Patterns, Cutting, and Sewing.

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One of the main things that people seem to fear is taking a concept and stitching it all up into a costume.

This can be easy if you are working from a simple jumpsuit pattern, to complex when designing a costume like Marc. There are no places on the Net where you can buy patterns for digitigrade costumes.

However I was able to work out several simple ways to make a pattern and then work on the fur.

Apologies for the figure in the pictures..

Patterns

First get your foam bodywork finished.

As you will be using this to model on it will need to be complete.. or almost complete.

Any major work on this may cause the furry outer suit not to fit.

Next buy several packs of cheap Calico.

You can get this from fabric shops.. often in pre-cut lengths.

You will need about 1.5 time the area of fur fabric to use.

Now – put on you foam work (and it’s a good idea to have a friend helping here)

Wrap yourself in the Calico.
You can cut smaller sections if you require making the wrapping easier.

Grip the edges together over the foam and use pins to make a loose seam.

Then use a marking pen to draw both seams on the Calico.

If you do this in front of a mirror you will also get an idea of what the fur will look on top of the foam.

Remember that your fur will be a lot thicker than the Calico so minor defects in the foam work will be covered.

But it will also help you to evaluation how the results will look.

If needed – got back and re cut the foam etc..

When you unpin that section of the Calico you will find a crude.. but useable pattern.

Remember to add some hemming edges on the Calico.

Now cut it and write on it what section it was for.

Having a large number of funny shaped calico scraps around will be confusing.

If you want you can even lightly stitch the Calico together to give yourself a Calico fur suit – but don’t stitch too much as this is only your pattern.

Front View
Side View
Back View


Tracing.

Now – you have several dollars.. or hundred of dollars of fur fabric.. and no mistake will be tolerated.. Or will it?.

When cutting the fur I usually turn it onto its back and trace the outline of the pattern onto it.

MAKE SURE that the lie of the fur is correct.. Otherwise you can end up with fur running one way and then another and this can look very bad.

Use a water base marker trace around your pattern onto the fur. That’s way it can be washes out later. Chalk will also work.

REMEMBER that the side Calico that was exposed when you made the patters MUST now face the fur. Best to trace on BOTH sides of the Calico to make tings easier - remembering to Mark FURSIDE and SKINSIDE

I know several people who have made this mistake and ended with a a costume with the fur on the inside rather than the outside.

Give yourself plenty of margins for sewing , trimming etc. I use about 1 to 1.5cm for the seams on EACH piece.

You can easily take a seam in to make a tighter fit.. letting out a seem is more difficult.
Laying thee Pattern
Tracing the Pattern
Deepening the Mark.


Cutting.

As I often work with very long furred fabric - like the Wolf fur I chose for the body.
That has 3 layers and about 3cm deep. I wanted to preserve the look of the fur as much as possible - but still give a very strong seam.

To cut the fur I prefer to use a single sided razorblade instead of a scissors.

The reason for this is that it preserve the fur on the other side.

Even though I do trim back for a hem - there is always the chance that some of the longer plush on the fabric will get caught.

The the whole effort of this exercise is not only to give a strong seam.. but also to make an INVISIBLE one!!

Using the blade make small continuos cuts to the fabric - following the lines that you have marked.

Don't press too deeply into the fur underneath otherwise you can score the underlying surface and also cut the hairs themselves.

You know that it has worked when you pull the two pieces apart and see that the underlying fur is not touched.
Cutting
Cutting Closer
Pulling apart the Pieces


Preparing the Hem.

Now you have your pieces you will want to join them together.

But consider - you have two fairly thick pieces of furry fabric and you are going to ask a sewing machine to compress them and bind them together

Not all machines have that strength, and a weaker common machine will give you a very loose hem which can move, stretch, and utilmately come apart.

What I prefer to do is to trim back the fur from the edge a little so that we are working with almost the base fabric.

I use a small pair of very sharp scissirs to help here. The amount that I usuall trim back is about 1 to 1.25cm

In the last image you can see the two pieces that I am going to join.

And with luck - the join will be invisible from the fur side.
Trimming the fur.
Finished hem
Both Hems ready for Sewing




Sewing

I have an old Huskvana machine that I used to stich Marc with
I use the settings pictured here - its a stretch stitch used for certain fabrics. Most fur fabric have some stretch in it.

The thread I prefer to use is either button thread or upholsery thread. It is extremely strong and durable

I don’t have an overlocker and I am unsure how one would handle fur fabric, and provide the durability of stitching that I prefer.

However if I did I would only use it instead of my finishing Blanket stitch.

Using the machine - so a single stitch down the middle to join the two parts together.

Take it out and look at the join. If the fur is lying the way you want it do in regards to direction you can then do the next two runs.

The next two runs will be more into the fabric as we now want to make sure that there is no visible gap through the underlying fur

This may seem excessive but I do a lot of activities in Marc like running, climbing etc.. and I have yet to have a seam deteriorate.

When you have finished you should have three sets of zigzags.. Give the seam a test pull to make sure that it is strong.

Now. – what I described sounded complex – but fur fabric is VERY forgiving of mistakes.

Even is your stitching is a little out usually the fur itself will hide the defect.

Try on the newly sewn section. If it is too loose by design – you can easily take it in and tighten the seams.

If necessary you can cut sections of the old seam away if you need to make a new seam further into the fabric.

As a finishing touch I do a running blanket stich alone the seam edges –
but you can use an overlocker here if you want.

The 3 stretch stiches will hold the main stress.

If you need to stitch through the fur it is best to have the needle going through from the fabric side.

Then turn the fur over and combing or tweaking the flattered fur out from under the stitches to let the rest of the fur looks smooth and natural.

However - stitching through the fur can be an excellent way to add highlights like belly muscles and chest areas.

Sewing Maching Settings
First Stitch run
Runs 2 and 3
Blanket Stitch
Finished Hem
Checking the Fur.


By now you will have a costume that is looking.. like a costume Try it on..

Pose in front of the mirror.

You will be the best critic on how it will look, and see if it is resembling your character