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wazzabears Wazza Bears Australia
Posts: 623

I done a search but could not find a thread that match. I picked up some white mink from a vintage stole and I am trying to make a bear. I have a mink jacket that is my 94 year old nannas. I want to create 3 bears from it, for my mum and her 2 sisters as a keep sake plus a surprise for them. I don't want to cut into the jacket until I have done some tests on some stoles I have. Can anyone give me any important tips to dealing with mink. Cutting, pattern placement, sewing etc???????????????????????
I also think I might be allergic to it. It makes my eyes itchy and I feel the little fibres up my nose. But I want to do this for my mum and her sisters. I think i will have to keep the allergie tablets close at hand LOL.

momanimallover Taber, Alberta
Posts: 1,795

here's what I do:
-- Lay your pattern pieces in the direction of the nap, if there's any leather strips in between try to work around them
--- I use a razor blade to cut them out because you don't cut into the fur much at all and then there's less fur going up your nose and it's faster bear_original
---- When I hand sew I use a small leather [glover] needle or if machine sewing use a leather needle but make sure the stitches aren't too close together or it will cut the leather.
I hope that helps a bit bear_original

momanimallover Taber, Alberta
Posts: 1,795

Oh and you should line the pattern pieces with a material like muslin bear_thumb

Donna Donna's Duin Bruins
Burbank, CA
Posts: 900

Here's how I do it.
Lay the piece out and check it for bad spots on the leather and on the fur sides.  Mark any areas that should not be used.  I use a leather conditioner on the leather before I do anything with it.  I choose a pattern that does not have any small areas that will need to be turned.  If it has big feet and small ankles you will not be able to turn it right side out very easily.  I cut my fur pieces out and then line them so that I can see any problems with the pelt.  Some people do the lining first, it speeds things up.  I use Leather Weld to glue my muslin to the leather.  You can also use a school glue stick.  Regular glue makes it hard to stitch.  Use a longer stitch than what you do for mohair.  If you use tiny stitches like for mohair the leather can just fall apart.  Leave your openings for turning and stuffing much larger than you do for mohair.  You have more material to get through that small hole.  I use paper clips or aligator clips to hold it together while sewing.  Remember the more pin holes you put in it the more chance of tears in the leather.  When doing the nose, I make a felt template and partially sew it to the face then I stuff it with polyfil then finish stitching it to the face.  Then rather than putting all those stitches through the leather I do my satin stitch through the stuffing under the felt template.  Or I put a leather nose on the bear.  Fur tends to be a slippery surface so I try to tighten my joints really tight.  They loosen up more than on mohair.
For the fur getting in your nose and eyes.  I will take mine outside to cut if I can and let the wind blow it away.  After it is cut out, I either shake it outside really well or use the vacuum on each piece.  You can put a fan in an open window blowing out.  Cover the fan with screen cloth and turn it on while you work on the fur.  The fur will catch on the screen rather than be flying around you while you work.  I think that tip came from Bobbie but not sure.
I think I have covered all the things to watch for.  There is a book, Bears with a Past by Nancy Tillberg that is all about working with fur.
Have fun and good luck.  Let us see what you make.

Melisa Nichols Melisa's Bears
Hazelton, BC
Posts: 5,811

Brenda & Donna have got you off to a great start!  The only tip I can think of adding is when I want really tight joints, I trim the fur short under the joint... it's less likely to loosen later. 

I'm looking forward to seeing your mink bears!   bear_original

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

LOL & TY, Donna - I posted it once long ago & again yesterday in the another discussion on hemp & stuffing materials:

We miniaturists don't generally have as much fiber flying about.

When I cut out some 4" to 6" bears from mink and again when I was scissor sculpting them, I did what some Kind Soul advised me to do when I worked on a larger stuffing project (not a bear):
I placed a Box Window Fan in a window near my chair and table, put a piece of fiberglass window screening over the front of it (on the inside, facing me) and turned the fan on HIGH, blowing the air Out.
All of the floaty, drifty fibers were sucked right up against that screening and held there.

