Learn all about the different types of wool and how they are produced. Wool fabrics are not only made from the wool of sheep but can be made from the fur of different animals. Sheep, rabbits, camels, and llamas all give their fur to be woven into different types of wool fabric. Wool is made by shaving the hair from animals and spinning it into yarn or thread. It can then be woven into many types of wool textiles.
Types of Wool Fabric Tutorial
What is Wool?
Wool is a natural fiber fabric made from the hair of various animals, including sheep, goats, and rabbits. Wool has some very unique properties, and these attributes make it especially suitable for being woven into warm fabrics. The natural wave in wool, called crimp, makes the weave trap air in the fabric giving it warmth and insulation.
Properties of Wool Fabric
Wool does not burn in a fabric burning test and this makes it effective in reducing flammability. When sheep were first domesticated, different breeds of sheep were bred for different qualities of wool. The merino is the most popular member of the sheep family for giving wool.
While wool competes with cotton and linen within the natural fiber niche, wool has totally different attributes. It is an animal product that consists of 97% protein and 3% fat, making it very different from cotton and therefore is quite unique.
How is Wool Fabric Identified?
Wool fabric can be identified by the Woolmark, which is considered a mark of quality. See, the Woolmark blend symbol is more solid-looking.
Items with the woolmark symbol are made from 100% pure new wool. This is an internationally recognized certification system that is owned by the Woolmarkmark company in Australia. The Australian wool industry is the world’s leader in wool production, followed by China, the United States, and New Zealand.
Types of Wool Fabrics Summary
Here is a summary of all the types of wool fabrics we will discuss.
|Type of Wool
|Soft and breathable, used in knitwear and base layers.
|Soft and hypoallergenic, ideal for sweaters, baby clothing.
|Exceptionally soft, used in high-end garments.
|Warm and hypoallergenic, popular for sweaters, throws.
|Lustrous and resilient, used in sweaters and home textiles.
|Extremely soft and fluffy, used in luxury knitwear.
|Warm and lightweight, used in high-quality coats, suits.
|Rare and luxurious, used in high-end garments.
|Dense and water-resistant, used in durable outerwear.
|Fine texture and durable, often used in suiting.
|Heavy and plush, mainly used for luxurious coats.
|Chemical-free, used in eco-friendly clothing, home goods.
|Heavy and durable, used in outerwear and military uniforms.
|Knitted and stretchy, used in t-shirts, dresses, activewear.
|Used as insulation or filling in quilts and upholstery.
|Dense and smooth, used in high-quality outerwear, suits.
|Textured and looped, used in jackets, scarves, and upholstery.
|Rugged, textured, used for outdoor wear like jackets, hats.
|V-shaped pattern, used in suits, blazers, and upholstery.
|Dense and water-resistant, used in Alpine outerwear.
|Coarse and strong, ideal for rugs and heavy outer garments.
|Non-woven, used in crafts, insulation, and hats.
|Soft and brushed, used for warm clothing and bedding.
|Smooth and shiny, often used in formal suits.
|Soft and plush, used in sweaters and home textiles.
Types of Wool by Animal
The 9 different types of wool listed here come from the fur of different animals, and as such, they have different characteristics.
1. Merino Wool
- What is merino wool? Merino wool comes from the Merino sheep. This breed of sheep originated in Spain but nowadays has its largest population in Australia and New Zealand. It is a very soft type of wool, and when used in fabrics, it is ideal for regulating body temperature. Merino is a fine, shiny type of wool.
- What is merino wool used for? Merino wool is popular for sports clothing because it suits both hot and cold climates for warmth and keeping body temperatures regular. From sweaters and cardigans to baby clothes, scarves, and beanies, Merino wool's softness and comfort make it suitable for daily wear items.
- What is shetland wool? The Shetland sheep from the Shetland Isles, belonging to Scotland, provide a wool ideal for knitting. It is a lightweight wool that is durable as well as soft. Shetland wool is available in a wide range of natural colors. Even though it's warm, Shetland wool garments are often lighter than one might expect, adding to their appeal.
- What is shetland wool used for? The Shetland sweater, also known as the Fair Isle sweater, is iconic. This type of multi-colored, patterned knitwear originates from the Shetland Islands and is renowned worldwide. Shetland wool can be used for blankets and throws, rugs and carpets as well as clothing.
- What is lambswool? Lambswool is also known as virgin wool. This name is given to lambswool because it comes from the lamb’s first shearing. It is more expensive than other types of wool because each lamb only produces one ‘first shearing’. Lambswool is very soft, smooth, and hypo-allergenic. It is hard to wrinkle lambswool, making it ideal for many clothing items.
