The following method of adding stretch to standard fur won't drain the budget and can give good results, but it can also add a lot of time to the project.
WARNING: If you abhor the idea of hand sewing your suit, you should exit this tutorial now, this is many times more time consuming and much more tedious.
The below example is done on the forearm of a fursuit to make it snug around the wrist, but also be able to slip over the hand. I also used this method to take in excess material around the rear and in the knees. Due to the time this procedure takes, I only recommend using this in high movement areas like the elbows, knees, and rear (butt).
Take elastic thread and weave it into the backing. If you like to figure things out yourself (I like to hard way too), go to Walmart, pick up the thread and get started. If you'd like to learn from my mistakes, keep reading.
I knew if I made a duct tape dummy for a pattern, the pieces would fit and would fit me, but I was concerned about movement. So I made the duct tape dummy lose enough around the joints to allow me to maneuver. I stuffed the dummy, drew out the color pattern and also drew a pattern for where I wanted any additional seams. After cutting pieces out of the dummy, I placed them on construction paper (the big rolls they sell at the hardware store), and traced them out. The paper pattern was then transferred to the fur and the suit sewn together. This method left a lot of large wrinkles where there was too much fabric. Not wanting to restrict movement, I looked for a way to compress the excess fur, allowing it to stretch when necessary. I found myself wondering through a Wally World at 3 am and stumbled into the crafts area where I found an elastic thread, and thought, "hmmm, that might do the job."
-The fur used in this tutorial is 1" Cubby Bear fur from Monterey Mills.
-Elastic thread (Stretchrite). I found it in the fabrics and crafts area of Walmart around the other elastic and Velcro supplies.
-Needle. I used one of the larger ones that came in an emergency sewing kit.
-Scissors or Knife.
Thread the needle. The first thing I had to figure out was how to get the thick elastic thread through the eye of a needle. This is probably elementary to most of you, but I thought I'd include it anyway. There are little tools that have a wire loop that help thread a needle, but I lost mine, and this works just as well.
(1)Take a piece of regular thread and put a loop of it through the eye of the needle.
(2)Take one end of the elastic and place it through the loop.
(3)Pull the loop of regular thread back through the eye, dragging the elastic with it. It may take a tug or two to get the elastic through the eye.
(4)Pull about one to one and a half feet (unstretched length) of elastic through the eye and cut the other end so you have about a two or three foot section with half on each side of the needle.
Tie the elastic to the backing (you're working with the fur inside-out right?). I used two half hitches, but your favorite sewing knot will probably work fine.
|1st Half Hitch||2nd Half Hitch|
Weave the Elastic into the Fur:
Now you just do the following over and over again:
(1)Weave the needle through the backing trying to go as shallow as possible so you don't get into the fur pile.
(2)Pull the needle out and pull the thread through the weave. There is some technique to this. The elastic hates you and will try to thwart your efforts by tying itself in knots. You can stop its evil agenda by placing a finger over the spot where the elastic is being pulled into the fabric, and by all means stop pulling if a knot starts to form and untangle it before continuing.
(3)Stretch the fur. You have to ensure that you can stretch the fur to its original size and shape after each pass with the elastic; otherwise, the elastic will be too tight and may break when you try to stretch the fur later. You may have to back feed a little of the thread to allow the fur to fully stretch out.
The following video shows the above steps including the elastic tying itself in knots and how to prevent it.
-If you run the elastic across a seam, it will pull the seam together and prevent popping stitches. If you stop the elastic just before a seam, it will pull the seam apart putting the strain on the stitches instead of the elastic. So if possible, run the elastic from seam to seam crossing each seam before turning around and going the other way.
-2-way vs 4-way stretch. Using the above method, you can run the thread in parallel lines to create 2-way stretch, or in perpendicular or zigzag lines to create 4-way stretch.
-The elastic thread is a single filament of elastic material with synthetic fibers spun around it. Those fibers will start to fray as it is woven into the fur. If you try working with too long of a piece, it will come apart and in some cases the frayed threads will get caught in the fur.
-As you go from one piece of elastic to another, tie the old one to the backing and tie the new piece to the old one to limit how much tension is put on the fur backing.
-The spacing of the elastic will depend on how thick the fur is, and how much patience you have. For 1" fur, between a quarter and a half inch works well. If you are running the elastic in two different directions, the threads should be less than half an inch apart or the diamonds that are formed by the wrinkles in the elastic will start to show through on the surface. If working with seal fur, a quarter inch may not be close enough.
Examples of results.
|The left and right forearms, they were both the same size before I started:|
|The outside of the forearms.|
|It's a little more subtle here; see the pictures below for somewhat more dramatic results.|
Photo's from this tutorial and a few others: