The sign of the unicorn. A fabric shop for 18th century reenactors and historians.

Worsted Wool

In the 18th century there were many types of worsted wools mostly produced in Norwich, England and because of this they were often refered to as Norwich goods or Norwich stuff. Stuff is a generic term for many types of worsted wools. Worsted wools are a good wool summer cloth. One Norwich good called duory was specifically made for men's clothing and sometimes used for summer suits. Being lightweight worsteds are made of long opposed to short staple fibers, are strong wearing, but poor insulators. Much of the information on these pages is gathered from Swatches: A Guide to Choosing 21st Century Fabrics for 18th Century Clothing which has swatches you can feel and for a wider view of fabrics imported to the Americas try Textiles in America 1650-1870.

Bag Hose | Broadcloth | Worsted | Flannel | Bay | Jean Cloth/Virginia Cloth | Specialty Weaves

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Yellow Camlet, 75% Wool/25% Mohair, 61" Wide, $19/yd.
WWN 132

Mohair has been added to worsted since before 1530 to provide a softer hand. This plain weave Norwich stuff is a very lightweight and durable fabric that will make very nice gowns, jackets, and petticoats. In The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1773, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant woman . . .  had . . .  a yellow under petticoat, with red binding" as cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. For hand sewing both canary yellow 80/3 linen thread and yellow silk quilter's thread are a vary good match to this fabric.

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Worsted wool and silk fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Green Stuff, 100% Wool, 54" Wide, $19/yd.
WWN 148

This plain weave Norwich good is very fine, soft and strong. A very good weight for women's gowns, and petticoats, either men's or women's jackets, and men's waistcoats, coats and breeches. In New York's The Royal Gazette of 1780, "Run away . . .  a Negro Wench . . .  had on when she went away a green stuff petticoat". As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Although it is a bit lighter and with more olive tones green 80/3 linen thread is the best match for hand sewing.

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Worsted wool and silk fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Light Brown Cross-Barred Stuff, 100% Wool, 60" Wide, $19/yd.
WWN 129

This light brown durable plain weave summer wool is very fine and soft. Several stripes of different colors intersect to make the cross bars. Worsteds off all sorts were called Norwich stuffs or goods and were sometimes used for men's breeches, waistcoats, jackets and coats, but very frequently for women's gowns, jackets, and petticoats. In The South Carolina Gazette of 1778, "Run away . . .  a negro wench . . .  had on when she went away a cross-bar check [petti]coat" as cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. For hand sewing unbleached 35/2 linen thread matches well ortan silk quilter's thread matches well.

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Worsted wool and silk fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Drab Stuff, 100% Wool, 61" Wide, $15/yd.
WWT 378

This is a fine light weight durable twill. A very good weight for women's summer gowns, jackets, riding habits and petticoats, and men's jackets, waistcoats, coats and breeches. In The Boston Post-Boy of 1775, "At their Store . . .  have for Sale . . .  a general Assortment of Stuffs of all Colours" from personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Unbleached linen thread is about the closest color to this for hand sewing. The drab silk quilters thread is a color you might try for hand sewing buttonholes.

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Worsted wool fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Brown Worsted, 100% Wool, 60" Wide, $15/yd.
WWT 373

Brown is one of the most common colors described in runaway ads from the 18th century for worsted fabrics. This is a fine light weight plain weave wool that is a durable summer wool. A very good weight for women's gowns, jackets, riding habits and petticoats, and men's jackets, waistcoats, coats and breeches. In The Pennsylvania Packet of 1773, "Ran away . . .  a mulatto wench . . .  had on and took with her, and India callico gown, and one ditto of brown worsted". As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Unbleached 60/2 linen thread is about the closest color to this for hand sewing. The drab silk quilters thread is a color you might try for hand sewing buttonholes.

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Worsted wool fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Brown Worsted, 100% Wool, 61" Wide, $19/yd.
WWN 135

This is a fine light weight twill wool that is a durable summer wool. A very good weight for women's gowns, jackets, and petticoats, and men's jackets, waistcoats, coats and breeches. In The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1776, "Run away . . .  two Irish servants, viz. . . .  the man . . .  had on and took with them a brown worsted coat and jacket of the same". As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Brown 50/3 linen thread is a shade lighter or you could use black 35/2 linen thread for hand sewing. The brown silk quilters thread and buttonhole twist are a pretty good match.

