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Thread: Question about Wool Fabric

  1. #1
    Senior Member Sharon - NC's Avatar
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    I grew up with a sewing mother but never learned how to sew, myself. Now, at age 50, I'm learning how to sew, and she no longer can because of arthritis, so she gave me ALL of her fabric when she moved recently. There's a ton of polyester from the 70s (she taught classes in sewing men's suits), and some great wool! Is wool a good fabric to use when quilting? I have about 6 yards of a beautiful grey/blue and some solid dark gray, about 3 yards. If I do use it, is it ok to wash it or does it have to be dry cleaned?

    I also have an aunt who recently passed away who was a professional embroidery sewer (had a shop and did it for others), and my uncle gave me two boxes of her fabric and I don't know what it is but think it's mostly cotton.

    I may have some kind of "trade you" thing if anyone is interested, since I'm organizing and starting my stash ... and getting ready to start my second quilt (warm wishes pattern, for a chemo patient).


    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Sharon

  2. #2
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Oh! I'm drooling! Yes, wool is a great fabric to use for quilting. It's wonderful for applique because the edges don't fray & the color is so saturated it makes the quilts seem to glow. You would definitely want to wash them to make sure they shrink up, but I think that's about it.

    My husband has a quilt made from polyester that his grandmother made him about 35 years ago. The darn thing is just as bright and useable as the day he received it.

    If you decide to make a quilt for someone with Alzheimers, it is recommended to use various fabrics with different textures and feels to them. Your polyester fabrics would work great for this, as it would for quilts made for Rest Homes and Veteran's Homes, where such quilts get washed in heavy detergent quite often. Just a thought.

  3. #3
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    I have never used wool in my quilts.

  4. #4
    Marjpf's Avatar
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    I did a quilt that combined wool and cotton (I don't follow the rules). I washed the wool in hot and ran it through the dryer on hot first so any shrinkage happened before I cut and sewed. I loved working with it.

  5. #5
    Super Member sewjoyce's Avatar
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    Yes, definitely wool can be used in quilts. You need to "felt it" -- run it through the hot water wash and dryer. It will shrink and be really nice and fluffy :D

  6. #6
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    If the wool is not washable I wouldn't use it.

  7. #7
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlehud
    If the wool is not washable I wouldn't use it.
    I've never heard of a wool that couldn't be washed. Does it have a particular brand name?

  8. #8
    Senior Member yourstrulyquilts's Avatar
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    Wool makes a wonderful quilt. It does have a little stretch to it, and so I always use my walking foot, some call it even-feed foot. Yes, I am drooling, too!

  9. #9
    Super Member Quilt Mom's Avatar
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    The reason some wools are not washed is the shrinkage washing causes. Usually the rule is applied to already constructed garments.

  10. #10
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    always wash your wool, and if you took it to a cleaners they would not dry clean your wool, they wash it! wool is fabulous to work with, mixes well with other fabrics, i am just finishing a quilt with wool, cotton and silk fabrics, and it is wonderful! great for hand stitching too, your needles love going through it!
    lots have different ideas how they work with their wool, i like very warm quilts, so i use wool batting and flannel backing for my wool quilts :)

  11. #11
    Senior Member Sharon - NC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiffany
    Quote Originally Posted by littlehud
    If the wool is not washable I wouldn't use it.
    I've never heard of a wool that couldn't be washed. Does it have a particular brand name?
    I don't have any tags or anything on it ... it is from my mother's stash and is probably at least 20 years old but in good shape.

  12. #12
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Have you priced wool for applique? An 8" square is usually $2. 50 a square. Wash the wool in the hottest water you have, some even boil the wool in water. 100% wool will felt and be the best fabric you ever worked with. Wool blends if at least 95% wool is great too. Felted wool can be laundered, wool felt cannot.

  13. #13
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    I have made several 100% wool quilts, none of them felted. They are washed in cold water, the same as wool skirts and other clothing. Some are 20 years old and are just fine. Wool does not have to be felted to be used in quilts, you just have to treat it like wool and not like cotten.

