January 14, 2015

Working With Wool: Tips for Comfort

When working with woolens in general, there comes a point when you are going to have to consider comfort. This is one of the first things that I consider now before I start a project with wool. For me, I've found that wools can be scratchy next to my skin. Even if its a very fine quality cashmere, they do end up being a bit on the itchy side. It's worse in some woolens than in others and that's fine, but it's also good to take into consideration how to make wool garments comfortable, if needed. Today I thought I would share just that and hopefully you'll find working with wool more appealing if you were worried about the scratchy factor!

First things first. At some point you'll need to start thinking and learning how to line a garment. It's a good skill set to have. I love lined garments. I always have. I think lining a garment adds longevity to just about anything. It also creates a touch of professionalism and takes your sewn projects to a completely new level. I'm actually going to go over a few lining treatments for several garment types, but one book all sewing enthusiasts should own is Easy Guide to Sewing Linings, by Connie Long. It is essential. I've talked about it here before and it is my most recommended book to anyone who wants to learn the art of sewing with linings. If you want to branch out to use wool more often, get this book (note: this book is out of print, but Taunton has created an e-book). You'll be glad you did.

Another tip to consider whenever you are about to embark on a wool project is points on your body where wool is bound to touch and whether or not one area of the body is more sensitive to the itch factor than another. When I'm making coats and jackets, I consider the collar as an area of comfort I want to address. This is something that Beth from Sunnygal Studio tipped me off to some time ago and now its something I always consider as my neck is prone to itching more than other parts of my body. Mixing fabrics is bound to add interest and so now I think about an alternative for a collar piece. Like cotton or silk. Did that in my J. Peterman coat which added real comfort (used a cotton velveteen).

Something that goes along with this idea is waistband techniques. For my wool crepe Hollyburn skirts, I used a contrast piece of cotton as a waistband facing. Note: In this pattern the waistband is one piece that is folded over. I separated the piece and created a facing instead. This technique is something that could easily be used in parts like a collar stand, cuff facings (on a shirt/blouse) or a pants/trouser waistband. Additionally, you could also use petersham ribbon as a waistband or facing. I do this a lot. There are many ways to utilize this technique and this is but one (my tutorial here).

Now, you might be asking, "Well, why would I want to go to all this trouble when I could just as well use a different fabric instead?" I have to tell you, from my own experience, wool is worth the trouble. It's a lovely, lovely textile. It has fairly unique properties that set it apart from others and it's always worth it, in my opinion, to work with wool. Like other fiber/fabric types, it has it's own skill set when you use it, but all of the skills you learn with wool make you a better sewist anyway - and that's totally worth it! I'll do a post on the uniqueness of wool coming up.

Do you have any tips for comfort when working with wools? Please add them to the comments! I would love to know.

For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!

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