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Warm and Cozy: Essential Tips for Sewing With Wool

Sewing with wool, a natural fiber made from the fleece of sheep, is always a treat. Like every fabric, keeping a few points in mind will help make your next wool sewing project a success.

Woold Tweed Jacket on a Dress FormPhoto via The Iconic Tweed Jacket

 Benefits of sewing with wool

  • It retains heat, but also keeps heat out, so it’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  • It’s absorbent (it can absorb up to ⅓ of its weight in moisture).
  • It’s hypoallergenic
  • It’s wrinkle and flame resistant (just in case!)
  • When cared for properly, it will last for a very long time (which is good because it tends to be a bit pricy).

Tips for sewing with wool

  • Wool is commonly used to sew outerwear, suits, skirts and trousers. It comes in various weights, from lightweight to heavyweight, and is also frequently blended with other fibers.
  • Wool is a great fabric to work with because the cut edges are clean (no unraveling!) and it holds its shape (very little stretching, and practically no stretching at all with medium to heavyweight wool).
  • However, it can be a bulky fabric, which can come with its own set of challenges. Always use good quality thread (if possible, try silk thread) and an appropriate sewing  machine needle for the weight of your wool.
  • Choose seam finishes, such as pinking, that will not add additional bulk to your seams.
  • Take care when pressing wool — a too hot iron can cause damage. Use a wool press cloth, especially when pressing the right side of the fabric (make sure to use a white press cloth for light colored wool).

Wool garment inspiration

See how these talented Bluprint members have used wool to make some lovely projects.

Bluprint Member Wearing Homemade Wool DressPhoto via Bluprint member trixierabbit

Couture dress

Trixierabbit’s black wool dress, made as a student project in The Couture Dress class, is a classic that will never go out of style

Bluprint Member's Wool SweaterPhoto via Bluprint member RedPointTailor

Wool wrap top

RedPointTailor’s wool jersey top is a great example of a garment that can be made with a wool blend.

Bluprint Member's Homemade Wool ShirtPhoto via Bluprint member smileskeeper

Wool jacket

Smilekeeper made her wool plaid jacket while enrolled in Sew Better, Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets. It looks especially cozy.

Couture Wool Dress - Bluprint.comPhoto via Bluprint member Luis Angel

Sheath dress

Luis Angel’s sheath dress, also made in The Couture Dress, was sewn with 100% wool crepe.

Pink and Grey Wool ScarfPhoto via Bluprint member picknstitch

Wool scarf

Picknstich’s colorful scarf made from silk and wool is a great way to use up left over scraps.

Caring for wool

Wool is dry-clean only (unless it’s washable wool), so don’t go tossing it in the washing machine before you begin sewing. However, it still needs to be pre-shrunk before you cut. If the bolt of fabric says it is “needle ready” or “London shrunk,” it has already been pre-shrunk and is ready to sew. If not, you will want to make sure you buy a bit more yardage than your pattern calls for. You can expect shrinkage of around 2% to 4% (aim for the higher percentage if you are matching plaid).

Wool garments have a mortal enemy: moths. These pests will chew holes in your woolens, and finding an infestation of them is no fun. It’s a good idea to take precautions to avoid the heartbreak of damage to a beloved garment. You don’t need to resort to smelly old moth balls (they’re actually a carcinogen, anyway). Cedar and lavender are both reasonably effective at deterring moths. If you’re packing your wool coat away until the snow flies again, make sure it’s clean. You don’t necessarily need to take it to the dry cleaners if it’s not soiled, but it’s a good idea to take it outside and give it a thorough brushing to remove moth eggs and larvae. Store it in a zippered garment bag. Wool garments that are worn frequently are at a lower risk for moth damage.

Do you have any tips for sewing with wool? Please share in the comments!


