Accessorizing for Williamsburg: An 18th Century Fur Muff

On my list of things to make for our March trip to Williamsburg was a fur muff to keep the hands warm, in case of chilly weather.

Mrs. Wilbraham Bootle, 1781 by George Romney, oil on Canvas, National Gallery of Scotland

I was itching to try making a muff, as I already had all the necessary materials in my stash – vintage salvaged sable fur, satin for the lining, the guts of a hundred dog toys (polyfill).

Sable fur rescued from a vintage coat that was in pretty bad condition – I seamed several piece together, which is a lot harder than it looks – you can see my vertical seam, which is rather obvious.

I read through Leimomi’s post about her fur muff, and Katherine’s tutorials on making a muff base and cover, then decided to try to make a base with the fur as a cover, after seeing Jen’s version made this way.

Here’s my muff base, made out of stash satin. I didn’t really have enough polyfill to fill it up, and I ended up going a different direction with the construction, but this worked great as a mockup.

The problem was that I was using real fur salvaged from a vintage coat, and it didn’t want to fold and bend the way faux fur does. I couldn’t conceive a way, too, to cleanly attach a gathering channel to the fur.

So I went with a second method informed by Katherine’s tutorial.  After piecing together a large enough piece of the vintage fur, I stitched one side to the lining material, and also attached a narrow strip to the other side, seen here:

The construction is the same as in Katherine’s tutorial, but I’ve created the yardage from two materials – one will be the outside and one the inside of the muff.

The strip is what I would be whip-stitching the lining to, once I’d pulled it through the fur-tube, as stitching it to the hide itself would have been difficult and put a lot of stress on the skin, probably tearing through it.

With this piece, I then followed Katherine’s directions, stitching it together length-wise, then pulling the lining through the middle of the fur, stuffing it with polyfill, and tediously turning the edge of the lining and facing strip, and whipping those together.

The tube, before pulling the satin through the fur, and stuffing it

Though some steps were tricky, all in all I made the thing in about two hours, and it works a treat.  I may open the end up and add some more stuffing (you’ll need more than you think), but other wise it’s finished, and I have one more accessory for Williamsburg done. 🙂

The last little bit was to add a bow cut out of ivory taffeta. It’s not necessary, but I liked the look of it, and it also reminds me which way to hold the muff, so the fur runs downwards, and my less-than-stellar seaming is hidden-ish.

That’s it! It was quick and fairly easy, with good results. You can make muffs out of wool, satin, fur, faux fur, really whatever you like, and decorate them in a gazillion different ways. They work across periods, too, and really do keep the hands warm. It’s a nice project for an evening, or a get-together with friends. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Discover more from American Duchess Blog

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading