Hi Everyone! Welcome to the warm & cozy topic of Sewing With Wool Fabrics! Wool is a beautiful natural fabric and can be used to create a variety of items so hopefully you didn’t just cringe when I mentioned sewing with it! I think many people steer clear of wool because it is unfamiliar and can be a bit pricey, but the nice thing about working at the smaller scale is that you need very little fabric to make something totally amazing!
A few important housekeeping notes...
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ok, now back to the topic...
The focus for this topic will be sewing the Liberty Jane Piccadilly Peacoat. The pattern design is available in several sizes, feel free to choose which one you want to sew. We will sew the coat together from start to finish, beginning with choosing the right fabric, cutting it out, prepping the pieces, sewing the princess seams, turning the corners, pressing the pleats, attaching the lining, and sewing all of the finishing details! We’ll also look at a few modifications to the original design, something we like to call pattern hacks!
But, before we begin the sew along, we will take a deep dive into sewing with wool fabric, all the types available, and how to prep and store it. Wool fabrics come in a variety of blends, weights, weaves, and patterns. There’s no reason to be intimidated, many of these fabrics are great for those with less experience while also being the choice of a seasoned pro!
Alright, are you ready to create something beautiful together? Let’s jump on in and get started!
Wool fabric is made from natural fibers. It is fantastic for real clothing because it is naturally flame-resistant, moisture repellent, and is hypo-allergenic. Now these are not specific concerns for a garment made as a collectible miniature or for doll play, however it is ideal when creating fashion in miniature!
Wool primarily comes from the fleece of sheep, but can also be found in other animals like alpaca, Angora, goats, or even camels. One of my favorite resource books, Fabric A to Z, explains the process and difference of the two types like this:
Once the shearing process is complete and the fleece has been sorted and washed, the fibers go in one of two processing directions: they will become woolen or worsted wool.
Woolen: Think soft and fuzzy with a bit of texture. This fabric is made from the shorter fibers. It is easier to sew with and are less expensive than worsted wools. This is perfect for coats, jackets, and capes. Fabrics in the woolen family include tweed, melton, textured wool, and some flannels.
Worsted: Think smooth and lustrous. This fabric is made from the longer fibers, the fabric has a sloth shine and is a lighter weight than a woolen. A tailored suit, dress, or flowing skirt are good examples. Fabrics in the worsted family include gabardine, tartan, wool challis, and worsted flannel.
For this next part we will be looking at woolen fabrics that are suitable for fall and winter coats.
Types of Wool Fabrics For Fall and Winter Coats:
Flannel - Flannel is a soft woven fabric, of various fineness. Flannel was originally made from carded wool (short fibers) or worsted yarn (long fibers), but is now often made from either wool, cotton, or synthetic fiber. Flannel may be brushed to create extra softness or remain unbrushed. Brushing is a mechanical process wherein a fine metal brush rubs the fabric to raise fine fibers from the loosely spun yarns to form a nap on one or both sides. If the flannel is not napped, it gains its softness through the loosely spun yarn in its woven form. It is highly recommended for a first project. Its brushed surface hides any sewing imperfections, and it’s easy to press and mold, so setting sleeves isn’t so complicated. The difference between flannel and flannelette is mainly that flannel can refer to a wool-based material or a wool/cotton blend. Whereas flannelette is usually made from cotton and brushed to create a softer look and feel. When sewing smaller doll-scale coats and jackets, cotton flannel is a good alternative for a pure wool. It’s much less expensive and comes in a variety of patterns. When used for play, this can be a great alternative!
Tweed - A rough-surfaced woolen cloth, typically of mixed flecked colors. Most tweeds are twill woven, but other weaves include herringbone, houndstooth, striped, and plaid. The twill woven multicolored fabric requires no matching along seam lines and conceals any small sewing errors - yay! The classic Channel jacket is what commonly comes to mind when tweed is mentioned. Pay special attention to seam finishes as the fabric will ravel.
Bouclé (pronounced boo-clay) - Bouclé is both a yarn and a fabric made from it. In French, it means “curled”. The yarn is made from a length of loops of similar size which can range from tiny circlets to large curls. Boucle is very textured with a nubby surface. It’s loosely woven and when made into coats, must always be lined. It can be a knit or woven and made of wool or wool blends. The Chanel jacket often has cross-over here, they are often made of a Bouclé tweed. This fabric is amazing, but not something I'd use for the Piccadilly Peacoat, the pleats would be very hard to press with this fabric.
