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Thread: Boiled wool

  1. #1
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    Boiled wool

    Hello all...I am investigating the possibility of using boiled wool for a waistcoat and separate jacket of the early 18th century variety, and have a few questions.

    First, as a source of wool-has anyone used this company?:http://www.marshallee.com/Marshallee...l%20Fabric.htm
    Or does anyone know of a source? I would like to match the green of my Pogue plaid (see below), possibly on the darker green side.




    Second-leather trim-was it popular, or did it exist? I have had issues with button holes wollering out, and general edges getting pretty frizzed...Had considered sewing a light brown deerskin as an edging to the high wear areas, and re-inforcing my button holes. Or darker deerskin-will be using brass buttons most likely.


    Third-epaulets. Big NONO, I know, at least on a civilian waistcoat/jacket. possibly a leather patch sewn inside of the wool to recieve a pin to retain plaid?

    Any info is appreciated!
    Last edited by Mark E.; 26th August 10 at 10:18 AM.

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    I can contribute a very small bit of information: in traditional Canada, boiled wool mittens were created by hand-knitting very large ones from natural (therefore naturally oily) wool and then literally boiling them until they shrank and tightened up so as to be almost entirely waterproof, or if they did get wet through you still couldn't feel it. I had an aunt that was skilled in the process. I believe this concept was an old Celtic fishermans' traditional survival item in the days when their hands would be in the freezing North Sea all day. So perhaps you could buy an oversized wool vest and experiment?

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    I believe some of the leading boiled wool garments on the market today are still made, then shrunk/boiled. You shouldn't have trouble finding green wool fabric if you are ready to boil your own. As for buttonholes, I can't speak to their authenticity, but a proper handmade buttonhole will withstand just about anything. I suspect a deerskin-bound one would also wear quite nicely, though. Sewing it on in a period-authentic fashion would be a chore. I hope you have had your 18th century Wheaties.
    Some take the high road and some take the low road. Who's in the gutter? MacLowlife

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    [QUOTEI believe this concept was an old Celtic fishermans' traditional survival item in the days when their hands would be in the freezing North Sea all day. So perhaps you could buy an oversized wool vest and experiment? [/QUOTE]

    Well, was actually considering a source of pre-boiled wool, so I wouldn't have to hassle with that part of the process...A former source I cannot call upon at one time made boiled wool for redcoat uniforms...Let me tell you, that stuff could darn near stop musket balls.

    Quote Originally Posted by MacLowlife View Post
    As for buttonholes, I can't speak to their authenticity, but a proper handmade buttonhole will withstand just about anything. I suspect a deerskin-bound one would also wear quite nicely, though. Sewing it on in a period-authentic fashion would be a chore. I hope you have had your 18th century Wheaties.
    Och, have ye no peeked me belts? All 12-15oz. harness, sewn by hand, waxed linen...I do all of my stuff by hand. And yes, do eat 18th century Wheaties (horse energy bars...)
    Last edited by Mark E.; 26th August 10 at 10:47 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Canuck of NI View Post
    I can contribute a very small bit of information: in traditional Canada, boiled wool mittens were created by hand-knitting very large ones from natural (therefore naturally oily) wool and then literally boiling them until they shrank and tightened up so as to be almost entirely waterproof, or if they did get wet through you still couldn't feel it. I had an aunt that was skilled in the process. I believe this concept was an old Celtic fishermans' traditional survival item in the days when their hands would be in the freezing North Sea all day. So perhaps you could buy an oversized wool vest and experiment?
    I make gloves this same way. The process is felting. The fabric site linked to in the OP lists fabric which has already been boiled (some people call it fulled).
    I don't think the buttonholes would need any extra strengthening, unless a lot of stress would be put on them. I'm interested to see how this project turns out.
    --dbh

    When given a choice, most people will choose.

  6. #6
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    To the Stylistas out there...Pewter or brass buttons? Simple domes either way, but no idea whether brass would look better with the green, or the grey of pewter. Jas. Townsend and Son will be my button source...