- What is lambswool used for? Due to its softness and warmth, lambswool is often used to make sweaters and cardigans. The fine quality of lambswool makes it ideal for accessories that come into direct contact with the skin.
- What is Mohair? Mohair is a type of wool fabric that comes from the Angora goat. This is not to be confused with the fleece that comes from Angora rabbits. It is a durable wool fabric that drapes very well. Mohair is usually woven in a plain weave. Mohair is ideal for blending with other fibers such as other wools and also synthetics.
- What is mohair used for? As it is lightweight but very warm, it makes up beautifully into suits, dresses, scarves, cardigans, blankets, and baby clothes.
- What is alpaca wool? This wool, as the name suggests, is made from the coat of the alpaca. The alpaca was first found in Peru. There are two breeds of alpaca that give their wool for weaving - the Huacaya and the Suri. Huacaya wool is thicker and used for knit fabrics, and Suri wool has a silky texture and is used in woven fabrics. Alpace is hypoallergenic, making it ideal for people with sensitive skin.
- What are alpaca types of wool used for? Alpaca wool today is used for many different items, including high-end suits, coats, blankets, and bedspreads. Originally, its wool was used by the Peruvian people to make ponchos and decorative blankets.
6. Camel Hair
- What is camel hair wool? Camel's hair is a warm, luxurious fine wool with a natural golden brown color. It is usually blended with other wools that are less expensive and is known for its insulating properties. Camel hair has natural temperature-regulating properties, making garments made from it suitable for both warm and cold climates.
- What is camel hair used for? The softer hair from the camel’s undercoat is used for high-end clothing, while the coarse outer hair is used for backing carpets and upholstery.
- What is Angora? Angora types of wool are taken from the Angora rabbit. It is soft and fluffy and has the ability to retain heat. The fibers are fragile, so Angora wool is often combined with other fibers to strengthen it. Angora products are very expensive.
- What is Angora used for? Because it's much warmer than wool from sheep, it's commonly used in winter accessories like hats, gloves, and scarves. Due to its softness, it's also used in luxury knitwear and blankets.
- What is cashmere? Cashmere comes from the undercoat of cashmere goats and has a high natural crimp. It is soft and lightweight but also very expensive because the fibers are combed from cashmere goats, not sheared. Each goat produces a very small amount of wool. Cashmere is not as durable as sheep’s wool and needs careful handling.
- What is cashmere used for? Known for its unparalleled softness, warmth, and lightweight properties, cashmere is used in high-end sweaters, shawls, and scarves. It is also used in luxury home goods like blankets and throws. Due to its fine texture and warmth, it's a popular choice for winter clothing.
- What is Vicuna? Vicuña wool is among the rarest and most luxurious fibers in the world. The Vicuna is a relative of the llama and a member of the camelid family. Once, it was a highly prized animal by the Inca of South America. Traditionally, the fine wool from the vicuna was only allowed to be worn by the Inca royal family. It is a very expensive wool because the animal can only be shorn once every three years.
- What is Vicuna used for? Vicuña wool is primarily used in the highest-end luxury garments such as suits, coats, and scarves, often reserved for special occasions.
Types of Wool by Treatments
Fabrics made with wool fall into two categories. These categories are defined by the length of the wool fiber.
- Worsted fabrics have a smooth surface and are made by twisting longer fibers together.
- Shorter fibers make wool fabrics that are fuzzy and tufted.
- Wool can be further defined as carpet wool with long coarse fibers or apparel wool which is finer wool for making garments.
10. Boiled Wool
- What is boiled wool? Boiled wool is a stretchy, felted wool that is produced by undergoing a washing process. This makes the wool thicker and water-resistant.
- What is boiled wool used for? Boiled wool is commonly used in outerwear like coats, jackets, and hats, as well as in slippers and home goods like blankets and pillows. Its thermal properties make it popular for winter wear.
11. Super Wool
- What is super wool? Super wool refers to the fiber count in the quality of the wool. Super wool can be classified as Super 100, 110, 120, 150, and higher. The higher the number, the finer the wool. This is a measure rather like the cotton thread count. In the fashion industry, you might hear terms like "Super 120s" or "Super 150s," referring to the fineness of the wool fibers.
- What is super wool used for? Superwool is typically used for high-end suits, dress trousers, and other tailored garments where a smooth finish and luxurious feel are desired.
