Clothing is made from a wide variety of materials and fabrics. Even when it comes to wool alone, there are many different ways of crafting fabrics. So it’s no wonder that we can easily confuse the different types of wool fabric! In order to clear things up a bit, we’ll walk you through the differences between wool felt, boiled wool, loden fabric and wool fleece.
In contrast to other types of wool fabric, felt isn’t made from yarn—it’s made from raw wool. In making felt, the wool is first combed and then boiled with water. This type of felt is called boiled felt. In the clothing industry, a lot of felt is made out of other materials like polyamide and polyester; this is called needle felt. In producing needle felt, the fabric’s chemical fibers are punctured by a series of needles with special barbs, and then finally chemically treated. Felt is a robust, lightweight fabric which is great at insulating heat. Its drawback is that it’s not very flexible and doesn't stretch well, meaning that it feels relatively stiff and raw.
To make boiled wool, wool yarn is first knitted and then boiled in a machine. During the boiling process, countless air chambers are produced within the fabric; this makes it softer and more durable. In comparison to felt, boiled wool is much more flexible and feels much softer. These properties make boiled wool a great option for use in both clothing and shoes. We’ve described the process of making boiled wool in-depth in this blog post: Read more
Loden fabric originated in Tyrol, Austria centuries ago. Just like boiled wool, the creation of loden fabric also begins with wool yarn. However, in contrast to the boiled wool production process, the yarn is first woven—not knitted. Then, the woven piece—just like with felt and boiled wool—is treated with water, i.e. boiled. By first weaving the wool yarn, loden fabric is able to maintain its specific shape. However, loden fabric doesn’t stretch. Another deficit is the fabric’s strength; especially when rubbed or used in the same places, loden fabric’s warming and water-repellent properties decrease over time.
Wool fleece is made by brushing wool that’s already been knitted. It’s especially beloved for its soft, cozy feel. However, despite its cozy properties, it’s not as thick or as insulating as boiled wool.