My New Vintage Beeline Fur Coat, How to Tell Faux Fur and How to Clean It.

So as I mentioned in my last post I recently bought a vintage faux fur coat at a thrift store in Aurora. I couldn’t tell at first if it was real or not but once I got it home I looked up some ways to id real fur. (Source)

  • Check the base of the fur or the backing, if it’s fake it will be cloth and you will be able to see where the fake fur is sewn on.
  • Check the end of the fibers, real fur will taper off, fake fur will not.
  • If the coat is yours you can burn some of the fibers, real fur smells like burning hair while fake fur will not.

My coat is faux fur but I could swear it was actually big foot fur because trying to get a picture of this thing that isn’t grainy and blurry and discolored has been damn near impossible. I took around 10 pictures and this was the best:

Here is a picture of the label. It says: Beeline Fashions, Golden Bee Collection

After doing some research on Beeline Fashions I turned up a 1976 court case which besides indicating that Beeline had some tax problems gave an overview of the company. Basically women hosted parties in their homes where the newest Beeline fashions were shown off by representatives of the company and the guests placed orders for them. There are quite a few modern examples of parties like this, Pampered Chef, Stampin’ Up, and Essential Bodywear are just a couple. I also found this cute invitation to a Beeline Fashion party:

It reads: I’ve arranged to have a Beeline Fashion Show. I think it is a terrific way for a few of us to get together. It will be a lot of fun seeing and perhaps even modeling the latest fashions. I know we’ll have a grand time if I can count on you to be there. If you want to bring a friend along . . . fine!

So my coat dates to sometime in the late 60’s to the early 70’s, and from the look of it was last cleaned sometime around then. It was a bit grimy and smelled a lot like stale cigarettes and thrift stores. The tag inside the coat says dry clean only, but I have never dry cleaned anything I own, I always find a do it yourself method instead and this was no exception. So without further ado here is:

My Guide to D.I.Y. Faux Fur Cleaning

After extensive online research I found out that the biggest problems with cleaning faux fur is that agitation, hot water and hot air are all apt to damage the synthetic fur. Which means using the washer is dangerous, and the dryer is out of the question. So I decided to try my own hand washing method, the procedure follows below. If you want to try to hand wash your faux fur some words of caution:

  • First, since every fiber content is different and you could risk damaging the fur by using non-approved cleaning methods don’t try this on your great-grandmothers favorite fox fur or faux fox fur for that matter.
  • Second, fur gets very very heavy when soaked in water, like crazy heavy. My coat is only half-length and I had trouble lifting it when fully saturated. If you pick up or hang a wet fur incorrectly it is possible that the weight will rip seams or bend the coat out of shape… not to mention bend your back out of shape
  • Lastly check that the detergent/soap that you are going to use won’t discolor the fur by testing it on an inconspicuous area first.

Enough with the words of caution. First off I washed my coat in the bathtub so I could lay it out flat in the water. I filled the tub with about 6 inches of lukewarm water, just enough to submerge the coat and added a very small amount of Fels-Naptha laundry soap. I love this soap I use it for all my laundry needs, pre-treater, whitener, hand-washing and best of all a bar goes for 97 cents at Wal-Mart. Here is my coat chillin’ in the tub:

You want to run your fingers through the fur to bring up the dirt and odors, but be gentle. After agitating one side I flipped the coat over (with some difficulty) and did the same to the other side. Below are the rest of my pictures of the coat in the water. The middle one is suppose to be showing how dirty the water is, I was surprised how brown the water got.

    

So after letting the coat soak in the soap and water I drained the tub and squeezed as much water as possible out of the coat before refilling the tub with fresh rinse water. This is where not using much soap will come in handy, if there are any suds at all the coat still needs to be rinsed. Leaving soap on the fur will result in even more dirt and grime getting stuck to it once it’s dry.

To dry the coat drain the tub and squeeze as much water as possible out of the fur before laying it on thick towels and covering it more towels, gently press all the water you can out of the coat. It will still be extremely wet. Throw it over a shower rod or a sturdy drying rack with the lining side down so the fur doesn’t dry crushed.

It will speed the drying process to every so often take the fur down and press more water out with dry towels. After around 5 hours of drip drying and occasional towel treatments my fur was still damp but no longer dripping and not nearly as heavy.

I placed the coat on new dry towels and re-shaped the coat so it didn’t finish drying in a weird shape. I noticed that the inside of the sleeves were still very wet. I rolled up towels and placed them inside. It worked really well, the towels absorbed the excess water and kept the sleeves shaped nicely. Periodically over the next 5 hours I flipped the coat over so none of the fur dried flat, fluffed the fur and re-shaped the collar.

This is definitely not a job you can start in the morning and come back to at night. It needs to be checked on every few hours. I started cleaning my coat at around 1 in the afternoon and it was finally dry enough to stop checking on it at around 8, and it wasn’t fully dry until the next morning.

The results are fantastic though the fur is shiny and fluffy and soft and has no more unpleasant smells. I can’t wait for it to snow again so I can show this thing off.

More to Read!

3 comments

  1. ANGELA NICOLAIDES says:

    Thank you for this! Brilliant post, I have veen putting off attempting to wash a little faux-fur 1950s jacket/shrug but am going to give it a try now. Thank you x

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