Boiled Wool - This fabric is typically a merino wool that has been knitted and then felted. It has a soft nubby texture. It has a little bit of stretch to it and is also bulky. Fewer design elements mean less bulk at the seams. This type of fabric would work well with a pattern design such as the Oxford Square Coat.
There are a variety of places you can shop for wool fabrics. Check you local fabric stores to see what they have in stock. I found quite a few nice wool blends at Jo Ann Fabrics. Be sure to check the remnant bins too, you only need about 1/2 yard or less for this coat!
For this topic we are focusing on wool, but you can actually make the coat from a variety of fabrics. Make it in a woolen fabric for a snuggly fall/winter coat, or in a cotton twill or stable knit for a lighter jacket for spring.
When shopping online you may see fabric referenced as the types we’ve reference above, but you may also see “wool coatings”. A coating is often comprised of a blend of materials, such as wool, polyester, viscose(rayon) or even cashmere. Coating comes in many kinds of weaves and thickness. You also can also buy coating fabrics without any wool content whatsoever. Wool can also be blended with synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester to create fabrics that are lighter weight than pure wool, but which still have the texture of woolen fabric.
The Piccadilly Peacoat sew-along will begin in Part 2. If you need a helping hand deciding on fabrics here are a few suggestions from some of our favorite online shops.
Mood Fabrics: https://www.moodfabrics.com
Jo Ann Fabrics: https://www.joann.com
Fashion Fabrics Club: https://www.fashionfabricsclub.com
Fabric "dot" com: https://www.fabric.com
With the cost of wool being...not cheap, recycling wool from old dresses, coats and pants is a great way to get what you need. You could try your local second hand shop (be sure to read the tags) or Ebay might have some old-man pants that you can get for a good price.
For this sew along I am going to use this beautiful coral wool scarf I picked up at a store called Aritzia. It's huge, I can probably make 4 coats from this! It's so soft, 100% wool, it was 70% off the clearance price! It ended up costing about $15!
Preshrink or Not to Preshrink?
You don't generally need to wash wool fabric before sewing. It is however a good idea to pre-shrink wool coating before cutting into it.
To preshrink it, run it in a low-temperature dryer cycle with a damp towel. This will provide enough shrinking so that your finished project will still fit, but not enough to felt the fibers. It's still enough you'll need to take it into account when purchasing your fabric, however. Make sure to get a bit extra to account for the shrinking.
Some wool fabrics, especially wool blends, can be washed at home. For these, use a woollen cycle in your washer, cool water, and minimal detergent. Hang the clean fabric or garment to air dry, or, for stretchable items, reshape them and dry them flat to avoid over-stretching the fibers. Most woollen fabrics, however, are dry clean only. Be sure to make a note of the care instructions on your fabric when you purchase it, and add a care tag to your finished projects, especially if you're planning on giving them as gifts or if you're sewing them for a handmade business. We'll take a look at custom clothing labels in part 4 when we talk all about the finishing details!
Wool garments and fabrics are sturdy and can last for years with proper care. Unfortunately, they're also the favorite food of moths, who will devour the threads and leave unsightly chewed holes in your projects. To prevent this, store your woollen clothes and fabrics in sealed containers, like zippered garment bags or vacuum-sealed storage bags. Always have your garments dry cleaned—or wash them in a woollen cycle, for washable wool fabrics—before putting them in storage.
If you're interested in displaying your finished garments or making clothing bags for your wool coats, we have patterns for that too! Check out the Organize & Display Your Collection today!
Lining a coat is definitely functional but can also be a creative expression! Make a statement with a pop of color or add some personality with cute print. If you want to keep it classic, or if your coat fabric is the star of the show, you may want to keep the lining plain with a solid color.
For lining the Piccadilly Peacoat, try viscose, acetate, or polyester lining fabric. A cotton lawn could also work, but it may be harder to get he arms to slip into the sleeves with this type of fabric. For our project we will be using an animal print lining we got at Jo Ann Fabrics.
Besides fabric, the only notions you’ll need are 1/4” - 3/8” buttons. Check the pattern specifically for the quantity and size needed. There are 6 buttons on the coat front and two on the back. There are also one on each sleeve cuff that could be a bit smaller in scale. You can find small buttons locally or online at Buttons "dot" com here: https://shop.buttons.com/7mm-buttons-s/1993.htm
If sewing with 100%wool, you may want to pick up a spool of silk thread. It is stronger and may make sewing your project a little easier!
Don't Forget To Choose Your Pattern!
The Piccadilly Peacoat is currently available in four sizes.