Woven and Felt Wool Applique
That’s it! I’ve fallen down the wool applique rabbit hole. I’ve spent a good bit of my sewing time talking about ways to avoid hand sewing and here I am… HAND SEWING.
I’m still operating on a thrifty budget. Most of the wool I use comes from thrift shops, with the exception of a robin’s egg blue and a cream color. I shop the women’s blazers and long skirts sections to find fuzzy, 100% wool. Then I go home and break down the garment into flat pieces. I’ll wash the pieces on HOT, koolaid dye any sections for more variety and tumble dry.
Being absolutely inspired by Kim McClean and Sue Spargo, I’ve decided to take an improvisational and whimsical approach to my wool and cotton applique.
I’ve started to prep shapes with no real vision. Yes, you read that right. Start by identifying shapes that are in traditional applique blocks, traditional Baltimore Album and Basket blocks, leaves, stems, circles of all sizes, etc. Then I start prepping an 8″ pizza box full of shapes.
The piece above was all glue based in place when I decided it looked too messy. I ended up taking the elements off and repurposing them in other designs and blocks. (Although, now that I’m seeing it on the computer, I don’t mind it as much. Shame.)
Other times, I’ll start with artwork and actually make the shapes to fit the block. This one, above, is from a Scandanavian/Folksy design I created. I appliqued the design onto mens shirt fabric.
If you’d like to try to make that design, I have the sketch scanned for you. Feel free to right-click -> save as and print off these shapes below.
While working with my more random classic shapes, this is how I go about making an improvisational wool applique block:
First, I start with a neutral or low volume fat quarter or fat eighth if I have one. Then I arrange my designs with:
- base (basket, vase, square, trapezoid)
- stems (made from homemade bias strips)
- flower tops (anything goes here)
- leaves and maybe berries
Once everything is arranged, I use Dawn Heese‘s method of glue basing my shapes to the background. Maybe it isn’t her method, but she is who taught me the trick.
Then I roll over to my trusty Sue Spargo Creative Stitching book and see what ideas I have the skills to execute. See how I worded that? Not what amazing stitch am I going to create, but rather: “Hum, I’m just starting out in wool/hand sewing; let’s see if I can make my running stitch look even.”
Improv Quilt Layout
I’m fortunate to have a design wall in my house where I have r-foam insulation wrapped with batting to hold my designs. In keeping with the improv nature of creating the quilt blocks, I’ve decided to just pop blocks and squares up on the design wall as they are finished.
I 100% do not know what this quilt will look like when it is done. Nor do I know when it will be done. But man, it is so liberating to create with no real plan at all.