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Worsted wool fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Reddish Colour'd Worsted, 100% Wool, 61" Wide, $18/yd.
WWN 123

This is a very soft, fine and durable plain weave summer wool. For the tailors familiar with fine Italian wools it is known in the modern garment industry as a super 120. Worsteds off all sorts were called Norwich goods and were sometimes used for men's breeches, waistcoats, jackets and coats, and frequently for women's gowns, petticoats, and jackets. In The Pennsylvania Mercury and Universal Advertiser of 1775, "Run away . . .  an English woman . . .  now a servant . . .  had on, a[n] . . .  old patched reddish colour'd gown". As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Try claret 50/3 linen thread for hand sewing.

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Worsted wool fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Blue Worsted, 100% Wool, 60" Wide, $19/yd.
WWB 848

This is a fine light weight twill that is very durable. Stuff is a very summer weight wool good for women's gowns, jackets, and petticoats, and men's jackets, waistcoats, coats and breeches. In The Pennsylvania Chronicle of 1771, "Ran away . . .  an Irish servant Girl . . .  Had on, when she went away, a . . .  blue stuff petticoat". As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Try navy blue 35/2 linen thread for hand sewing.

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Worsted wool fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Blue Worsted, 100% Wool, 60" Wide, $20/yd.
WWN 170

This is a fine light weight plain weave wool that is a durable summer wool. A very good weight for women's gowns, jackets, and petticoats, and men's jackets, waistcoats, coats and breeches. In The Royal Pennsylvania Gazette of 1778, "Run-away . . .  a negro woman . . .  Had on, when she went away, a blue worsted gown". As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Although none of the blue threads match this fabric you might try light blue 80/3 linen thread for hand sewing.

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Worsted wool fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Blue Stuff, 100% Wool, 54" Wide, $17/yd.
WWN 146

Of all the colors worsted came in blue is the most commonly found in runaway descriptions. This plain weave Norwich good is very fine, soft and strong. A very good weight for women's gowns, and petticoats, either men's or women's jackets, and men's waistcoats, coats and breeches. For example advertised in The Virginia Gazette of 1752, "RAN away . . .  a Convict Servant . . .  had been in the Army for several Years, with the Camp in Flanders, and at the Battle of Culloden, where she lost her Husband; she had on when she went away . . .  an old dirty blue Stuff Gown, with check Linen Cuffs". Try blue 35/2 linen thread for hand sewing.

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Worsted wool fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Light Blue Stuff, 100% Wool, 60" Wide, $19/yd.
WWB 847

This is a fine light weight twill that is very durable. Stuff is a very summer weight wool good for women's gowns, jackets, and petticoats, and men's jackets, waistcoats, coats and breeches. In The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1775, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  had on, when she went off, a light blue stuff gown." As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Light blue linen thread is a close match to this fabric for hand sewing.

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Worsted wool fabric swatch for 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Wool Flannel

Flannel was in common use by the second half of the 17th century and was made of a plain or (arguably) twill weave wool. Flannel continued to be made purely of wool into the 19th century when, like so many other fabrics, cotton flannel began to replace it. Wool flannel was used as an insulating layer usually worn close to the skin for garments like women's shifts (probably of white flannel), gowns and under petticoats and for men's shirts, drawers, under jackets, and waistcoats and for lining outer garments. Sometimes flannels were used to make outer garments like gowns and breeches. In London in 1761, Richard Rolt, published his book A New Dictionary of Trade and Commerce. In this book Rolt stated "some use it [wool flannel] for waistcoats, drawers, shirts, and shifts, and women most commonly for under petticoats."

Flannel is related to baize and plains. Baize and plains are cheaper than flannel and usually not as soft. These flannels may therefore be used in place of baize or plains. Much of the information on these pages is gathered from Swatches: A Guide to Choosing 21st Century Fabrics for 18th Century Clothing which has swatches you can feel and for a wider view of fabrics imported to the Americas try Textiles in America 1650-1870.

