforcing on the leather back without hurting the fur. I use it to help support shoulders, pockets and sleeve openings. Places that get a lot of pressure and pulling, to keep the leather from tearing. I also line leather garments so that the lining takes a lot of the pressure off the leather. I've made a bunch of fur and fur-trimmed garments for my kids and for SCA -Society for Creative Anachronism - and they're hard on their clothing. Also, I used second hand fur garments to cut up and use for trim, so sometimes the leather was nearly at it's lifespan, and the iron-on reinforcing and lining made it possible to re-use.

A hand-vacuum near your sewing machine is really worth while! That fur goes everywhere!

OH, and I forgot to mention: One of the people at SCA made a slicer for hides: A piece of plywood with a slice in it to hold a single-edge razor blade on it's end, so that the sharp edge was perpendicular to the plywood and facing away from you. And a second piece of wood for a spacer as far away from the blade as you want the strip to be wide. In other words, you want the already-cut edge of the pelt to rub up against the wood strip, which is your width guide, and the razor blade to cut into the pelt as you turn/pull the pelt. It took a little bit to get the hang of keeping everything going, but it did make pretty even strips and didn't hurt the fur itself very much.

Kit

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  #5  
Old 10/02/09, 03:11 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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Whenever I've made teddy bears from fur, I've cut the pattern pieces in sturdy muslin as well as fur, so each piece is backed by cloth. When I sew (on my antique hand-crank Singer using a triangular leather needle) I sew through both the skin and the muslin. The muslin takes much of the stress and makes the whole thing stronger. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't too bad. I used a glue stick to lightly attach the two layers together - just a couple of dots of glue - to keep it from slipping while I worked. This technique might work very well for patchwork fur blankets.

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  #6  
Old 10/03/09, 06:14 AM
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: NB, Canada
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Thanks so much for all the advice, ladies. I sure do appreciate it.

Is it okay then, to sew rabbit fur on a regular sewing machine? (As long as I use the right needle?) See I sewed these first few pieces by hand, and I can see the seams, so maybe a sewing machine is the way to go.

I found the invisible nylon thread I bought is hard to work with. It's very fine - almost like human hair. I bought polyester thread too, in colors to match the fur, and I like it better.

Oh Kit, you're so right about the fur going everywhere, lol. The last piece that I cut, I just took it right outside. I thought that if I cut the hide part only, and very carefully that the fur wouldn't fly, but when you pull the pieces apart, oh my! It gets right up your nose, and up anyone else's nose who happens to be handy too, lol.

I like the hide slicer idea too. My dh is pretty handy, maybe he could make one for me.

I've saved all the pointers that you all gave me on my computer for reference. I'll give it my best and post pics when I'm done, if anyone's interested. Thanks again,

Kyah

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  #7  
Old 10/03/09, 08:34 AM
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I've never sewn rabbit on a sewing machine, but I regularly sew pigskin, deerskin and lightweight cow hides. the pigskin and deer I can sew on my regular old singer normal type sewing machine. The heavier stuff I do on my industrial or on the treadle (those things can handle almost anything). use a leather needle (the shape is triangular and goes thru the hide making a larger hole for the thread...and then the leather seals it back over)

I hate nylon thread, btw. I use linen thread or silk on light weight hides.

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  #8  
Old 12/13/09, 05:04 PM
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: NB, Canada
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This has been a work in progress, but I'm almost half done.
The photo really dosen't do justice to how soft it is though. It feels like plush velvet, and is surprisingly heavy. I think there's about 10 - 12 pelts on the frame in this pic. One pelt is REALLY long when "unravelled", about 12-14 feet.

I decided to go ahead and try the blanket first:


It's A LOT of work, but I've really enjoyed it though. This will be a baby blanket when I'm all done, about 3 feet wide, and 4 feet long. I'm making it for my little nephew - this is his first Christmas.

I can post pics when I'm all done...

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  #9  
Old 12/13/09, 05:09 PM
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VERY lovely I was wondering the other day about your project. (I'd been looking at a book that showed tanning and fur "quilts")

Lucky nephew!!

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  #10  
Old 12/13/09, 05:49 PM
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that's awesome!!

i really need to figure out the sewing thing somehow

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  #11  
Old 12/13/09, 05:55 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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Your blanket is beautiful, Kyah! I know this one is for a special little boy, but a fur blanket of that complexity and beauty has to be marketable. You'd want an upscale, hand-made outlet like a shop in Toronto's Yorkville or perhaps the One of A Kind Show. That's not just a blanket... It's a work of art.

