I've never made a bear out of real fur; I've always wanted to, but never took up the challenge. I was asked to make bears by my niece from a full-length muskrat coat that belonged to her deceased mother. As I understand it, the five children in the family grew up playing in mom's coat. A couple of weeks ago I got another call from a local lady wanting bears out of a full-length mink. Two real fur coats...I immediately signed up for the Heirloom Bear online class at EbearZ University.
The first step is to take the coats apart and check for tears or bald spots. This is a messy, messy job that must be done outside. As I started taking the mink apart I found lots of little yellow pieces that looked like sawdust. Did you know that real fur professionally cleaned is tumbled in large drums of sawdust? I didn't, not until I checked with Nancy Tillberg. Take a look at her website to see some of the beautiful bears she makes, many of them from recycled fur.
After I calmed down about the sawdust, it took me two days to take the mink apart. It will probably take longer for the muskrat since it has an underlining as well. Both coats saw a lot of use and were in worse shape than they appeared as whole coats. Today I'm working on a pattern. I'm a little scared to start cutting into someone's special coat, but I'm on it and will let you know how I do.