Felted Wool Garments
I just love real wool but can no longer tolerate it against my skin (unless it is high quality Merino wool — but I’ve only ever had one item like that). I also happen to have inherited some fine old wool blankets which are either too small for modern beds or were improperly cleaned and, therefore, misshapen. Not to mention negligible moth damage in a few spots. I’ve been reading about felting wool fabric and have done this with three of the four blankets by putting them through my washing machine and dryer on hot. The result: felted wool yardage that is exciting to me — I envision making a wrap front sort of A-line jacket, tied around the waist, out of one or more of them.
The blanket I’m felting at the moment is a very lightweight wool blanket but twice as long as usual — they used to make them this way in Canada, my mother-in-law told me. She grew up on a farm in Manitoba. I guess they were folded double then. Anyway, it is a sort of buffalo plaid with 4-5″ squares of color in a lovely light aqua and a creamy natural sheep color. I think this would make a luxurious full length wrap front bathroom but I would have to line it with something to keep the wool away from my skin. (With the jackets, that wouldn’t be a problem, of course.)
Anybody out there had any experience working with something like this? Any suggestions for a lining material? I’m thinking it would have to be the top layer on the collar, too, to protect the back of the neck.
I should think that once the garment were made that it could be laundered at home using cold water and a very low heat setting on the dryer. What do you think? I would welcome any advice on this project.
I live in Central Wisconsin so I don’t have to worry about being too warm. 🙂
Lady Willoughby (Sandy)
One of the great things about using felted/fulled wool (I think if it is woven first it is technically "fulled" and not felted) is that it doesn't ravel. So in terms of construction, think lapped seams, raw hems, etc. If you decide to do traditional seams you will probably want to use a clapper to pound the seams, as well as topstitching to keep them flat. Keep design lines simple - princess seams rather than darts, etc.
I am envious of your new wool stash! I'm not sure about the lining issue... will think about it. I can see the advantages of lining around the collar area where it would potentially irritate the skin. Although with the scales of the wool so tightly interlocked (that's why it shrinks up) they may not be as irritating as before. But why couldn't you cut an inner collar as you suggested? Stitch around the perimeter, turn and then press under the lower edge and slipstitch into place?
Try googling Jean Cacicedo, a fiber artist who does stunning work in boiled wool.
Threads #49 has an article on blanket coats; and #62 has this:
PIECE A PUZZLE COATby Katherine TiltonNonraveling wool and a simple shape are the keys to this weekend project
Hope this helps a bit.
Thank you for referring to the articles in "Threads" regarding my impending wool blanket projects. I was sure that I had read about it in "Threads" but hadn't gotten around to searching for the articles yet. I've pulled those issues from my stash and will read them over again while I await our teenage granddaughter's arrival.
The fiber artist's site sounds interesting, too. Many thanks.
You're very welcome.
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