Winter coverings are warm and cozy and certainly protect against the cold in bad weather, but wool covering can test patience in the sewing room. They're thick, they nap, and sometimes they're downright unruly. But there are ways to manage these characteristics to create a professional-looking wool garment.
Wool is a wonderful fiber to work with. It's soft and comfortable. It is insulating in winter because the air is trapped between the fibers. Wool is easy to shape and shape with steam – tailors like it for this reason. Design details, like notched collars and reinforced buttonholes, work well in flatter-finish wools, while mistakes are easily camouflaged in more textured varieties. Wool is easy to care for and can simply be aired out without the need for frequent cleaning.
Wool can take on a variety of personalities, from soft and drapey to dense and structured. It absorbs moisture without feeling wet, so if you get caught in a sudden downpour, you can still be warm in your wool coat.
Wool is wider than most other fabrics, typically 54 to 60 inches wide, making it an economical option for coats because the main body pieces can often be arranged side by side.
Sometimes wool is blended with other fibers to add variety to the look and take advantage of some of the characteristics of fancy fibers. For example, wool may be blended with mohair and/or nylon to improve surface texture, or multiple breeds of wool may be blended to reduce fabric cost.
Since most wools have a nap, it is important to use “with nap” layout instructions to avoid color shading.
One of the most common wool coverings is melton fabric. It's thick, dense and incredibly warm. Both sides look the same, so if your coat has a turned lapel, you won't have to worry about visual differences in the single-layer construction. With a texture similar to thick felt, this plain weave wonder won't fray, so no sewing finishing is required.
Due to its thickness, melton can be a challenge to work with. The seams don't want to stay open and pressing sometimes doesn't always help.
Melton works best in styles with large, uninterrupted pieces and few details, such as darts. Raglan sleeves are easier than set-in ones, as melton doesn't shed well.
Wool flannel is an option that fits well with coats and offers more versatility than its heavier cousins. Flannel stretches well for wrinkle-free set-in sleeves.
Blanket or covering fabric is a close relative of melton. Usually woven with bold patterns, it also has a felted surface appearance and generally does not fray, depending on its density. Because it is double woven, the pattern on one side is the opposite color to the reverse. Coats and ponchos often have finished edges for decoration and may also be reversible.
For structured coats and jackets, worsted wools are a perennial favorite. They are hard-finished (as opposed to brushed) and hold their shape for tailored details, such as notched lapels, turtlenecks, fitted sleeves and cuffs. Tightly twisted wires can make pressing difficult, but the lighter weight helps offset any unruliness.
If you're looking for a wool with an interesting textured surface, try a loop. The threads that make up this fabric are looped so that the surface has depth and texture. Generally looser than the wools mentioned previously, the loop presses well and the texture helps hide sewing errors if you're making your first layer. They are also perfect for scarves, ponchos and unstructured designs.
6. Wool-like fibers
Other fibers may take on the appearance and qualities of wool but are not wool because they do not come from sheep. Often these special fibers are blended with wool to make them more affordable and to give them the texture and shine they are known for.
Mohair comes from an Angora goat and not a sheep. Mohair fabrics are light, warm and rarely wrinkle, making them perfect for travel clothing. They have a light but fluffy surface, so it's important not to press too hard or the surface will flatten.
These plush fabrics are often loosely woven or knitted and can tend to sag, so double and/or underline them if your garment needs stability. Lined or unlined, mohair is perfect for an unstructured coat or scarf.
Clearly one of the most luxurious upholstery fabrics, cashmere also comes from a goat – a Kashmir goat, no less. Since goats only produce a small amount of fiber at a time, cashmere is expensive, so it is often blended with other fibers to make it more affordable.
9. Camel hair
Yes, it comes from a camel and is known for its characteristic tan color and softness. This is the final color in which the fabric is often sold, although it readily accepts dyes for other shades. Camel hair is also often blended with other wools to make it more affordable.
Here are some models perfect for coating wool.