  14. #14
    Baywatch quilter's Avatar
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    You probably don't want to use it as the whole quilt... it would be soooooo heavy. But wool is fabulous to use for applique. You must felt it first... wash and dry in dryer to shrink. It will shrink perhaps as much as 50%. There is a new pattern in the current Keepsake Quilts catalog that is a BOM and all in wool.. it might give you some ideas... if you were thinking of a large quilt. I combine wool and cotton as well... sometimes cotton as the surface on which to applique the wool. :mrgreen: :lol: :lol: :mrgreen:

  15. #15
    Senior Member Sharon - NC's Avatar
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    I see there are a lot of different ways to work with the wool. I am fortunate to have quite a bit of it. It's a plaid, with grays, blues, maroon. I'm trading some with one person on here for some blue, gray, and purple cotton to build my stash. If anyone else is interestsed, I have plenty to trade. I am going to keep two yards of it but have about 3 left over. Haven't measured it yet but it's way more than double what my arms can hold outstretched.

    THANK YOU for all of the suggestions/hints/tips!!

    Sharon

  16. #16
    Senior Member Sharon - NC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo
    Have you priced wool for applique? An 8" square is usually $2. 50 a square. Wash the wool in the hottest water you have, some even boil the wool in water. 100% wool will felt and be the best fabric you ever worked with. Wool blends if at least 95% wool is great too. Felted wool can be laundered, wool felt cannot.
    Wow, I had no idea it is that pricey! I have a small fortune's worth here (I'm estimating 5-6 yards)

  17. #17
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrider
    I have made several 100% wool quilts, none of them felted. They are washed in cold water, the same as wool skirts and other clothing. Some are 20 years old and are just fine. Wool does not have to be felted to be used in quilts, you just have to treat it like wool and not like cotten.
    True, but if you are making a quilt as a gift, I would wash the wool in hot water and shrink it first. I'd hate to give a quilt away after spending hundreds of hours making it only to have the person shrink it while washing it & have all the stitching pull loose. Just a thought.

    Funny story. Well, not for my friend. She had an old stove and fridge downstairs in a side room off her quilting room. She didn't use them and instead stored several kits and all her wool fabric in the oven. One of her cats loves to sleep on top of the fridge (under the heater vent) and one day he jumped down and his paw hit the dial and turned the oven on. She was asleep at the time and woke to a house full of smoke. (Thank God she woke up!) She turned the oven off & had to throw away all her cotton fabric, but the wool she washed and it survived just fine. In fact, she just used it all to make a gorgeous applique bag. I was amazed at how well the wool held up, even after being cooked. Needless to say, the oven is now unplugged! :lol:

  18. #18
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiffany
    True, but if you are making a quilt as a gift, I would wash the wool in hot water and shrink it first. I'd hate to give a quilt away after spending hundreds of hours making it only to have the person shrink it while washing it & have all the stitching pull loose. Just a thought.
    Well, all but two of the 15 to 18 wool quilts I've made over the last 30 years were given as gifts and none were improperly washed by the recipients. Wool quilts are common in this part of the country, I never give any quilt without care instructions, and folks in these parts know how to care for woolen items of all kinds. It is fast, easy and convenient to felt wool before making something with it, but to many who are not so concerned with speed and shortcuts, it no longer has the beauty of the weave, the softness of drape and the loving male kiss of wool. It becomes something else altogether. To each their own.

  19. #19
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    remember...when you wash your wool...wash in HOT water...rinse in COLD water...then dry in a normal setting dryer...there's something about the hot wash, cold rinse that is an important step.

  20. #20
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    I too am going to go against what most have said. My grandmother used to make "comforters" out of old suits and the fabric content was usually wool and corduroys. She kept the weights of the fabric more consistent than the content. they were what she called "postcard" quilts, as that's what she used to make the bricks. She would back them with flannel and use a higher loft batting, and they were tied instead of quilted. They were wonderfully cozy in her house in the winter.. we would sleep on feather beds with a couple of those and yes.. they were heavy.. but we stayed toasty even when the space heater was in a different room.
    I'm sure those comforters were washed.. probably in her wringer machine, and hung on the line to dry. and probably washed once a year. Have fun with your new found treasures.

  21. #21
    Senior Member redrummy's Avatar
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    I have a wool crazy quilt that my grandmother made. It is wonderful. Warm, heavy for cold nights.

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