Why is Melton wool so much softer than other wool fabrics even though they are all made of common sheep’s wool?


Are you sure you mean Melton wool?

Because Melton wool isn’t soft. It’s actually quite hard, stiff, rigid, tough, thick, dense – take your pick. It’s the fabric used for weatherproof overcoats and upholstery for its toughness and robust wearing characteristics.

It’s primarily a twill-woven fabric, which means it should drape and fold well. Then, it is fulled – pounded and agitated, causing the microscopic scales on individual wool fibres to attach to each other, resulting in a thicker, shrunken fabric*. Finally, the surface is napped – brushed to a fluffy, velvetty texture – and then shaved to remove these loose fibres.

suppose one could say that Melton has a “soft” surface – like a low-pile corduroy, perhaps. But it is not what I would consider remotely comfortable or skin-kind. I certainly wouldn’t want to wear Melton next to my skin, like the handknit Blue-Faced Leicester wool sweater I’m currently wearing – and I absolutely wouldn’t consider it for underwear, as I would a fine merino or Wensleydale.

*: Felting achieves the same aim, but, technically, felt is made with fleece, whereas fulled fabrics are woven or knitted first.

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