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What is faux fur ? How is it different and Can it be made to look like fur?

Important facts related to faux fur, fake fur or synthetic fur used as an alternative to real fur.
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Faux fur is a material made of synthetic fibers, that is made to look almost exactly like real fur of animals.  There is nothing natural about it – not the yarn, the fiber or the fabric. Synthetic fibers are made to imitate real fur. Faux fur is Acrylic or Modacrylic on a polyester base – Completely artificial and man-made.

As an animal-friendly alternative to fur fabric, the global market for faux fur is growing at a rapid rate and the demand and supply is about to explode in the coming years.

Since real fur is frowned upon, faux fur is big business- a million-dollar textile product. The projected market for faux fur products is about $130 million. This market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10-12% in the next five years, reaching a value of over $200 million by 2028.(Source: )

Coats, slippers, scarves, pompoms, accessories like earrings, hats, home furnishing, hoods, hats, earmuffs, stuffed toys – there are many things you can make with faux fur. It is even used for furniture upholstery.

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Why Faux Fur?

This imitation fur has had immense popularity since its inception in 1920s, what with animal activists raising cudgels against the cruelty and danger of using real fur and the many public awareness campaigns carried out by animal lovers (like Anti-Fur Trade Movement) pointing to faux fur as a better option and many more people choosing this as a budget-friendly option.

It is available in many lengths. Faux fur with short hair includes that of chinchilla, rabbit, baby alpaca, beaver lamp and zebra. Faux fur with medium fur includes mink, bicolor sheep, leopard, poodle. Long-haired faux fur includes Raccoon, Fox, Russian Sable, Tibetan Lamb.

People object to Fur for moral reasons. Thinking about the foxes, rabbits, minks, raccoons, dogs that are killed deliberately for making that particular hat or coat should deter you, not the cost. There will be hundreds of such animals killed in fur farms, if wearing fur is not frowned upon. Wearing fur is encouraging and abetting this mass slaughter; it is not the status symbol it once was, but a shame on your conscience.

Faux fur – what makes it different from real fur

Faux fur can be made to look very similar to real fur, interms of texture, color and hand. To the point that even the natural variations of animal fur may be imitated. It may be difficult to decifer between both in terms of the length of the fibers, the color patterns, and the softness or coarseness of the material..

Even PETA website acknowledges that it is difficult to distinguish fur from fake fur. But there are ways.

Faux fur vs Real fur
If you are getting the material cheap, it is usually fake fur. Real fur is rare and very costly.
Faux fur will be harder and less supple than real fur. It may be coarser or stiff when you run your hand over it, when compared to real fur. It will also be of uniform length with soft ends. Whereas fake fur may have cut, blunt ends
Looking at the back of the fur is a way to tell whether you have fur or fake fur – see if the fluff is attached to skin or a knit fabric/webbing. If it is attached to fabric it is fake fur. Fake fur usually has a fabric or mesh base but Real fur is attached to a hide or leather backing.
The lable on the garment will have the synthetic component factor mentioned : instead of “real fur,” “genuine fur,” or the specific animal (e.g., mink, rabbit) it will be synthetic fur mentioned or the blend of materials will be displayed
Faux fur will be of consistent coloring as it is factory made in a machine. As a natural material fur maynot have this same coloring throughout.
You can cut large lengths of fake fur, whereas real fur is usualy available in small lengths. The width and length of fur is limited by the size of the animal it is harvested from. Faux fur is made in factories in large rolls.
Use the burn test – Cut a small piece of fur and carefully burn it. Real fur will smell like burnt hair. The synthetic fur will smell like burnt plastic. Real fur also burns slower and leaves ash, whereas fake fur may melt.

  • Sometimes real fur and fake fur can cost the same. Fur Farms in developing nations make this possible. But the cruelty that is inherent in these farms should deter you from buying from them.
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Keeping faux fur intact and making it look like real fur

The main difference between fake fur and the original is the softness and warmth. And the main issues around fake fur are the matting of the pile, and lack of luster and shrinkage and loss of volume. These are all dependant on proper washing.

First and foremost buy high quality faux leather

And select fake leather in a natural looking color. No one is going to believe that your purple fur coat is real.

And then follow some care instructions like the follwoing:

It is better to not give the fake fur for dry cleaning as the solvents used may cause discoloration and distortion of the pile. 

The best option is to use gentle hand washing and low to no heat drying, that too if the item gets too dirty. Otherwise it is better to leave it alone. ; 

Do not let the fabric sit in water for long – choose the shortest wash cycle possible in your machine.

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Never add Fabric conditioners or bleach.

Always Remember that faux fur is plastic and too much heat can damage the fibers. So tumble drying is out of question. If there is heat the fur will start to shrivel. You can use a low heat blow dryer to dry the item. Drying in a very low or no heat setting can fluff the pile which has matted.

Use a gentle hair brush to brush the pile while still damp can bring the pile to behave. This prevents the tufting of fibers as it dries.

Never iron faux fur.

And if you accidentally heat damaged faux fur, you may be right in panicking. As a synthetic material, heat hardens and the texture is usually lost. But you can try to salvage it by using steam to help restore the texture of the faux fur. Hang the damaged item in a bathroom with the shower running hot to create steam. Allow the steam to penetrate the fur, and then gently fluff it with your fingers or a brush. You may be in luck……..

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So Finally…. 

Is Faux Fur better than real animal fur? – not really, says this. Some people object to the idea of faux fur as a sustainable alternative because of its plastic origin; but that doesn’t deter most people from buying things made of this or making things with it. Till a suitable environmental friendly sustainable alternative is discovered we continue to use faux fur or imitation fur for its luscious pile, so similar to real fur of animals, or sometimes even better.

Interesting reading on fake fur :

Related posts :How to cut and sew faux fur; Fake fur gilet-sewing tutorial; Faux-fur collar-DIY; Types of fabrics with name.

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Author: Sarina Tariq
Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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