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Sewing double sided wool?

chinooktrail | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Does anyone have any tips for sewing the double sided wool?  I picked up a 5 yard piece recently, and would love to make a coat similar to ones I have seen at J. Jill and Peruvian Connection etc…   But I don’t really know where to begin.  It looks like the cut edges are turned under and clean finished somehow.  The shoulder, sleeve and side  seams look as though they are flat felled, which I think I can manage with this fabric by pulling apart a small amount.  I can’t imagine that the factories are hand stitching around all the outside edges, but perhaps they are.  Any ideas?


  1. carolfresia | | #1

    Interesting question, and one that we've been discussing in the Threads office recently. Although we know how you'd finish the edges and seams if you were sewing at home, we can't quite figure out how it's done on the industrial-production level. Granted, these garments can be pricey, but I don't think they're pricey enough to account for handsewing all those parts! I saw a gorgeous red double-cloth coat last winter for $80, maybe, and felt I HAD to buy it just to show my appreciation for the craftsmanship involved in making it. However, it was about 4 sizes to big, and no matter how well made, it just wasn't going to look nice on me!

    There's a wonderful, very complete article in Threads, No. 69, pp.60-63, on sewing with double cloth, that explains 4 different seam types, how to make buttonholes, and how to make in-seam reversible pockets. The author, Mary Elliott, also provides good advice for selecting patterns suitable for double cloth. If you'd like to buy this back issue, go to the Threads home page, and look for "Buy back issues" in the right-hand column. This will take you to a page that lists the available back issues (some are OOP, though not this one), with a short summary of the featured contents as well.


    1. sarahkayla | | #2

      i would think that you could bind the outside edges. If you used a clolor that matched one of the sides of the coat on one side it would blend, and on the other it would contrast.. you could also bind with ultrasuede or leather -

      several years ago I had found a remnant of double cloth at b&j. (cream on one side coffe with cream on the other)I made it into a short open jacket. I covered all of the seams and the outer edges with free form ultrasuede shapes. it was, Unlike most of my work, quiet and subtle in very quiet colors. i donated it to my DS's school auction where it probaby sold for $5 or something pathetic like that....

      sarah in nyc

      1. carolfresia | | #3

        Oh, now that is a sad, sad story! It sounds like a beautiful jacket. Well, I hope that whoever bought it was aware of her incredible good fortune in snagging such a treasure for a low price, and that she still wears and cherishes the jacket.

        Binding the outside edges is a good suggestion. You could also sew conventional seams, press the seam allowances open and trim them somewhat, then cover each seam with a strip of the binding fabric, topstitched along each edge.


  2. stitchmd | | #4

    I remember seeing this cloth use on one of the TV sewing shows, probably Sandra Betzina. My memory is of either butting seams together and using a zig zag or decorative stitch that would catch both edges, or of lapping the edges, stitching to look like a flat fell and trimming away to the stitching line. I have never seen this type of fabric for sale and would love to try using it.

    1. sarahkayla | | #5

      well. when I made the jacket.. my cleaning lady asked me to make her one - yes she was willing to pay for it.. unfortunately,  the only double cloth wool I found cost $75 per yard. my cleaning lady is very round.. it would have cost a fortune. I found great double cloth in charcoal /magenta in the now late tesutti - at $50 I might have thought about it.. a stretch but almost doable -  but $75 was just too rich to think about.. this is why i love the remnant table at b+j.

      sarah in nyc

      1. ShannonG4d | | #6

        I actually own a doublecloth jacket, purchased at a thrift store for the express purpose of pulling it apart to see how it was done.  It looks like the seams are done with something akin to a small zigzag.  I'll bet there is a specialized machine for this process.  The outer edge is turned in on itself about 1/4 inch and stitched together, creating this little "ridge" at the edge which is a telltale sign that this is, indeed, doublecloth.

        I know of one designer in particular, however, who does  have the edges handstitched together.  The pattern used is something of a trademark; all intersecting seams have a hole made by turning under the corners.  There are hand-made bartacks to accent and strengthen this juncture.  These clothes are not cheap.  They are among the most pricey of the couture.  (T-shirts over $1K for a general price range.)

        I think the most reasonable substitute for my use is the felted wool single layer construction.  In my neck of the woods, double layers of wool might be fine for about three weeks in February, but the rest of the year, we don't need anything nearly that insulatory.  The felted wool pieces give a similar appearance to the doublecloth in weight and drape.  I love the easy construction. 


        In Georgia, whre the two seasons are summer and February:)LOL

        1. chinooktrail | | #7

          Hi, thanks for the great responses.  I SHOULD have the copy of Threads, I have located most of my copies back to #48, but #69 is suspiciously missing...   I will look harder, and order if I can not locate mine.  I could go with binding, but I really want to know how the fabric is stitched in the industry, the real beauty in these garments is the seamless finish.  I would suspect that the narrow zig zag you see is probably done on a Bonis machine, which is used to sew fur togheter, which would make sense.  You can really get into tight spaces with it.  Fortunately for me, I have one available to use.  I guess I may need to practice up on my hand sewing skills...

          1. MargaretAnn | | #8

            Years ago, I made a coat with double sided wool.  I pulled the layers apart  and sewed the seams on the outer layer with a straight machine stitch, and hand stitched the inner seam.  For the edge of the coat and the collar, I pulled the layers apart, folded them in, tacked invisibly (now you could glue) and top stiched all round.  It looked very nice, was not too bulky, and wore for years.  Be sure to pick a very simple pattern.


          2. stitchmd | | #9

            Take a look at this, not sure if it's too drapey compared to what is being discussed here, but at $29 for 2 yards of 52"wide you can't beat it. If it is too drapey it's tempting to experiment with felting it slightly.


            They also have double sided Polartec throws for a machine washable imitation of the wool.

          3. TERISEW | | #10

            I have altered several doubleclothed wool suits. To hem the sleeves you must mark the hemline, hem depth and cut off excess. It is necessary to peel the two layers apart, I use a new razor blade, or sharp 5" Gingher shears, and carefully seperate the two layers. Then you fold the layers inside themselves and hand stitch the outer most edge so that it doesn't show. Press. Sometimes decorative topstitching is done also, by hand. I took in side seams basically the same way, mark, mark, cut off excess, peel apart the two layers, sew the seam , turn the other layer into it and hand stitch the finish. Takes a bit longer to do but the customer really appreciates maintaining the integrity of the garment. 

          4. Judygoeson | | #11

            Years ago I made a Chanel-type jacket out of wool doublecloth.  I used a sort of flat-felled stitch to sew it together.  I thought the outer edges (neck, front and hem) needed some body so I cut out and joined a facing together,  Then I applied it and turned the contrast side out...to the side I would be wearing most.  Instead of leaving the outer edges of the facing straight, I cut them into a sort of "Freeform" design, which had a nice "French curve" look to it.  I sewed these outer edges to the front of the jacket with one of the simpler decorative stitches.  On the inside of the jacket. the stitch looked rather attractive.

            I wore the jacket for years.

            Happy sewing from JudyG

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