12. Chinchilla Wool Types
- What is chinchilla wool? Wool Chinchilla is a wool fabric with tufts or what is known as nubs on the surface of the fabric. These tufts are created on a special machine called a chinchilla machine. Most often, it is a blend of rabbit fur and wool that emulates the incredibly soft texture of chinchilla fur. It doesn't come from chinchilla animal fur!
- What is chinchilla wool used for? Due to its softness and luxurious feel, it's highly prized in high-end fashion. The term "chinchilla wool" can sometimes be used to describe a textural finish applied to other types of wool to give it a similar softness.
13. Organic Wool
- What is organic wool? Organic types of wool are taken from sheep that have been bred without using harmful chemicals. The sheep have been raised in a natural environment on pesticide-free grazing using organic farming methods.
- What is organic wool used for? Organic wool is popular for its environmental benefits and is commonly used in clothing, blankets, and mattresses. Due to its natural, chemical-free processing, it is also considered to be hypoallergenic and is often chosen by those with sensitive skin or allergies.
14. Melton Wool
- What is melton wool? Melton is a tightly woven, warm brand of wool. Made with felting and heavily brushed, it has a smooth, velvet-like surface. It is wind-resistant and a very weatherproof wool. The melton wool fibers are thick and woven into a twill variety of fabric.
- What is melton wool used for? Melton wool is a popular choice for outerwear such as pea coats, overcoats, and hunting jackets. Its durability and resistance to the elements make it practical for military uniforms and equestrian attire as well.
Types of Wool Fabrics
Wool can be classified according to the type of fabric it is made into. Distinctive fabrics lend themselves to clothing that requires the strength, durability, and warmth of wool.
These wool fabrics fall under the following categories.
15. Gabardine Wool Fabric
- What is gabardine wool fabric? Gabardine is a strong, woven wool fabric with a twill weave. This weave gives the fabric a ribbed surface on one side and a smooth texture on the other side.
- What is gabardine wool fabric used for? This hard-wearing fabric is used to make trousers, jackets, coats and suits. Gabardine has been used to make bags because it is a very strong fabric.
16. Wool Jersey
- What is wool jersey? Jersey is a knit fabric made with wool yarn. It has natural stretch, breathability, and the softness of wool. Unlike other wool fabrics, it has a more relaxed fabric drape and has good stretch recovery.
- What is jersey wool fabric used for? It is perfect for knitted sweaters, cardigans, and other knit garments and is especially popular for Winter clothing. Because wool naturally regulates temperature and wicks away moisture, the wool jersey is particularly well-suited for base layers in athletic or outdoor apparel.
17. Wool Batting
- What is wool batting? This is a wool fabric where a layer of wool fibers has been spread into a sheet or roll and is loosely held together. Batting made with wool fibers is superior to cotton batting due to its ability to regulate temperature and wick away moisture. It's also naturally flame-resistant and hypoallergenic. However, it's often more expensive than synthetic alternatives like polyester batting.
- What is wool batting used for? Wool batting is commonly used as insulation or filling in quilts, comforters, and mattress pads due to its excellent thermal properties. It's also used for stuffing in pillows, upholstery, and stuffed animals.
18. Broadcloth Wool Fabric
- What is broadcloth wool fabric? Broadcloth is a very strong fabric with a dense weave that is made from wool. Broadcloth wool fabric is characterized by its smooth, flat surface and luxurious finish. The tight weave makes it durable, wrinkle-resistant, and relatively wind and water-resistant.
- What is broadcloth wool used for? Wool broadcloth is often used in high-quality outerwear like coats and jackets, as well as tailored garments like suits and dress trousers. Its smooth finish and slight sheen make it a popular choice for formal or professional attire. It is often used in military uniforms and historical reenactments due to its durability and traditional appearance.
19. Bouclé Wool Fabrics
- What is boucle wool fabric? Bouclé is a unique wool fabric due to its curled bobbled texture. It gets its name from the French word bouclé, meaning loop. This texture is achieved by using bouclé yarns, which are made by spinning the fibers with varying tension, resulting in a series of loops.
- What is boucle wool used for? Because of its textured surface, bouclé wool is primarily used in garments and home goods where texture is a desired feature. It's popular for making jackets, coats, and skirts, as well as accessories like scarves and shawls.
20. Wool Tweed
- What is tweed wool fabric? Wool tweed is a very popular fabric and is named after the Tweed River in Scotland, where it was first made. It comes in different patterns and is a very durable, moisture-resistant fabric. Most types of wool tweed are also very warm. Tweed is typically made from carded wool yarns that are woven in various intricate patterns like herringbone, check, or houndstooth.
