The above photo shows just how myriad wool can be. Six swatches, all of them completely different. The details are from top left, working clockwise:
- Waffled wool coating, £23.95 a metre
- Blue grey line check floppy wool mix tweed suiting, £15.90 a metre
- Chanel type tweed, £18 a metre
- Armani type camel lambswool herringbone, £15.90 a metre
- Polyester, viscose, wool boucle coating, £14.50 a metre
- Wool reversible coating tweed, £15.90 a metre
All available from Stone Fabrics
So, yeah – wool ain’t cheap. (Though I’ve found some very affordable wool options on Walthamstow market.) It’s safe to say, I really like working with wool fabric.
What do I like so much about wool?
- It’s incredibly well-behaved, which I think makes it ideal for a beginner Sewist who may want to dip a toe into working with more high-end fabrics.
- Many wool fabrics don’t fray, which means you don’t have to worry at all about finishing raw seams – hurrah!
- It’s malleable, which means that things like dart points can be gently persuaded to disappear beneath steam from an iron.
- It’s fairly well-behaved. Your fabric is not going to rebel on you.
- Wool is very resilient – your make will last years.
- This fabric resists wrinkling, is breathable yet insulating, flame-retardant and doesn’t get too heavy when wet.
Guys, what’s not to like?!!! Um…
What are the disadvantages?
- Some people advise pre-shrinking your wool – see how here. (True confessions – I’ve never bothered doing this.)
- Whilst working, you’ll want to keep your iron on a medium heat, otherwise your wool will scorch. Ideally, it’s worth using a press cloth when pressing wool.
- You might want to use a clapper to make seams lay flat when pressed open. Wool fabric can be springy.
- It can be difficult to hem without obvious bulges, because of the thickness of the wool. See my post here.
- Very thick wools can become bulky to put through the sewing machine. Especially on areas where a lot of layers are coming together ie collars.
- Making a wool dress? Keep an eye on the weight of wool. You’ll really want it to be pretty lightweight, to avoid the danger of sweltering in overheated rooms. You should also think about your sleeve options – will a cardigan become obligatory to cover bare arms, adding to those heat-trapping layers?
- 100% wools will be dry clean only, so you’ll have maintenance expenses. But most wools also have an ability to self-clean, so you shouldn’t need to cough up for cleaning too often.
- Some fabric, such as wool crepe, can be scratchy and will need lining.
Another online advocate of wool fabrics is My Happy Sewing Place. Check out this amazing tweed wool trouser suit she made. In fact, check out all her blog – it’s totally inspiring.
So, tell me. Inspired to sew with wool this autumn? Any tips of your own? Let me know!