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

Worsted Wool Fabric

In the 18th century there were many types of worsted wool fabric 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.

Broadcloth | Worsted Fabric | Flannel

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Green Stuff, 100% Wool, 59" Wide, $25/yd.
WWV 640

Stuff is a generic term for several types of worsted. This plain weave stuff is a beautiful shade of teal (which doesn't appear to be used in the 18th century), light weight and soft. This fun color is a good weight for women's gowns, stays and petticoats, either men's or women's jackets, and men's waistcoats, coats and breeches. For example advertised in The Royal Gazette of 1775 New York, "Ran away . . .  a Negro Wench . . .  had on when she went away a green stuff petticoat" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Because this really doesn't match any of our thread, the best to use is unbleached 35/2 linen thread for hand sewing. For hand sewing buttonholes drab silk quilters thread and buttonhole twist are the closest matches.

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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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Dark Olive Green Stuff, 100% Wool, 62" Wide, $25/yd.
WWV 652

new Common for stays!

Stuff is a generic term for several types of worsted. This stuff is an olive, similar to some army greens but is soft and light weight. Quite a number of olive green worsted c. 1750-80 stays are in existence with American provenances along with some runaway descriptions. This stuff has a light plain weave is a good weight for women's riding habits, 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 1774, "Run away . . .  two convict servants, viz. . . .  a Welsh woman . . .  had on, and took with her . . .  an old pair of green coloured stays" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Green 50/3 linen thread for hand sewing is only a bit lighter. For hand sewing buttonholes drab silk quilters thread and buttonhole twist are the closest matches.

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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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Gown weight wool for 17th century to the present reenactors.

Light Brown Worsted, 100% Wool, 60" wide, $25/yd.
WWV 643

Worsted that is durable, plain weave, fine and soft makes a wonderful summer gown with a splendid wrinkle free drape. A very good weight for women's gowns, jackets, and petticoats, and men's jackets, waistcoats, coats and breeches. In the early 19th century this worsted could be used for a gowns, spencers and pelisse. 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 Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Unbleached 60/2 linen thread would work well for hand sewing this fabric as would buff silk quilter's thread for buttonholes.

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Light Brown Mixed Stuff, 100% Wool, 61" Wide, $25/yd.
WWV 619

This twill weave Norwich good has a hard tight finish rarely found in modern worsteds but characteristic of most 18th century worsteds. This will work well for women's riding habits, gowns, and petticoats, either men's or women's jackets, and men's waistcoats, coats and breeches. For example advertised in The Boston Gazette of 1783, "Ran away . . .  a Negro Boy . . .  Had on when he went off, a brown mix’d Homemade Cloth Jacket and Trowsers of the same." This is cited from personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Off white 35/2 linen thread will work well 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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Gown weight wool for 17th century to the present reenactors.

Brown Worsted, 100% Wool, 63" Wide, $25/yd.
WWV 651

new Limited quantity!

This plain weave Norwich good is of a weight suitable for women's riding habits, 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 1773, "Run away . . .  three English convict servants, viz. . . .  Alice Eaton, alias Walker . . .  had on a brown, stuff gown" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Brown 35/2 linen thread for hand sewing is a suitable match. For hand sewing buttonholes brown silk quilters thread and buttonhole twist is a good match.

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Dark Brown Worsted, 100% Wool, 60" Wide, $25/yd.
WWV 653

new Limited quantity!

This plain weave Norwich good has some red tones in it making it somewhat of a dark plum colored brown. This is a good weight for summer garments such as women's riding habits, gowns, and petticoats, either men's or women's jackets, and men's waistcoats, coats and breeches. For example advertised in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1776, "Run away . . .  June, 1776, an Irish servant woman . . .  had on, when she went away, a dark brown worsted petticoat" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Brown 35/2 linen thread for hand sewing is just a shade lighter. For hand sewing buttonholes dark brown silk quilters thread and buttonhole twist is a 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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Gown weight wool for 17th century to the present reenactors.

Rasin Colored Worsted, 100% Wool, 58" wide, $25/yd.
WWV 644

This brown worsted has a beautiful red overtone making it more raisin in color. Worsted with a light plain weave is 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 Pennsylvania Gazette of 1775, "Ran away . . .  a servant girl . . .  had on, and took with her . . .  a brown worsted quilt"ed petticoat as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Cinnamon 35/2 linen thread for hand sewing is just a shade lighter. For hand sewing buttonholes brown silk button hole twist or drab quilter's thread are the closest matches.

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Gown weight wool for 17th century to the present reenactors.

Brown Worsted, 100% Wool, 60" wide, $25/yd.
WWV 638

Worsted of a durable twill and soft makes a wonderful summer gown with a splendid wrinkle free drape. A very good weight for women's gowns, jackets, and petticoats, and men's jackets, waistcoats, coats and breeches. In the early 19th century this worsted could be used for a gowns, spencers and pelisse. 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 Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Brown 35/2 linen thread is a pretty good match as is brown silk quilter's thread or buttonhole twist.