Rachelle Sewsable Crosbie

Wool as you say can absorb 1/3 of its weight in water, but it can absorb more, it’s just that 1/3 is the point where it starts to feel damp; up to that point it still feels dry and unlike polyester fleece it still keeps you warm even when wet.
Also you say it won’t ravel, that depends on the structure of the weave; a loosely woven wool will still ravel. Any wool that’s been felted like wool melton or wool felt though won’t ravel at all and needs no seam treatments.


I am about to start on a straight skirt out of some fabulous wool, but after reading this I’m wondering about shrinking. Should I take the fabric to a dry cleaner before cutting into it? 2-4% doesn’t sound like much, and I don’t intend to make it fit tight, so maybe it won’t matter. But if it shrinks and the lining doesn’t, or if it shrinks one way and not the other, it might pull out of shape. Recommendations?


For those asking about shrinking, you will need to pre shrink by steaming. If you have a decent iron at home with a steam setting you can do this by

1) steaming the wool
2) drying the steamed area with the hot iron

It takes awhile if you’re got a large piece but will do the trick.
I’ve never taken wool to a dry cleaner to pre shrink but if you’d rather pay for it I would imagine they would do it for you


And of course if you do decide to pre shrink yourself, heed the directions give regarding a press cloth


Does this mean you need to take it to the dry cleaners? How do you get the shrinking done without damaging the fabric? If I don’t pre-shrink, will it shrink at the dry cleaners after I make the garment?


“Wool is a great fabric to work with because the cut edges are clean (no unraveling!) ”

Only if it’s fulled. Worsteds (suiting, crepe) will fray, as will a loosely woven tweed.

Beth W

What about lanolin? I don’t want to gunk up my machine. Do I have to get my machine cleaned and serviced after sewing with wool?


Reply to Beth V about lanolin: Commercially made wool fabrics are not lanolin rich. Commercial fabrics may not even contain any trace of lanolin. There’s a whole industry that harvests or recovers the lanolin to sell for cosmetics and personal care products.

The first stages of processing wool from the sheep removes just about all the lanolin – this is especially true in commercial processing. Home processors of raw wool might try to retain lanolin for personal reasons, but these are the minority – and even in that case, the lanolin would only persist in a tiny amount for most hand-spinners, but would be removed further upon further processing of the wool as it becomes yarn and then gets either woven, knitted, or crocheted into fabric. Again, these are not commercial processors. In commercial fabric, I would be completely amazed if any lanolin could be found. Wash commercial fabrics without fear of lanolin. (Fear felting and shrinking it if that is not your intent – but don’t fear lanolin in commercially processed yarns, fabrics, and garments.) Only a very select group of handspinners choose to spin wool in the grease – meaning wool that comes basically straight from the sheep without being washed, carded, combed, or carbonized. So unless you’re throwing just-sheared wool fleece into your washer, you’re safe from getting the machine gunky.

Amy Unruh

Most wool, in my experience, can be washed on the gentle or wool care cycle and hung to dry. Wool is incredibly healthy when processed naturally. It, along with linen, have a high healing frequency. In comparison to organic cotton (a neutral 100), linen and wool both have frequencies of 5000. They are healing… unless with together. Their frequencies move in opposite directions, and their fields collapse to 0, the same as silk, and not much less than a very draining polyester. So don’t do anything to hurt the healing properties of wool.

Tiffany Locke

Choosing a seam finish that will not add additional bulk to your seams is a good idea. Being able to have your garment lay smoothly would be important when you wear your new outfit. Finding and taking sewing classes would probably be useful in learning how to work with different material.

Sutton Turner

I like how you mentioned that a benefit of heat is that it retains but also keeps out heat. I just bought some wool thread to make a sweater with. I appreciate the tips for sewing with wool.

LaVada Roufs

I’m in the dark about healing properties (see Amy Unruh of 12/16). Would someone respond to the procedure of straightening yardage of a boiled knit wool in plaid? It is a 3 yard piece. Thanks
LaVada Roufs


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