    Mark

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    brass

    The yellow in the metal will pick up the yellow in the green.
    --dbh

    When given a choice, most people will choose.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark E. View Post
    To the Stylistas out there...Pewter or brass buttons? Simple domes either way, but no idea whether brass would look better with the green, or the grey of pewter. Jas. Townsend and Son will be my button source...

    Mark
    I have used brass and pewter buttons many times on historical/period clothing. I have learned that with some suppliers, including Jas. Townsend, that it is wise to ream out the inside of the hole before sewing the button on. There is often a burr left from the mold which cuts the thread, then cuts it again when one sews it back on. A fine rattail file is excellent, an old (one that is expendable) mini-pocket knife blade will work, as pewter is soft.

    Best of luck
    Elf

    There is no bad weather; only inappropriate clothing.
    -atr: New Zealand proverb

  9. #9
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    Here are the definitions of the three words "Felting" "Fulling" and "Boiling".

    Felting is in essence the characteristic nature of animal hair, wool, fur etc. by using heat to open the scales of the fibers and then agitation of some kind to shrink and compact the fibers depending on the use of the finished product.

    all three of these processes use this same charactaristic of "Felting".

    Felt - The word is usually said to come from the Old High German word 'filz' used in the 12th century.
    Felt is the name for the fabric itself.
    This is where animal fibers that have possibly been dyed but not spun or woven are treated with heat to open the scales of the 'hairs' and then agitated, rolled, hammered or otherwise compressed together. This forms the material we know of as felt.
    This is how quality Stetson beaver Felt hats are made. A hard, dense, Felt hat will hold water and retain it's shape for years. (it is also a similar process to making dreadlocks) Mongolian Yurts are made of Felt.

    Fulling - From the Medieval Latin word 'fullare' meaning to walk or trample.
    This is a process that usually starts with the knit or woven articles of clothing.
    Fulling is a way of cleaning the item along with felting it. In the Middle Ages Fulling was done in large vats of hot urine and literally walked on. Then "Fullers Earth" a chalky, fine dust was added to absorb the grease and oils. This produced a garment that has very little of the oil, grease and dirt found in natural wool without removing all the Lanolin. Fulling produces a garment that is very light, very soft and not itchy. Old style wool underwear was Fulled as were some Leine. Linsey/Woolsey cloth was often Fulled.

    Boiling - This process is most famous from the Alpine region of Austria and Switzerland but is also widely used in S. America.
    Boiled Wool is the name for the fabric.
    Instead of loose fibers for Felt or made up garments like Fulling, Boiling is done on large quantities of knit or woven fabric before it is fashioned into garments. This produces a fabric that is of consistent thickness and finish. Tyrolian jackets are made from Boiled fabrics. I remember a pair of boots made from Boiled Wool that my Grandfather had. In the snow they were better than any leather or plastic boots available. Hudson's Bay Blankets used to be of the finest Boiled Wool and they still claim to use it but it's not the same now.
    Steve Ashton
    www.freedomkilts.com
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

  10. #10
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    Yup, that's about what I am familier with. A number of years back, we had swatches of redcoat wool, boiled, mounted to burlap bags stuffed with straw-for bayonet and sword drills. Let me tell you, it is TOUGH stuff. Warm, too, according to the traditional Lobsterbacks I have encountered. Figured since a lot of what I do in a kilt is either outside, or in an area where primary heat is a wood fire waaaay over there...I needed all of those qualities. That, and it can be found in yards, instead of premade articles. Was wondering if anyone here had ever used it, and would recommend a source...Never purchased the stuff, myself-but what I have seen is rather pricy-I just want quality without a bad taste.

    Funny you should mention...I have a Hudson Bay blanket, and you know, it really isn't as heavy as the redcoat wool...never really thought of them being of the same process.
    Last edited by Mark E.; 26th August 10 at 02:29 PM.

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