Sewing with Seawool, a love story

Fielder Dress out of Seawool
My Merchant & Mills Fielder Dress out of Seawool keeps me warm on a winter’s day.

A few years back I found a new favorite fabric. Its name? Seawool! 

The Discovery

I’d decided to film a Ribbed Neckline Tutorial using the M&M Fielder Dress pattern, and needed to pick a woven fabric to complement the precut ribbing I intended to use. So – on a whim – I selected the Black colorway of the uniquely named ‘Seawool Melton‘, from Robert Kaufman.

I have two beautiful daughters, a husband, and an amazing fabric store, so to say that choosing this fabric for my Fielder was the best decision I ever made would be an overstatement – but only by a little bit!

Why 'Seawool'?

An environmental home run by Robert Kaufman, Seawool is made from post-consumer oyster shells (hence the ‘sea’). After being crushed, the shells are mixed with plastic (PET) from recycled water bottles and spun into a yarn that is naturally anti-static, anti-odor, anti-bacterial, and quick-drying!  On paper, this fabric sounds less than cozy, but in reality, it is SO soft and incredibly warm! What’s more, it’s two-toned, so there’s also a fun option to color-block when sewing with this fabric.

So what's the catch?

I fell completely head-over-heels for this substrate, but sadly – like Juliet and her Romeo – this love affair is star-crossed.

The industry we call fabric is a fickle one, and I’ve just learned – as of January 2024 – that Robert Kaufman is discontinuing their production of Seawool. (*cue me falling to my knees and shaking my fists at the sky screaming ‘WHY?!’*). The silver lining is that, upon hearing this news, we bought what we could while they still had it in stock!

We’ve got two color options in the Melton I used to make my dress, several flannel options, AND some tweeds that we hadn’t stocked before but were happy to take a chance on. 

Click here to shop our full Seawool selection while it’s still available!

4 Sewing with Seawool Lessons

If you need more convincing to invest in this fabric while you still can, here are four things I discovered about Seawool while sewing my Fielder Dress: 

  1. It can be washed and dried by machine on warm. It doesn’t shrink at all. Plus, it gets softer and fluffier with every wash and dry cycle!
  2. You should iron it on a medium (wool) setting. I tried a hotter iron, and the fabric got a little shiny (the shine went away after the fabric cooled). I switched to a lower setting and used a press cloth to protect it from direct heat, and the problem went away. 
  3. Seawool is a woven fabric with absolutely no stretch along the lengthwise or crosswise grains. It does stretch a little along the bias. Most wovens stretch some along the crosswise grain, but this Seawool does not. Therefore, if you’re making a skirt or pants out of it, you’ll want to make sure there is plenty of room for your tummy because you won’t be able to count on any extra give in the fabric!
  4. Seawool frays, so you’ll want to finish all your edges with a zigzag stitch or serger. French seams are another good option.

A love that lasts a lifetime

In a nutshell, Seawool is low-maintenance and a joy to sew with. It’s perfect for dresses, skirts, pants, or shakets (a shirt/jacket combo)! Though I’m devastated that we won’t be able to stock it any longer, as the saying goes, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!”. I adore my Fielder, and (if you couldn’t tell from the rest of this blog post) I endorse the heck out of this fabric!! Snag some while you can, and if – someday in the future at the bottom of some forgotten remnant bin – you find a few yards, for God’s sake buy it!!

Happy sewing!

~Kate

20 thoughts on “Sewing with Seawool, a love story

  1. Jeri Fisher says:

    Kate, I have to agree! I purchased some cozy teal seawool and can’t wait to make my cropped jacket! Thanks for carrying such a wonderful selection of apparel fabrics! You and your staff are the best 🙂

  2. Margaret Folsom says:

    I pick the Frankie shirt. I want to make one of those when I get ready for another fabric and pattern binge.

  3. Shannon Reimers says:

    Thanks for the Seawool post! I have been contemplating it and now I learned some good things about it…in addition to the recycled materials!

  4. Laurie Boyd says:

    Kate,

    The seawool dress is really lovely, quality fabric and well constructed. Another winner from The Confident Stitch.

    Picked up my printed corduroy from your shop on Friday. The person working in the store was as excited as I was about my purchase. The store was buzzing with happy customers. Thanks for your beautiful fabric and great customer service.

  5. Nori says:

    Hi Kate, I just discovered Seawool and was so happy to see your post! Do you think this fabric would work as an interlining on a wool coat, or would it be too thick? The wool blend coating I have is fairly thin, and the lining I picked is rayon/lyocell, so I’m trying to figure out what to interline with to add some warmth without adding a lot of stiffness. Thanks for your help!

  6. Nori Laslo says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I just discovered Seawool and it’s really helpful to hear about your experience with it. I agree with Margaret that Frankie looks like a perfect choice. 🙂 Do you think it would work for interlining a coat to add warmth? (My apologies if this comes through twice–I tried to post yesterday but I think I messed something up.)

  7. Kim Perez says:

    Kate, I have used Kaufman Mammoth flannel to make a scarf that is fringed by pulling threads to a stay stitch. Would this fabric work for this process?

    • kate says:

      We send swatches Nadine! if you go into the Seawool item you like and select ‘add a swatch to cart’ we’ll send a 2″ x 6″ swatch for you to touch.

  8. wardjs65 says:

    There are so many aspects that I love about this fabric—light warmth, non-static, easy to sew and wear, and that it’s fun to tell people it’s made from oyster shells! But the one thing I don’t like is that it pills and shags. I have an excellent de-piller which helps, but after wearing for a season I sadly no longer wear my jacket for somewhat dressier occasions. I applaud the manufacturer’s attempt. Maybe they can solve that one drawback eventually. It’s a great fabric in so many ways.

    • Arlo Smytheman says:

      Good point! Seawool does pill, but here in Montana, “dressy occasion” means wearing your nice Carhartts, so I don’t worry about it. I like how seawool gets “refreshed” in the drier, even though it still has pills.

      Thanks for reading, and the good advice on the de-piller!

      🙂

  9. Sue Freeland says:

    My husband loves the Seawool shirts and vest I made for him. I heard that it will not be produced anymore. So sad. The material is unique and I love the feel of it. Since I have a wool allergy, this is a wonderful replacement!

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