Wool is the general name given to the fabric made from the fiber derived from the fleece of sheep, camels, goats, llamas or other mammals.
There are many many reasons you will find wool fabric as one of the most coveted and expensive fabrics in any fabric shop you go -like it’s softness, durability, comfort, warmth, luxurious looks. You can check out more about the properties of wool here.
Basically, wool fabrics are categorized as Woolen fabrics and Worsted fabrics depending on the length of the fibers that make up their yarn. Short fibers make woolen fabrics and hence they have a tufted fuzzy surface texture. They are heavy thick and bulky and are less expensive than Worsted fabrics which are made with tightly twisted longer yarns. Worsted fabrics have a hard, smooth surface with a special subtle luster. Woolen fabrics can be plain weave woolens or wool knits.
For yet another general categorization If you hear carpet wool, as the name suggests it is suitable only for making carpets . The fibers are long and coarse. Apparel wool is the fine wool that makes garments. More categorizations of wool fabrics are done according to the animal, type of weaves, where the animal is bred, the texture of the fabric etc as you can see in the list below
Different types of Wool Fabrics.
Classification of wool according to the type of sheep, location, etc.
1 Merino wool
Merino Wool is the softest and finest of all wool fabrics. This long-lasting fabric is one of the most desirable wool fabrics and expensive as well. It is made from the fleece of Merino sheep and is made mostly in Australia and Newzealand.
Merino wool itself can vary in quality depending on the thickness of its wool fibers. Merino wool sweaters and socks are very popular because it is a lot less itchy than all the other sheep wool fabrics out there.
2 Border Leicester Wool
Border Leicester wool is named after the place of origin of the long wool breed sheep whose long fleece is used to make this beautiful fabric. It is a very durable fabric that can last a very long time. It is used for making coats and dresses
Cheviot is a woolen fabric made originally from the coarse wool of the Cheviot sheep raised in the Cheviot hills of England; Generally, the term is used to describe medium to heavy woolen fabrics with a shaggy surface texture. It is popular as a coating fabric
4 Shetland wool
This is a wool fabric made from sheep found in Scotland. It has all the fine qualities of the best of wool fabrics – and keeps a person very warm. It is very suitable for making winter clothing. The fabric is a little rough though
5 Melton wool
Wool Melton is a felted medium or heavy weight somewhat bulky fabric with a smooth nap. It is commonly used for coats.
Classification of wool according to process, quality, etc.
This refers to wool fabric made from fleece that is shorn when a lamb is just six or seven months old as its first shearing. The fabric made with this wool is very strong and soft and does not need much processing.It is considered as the best wool in terms of quality.
7 Lightweight wool
If you think wool fabric is always thick and bulky you are wrong. For a lightweight drapey fabric made with wool fibers – there are many choices. Lightweight wool is loosely but firmly woven and hangs very beautifully. Woolen Batiste is a very soft fine lightweight woolen fabric. Crepe is lightweight worsted wool; Albatross is a lightweight woolen fabric with a slightly crepe surface. Woolen challis is also lightweight. Wool challis is a plain weave woolen fabric and an absolute favorite for dressmaking
8 Plain or Twill Worsted wool suitings
Worsted wool has a smooth finish and is durable. It is the most popular fabric for making coats, jackets trousers etc. Worsted wool is made after wool fibers are spun into yarn which is then knitted or woven into fine fabrics. After the fabric is made it goes through a process in which unwanted fibers are removed which makes it very smooth.
9 Virgin wool
This is wool taken from a lamb’s first shearing, which will be very fine and soft or wool that has never been processed or used in any way.
10 Boiled Wool
Boiled wool is a special stretchy, felted heavyweight wool fabric with insulating qualities. It is dense, durable and water-resistant because the wool undergoes a special washing process which makes it thick. It is used for making berets, jackets, cardigans, vests, coats etc.
11 Super wool
This is wool that is categorized according to the fine quality of its fibers. It measures the fibers used per inch of the cloth, similar to thread count. When you go shopping for wool you will hear classifications like Super 100, 110, 120, 150 etc. Higher the number finer the wool
12 Wool Chinchilla
This is a fabric with curled tufts or nubs on the fabric surface. This special texture is made on a chinchilla machine. First, the nap is made using the machine and then rubbed to create the rounded curled tufts.
