by Todd Walker
I love wool! Here’s why:
- Wool fiber absorbs up to 36% of its weight and gradually releases moisture through evaporation.
- Wool has natural antibacterial properties that allow you wear it multiply days without stinking up camp. Not so with synthetics.
- Wool wicks moisture, not as well as synthetics, but better than cotton.
- Wool releases small amounts of heat as it absorbs moisture.
- Wool contains thousands of natural air-trapping pockets for breathable insulation.
Years ago I saw Dave Canterbury make a hunting shirt from a wool blanket. Naturally, I had to make one myself. I ordered two 100% wool army blankets from Cheaper than Dirt for around 20 bucks each. Good luck finding them at that price now.
I wore this while working on this fat lighter’d post. A few of our readers requested a tutorial on making one themselves. Hope you enjoy.
Material and Tools
- A 100% wool blanket
- Tread and needle
- Measuring device
- Tailor’s chalk
Step 1: Lay out for torso
There’s two ways to get the proper width of your shirt. Place arms by your side and measure around your chest and arms at the widest part of your shoulders. If your measurement is 50 inches, divide that in half and add 4 inches (50/2 + 4 = 29).
Or you can fold the blanket in half with about a 12 inch offset on the bottom, place it on the floor and lay your body on top of the blanket. Mark the width of your shoulders and give yourself a few of inches over your shoulder length to make your cut. This width is dependent upon how roomy you want your shirt.
Step 2: First cut
With your blanket folded length-wise, the front of your shirt should be about one foot shorter than the back. A longer panel on the back covers your bottom when you sit.
Mark and cut the width of your shirt.
Step 3: Cut the neck hole
Make a center mark along the ridge of the fold. Now measure out 4 to 5 inches on both sides of the center and cut a slit in the ridge. In the center of this neck hole slit, cut another 6 inch slit perpendicular to the first slit on the front panel.
Try it on. Your head should go through easily. Tweak as much as needed.
Step 4: Cut the sleeves
Measure around the top of your shoulder to the middle of your ribcage. Take half of that measurement for the width of your sleeves where it will connect to the torso portion.
My sleeve dimensions:
- 14 inches wide at the body – ample room for arms to move about
- 6 1/2 inches at the hand end
- 24 inches long from should to hand end – this length give me a generous cuff on the sleeve which can be rolled over my hands when needed
Double the leftover material from your torso, measure and mark the width, and cut two sleeves.
Step 5: Sew it together
If you’re good with a sewing machine on wool, go for it. I’m not. I hand stitched my first wool shirt. I used a blanket stitch on the edges and all seams. Here’s the blanket stitch tutorial I used.
Turn the shirt inside out if you don’t want seams exposed. Once sewn, turn it right side out. Be sure to double or triple stitch stress points on your shirt.
Note: When stitching the sides below the sleeve, I stopped at my waist line. This allows me to reach my pant pockets, sidearm, and knife without lifting my shirt.
Stitch some short pieces of paracord to the v-cut in the neck for closure. I also added this same feature the sides below my waist to close the slit if need be. (Melt the ends of the cord to prevent unraveling)
I wanted to make this new shirt with a hood but didn’t like the design. Any suggestions are more than welcome. If you make one for yourself, we’d like to hear how it turned out.
Keep Doing the Stuff,
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