Ideas for Old Fur Coats

By LeeAnn Bonds

So, you've acquired an old mink coat, vintage--but not in the good way. Maybe it's partially damaged or hopelessly outdated, but it still has promise. Even with only small areas worth salvaging, there are a plenty of ways you can re-purpose fur.

Row of coats made of animal fur
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Refashioning

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Caroline Beil in a fur coat

If the fur is valuable and in decent condition, consider having it refashioned. Take it to a furrier, who will assess the fur, and let you know if it's a good candidate to be altered into a new style. It might also be suitable for shearing---shaving the fur to a shorter length, which gives it a completely different look. A furrier's services can be pricey, so do your research and examine your budget before going this route.

If professional refashioning isn't in your budget, you can try doing your own alterations. Possibilities include shortening the length, shortening the sleeve length or removing the sleeves entirely to make a vest.

Smaller Projects

Woman posing in coat
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Fur collar on a cardigan

If you just have a stole, or if your fur is damaged, but there are areas of it that are in decent shape, try one of these re-purpose options to salvage the good parts:

Fur collar: remove the collar from the fur, and add it to a sweater or jacket. Attach it with snaps or some other fasteners, so you can remove it for washing.

Fur cuffs: remove small pieces from the coat to create cuffs for a winter jacket or the tops of boots.

Fur purse: Use a tote bag pattern, and make a fur purse.

Fur book cover: try using fur scraps for a home-made book cover (use sturdy fabric for the inside covers).

Fur muff: Make a muff for yourself or a homemade gift.

Jewelry: Cut a portion of fur and line the interior with satin fabric. Add a long ribbon or cord to hang it around your neck if you like. Or make a DIY bracelet with fur.

Fur Brooch: Embellish a vintage brooch or pin with small segments of fur.

Others: Use narrow strips of fur for trim on shirts, hats, gloves, even lampshades. Scraps could be scrunched into a ball for a key fob decoration, or even a wild pair of earrings.

Before You Get Started

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Woman in a full-length fur coat

Before you dive and start re-purposing here are a few things to consider: Is the fur infested with anything? If so, you may want to have it cleaned. Also, what condition is the leather in? Will it crumble apart if you start working with it, or is it sturdy? You don't want to get hours into a project and have it start falling to pieces.

Next, research the proper method for cutting real fur, and gather some tools and supplies. If you're sewing by hand you'll need a razor blade, a leather needle, needle-nose pliers and button or carpet thread.

Tips: Shave the fur away from the area where you plan to cut and leave room for the seams. Make sure you don't cut the hairs too far out---you want the seams to be as invisible as possible. If you've got a sewing machine, determine whether your sewing machine can handle sewing through two layers of leather, or whether you'll need to sew by hand.