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.
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.