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Sewing with Wool

Sewing with wool

This guide to sewing with wool fabrics has been written by Remnant Kings, suppliers of a huge range of dressmaking, soft furnishing fabrics and haberdashery online and in their retail stores in Scotland. 

Wool fabrics come in many weaves and weights.  Wool suiting and crepes can be quite light weight and then you have boiled, felted and wool coatings which are all much heavier.   Each of these has a different handle and need to be treated as such.


Lightweight Wools

Wool fabrics
Crepe Boiled Wool - Mustard

Light weight wool fabrics can be treated similarly to other woven fabrics of the same weight.  Here are some tips to help you sew with them.

  • The correct tools should be used so choose a needle that’s suitable for the weight of fabric. 
  • Set your sewing machine up correctly – it’s always best to refer to your sewing machine guide for the tension for varying weights of fabrics. 
  • Keep a scrap of the fabric and test various stitch tensions and types on this before sewing the pattern pieces together.

Heavyweight Wools 

Sewing with coating weight wool
Check Wool Mix Coating - Red

When using a heavier weight wool fabric, it needs to be treated slightly differently.  These fabrics are tightly woven meaning that pins and needles don’t always punch through the fabric easily and often your general dressmaking scissors may not be heavy enough to cut through two layers of the fabric. 

Use the right tools for the job, the right weight of needle, heavier and sharper pins and a good pair of dressmaking scissors.

Generally the fabric won’t have too much movement which means it is easier to feed through your sewing machine. However where two seams meet can often be bulky and stick under your feed dogs.  To get round this, use the lightest feed dog setting and balance the feed of the fabric by sewing more slowly and guiding it through.  Often placing something to pad out the fabric behind the foot in beneficial as it allows the fabric to flow through at the same density rather than having the foot at an angle.

Stitch wise, a marginally longer and wider stitch will work best on the fabric.

When it comes to pressing heavier fabrics, lots of steam is a must!  Always use a press cloth so as not to damage the fabric and let the steam do the work.  A wooden clapper is also handy when it comes to seam meeting points to flatten these out for the best results.

For other fabric handling guides visit our sewing techniques page and click the ‘fabric handling’ tag at the top of the page.