Wool Fabric

Wool Fabric


a textile made of all-wool yarn, a combination of wool and other yarns, or yarn made by blending wool with other fibers.

Cottage production of woolen fabrics was practiced in early classical times in the East—in Sidon, Babylon, and Baghdad. The production of woolens developed further during the Middle Ages, during which the greatest production was concentrated in Flanders, Holland, England, France (Sedan), and Saxony; Florence became famous for its fine woolens, the most important items of its trade. During the second half of the 18th century, the appearance of improved cards, roving frames, and spinning frames mechanized the production of wool fabrics.

In Russia, cottage production of wool fabrics existed in Kiev and Novgorod as early as the tenth century. An enterprise for the production of fine woolens was established in Moscow in 1650, but it could not compete with imported goods and soon closed. Concerned about supplying the army, Peter I the Great supported the creation of factories for producing woolens. The first such factory to supply the army was established in 1698; in the 1720’s there were already approximately 15 enterprises weaving wool. However, the production of wool worsteds was begun only in the second half of the 19th century.

In 1977 the USSR produced 800 million sq m of wool fabric in a range of approximately 2,000 articles. All-wool and part-wool fabrics are distinguished by the type of raw material used. All-wool fabrics may contain up to 10 percent chemical fibers, usually introduced to achieve superficial effects. Part-wool fabrics may contain up to 25 percent reclaimed wool and from 10 to 80 percent other fibers. If chemical fibers are blended into the yarn with the wool, the resulting fabrics are termed blended. If the fabric is manufactured from wool yarn interwoven with cotton yarns or chemical fibers, the fabric is called mixed.

Depending on the type of yarn used, wool fabrics may be classified as worsteds, fine woolens, and coarse woolens. Worsted fabrics are from relatively fine and smooth single-ply or twisted yarn that has been combed before spinning. They have a smooth surface and a clearly defined weave pattern. Fine woolens are made from fluffy woolen yarn. They have a surface nap that partially or completely obscures the weave pattern. The nap may be specially combed, cut, or pressed. Coarse woolens are made from coarse-wool woolen yarn and are also felted and napped. They exhibit good wear resistance and resistance to the effects of light and dry cleaning and high resiliency, hygroscopicity, and low thermal conductivity. The adding of synthetic fibers (polyamides and polyesters) to wool increases the wool’s wear resistance, but somewhat decreases its hygroscopicity and makes it more susceptible to pilling. The use of viscose fibers and cotton yarn makes wool fabric less expensive, but also renders it less crease resistant. Part of the production of wool fabric is used for industrial purposes, but the majority is used to make clothing—dresses, suits, and coats.

Wool dress fabrics include worsteds and fine woolens. They are manufactured in twill, plain, small-figured, combination, and large-figured weaves. They may be bleached, piece-dyed, yarndyed, mélange, or printed fabrics. Worsted dress fabrics are relatively fine and lightweight (150 to 300 g/sq m). Fine woolen dress fabrics are fluffier, softer, and heavier (200–350 g/sq m), and they have a heavier nap. They are manufactured as part-wool fabrics.

Most wool suit fabrics are worsteds (170–340 g/sq m). Some all-wool worsteds are wool serge, wool crepe, and tricot. Part-wool worsted suitings are quite varied; two examples are worsted cheviot and worsted diagonal. Some wool suitings are made of blended two- or three-component yarns; they are usually yarndyed and resemble tricot. Fine woolen suitings are heavier (260–520 g/sq m) and fluffier and sometimes exhibit a nap. They provide more warmth and are most often used for everyday winter suits and jackets.

Wool coat fabrics are made as worsteds, fine woolens, and coarse woolens. Worsteds (187–540 g/sq m) with an open weave are piece-dyed. Gabardines and diagonals are made from combed yarn in a twill weave; bouclé is made from fancy yarns in a small-figured weave. Fine woolens also include drab cloth and soft, fluffy coatings usually used mainly in women’s and children’s coats. Coarse woolens are primarily heavy fabrics made from coarse woolen yarn blends and are used for government and military clothing.


Pozhidaev, N. N., D. F. Simonenko, and N. S. Savchuk. Materialy dlia odezhdy. Moscow, 1975.


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