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Brown and Black Check Flannel, 100% Wool, 61" Wide, $20/yd.
WWN 136

Check flannels were used for men's shirts and as a lining material throughout the 18th century but is very difficult to find today. In the 1773 Providene Gazette, "RUN away . . .  an Apprentice Boy . . .  had on . . .  a check Flannel Shirt" cited in Taylor and Sweet, Runaways, Deserters, and Notorious Villains From Rhode Island Newspapers Volume 2, 2001. Black 35/2 linen thread or unbleached 35/2 linen thread will both work well for hand sewing this fabric.

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Wool stirpe flannel fabric swatch for 14th century, 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Sheep's Black and Gray Stripe Flannel, 100% Wool, 57" Wide, $17/yd.
WWN 103

This looks and feels like a homespun made of natural color wools. Although hard to find today in the 18th century striped flannels were very commonly used for men's waistcoats, jackets, and shirts and women's petticoats. It was also used for women's gowns and jackets and linings. In the 1776 Pennsylvania Gazette, "Run away . . .  a Dutch servant Woman, hath been about two years in the country, speaks very broken English. . .  had on, when she went away, a striped flannel jacket, patched with striped flannel of a darker colour, a petticoat of the same, striped with sheep's black and yellow" cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Black 35/2 linen thread, unbleached 35/2 linen thread, or gray 50/3 linen thread will all work well for hand sewing this fabric and provide subtle different looks. For sewing button holes try black silk button hole twist or quilter's thread.

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Wool stirpe flannel fabric swatch for 14th century, 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Blue Gray Stripe Cassimere, 90% Wool/ 10% Cashmere, 59" Wide, $20/yd.
WWN 111

This luxuriously soft and firmly woven striped flannel weight cashmere blend was called cassimere and patented in 1766. It begins to be seen in descriptions in about 1782. It is well suited for lining material, men's jackets, shirts and waistcoats, and women's petticoats, gowns and jackets. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, of 1782 "MARY CLARKE was indicted for stealing . . .  a cassimere waistcoat, value 6 d." Navy blue 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing this wool. For sewing button holes try black silk button hole twist or quilter's thread.

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Wool flannel fabric swatch for 14th century, 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Blue Gray Stripe Cassimere, 90% Wool/ 10% Cashmere, 57" Wide, $20/yd.
WWN 133

This luxuriously soft and firmly woven striped flannel weight cashmere blend was called cassimere and patented in 1766. It has subtle irregularities in the even 1/2 inch stripes where one will be left out or an extra added almost like a mistake. It is well suited for lining material, men's jackets, shirts and waistcoats, and women's petticoats, gowns and jackets. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, of 1782 "MARY CLARKE was indicted for stealing . . .  a cassimere waistcoat, value 6 d." Navy blue 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing this wool. For sewing button holes try black silk button hole twist or quilter's thread.

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Wool flannel fabric swatch for 14th century, 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Black and White Plaid Flannel, 100% Wool, 60" Wide, $10/yd.
WWC 121

Plaid made of black and white can be made using natural undyed wools and were commonly produced before the introduction of the clain tartans in the 19th century. Plaids were common in the early to mid 19th century for men's trousers, coats, jackets and vests. Although plaid was not common in early America it is occasionally mentioned. For example in The New York Journal of 1774, "Ran away . . .  two Scotch indented servants, viz. a woman . . .  it is very probable she may change her dress, as she took with her, a green gown, and one of Scotch plaid, with several short gowns of Scotch stuff." As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Black or off white 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing this wool. For sewing button holes try black silk button hole twist or quilter's thread.

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Wool flannel fabric swatch for 14th century, 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Brown Flannel, 100% Wool, 59" Wide, $15/yd.
WWM 101

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There is a fade line along the center fold of this wool. Brown wool flannel was used as a lining and for women's gowns, jackets and petticoats during the 17th and 18th centuries. For example in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1776, "Run away . . .  an indented servant girl . . .  a Scotch woman . . .  had on, and took with her, a short jacket and petticoat, of brown flannel" as cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Brown 50/3 linen thread is a pretty close match for hand sewing this wool. For sewing button holes try brown silk button hole twist.

