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Author Topic: Worsted Wool vs. Tropical Weight Wool  (Read 3427 times)
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CVanS
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« on: March 01, 2011, 07:04:07 AM »

Okay, would someone please explain to me the difference in these two wools?  I had thought that worsted was a denser fabric that was appropriate for Paletots and not dresses and that Tropical was a better wool for dresses but could also be used for jackets and Paletots as well.

Help me understand which is better for dresses and which is better for Jackets.

Thank you,
Cindy
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Marta Vincent
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2011, 08:03:41 AM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worsted

Tropical is a weight of wool, worsted is the type fiber used in the weaving of a wool fabric. Tropical can be worsted, but not all worsted is tropical.
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Hannah G.
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2011, 10:58:20 AM »

I THINK this is the definition-  In fabric terminology, worsted wool yarn is a very tightly twisted yarn.  Fabrics woven from worsted have a smooth finish and tend to wear well.  They may also be scratchier than woolen, which is the term for a wool yarn with some air spaces in the twist.  Woolens are softer and springier than worsteds.  It's confusing, because of the category of modern knit and crochet yarns known as "worsted".  In this case, the term only refers to the weight or thickness of the yarn.  That's probably where the picture of worsted fabrics being heavier comes from-

Fabric experts, please correct me if I got that wrong!  I was just reading about it and I think I know just enough to prove how little I know:)

Hannah
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Jessamyn
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2011, 01:13:53 PM »

In addition to being tightly twisted, worsted yarns for weaving have been straightened, and traditionally use longer-staple fiber, which helps achieve the smooth, tight, uncrimped yarn that is the hallmark of worsted.

Woolen yarn is spun out of wool with still-crimpy fibers running anyhow, which prevents the smooth finish and tight twisting of a worsted. The resulting yarn is fluffier and has little ends poking out.

Because of these properties, worsted fabrics generally wear better (the smooth finish prevents pilling and felting) and look neater (again, the smooth finish resists lint, hair, and stains) and can be woven into very lightweight fabrics because the yarns can be spun more finely.

Woolen fabrics are warmer, because the crimp in the wool and the looser spin trap more air. They also are thicker and fluffier for the same weight of goods, again because of the looser spin. And they resist creasing, because the natural crimp of the wool and the multidirectional fibers won't get organized and lie down in the same direction.

Worsteds and woolens both come in a variety of weights. Tropical wools are usually worsted, made from tighly spun yarn that is woven more loosely to allow airflow. When a seller just says "worsted fabric" they're probably referring to a pant-and-jacket weight, but check for any modifiers. Very high-quality, middleweight suitings are made from extra high-twist worsted yarn; these are twisted tighter even than usual for worsteds, making a very strong, long-wearing material with a very smooth finish. Normal twists are in the 60-80 range; when you see suiting labelled as "super 110" or "super 120," they're referring to that extra twisting.

Fabrics in which woolen yarn is most used include tweeds, flannels, and soft coatings.

As far as what to look for when shopping for dress and jacket fabrics, unfortunately modern seller s do not label their fabrics for mid-century uses! Because of the layering and sheer volume of fabric in a mid-century dress, lighter is generally better, but "tropical" and "lightweight" will both work. For jackets and even mantles, you still want to think thin - generally no heavier than suiting weight. If you need it to be warmer, rather than going up to a coating weight, instead add layers - a silk lining, a flannel interlining, and/or thin wool batting will add a tremendous amount of warmth.
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CVanS
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2011, 01:18:34 PM »

Wow Jessamyn!  That is exactly what I was looking for in an explanation!  Even though I have some wools to work with right now, it will help for the future.  Adding to my files for future reference!

Cindy
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Jennifer Hill
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2011, 09:03:49 PM »

Well done, Jessamyn.  As a spinner, weaver, knitter, you are right on.  Knitters have to bear with "worsted weight", which has nothing to do with fiber & how it is spun.  grrrr
I'm currently combing Cotswold fleece in order to make needlepoint yarns.

I'm also going to be weaving corded petti "blanks", i.e. lengths one sews together.  I have a blouse fabric to do first, then it is off to find the perfect cotton.  I wanted to do them in a linen warp/cotton weft, but they are just toooooo expensive.  Can't manage $100 per petti.  sigh  (Well, I might manage it for myself, working out of stash, but not for anyone else!)

Jennifer
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Jennifer Hill
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2011, 10:48:56 AM »

Thank you so much for that explanation.

Liz W.
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