When I was finished, I gathered the 4 corners, turned the fan Off and took the screening outside to shake clear.
Several times I even laid it over a bush or a clothes line, as it was Spring: it was entertaining to watch birds come to gather the oh-so-soft fibers for nesting material.

Now THAT'S what I call ReCycling!!!!

My only additional thought is that I avoided seams in the coats and garments whenever I could. They made it more difficult to work (turn) with in the smaller size (tho that was very large for me!). If I was shown a coat/jacket/stole/cape with too many seams or seams that didn't give me areas at least as wide as my pattern pieces, I didn't accept it for work or purchase the garment.

wazzabears Wazza Bears Australia
Posts: 623

Thanks guys for your valid tips. I have enlarge my pattern to 9". I think work with mink would be hard as a mini especially for my first one. If this one works out I wil put it on ebay, But it will defiantly be a one off rare from me I think. I will keep you all posted with my progress. I layed the fur out last night and put the pattern on it. I have to go and get some backing today. I think i will sew it on the machine. Even though I sew everything with hand. I just think this backing will be tuff. So I will keep you posted. It might take me a while as i do have a showcoming up in Oct. So heaps of bears to make and Uni assignments approaching fast.

DebbieD Posts: 3,540

Keep your openings LARGE!!!   bear_shocked   You will not realize the diffence in turning real fur vs mohair til you do it, plus it'll be lined with muslin.

I have the opposite reaction ~ I'm allergic to mohair and synthetic fabrics I totally understand!  If you can possibly use latex or thin rubber gloves, do so!!!  If not, work in very short spurts, only a couple of hours, then wait a couple of days in between.  Its completely miserable during the work, but the end results are soooo worth it  bear_wub   I would definitely wear some form of a mask if your lungs are touchy and take sinus tablets. 

I wash incessantly while working with mohair or synthetics, but my skin breaks out no matter what  I try or use?  I guess its really up to the individual. Bestof luck and let us see pics when they are done  :photo:

Michelle Helen Chaska, Minnesota
Posts: 2,897

I love making bears from mink (recycled of course). I found Nancy Tillberg's book "Teddy Bears With a Past". you can find it on … 413&sr=1-1

My big tip for you is when cutting the bear parts, take tiny snips so you are not cutting the beautify fur. DON'T shake the parts. Once you finish cutting, take a hand held vacuum and vacuum the parts (hang on to those bear parts for it will suck them in but if that happens just retrieve it from the bag).

Also, line the bear parts with muslin. Do not use glue for it erodes the hide of the mink skin. Rather baste  in long stitches, the muslin lining to your pieces. I use an overcast stitch for this. Oh, and avoid laying the pattern over a seam when cutting out the face.

Tip three. Make sure the face parts are on the most beautiful part of the mink. Also be sure the face pieces are in the same area so the color is consistent.

Sew with leather needles.

Hope this helps...

Abby&Ellie Originalz Mylo, North Dakota
Posts: 162

I have no tips on making bears with mink...or any real fur...have never done it bear_wacko ...but if you were interested in Nancy's Book Bears with a Past (it is a good book, I have it) I saw there is one on ebay right now  bear_original  . It's at .99 cents now...I paid nearly $40 for mine...but it is a good book.
I'll try to paste the link: … ZViewIteme

The book has many tips bear_thumb ....and it's primarily all about making bears out of real fur. Good luck!

minkbears Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers
Lakewood CA
Posts: 1,387

Well, I was going to give you some tips but I see that all of the tips given so far are excellent!  :clap:  :clap:  :clap:  :clap:  :clap:

The only thing that I can think of adding is about attaching the muslin lining to the pelt...I use leather glue because it is very flexible when dry and don't make the mistake of covering the whole piece with glue because you only need enough glue around the edges to hold the backing to the pelt (you will be sewing it together later). I cut out the muslin pattern and glue that to the pelt before I cut but it is very very important to constantly check the fur side of the pelt for bad spots. Those small bald spots, stained spots, or small holes in the pelt can be easily missed and can ruin a pattern piece. Unlike working with mohair you have an enormous preparation time when you are working with real fur. And, as you are probably finding out, working with real fur is very very messy. Good luck!


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