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Wool flannel fabric swatch for 14th century, 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Scarlet Red Flannel, 100% Wool, 11.5 oz., 60" Wide, $17.00/yd.
WWL 304

Scarlet red wool flannel was died with the shell of a beetle and therefore more expensive than the duller reds obtained from the madder root. Red shirts were taken with the Voyage of Discovery in the early 19th century but these should be looked at as unusual for the 18th century. Red flannel jackets for men and petticoats for women were common in both England and New England. In The Pennsylvania Packet of 1773 "Ran away . . .  a mulatto wench . . .  had on and took with her . . .  a red flannel quilted petticoat". As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Scarlet red linen thread 50/3 for hand sewing and 1/2" and 7/8" worsted wool tape matches this fabric. Matching tape is usually what is seen on petticoats and bedgowns. This flannel is a twill. For sewing button holes try scarlet silk button hole twist or quilter's thread.

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Wool flannel fabric swatch for 14th century, 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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White Flannel, 100% Wool, 11.5 oz., 60" Wide, $20/yd.
WWL 305

White wool flannel was the most common color of flannel during the 18th and early 19th centuries. White flannel was especially used to make shirts, shifts and petticoats in the 18th century. For example, in February, 1774, "an Indian girl" was advertised in Rhode Island and the ad continued, "had on when she went away a flannel shift" as advertised in Rhode Island. Off white 60/2 or 35/2 linen thread and 1/2" and 7/8" worsted wool tape matche this fabric well. Matching tape is often seen on the hems of petticoats and bedgowns. This flannel is a plain weave and not a snow white but more of a natural creamy white. For sewing button holes try white silk button hole twist.

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Wool flannel fabric swatch for 14th century, 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Navy Blue Flannel, 100% Wool, 11.5 oz., 60" Wide, $20/yd.
WWB 801

A soft twill wool commonly used next to the skin, as in women's under-petticoats, and gowns. For men it was typically used for drawers, underjackets, and waistcoats. This fabric works well for a lining. Navy blue linen thread 35/2 for hand sewing and 1/2" and 7/8" blue worsted wool tape matches this fabric well. Matching tape is often seen on the hems of petticoats and bedgowns. For sewing button holes try navy blue silk button hole twist or quilter's thread.

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Wool flannel fabric swatch for 14th century, 15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Black Flannel, 100% Wool, 11.5 oz., 60" Wide, $19/yd.
WWT 310 Not pictured

As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls "Run Away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  had on, and took with her . . .  a black and white linsey petticoat, black quilt[ed petticoat], a flannel ditto [petticoat]" was advertised in The Pennsylvania Gazette in 1773. Black 50/3 linen thread or 35/2 linen thread for hand sewing and 1/2", 5/8, and 7/8" worsted wool tape matches this fabric. Matching tape is usually what is seen on the hems of petticoats and binding of bedgowns. This flannel is a plain weave. For sewing button holes try black silk button hole twist or quilter's thread.

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Bay

Bay was used from the 17th century up to the early 19th century when it was being replaced by cotton fabrics. Bay was a coarse, open, plain weave wool made of worsted warp and woolen weft threads. Bay was mostly used as a lining for British and German soldiers' uniforms up to 1802 and habits of monks and nuns. Bay was also used by some specialized craftsmen to use behind looking glasses to preserve the tin and as a lining in cases for example. Much of the information on bay is gathered from Textiles in America 1650-1870.

Thanks to the hard work of James Kochan and Sean Phillips our bay is museum quality reproduction bay woven in England today to specific standards and has the same appearance, weave, milling, and finish as bay made in the late 18th century.

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Natural White Bay, 100% Wool, 5 oz/sq yd, 52" Wide, $42.00/yd.
WWK 200

This fabric is currently out of stock. It may be a while before we get more.

Natural white bay wool was used for the lining of British infantry coats which have white turnbacks. Off white 35/2 linen thread matches this fabric best when hand sewing your quality reproduction garment.

Wool bay fabric swatch for 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century re-enactors, military historians, and museum interpreters.
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Bag Hose | Broadcloth | Worsted | Flannel | Bay | Jean Cloth/Virginia Cloth | Specialty Weaves

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