Wool is an incredibly versatile fabric to work with, whether you’re a beginning sewist or a seasoned pro. The natural fiber is known for its strength and absorbency, making it great for outerwear.
Likewise, it is available in a wide range of weights, blends, weaves, and patterns. Hence, you can make all sorts of projects with it, including appliqué projects where you want to add a little texture since it can be fuzzy and thick.
Nevertheless, wool does have some quirks. And if you haven’t worked with it before, we have some tips and techniques on how to sew wool fabric to make your sewing life easier, trouble-free, and a lot more enjoyable.
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Where Can I Use Wool?
You can use wool to make clothes, such as skirts, suits, and trousers. It’s also a popular material for interior products, from upholstery and cushions to curtains.
The best thing about wool is that it is available in both knitted (stretchy) and woven (not stretchy) varieties in any weight, from lightweight to heavyweight. Furthermore, it is often combined with other types of fibers. So you can wear the fabric no matter what the season is.
Preparation Before Sewing Wool Fabric
Before you learn how to sew wool fabric, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:
- Before you begin to pre-shrink and press your wool, always prepare your fabric. Wool is extremely prone to shrinking if your water is too hot. So read the washing instructions thoroughly.
- Check the label of the wool to see if you should dry clean it rather than washing it.
- Before trying anything on the main piece of your fabric wool, use a scrap first.
- Look for a specific laundry detergent suitable for wool.
- Decide on the cleaning method you want to apply and start with that. Use it every time you clean your fabric.
- Remember that moths love wool. So be aware that some moth repellent will preserve your fabric.
Essential Tips On How To Sew Wool Fabric
Wool can be bulky, especially if you’ll use felt or heavyweight woven wool fabric designed for outerwear.
Therefore, avoid applying finishing techniques, such as French seams, which would be awkward and stiff. Instead, benefit from wool’s lack of fraying. Also, opt for techniques that can help reduce bulk in the seams while keeping them flexible like grading and pinking.
To hide unfinished seams, consider lining your garment. This also adds extra structure and a decorative touch.
Choose a pattern most suitable to the wool fabric of your choice. Wool fabrics are available in different types of wool and wool blends. Also, the fabric tends to be thicker. Hence, it is not suitable for all sewing patterns.
Use a nice pair of sharp scissors. This will make a massive difference when cutting. For straight edges, use a rotary cutter and cutting mat if you have one
Utilize a heavy needle for the bulky wool items and test on a scrap first.
Sewing bulky wool requires graded seams where the seam allowance is cut away in layers. For seams that are too bulky to finish using a serger, it is common to use bias bound edges.
A fine lining like that for silk or polyester fabrics can provide you with a nice finish. Likewise, it can help reduce the overall bulk when sewing wool fabric.
Make sure to press throughout the entire process of how to sew wool fabric with a pressing cloth. If you will steam, test the steam on a portion of the fabric first. Some wool shrinks, so it is vital to regulate the use of steam and heat.
Follow care instructions
Even if you preshrink your fibers, your wool is not immune to damage from washing and drying. You can wash some wool fabrics at how, particularly wool blends. Simply use a wool cycle in your washer, minimal detergent, and cool water. Then, hang your clean fabric and leave it to air dry. For stretchable items, reshape them and dry them flat to prevent overstretching the fibers.
However, most wool fabrics are dry clean only so make sure to take note of the care instructions when purchasing your fabric.
How To Sew Lightweight Wool Fabrics
You may treat lightweight wool fabrics just like you would with any woven fabrics of the same weight.
- Use correct tools and choose a needle that’s suitable for the weight of your fabric.
- Set your sewing machine up correctly. It is always a good idea to refer to your sewing machine guide to know the appropriate tension for varying fabric weights.
- Keep a scrap of the fabric and test several stitch tensions and types before sewing the pattern pieces together.
How To Sew Heavyweight Wool Fabrics
For a heavier weight wool fabric, you need to treat it slightly differently. These types of fabrics are tightly woven, which means that pins and needles will not always punch through them easily. And often, your regular dressmaking scissors may not be heavy enough to cut through two layers of the fabric.
- Again, make sure you have the right tools for the job. Prepare the right weight of needle, heavier and sharper pins, and a good pair of dressmaking scissors.
- Usually, the fabric will not have a lot of movement, meaning it will be easier to feed through your machine. Nevertheless, the part where the two seams meet is often bulky and tends to stick under your feed dog. To get solve this, use the lightest feed dog setting. Then, balance the feed of the fabric by sewing more slowly and guiding it through. Placing something to pad out the fabric behind the foot is sometimes helpful as it allows the fabric to flow through at the same density rather than having the foot at an angle.
- In terms of stitching, a marginally longer and wider stitch will work best on wool fabric.
- When it comes to pressing heavier fabrics, use plenty of steam. Make sure to always use a press cloth to prevent your fabric from getting damaged. And then, let the steam do the work.
- A wooden clapper is also convenient when it comes to seam meeting points to flatten these out for the best results.