Spring Like A Lamb

Warmer weather and wool do not sound instant companions, but cast from your mind the cuddly winter woollens, the cosy and the snuggly, and think worsted!

Hmm, you are not convinced? Then perhaps you are thinking of men’s suits, structured and interlined, in shades of charcoal, dark navy, uptight and formal. Worsteds are so much more, and I have become a firm fan, having bought several already from Fabworks, with an eye to dresses. A fine worsted takes pleats and tucks with ease, though so far I cannot see them suiting gathers.

‘But wool is more expensive than cotton and harder to care for’, you may say, ‘and cottons are cool’. Well, wool is just the most wonderful fabric for breathability, and leaving you cool, as long as you are not still wearing that mohair and alpaca coat in June. Nor are the worsteds I have bought that much more per metre than a dress-suitable cotton, and since 3m generally makes most dresses, you are looking at a garment that will cost you as little as nine pounds more than a cotton poplin.

The worsteds I have bought are silky to the touch, lustrous in sheen, with a drape no cotton can match, and so fine it would be easy to mistake them for a cotton from the weight. If a sheep had worsted instead of a fleece it would not get hot and bothered and need shearing in summer! As for the caring - well, I have washed my Blue Moon by the tried and tested hand wash in cool (not lukewarm but not hot to the hand) water, with a little delicate fabric wash, and it dried easily, did not shrink, and ironed to look as if never touched. So far I have the Blue Moon, Soft Overcheck Navy and Faded Green, Checkmate and Midnight Windowpanes (admittedly that one has a little more of a woolly feel), and every time I have opened the parcel of fabric I have been thrilled. I have already written about Checkmate, but here are the others.

Blue Moon  +  Midnight Windowpanes  +  Soft Overcheck Navy and Faded Green displaying a silky soft drape

I am not thinking of pencil slim dresses, though they could be used for those with ease, but fuller A-line, fit and flare styles, some with a bit of a swing. The restrictions are more to do with the designs than the feel of the fabric - plains and simple windowpanes will work for full skirts, but the more complicated checks are better for the more streamlined versions.

I could of course keep this knowledge to myself, but it does not seem fair. Those bolts of fabric are waiting to be made into clothes, waiting to be appreciated, and even if you are just making yourself a summer skirt, think worsted and match it with lightweight tops or shirts in bright whites or soft ice cream pastels (this year’s fashion), according to your colouring. Keep your eye on the Suitings and Fine Worsteds collection, and look for ‘fine worsted’ and ‘soft’ as the big clue. At present there is very little left of the Blue Moon or the Midnight Windowpanes, but the Checkmate and the Soft Overcheck are still about, and I have just grabbed two metres of the Smoking Room Check as it is disappearing and I know that it will make a super skirt.

If you would like to try a lovely soft wool worsted for more appropriate summer attire than waistcoats and suits, there is a great range for your perusal. However if you're looking for quality, something different and affordable, take a look at Ciao Bello!, Cheque Please!, Crimson Maple Fine Worsted, Italian Job Check, Tiny Birds Eye.
 
I am having a wonderful time revamping my wardrobe, and I hope MYO (Make Your Own) is giving you pleasure too.
Elizabeth Binns
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