- What is wool tweed fabric used for? Tweed is a popular choice for outerwear, such as jackets, overcoats, and blazers. It's also used for trousers, skirts, and vests. Because of its durability and warmth, it's ideal for outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, and hiking. Tweed's rustic aesthetic also makes it a choice material for hats, bags, and even upholstery.
21. Herringbone Wool Types
- What is herringbone wool fabric? The distinctive herringbone weaving pattern gives this type of wool fabric its name. It reminds one of the skeletons of a herring fish.
- What is herringbone wool fabric used for? Due to its durability, herringbone wool is frequently used in tailored garments such as suits, blazers, and trousers. Its textured pattern makes it a popular choice for both formal and casual wear. The fabric's natural draping ability, combined with the warmth and durability of wool, makes it ideal for outerwear like coats and jackets.
22. Loden Wool Fabric
- What is loden wool? Loden wool is a type of fabric originally hailing from the Alpine regions of Central Europe, particularly Austria and Bavaria. It is made from coarsely woven wool that undergoes a unique finishing process involving boiling, brushing, and pressing. The result is a highly water-resistant, windproof, and dense yet supple fabric. The fabric has a smooth, slightly napped surface that feels soft to the touch.
- What are loden wool fabrics used for? Loden wool is traditionally used to make the "Loden coat," a staple in Alpine hunting and outdoor wear, recognized for its distinct green color. The fabric's durability and weather-resistant qualities make it ideal for outerwear such as jackets, coats, and capes designed for cold and wet conditions.
23. Lincoln Wool Fabric
- What is Lincoln wool fabric? Lincoln wool originates from the Lincoln sheep, one of the oldest longwool sheep breeds primarily found in England. The wool is known for its long, lustrous fibers, which can be up to 12 inches in length. This length and structure make Lincoln wool less suitable for garments that require soft, fine fibers, like those worn close to the skin.
- What is Lincon wool used for? This type of wool's coarse texture makes it particularly well-suited for heavier textiles and outerwear.
24. Wool Felt
- What is wool felt? Wool felt is a nonwoven fabric created by compressing and matting wool fibers with heat, moisture, and pressure. Most types of wool felt are soft and durable.
- What is wool felt used for? Wool felt is very popular for craft projects and making hats and jackets, as well as for insulation and padding. Read more about how to sew felt.
25. Tartan Wool Fabric
- What is tartan wool? Tartan wool is a traditional Scottish cloth with very distinctive stripes and traditional colorways. Many tartan patterns are attributed to particular families, and the Scottish kilts were made from tartan cloth.
- What is tartan wool fabric used for? Tartan wool may make up into jackets and skirts too.
26. Flannel Wool Fabric
- What is flannel wool? Flannel is a brushed fabric that generally has a napped surface. Originally, flannel was made from carded wool or worsted yarn, but modern variations can include cotton and synthetic fibers. Sometimes, the brushed surface is on both sides, and this makes flannel a very warm fabric for Winter.
- What is flannel wool fabric used for? It is often used in winter clothing like pajamas, shirts, and trousers, as well as in sheets and blankets.
27. Wool Sharkskin
- What is wool sharkskin? Wool sharkskin has a distinctive two-toned look with a twill weave and smooth surface. The two-tone is achieved by alternating the warp and the weft with two colors. It's a medium- to lightweight fabric.
- What is wool sharkskin used for? Sharkskin wool is commonly used in men's suits and tailored garments due to its luxurious feel and subtle, iridescent appearance.
28. Chenille Wool Fabric
- What is chenille wool fabrics? Woolen fibers woven with a soft tufted pile give this fabric a velvet-like texture. When made from wool, chenille combines the natural warmth and moisture-wicking properties of wool with the luxurious softness of the chenille texture.
- What is chenille wool used for? Chenille wool fabric is often used for cozy sweaters, loungewear, and home textiles like throws and blankets. It's also sometimes used in upholstery.
Types of Wool - In Conclusion
The types of wool fabrics are very broad and offer many different textures and designs. Wool fabrics cover many different areas of clothing and interiors, but wool is probably best known for giving warmth and comfort on cool days.
More Types of Fabric
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- Types of Velvet – 17 Common Types
- Types of Cotton – Best Fabric Guide
- Types of Silk – Easy Guide to Silk
- Types of Lace – 21 Different Laces for Clothing
- Types of Knit Fabric – Stretch for Beginners
- Types of Leather – Buying Leather Guide
- Types of Denim – 13 Types of Denim for Clothing