And sadly.. I have nothing… literally, I hate to blame it on the move, but I have not been able to finish a single solitary thing for this hop.. When we got our things I was so excited to finally have everything again, but I forgot that perhaps my hubby would like his clothing, or I would like a better change of clothes, that the kitchen to needed to be unpacked. Over the years of living overseas, I have gotten slower in how I do things, and get them done, so unpacking has gone slowly. I don’t even have my sewing machines up yet in my sewing room. I was lucky enough to have Joan from Moose Stash Quilting come for a day last week and she really got me in gear to get my sewing room up and running and over the weekend I managed to get my desktop in place. Then comes the process of having to transfer everything from the laptop to the desktop..
So, instead, I decided to share some insights on working with wool fabrics, since my project was to be a wallhanging made from Wooly Block kits. I can not find my camera, even tho I know it’s in this sewing room somewhere, I’ve got no clue where it’s disappeared to, so I had to borrow some images from the web.
I have worked with wool several times in my years of sewing, mostly tho in making clothing. When I made my pineapple quilt back in the 1990’s (when it’s unpacked I’ll take a picture of it and add it to my projects page) I used a wool backing of various scraps I had in wool from previous clothing I’d made. This is by far and away the heaviest quilt I ever made. That’s the thing about wool, it may not feel heavy to the hand, but once you get it in a project it does become very heavy. When we lived in Pennsylvania/Maryland, one of my favorite shops to visit was Roaring River Mills, in Altoona PA. This was an absolutely amazing fabric store, far better than G Street Fabrics in D.C. was, most of the wool I own actually came from Roaring River Mills. I sometimes wonder if they are still open.
One of the things about the Wooly Block Event is that the kits need to be made up of 100% wool. Even tho these rules are in place, some shops still use a bit of cotton and some even use wool felt versus felted wool.
If you don’t know the differences between wool felt and felted wool, it’s pretty simple… Felted Wool is 100% wool, wool felt is a mix of felt, rayon, or polyester. The rayon and polyester are added to keep the price of the wool felt lower, and this also creates a supple and soft material. Felted Wool can be created by a felting machine or by simply washing the fabric in your washing machine using hot water and then dried in a hot dryer setting. I actually did this, I purchased 3 1/2 yards at 30.00 per yard of wool fabric from a shop here in Colorado Springs called Gatherings. Let me just say, this shop is amazing. Theresa at Bumbleberry Stitches introduced me to this shop when we met for the first time in November. I was in love the moment I walked into this shop. Then as scary as it was to put 105.00 worth of fabric in my washer, I actually did it, and then into the dryer. I used no soap, or any type of dryer cloth, and it turned out gorgeous a beautiful felted wool. So I was quite pleased…
Unfortunately, I keep going back and forth with what I’m going to use it for in the quilt, should it be the backing? or sashing? or perhaps I should use it for all the backgrounds in the kits? I know I want to do a rag quilt appearance, I always had this planned, but I also know I’m going to end up with a really heavy quilt, because I tend to like batting in my quilts and I want to have that quilted look, so it becomes harder to decide what to do in that respect.
Another difference in telling the difference is felted wool should have a woven appearance, while wool felt will have a compressed non-woven appearance. Let’s have a look…
Wool Felt is usually sold by the sheet in various sizes, where felted wool comes in scraps or yardage. Wool Felting is by far cheaper than Felted Wool is also. The difference is obvious. Wool Felt also seems to all be one same size of loft, where Felted Wool comes in various lofts depending on how many times it was felted or the type of wool it was in it’s origin.
To use wool in your quilting projects, you definitely want to have it felted in one of the above forms, because the obvious advantage is their is no need to do needle turn applique. Wool by itself will fray, but felted wool or wool felt does not fray.
One of the magical things about wool is sewing with it, it’s very forgiving. You can use a normal needle with it, it doesn’t require a special needle like denim or leather does. No special foot is required for your machine, and with thread, the sky is the limit, everything works.. while one thing to consider tho is that felted wool is a natural fiber, because it comes directly from real wool, it’s not mixed with anything else. you might want to use a cotton thread with it, when piecing so that the polyester type threads don’t tear the wool at some point. With wool felt, you could use polyester, because their is already a polyester in the material, so it’s not as likely to rip or tear easily.
One of the things I keep reading over and over again is when doing applique with wool felt or felted wool, it’s not advisable to use a heavy fusible such as HNB, HNB lite, or Wonder Under on them, because this just lends to more heaviness in the project, which I actually agree with. Instead, try a softer product like Soft Fuse if you absolutely must fuse and be sure use a cooler iron, and always, always always use a pressing cloth when ironing over wool.
I believe that once you try a wool project it’s pretty hard to go back, but keep these things in mind… Wools don’t come in prints or many patterns.. They are usually solid, or in stripes. Dyed wools are becoming quite common and average 19.99 per fat quarter as felted wool.
Don’t be deceived in thinking that a pattern created for wool alone is for wool only, it can be made in any fabric of your choosing, you just simply need to think about the technique if it’s applique in which your going to do it, if your going to stray from wool to cotton, you may want to add seam allowances to your shapes to do turn edge applique for instance. That’s also the opposite, any pattern created for quilting would also work for wool fabrics, even if the idea originally was to use them with cotton only.
The thing to remember is that the more you layer, the heavier your quilt or project will become, because wool is just a heavier fabric, like denim in that respect, so the more the pattern has layers, the heavier your project will become.
When you’re using cutting machines with wool, do not put your wool on a new sticky mat, this will only lead to “stretching” when you’re trying to remove the cut shapes. Instead, use a medium like freezer paper and iron it to your fabric first, then place the paper side against the mat, make sure everything adheres to the mat well, then test the cuts to find out the cutting depth your knife needs to be to get clean cuts for that wool fabric. Each wool fabric needs to be tested because of the different textures of the wool. I also recommend you stick to only cutting out with one wool fabric at a time, using different textures of wool (by textures I mean the weight or the loft height, some wools are thicker than others), your knife will not give you as clean a cut, it’s best to stick with cutting one wool fabric at a time.
Are you looking for wool? If you don’t want the big expense to buy it by the yard or sheet, try thrift shops, your closet, your hubby’s closet, your families closets, auctions, anywhere you believe will help you find real wool. It is easy peasy to felt it, so give it a go… I think you to will be amazed.
I think my free pattern for today offered here, is perfect for wool or cotton applique, why don’t you give it a try, let me know how you like it… The pattern is only available for 24 hours as a free pattern.
I hope you enjoyed this little lesson on working with wools, everything I’ve listed here is accurate to my knowledge of working with wools. I’d love to hear your stories and any tips you also might have.
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Sue and Sam will definitely be released tomorrow morning, so please watch for them then. Thank you for visiting today,