How to Finish Wool Fabric


A seam finish appropriate for the weight, thickness and construction of the wool fabric can give a clean, finished look on the inside of the garment. A finished seam edge can prevent the wool edge from fraying and even make the seam sturdier. Careful sewing, pressing and trimming can help reduce the bulk of heavy fabrics.

Things You'll Need

  • Thread, cotton or polyester or a combination
  • Sewing machine or serger with variety of machine needles
  • Hand needle
  • Nylon seam tape or lace seam tape
  • Double-fold bias tape
  • Thread cutters

Bound Seam Finish

  • Cut a length of nylon or lace seam tape that matches the length of the seam edge.

  • Fold the tape along the length and pin in place along the wool seam edge. Hand baste or hand sew long running stitches to keep tape in place. (Optional)

  • Machine stitch with a straight or zigzag stitch near the tape's edge. The needle will pass through three layers: the top and bottom edges of the tape and the fabric caught in between.

  • Press the seam edges. If seams are intersected by another set of seams, trim seam at the intersection to reduce fabric bulk. For example, the underarm of a sleeve joined to the main garment.

Bias-Bound Seam Finish

  • Cut a length of cotton double-fold bias tape to match the length of the seam.

  • Note that the folded tape has a wide edge and a narrow edge. Place the wider edge under the seam and the narrow edge on top. Pin and hand sew in place to prevent shifting during machine sewing. (Optional)

  • Machine stitch near the top edge to catch the wool fabric and the wider side of the tape underneath.

  • Press the seam edges.

Hand-Overcast Seam Finish

  • Cut one 12-inch length of cotton, polyester or polyester-wrapped cotton thread to overcast the raw seam edge. This hand sewing method works well when machine sewing is not available nor practical for the fabric piece.

  • Pierce the hand sewing needle 1/8 inch from the edge, bring the thread over the edge and space the stitches ¼ inch apart along the seam edge.

  • Carefully knot the last piece of thread on the underside of the seam edge.

Tips & Warnings

  • Zigzag finishes work well for textured fabrics such as boucle. A thicker machine needle and longer straight stitch of 2.5mm to 3mm is appropriate for heavy fabrics.
  • Bias-bound finishes are especially good for an unlined jacket or coat.
  • Fabrics like wool jersey usually do not ravel and require no seam finishes.
  • If the seams are hidden by a lining, such as a lined vest, leave the seam edge unfinished.
  • For machine sewing, be sure the tension between the two threads from the spool and bobbin is balanced.
  • Do not pull threads.

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  • Photo Credit sewing machine image by pavel siamionov from
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