13 Organic wool
Various toxics substances like harsh scouring agents, dyes and bleaches to clean and whiten the wool, formaldehyde, conditioners, moth-proofing, harsh chemical dyes, and other, often toxic additives to finish the fabric and garments are used in conventional wool production. Organically grown wool fabric and wool garments are free of all these.
Organic wool is obtained from sheep that have been raised without synthetic or harmful chemicals under healthy, natural, and responsible animal husbandry methods. The sheep graze on pesticide-free land and they are raised with such organic animal husbandry methods that they do not have external and internal parasites which may have had to be treated with antibiotics. Chemicals are not used in the wool production process resulting in the organic wool fabric which is free of all carcinogenic or allergy creating particles.
Classification of wool according to the type of fabric made
Gabardine is a firm tightly woven fabric with a diagonally ribbed surface (twill weave) on one side and smooth texture on the other. It is very durable and strong and is used to make trousers, suits, jackets, overcoats etc. It is also suitable for making bags.
This is a water-resistant woolen material. It is used as coating material.
16 Wool jersey
This is a knit fabric ( hand knitted or machine knitted) made with wool yarn. It is used to make sweaters, cardigans etc.
This refers to woolen fabrics with curly twisted loops on the surface. This is a result of its special construction.The curled loopy surface texture makes this fabric unique.
This is the inside layer used in quilts and beddings for insulation – you will get batting made with wool fibers which is superior to the batting made with cotton or polyester.
Broadcloth is a dense, strong woolen cloth
20 Herringbone patterned wool
This wool fabric has a distinctive zigzag weaving pattern which looks like the skeleton of a herring fish. This is a very much in demand fabric for making jackets and trousers
Wool tweed is a very popular wool fabric best suited for making jackets, waistcoats, hats and other winter clothing. The fabric is so named after the Tweed River in Scotland where it was first made.
It may have a plain or twill weave and has an attractive check or herringbone pattern with a subtle rough texture. It is traditionally made from coarse homespun wool.
Subtle color effects are seen on its surface because of the way it is made by twisting differently colored woolen strands into a two- or three-ply yarn. It is a very durable fabric, moisture-resistant, breathable and warm.
22 Wool felt
Felted wool is a non woven fabric. Wool felt is the most common and very popular felt fabric. It is soft and more supple than any other felt and is very durable. It is used for making home decor items, hats, and jackets and for craft projects
23 Lincoln Wool
Lincoln wool fabrics is a high-quality wool fabric that is very popular for making suits and other garments. It is expensive and highly regarded for its appearance.
Flannel is a popular wool fabric in plain or twill weave which has a brushed or napped surface on either one or both the sides. It is popularly used to make night wear clothes like pajamas.
This is a traditional Scottish woolen cloth with distinctive plain or check fabric pattern. The most famous use of tartan cloth is to make Scottish kilts. It is also used for making jackets, suits and skirts.
This is a velvety textured fabric with a soft tufted pile surface made with woolen fibers
27 Wool Sharkskin
This is a wool fabric with a pronounced twill weave and smooth surfaced two-toned woven appearance. The yarns in warp and weft are alternated with two colours like white and another colour which results in the two-toned look
Classification of wool made from other animals.
28 Alpaca wool
This is a soft luxurious fuzzy textured wool fabric made from fleece of Alpaca(camel family) with a cotton knitted or woven back. The best advantage of using this wool is that it is hypoallergenic. Other than that it is as soft and warm as any other superior wool like merino or cashmere.
Mohair is a very soft silky and lustrous heavy weight woolen fabric made from Angora goat. The fabric has very fuzzy surface. It is very expensive but because of the beautiful luxurious and lustrous look it is much coveted. It is mainly used for making coats and jackets
This is one of the finest and softest of all textiles. It is made from fiber obtained from the Tibetan Wild (Cashmere) goat. The clothes made from this fabric is very warm but the weight of the fabric as such is very light
31 Vicuna wool
This is wool made from the fleece obtained from the vicuna; it is said to be the most expensive of all fabrics as vicuna wool is rare wool. A Vicuna Jacket can cost up to $21,000 as seen here.
32 Camel hair
This is the fabric made from the undercoat of the Bactrian camel. The resultant tan or brown coloured fabric is very soft and is used to make scares sweaters jackets and blankets. General use of the term describes soft heavy woolen fabrics without any genuine camel’s hair in it
Related post : How to care for wool fabric.