My Sewing Projects Using Merino Wool Interlock and Jersey

Here is an example of one of the (now eight) base layer t-shirts I made for my husband Jeff. The fabric is the regular 12-ounce 100% merino wool from Covered Caboose which I felted. I dyed all the shirts either black or chocolate brown. Two of the eight long-sleeve t-shirts are made from lighter-weight merino wool jersey, but not as form-fitting, and he wears those in the summer.

For the pattern: Well, it took me a year and a half, but after all that time, I finally drafted a pattern that fit him! I cut apart t-shirts he had, tried self-drafts, and over time created a pattern according to his preferences. It took me that long to get it right and for him to figure out what he wanted. The base layer t-shirt post gives detailed notes as to how I constructed the t-shirt (using the serger and coverstitch machine) and what thread I used.

This is a black base-layer t-shirt made from lighter-weight merino wool jersey. I made one for myself, and one each for my three children. They were red at first, but I dyed them all black. Since then, I’ve made myself t-shirts from merino wool jersey in chocolate brown and navy (they came that way; I did not have to dye them).

For the patterns: For mine, I created a pattern from tracing a light-weight merino wool sweater I already have that fits like a fitted t-shirt. For the kids, I used Kwik Sew 3043. My son’s turned out right the first time, but for the girls I had to do some practice t-shirts to get them to fit right. Also for the girls, I compared the Kwik Sew pattern with their knit jumper bodice top to help me figure out the right fit. I use thrift store knit fabric or knit sheets for all my practice; it is cheap so if the garment works, great, if not, that’s fine.

Update (2/20/09): Since this was posted, I have completed wool shirts for myself using the 100% merino wool interlock.

These are tank tops for me. However, the tank pictured is cotton (recycled from men’s thrift store t-shirts). Since I made those, I made more tank tops out of lighter-weight merino wool jersey from Jeanne at Covered Caboose (tan, chocolate brown and navy). When constructing them from wool, I didn’t do the contrasting-color binding. Rather, if the tank was navy, I cut the binding from the same navy.

For the pattern: I copied a ready-to-wear tank top from Target. More details are in the original post.

This is a black linen overdress. To wear underneath the overdress, I’ve made merino wool jersey underdresses, long-sleeve t-shirts, and tank tops. You’ve seen what the long-sleeve t-shirt and tanks look like from the above pictures. For the full wool underdress, just imagine the long sleeve t-shirt flowing into a full skirt. It is so warm and cozy. Someone just gave me 6 yards of wool flannel and out of that, I plan to make overdresses for my daughters and me for the winter.

For the pattern (overdress): I started with New Look 6483 and lengthened that shirt into a dress (see black linen overdress for how I did that). You can see how I used bias tape for the binding at the neck and arms in this post.

C.s Wool Beanie

I also used both the 12-ounce 100% merino wool interlock (felted) and the lighter-weight merino wool jersey (not felted) to make beanie caps. In addition, the 12-ounce makes a great neck warmer and headband/ear warmer.

For the patterns: For the beanie cap, I modified Green Pepper F857 to make it more like Ibex skull caps. For the neck warmer, I just made a tube to fit Jeff’s neck. For my headband/ear warmer, I traced a fleece headband I have from Eddie Bauer.

Edit: Since this post, I’ve begun making merino wool headbands/earwarmers from a double layer of the 100% merino wool interlock.

For laundering these wool garments, I choose the “wool” or “hand wash” cycle on the front-loader washing machine. The detergent is Kookaburra Wool Wash, which I also get through Nature’s Fabrics. Then I lay flat to dry, on towels usually. I turn each garment over every day or half day until dry.

The merino wool from Nature’s Fabrics is awesome. Since I began sewing with wool, I’ve had such fun sewing and even more importantly, I’ve been able to create very useful garments for my whole family! If you’re wondering how comfortable these can be when wool is known to itch, think again! Merino wool is a very soft, non-itchy wool. Some are softer than others, but they’re all soft.

Comments

  1. I am so thrilled for all new seamstresses who are blessed to find your blog and your excellent instructions. :) The overdress is still my favorite of your things you’ve made. :D

    We are watching part 1 of Bleak House again (wanting to see if a few times before sending it of for Part 2). Our favorite line this far is “Public right of fiddlesticks!” :lol: We think that is so funny.

    Have a wonderful weekend! Hugs, Robin

  2. I’m in awe!

  3. Wardee! You are doing an awesome job of those shirts! I would have given up the first try.

  4. Thanks so much for the info on where to get merino wool yardage… I’ve been looking for some long underwear tops and bottoms and, being long legged and armed It would be best to make them my self. So now I can (if I can find the company you mention).

    I appreciate your ideas of recycled men’s tshirts too for fabric and testing patterns.

    Thanks!
    Ariel

  5. hi again! i sent you a message last week about wool dye, i think. I’m wondering if you put your wool in the washing machine once it has been felted. I just bought some wool jersey (I have interlock coming too) and want to make my husband an undershirt for cycling. Which would be most appropriate? I don’t want to wash by hand everytime he wears it, so would either of these be okay in the washer? Up til now I’ve just used it for soakers and longies…so stepping into the world of clothing is new!

    • Hi, Brandy.

      I did answer you last week about the synthrapol (I don’t use it).

      After felting, I wash the wool garments on the wool or handwash cycle of my front-loader (with Kookaburra wool wash). To dry, I lay flat or hang on a stainless steel drying rack near the fire.

      The wool jersey is going to give you a thin undershirt, sort of like those silk long underwear. You know? The interlock will give you the weight more like old fashioned long underwear that is thicker, more substantial. Both are nice (we wear both kinds). I like the jersey for PJs. My husband likes the interlock for nighttime and daytime; he wears it as both a baselayer and mid/outer layer. It is all soft enough for next to the skin. So it will mostly depend on your preference. It seems like for biking, you might want the thinner, but then again, it won’t be as warm. :) You could do a couple layers of the jersey and see how that compares to one layer of interlock for feel and thickness.

      How exciting to be getting into garments! Our garments have been soooo successful that now I have friends asking me to make them clothes. There is nothing like this wool. It is fabulous.

      Love, Wardee

  6. cardinale jackson says:

    I am looking for a supplier for quality merino wool jersey and am having little luck. Can you help? Thank you! Cardinale

  7. i love your projects. i’d like to make a lightweight merino wool t-shirt for hiking, short sleeve for summer, and maybe a long sleeve for transitional. If i start with the jersey fabric, do i felt it before i begin working with it, or do i skip that? Does felting make it heavier? How many yards would i need for a small ladies?
    Thanks.

  8. Lindsey Bergstrom says:

    I am looking for some merino wool jersey to make a few baby sleepers. Any suggestions on where I might find some? Thank you so much

  9. Beautiful and inspiring. I’m embarking on a merino wool project to resize a sports bra I bought from Icebreakers. I use a Bernina circa 1970s and there is no serging at my table. Any sewing tips for the older generation sewers? Thank you!
    Lysa McDowell´s last blog post ..Winners of the Whiteboard Weekly Planners!

  10. Hi Wardeh!

    I’m a little late to the party, but am getting back into sewing clothes and have decided to attempt some merino leggings (I have a very long inseam, so making my own is really the only option if I want wool ones). I’m wondering if the 100% merino would work for leggings, or if I need a lycra or spandex blend?

    I looked at Nature’s Fabrics but didn’t see any merino jersey sold by the yard and I can’t afford a bolt. Do you know of any other sources? And what brand of dye do you recommend?

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