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  #12  
Old 12/13/09, 06:58 PM
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
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Aww, thanks Wisconsin Ann. If you don't mind me asking, what was the name of the book you were reading? (Always on the look out for new reading material, lol)

Quote:
i really need to figure out the sewing thing somehow
Brody, the best part of this blanket is there are no sewing skills required. I'm the world's WORST sewer and could never have gotten this far with my sewing "smarts". (Giggle)

The whole thing is "twisted". The pelts are each cut into one long strip and twisted and wound onto the dowel on the frame:

The directions I got from here:http://www.primitiveways.com/rabbit_skin_blanket.html. It looks hard, but it really isen't too bad. The best part is it's very rewarding to make something useful from all those leftover hides.

Aww, thanks Maggie. Maybe someday I'll get good enough at it to sell a few.
I'm planning to make a scarf next. I have some white pelts to tan after X-mas, and was thinking maybe of dying them a pretty color like pink or blue. I think my daughter has some left over hair dye of those colors actually.
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  #13  
Old 12/13/09, 07:51 PM
 
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Oh - that's lovely! I want to do one, too. So 2 questions - what method did you use for tanning, & what are you using for cordage?

Make that 3 questions. I've been sticking my pelts in the freezer - so far I have 13 - 5 more to go. Am I doing it right, putting them straight into freezer bags & into the freezer?

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  #14  
Old 12/13/09, 08:09 PM
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good lord, girl. Forget the nephew. I want a carriage robe made! that looks so snuggy and soft in the closeup!

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  #15  
Old 12/14/09, 01:48 AM
 
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Kyah, that's awesome! I found that project a while back and have wanted to make it also. What method did you use to tan you hides?

Kat

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  #16  
Old 12/15/09, 06:55 AM
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: NB, Canada
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Hi Bonnie,
These rabbits were tanned with salt/alum, they were the first ones I tanned. The ones I'm doing now are pickled with Rittles' saftee acid and tanned with Ez-100. They are environmentally friendly, and the finished hides are washable. They were recommended by a taxidermist. The cordage - I don't have any yet, but I'm going to look for some at a sewing store in town. I'll let you know what I find.

Quote:
I've been sticking my pelts in the freezer - so far I have 13 - 5 more to go. Am I doing it right, putting them straight into freezer bags & into the freezer?
Just make sure ALL the heat is out of them first, otherwise the body heat from the pelt becomes trapped in the bag, and that can cause fur slip later on. The best way I've found to thaw them, when you are ready to pickle is in a bucket of COLD water. (Using warm or hot water will cause fur slip) Just remember that bacteria begins to grow very very quickly on a thawed or raw hide.


Quote:
Kyah, that's awesome! I found that project a while back and have wanted to make it also. What method did you use to tan you hides?
These ones were done with alum/salt. If there's one tip I can give you though, if you decide to make this blanket - it's to use the pelts from older rabbits if you can. I had a few pelts from younger fryer rabbits, and the hides were quite thin. I found they didn't stand up to the twisting at all like the older prime ones did.

-Kyah
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  #17  
Old 09/18/12, 10:24 PM
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
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I'm curious with a sewing version of this blanket would it require less furs? Id love to try this (and I will) but it will take a while to get the 150 hides id need :P I'm a big boy and I would need a 7x6 blanket as I share a bed with a girl who is a blanket hog!


Also any chance of a video of you doing a line just for a visual lesson? Also what is a DIRT CHEAP tanning solution mix that will work for this? Thank you.

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  #18  
Old 09/19/12, 02:04 PM
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I have a goal to make Christmas presents every year! My goal for next year is to make moccasins for everyone next year! I need to learn how to tan hides. Is there a good website that anyone can recommend to get me started?

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  #19  
Old 09/19/12, 02:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Oakshire_Farm View Post
I have a goal to make Christmas presents every year! My goal for next year is to make moccasins for everyone next year! I need to learn how to tan hides. Is there a good website that anyone can recommend to get me started?
me too me too! I want to make cool stuff....
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  #20  
Old 09/19/12, 03:34 PM
 
Join Date: May 2002
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Originally Posted by Oakshire_Farm View Post
I need to learn how to tan hides. Is there a good website that anyone can recommend to get me started?
This is a good article. HOW TO TAN RABBIT HIDES
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