If you do a lot of sewing, you know the basic rule of thumb is to use a thread with the same fiber content of your fabric. But what do you do when it comes to wool? There are wool blend threads, often mixed with acrylic but they are used for things like embroidery or applique instead of just sewing.
The reason is that wool fibers are very dimensional with an outer layer that is rather scaly. Imagine threading something like that into your sewing machine needle and expecting the thread not to break every time it encounters fabric made from the same kind of fibers. So, you have to think outside the box a little when you are sewing wool.
Best Type of Thread To Use For Wool
While we usually think of silk for its softness, silk thread is actually very strong. It is the best thread choice for sewing wool. Clover makes a good silk thread that does not twist or curl during the sewing process. If you are piecing a wool quilt, you might like this Superior Threads silk quilting thread variety set. You will spend more on silk threads. But you have already spent more for your wool fabric. If you want your sewing project to be one that lasts, you will want to use the best thread for it.
If you are hand basting your wool sewing project, a plain old cotton thread (or any extra thread you have on hand) is fine to use. Silk thread is great for hand basting, but many sewing enthusiasts avoid that simply because of the expense.
Related: What Do You Line a Wool Coat With?
Things to Consider When Choosing a Thread For Wool Fabric
Choose a thread that blends with the wool fabric, or is as close to a blend as possible. If your wool has a multi-color design, choose a thread that matches the mid-color of the design. You don’t want it too dark, or too light, so choosing the mid-range color in the pattern should be just right.
The good news is that you will not have to shell out a lot of money for expensive sewing needles because the best one for sewing wool is a simple ballpoint needle. If you buy this Singer needle set, the needles are even color coded to help you pick which one to use depending on the weight of your fabric.
If you are working with needles you already have that are not color coded, 70/10 or 80/12 needles are best for light weight wool. You could use a 90/14 for medium weight. Try 100/16 or 110/18 for heavy weight wools. If you are not sure, check your sewing machine manual for needle size recommendations.
If you are sewing wool by hand try a needle sized 10, 11, or 12 for light to medium weight wools. For heavier wool, go with a needle sized 4, 5, or 6.
Second-Best Thread for Wool
What’s the second-best choice for sewing on wool fabric? A Mercerized cotton thread is a good second choice. Mercerized thread – named for its creator, John Mercer – is a process of treating cotton thread with a solution that makes the fibers swell and the tension used in the process makes the thread stronger. While they are not silk, mercerized threads do have a silky look. Brothread has this 24-spool set that offers a variety of colors plus the threads can be used for sewing, quilting, and machine embroidery.
Honestly a general purpose or all purpose polyester-wrapped cotton thread would have made the Number 2 spot if it was easy to find. These days, it is easy to find an all purpose thread that is polyester core with polyester wrap, but not so easy to find it with the cotton core.
Wool Embroidery Threads
If you will be embroidering on your wool, use a wool embroidery thread known as crewel wool. You may remember that crewel embroidery was a very popular craft in the 1970s. The crewel embroidery thread is slightly fuzzier than most embroidery flosses you normally work with. That’s because the thread is made of short wool fibers. Use that fuzzy look to your advantage and use crewel wool thread for stitching anything you want to have a soft or fluffy look.
If you are going to do crewel embroidery, you will need special needles for the project. These medium length needles by Dritz are a good size to have on hand. The needles have a larger eye opening to accommodate the thicker wool crewel embroidery threads.
General Tips for Sewing (or Embroidering) on Wool
Wash Your Fabric Before Getting Started
Wash your fabric before starting your project to remove any shrinkage. You don’t have to run it through a wash cycle in your washing machine. Just saturating it in a tub or sink of water should help. Don’t agitate the fabric too much because you don’t want to start the felting process. Gently squeeze the excess water from the wool, then smooth it out on a flat surface and allow it to dry. Naturally. Use a pressing cloth and iron the wool once it is completely dry.
Read More: How To Prepare Wool Before Sewing
Pay Attention To Design Patterns
When cutting your pattern out of the wool fabric, pay close attention to any design patterns that need to be matched.
Consider a Ballpoint Needle
Use a ballpoint needle for sewing your wool. If your fabric weight is heavy, choose a needle meant for heavy weight fabrics.
No Special Presser Foot Needed
You don’t need a special sewing machine foot when making wool projects on your machine.
Steam Fabric In The Dryer
If you don’t have time to rinse and let your wool fabric air dry, you can steam it in the dryer instead. Wet a bath towel and throw it into the dryer with your wool fabric. If the fabric is still wet after the drying cycle, lay it flat to allow it to continue drying. (You can also take your wool fabric to a dry cleaner to ask them to shrink it for you. (Be sure to tell them it is for a sewing project and ask them not to crease the fabric.)
Trim Seam Allowances
Avoid bulky seam allowances by pressing and trimming them. You can even add extra space for more seam allowance then trim them to size, pressing and serging (or zigzagging) both seam edges to encourage flat positioning.