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Indigo Blue Striped Worsted, 100% Wool, 61" Wide, $25/yd.
WWV 627

This twill weave Norwich good is a gorgeous blue with two narrow white stripes with a black line in the middle. It is good weight for women's riding habits, 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". Navy blue 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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Gown weight wool for 17th century to the present reenactors.

Light Blue Stuff, 100% Wool, 60" wide, $25/yd.
WWV 650

new A gorgious blue!

This twill weave Norwich good is strong, durable and a good weight for women's riding habits, gowns, and petticoats, either men's or women's jackets, and men's waistcoats, coats and breeches. . For example advertised in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1775, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  had on, when she went off, a light blue stuff gown." Because this is such a light blue, off white 60/2 linen thread for hand sewing and for buttonholes the off white quilter's thread is the closest match.

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Gown weight wool for 17th century to the present reenactors.

Pale Blue Worsted, 100% Wool, 60" wide, $25/yd.
WWV 641

This twill weave Norwich good is strong, durable and has more body then many other worsteds which is closer to many original worsteds. 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 Pennsylvania Gazette of 1775, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  had on, and took with her . . .  one pale blue worsted gown without sleeves". Try 50/3 pale blue linen thread for hand sewing and for buttonholes the pale blue quilter's thread is a near perfect match.

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Blue Worsted, 100% Wool, 62" wide, $25/yd.
WWV 642

This twill weave Norwich good is fine and strong of a lovely blue. A very good weight for women's petticoats, jackets, and gowns. Men's waistcoats coats and breeches. For example advertised in The New York Journal of 1774, "absented from her master, a Scotch indented servant girl . . .  had on . . .  a blue worsted skirt". As cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Try blue 80/3 linen thread for hand sewing and navy blue silk quilter's thread for 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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Gown weight wool for 17th century to the present reenactors.

Deep Indigo Blue Worsted, 100% Wool, 61" wide, $25/yd.
WWV 645

This twill weave Norwich good is fine and strong of a deep, rich but not too dark blue. This is a very good weight for a summer petticoat, woman's jacket or gown. Less commonly, men's waistcoats, jackets, coats and breeches were made of worsted. For example advertised in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1775, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  had on and took with her two striped lincey petticoats, one of them new, the other pretty much worn, one blue worsted ditto". Since "ditto" means "the same as", this means "one blue worsted petticoat". This is cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Try royal blue 80/3 linen thread for hand sewing and navy blue silk quilter's thread for buttonholes.

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Red worsted for 17th century to the present reenactors, nautical historians and museum interpreters.

Madder Red Worsted, 100% Wool, 62" wide, $25/yd.
WWV 648

new Stand out with red!

This plain weave Norwich good is an orange red color which may be obtained from the madder root making it a less expensive dye. This will work well for women's riding habits, gowns, and petticoats, either men's or women's jackets, and men's waistcoats, coats and breeches. For example advertised in The New York Journal of 1774, "absented from her master, a Scotch indented servant girl . . .  had on . . .  two red petticoats, one of which is fine serge" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Scarlet 80/3 linen thread is a shade too light and madder is a shade darker but either are acceptable for hand sewing.

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Yellow Stuff, 100% Wool, 60" Wide, $25/yd.
WWV 649

new A pretty natural yellow!

This twill weave Norwich good isn't a bright yellow but rather a natural shade that will work well 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 Pennsylvania Packet of 1777, "Ran away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  had on a . . .  yellow petticoat" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Yellow 50/3 is too yellow for this natural shade of yellow, therefore beige 50/3 linen thread is a closer match for hand sewing. Because of the reflective nature of silk thread, yellow silk quilter's thread may still be the best match for 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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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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Scarlet Red Flannel, 100% Wool, 11.5 oz., 60" Wide, $26.99/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 Wives, Slaves, 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, $26.50/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, drawers, shifts and petticoats in the 18th century. For example, in March, 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 The Newport Mercury taken from the book Wives, Slaves and Servant Girls. 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, $28.99/yd.
WWB 801

A soft twill wool commonly used next to the skin, as in women's under-petticoats, aprons, and gowns. For men it was typically used for drawers, underjackets, and waistcoats. This fabric works well for a lining. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, of 1790 "I am a servant to Mrs. Wheeler, the kitchen maid there. I can swear to the blue flannel apron". Navy blue linen thread 35/2 for hand sewing and dark indigo blue worsted wool tape matches this fabric well. Matching tape is sometimes 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, $25/yd.
WWT 310

As cited in Wives, Slaves, 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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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.
 

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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Broadcloth | Worsted Fabric | Flannel | Bay | Jean Cloth/Virginia Cloth | Specialty Weaves

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