Ever made a coat or jacket before? Perhaps it's been a while and you're hoping to refresh your memory about the key things to remember. We asked Editor Amy to share a few of her top tips for working with wool so we're sharing this friendly masterclass!


Although other animals such as alpacas, goats, llamas and even bunny rabbits produce fibre which can be spun and woven or knitted into luxury fabric, its only sheep that can make wool! That said, all of these care tips also apply to other animal fibre, including mohair and angora, as they all behave in quite a similar way.

Why choose wool?

Wool is a really unique fibre, which has a wonderful range of properties that sewists can take advantage of. Its remarkably warm for its weight, so a wool coat needn't be heavy or bulky. Its natural, 100% biodegradable and renewable, which makes it a perfect choice for the environmentally-conscious. Wool is also an elastic fibre, meaning that it will shape itself to your body to create a perfect fit.

Caring for wool

Modern processing techniques mean that some wool is machine-washable. If your wool is not superwash treated though, don't worry  its still easy to care for. We recommend a no-rinse wool wash such as Soak. After 30 minutes soaking, take out the garment and roll it in a towel to remove excess moisture. Finally, lay your garment out on a flat surface and leave it to dry. It wont even need ironing!

Safe storage

The worst nightmare for a wool wardrobe is the dreaded clothes moth. Although moths can attack any fibre, wool and animal fibres are their favourites. Clothes moths are only 5-10mm long and pale  if you see them in your house, take action immediately! Pheramone traps and insecticide sprays will catch and kill moths, but preventative action is best. Clean out your cupboards regularly and keep particularly delicate items in Ziploc bags.

Preparing wool

You may find that you don't need to pre-shrink or clean your wool before sewing, perhaps it is unlikely to be worn very often so you are happy to skip these steps, and some 100% wool will be dry-clean only so its best to not do anything at home to damage the fabric. But if you're feeling brave and want to spruce up your fabric, shrink an open weave or fluff up the pile, here are three options.

1. Steam, don't press

Hover a well-filled steam iron over the fabric, about an inch above the surface instead of touching the fabric. Repeatedly steam the fabric from above for a few seconds, working across the fabric. You'll probably need to refill the iron halfway through.

2. London Shrink

You will need a lot of space for this couture method, plus a bucket of patience. Lay the wool on a wet sheet (or two if you have a large quantity of fabric) and roll them up as one. When the wool fabric is thoroughly wet, unroll it and let it air-dry for 24 hours. Check the fabric regularly as it dries naturally. Repeat as necessary. To finish, steam the fabric flat. Pick up a copy of Claire Shaeffers Fabric Sewing Guide for further advice on this method or watch a video of the shrinking process in action at a factory in 1951 www.britishpathe.com/video/london-shrinking-house

3. The cheats sauna

This is a quick shortcut but does work on most fabric. Zigzag or overlock the raw cut edges of the fabric if your wool is prone to fraying. Wet two clean thick towels with HOT water until they are wet, not dripping. Toss the towels and fabric into your tumble dryer. Set the dryer on HIGH heat, and tumble for 30-40 minutes. Take the fabric out of the dryer and lay it flat until cool. Do not repeat the process too many times as you may end up with felted wool.

There are obviously lots of tips out there so if you have a smart suggestion to share with your fellow sewists, just leave a comment on the blog post! It's so nice to be able to pass skills along to other sewing enthusiasts.