The Joyful Stitcher

Today I get to introduce my latest book called “The Joyful Stitcher”.

It’s different from what I have been doing lately, but when you’ve been in the industry for 20 years like I have, it’s time to shake things up a bit!   I am continually thinking of what I am going to create next that I haven’t already done.  Turns out it was something I never thought I would be doing – wool applique by hand.  And I enjoyed every minute of it!


Here is the intro from my book, which tells you a little bit more about my inspiration –

As I finish this book, my two little boys are 2 and 4. They are at such fun ages and I don’t want to miss any of these moments with them. I find myself wanting to spend less time at the sewing machine so I can be with them. But, do I want to quilt less? No!!! I just need projects that are more portable. This need has caused me to rediscover my love of handwork. I didn’t realize, that with my desire to make as many quilts as possible, as quickly as possible, I had gotten away from such an essential part of quilting – the therapeutic side that comes from relaxing and hand-stitching.

Years ago, I started a hand-stitching group and every month we get together to do handwork, talk, laugh, eat dessert, and have fun. Seventeen years later, we still meet every month and I always look forward to this night of friends and stitching. One member of our group (That’s you Sandy!) is always working on beautiful wool projects and she has inspired me to incorporate wool into these designs. Wool is so easy to work with and looks amazing with just a few simple stitches to hold it in place. It makes for a great portable project to tote to the park with the boys, out on the pontoon, or to our monthly stitching meetings. Through the creative process of doing this book, I have learned to value this slow stitching to create unique quilts that can’t be achieved at the machine with squares and triangles. This whole process of rediscovery has been good for my soul and has made me – The Joyful Stitcher.


I could go on and on about how happy these projects have made me.  I have always loved wool, but have stayed away because I mostly saw dark primitive colors, and I am currently all about bright and colorful.  I also love fabric and beautiful prints, and the patterns that I have seen for wool have mostly been penny mats.  These projects have made a way for me to combine wool with the fabrics prints that I love so much.  The project on the cover is a good example of this –

It’s called In Bloom.  It uses 3 1/2″ squares of cotton prints and the background fabric is Kauffman’s yarn dyed Essex linen in graphite.  The wools are a combination of wool felt and felted wool.


If you look closer at my applique, you will see that I have combined cotton with the wool, for added dimension and interest.


The next project that I want to share is called Gypsy Star.  It measures 55.5″ x 55.5″.


I may go a little overboard sharing photos of this one.  It shows off so many of my favorite things – colorful fabrics, diamonds, stars, wool, texture, a ribbon border and machine quilting.


I love how the weight of the wool causes it to puff out after the quilting.  I have had several people asked me if I layered extra batting behind the applique, but I didn’t.  It’s just the combination of adding wool applique to a quilt that is quilted, rather than a wool penny mat type project.  The wool has so much more life and dimension this way!


And these fabrics – they add so much life to the blocks.  Most of these prints are from Anna Maria Horner.  They are from assorted collections that I mixed together.  The first runner that I showed also uses these fabrics.  I bought some fat quarters and had enough to make quite a few quilts.


The two photos below show the mix of simple stitches that I used and how I combined the cotton and wool together for the applique.




The next one up is called Fall Colors.  Size – 24″ x 24″

More close-ups of the stitching.  I mainly used a whip stitch (not a blanket stitch) and a back stitch.  There are also a few French knots and for the black lettering and stems, I used a chain stitch.  I have tried to do a stem stitch for this, as I know that is quite popular with the embroidery crowd, but I found it way too difficult.  I learned the chain stitch in first or second grade and have found it to be much easier.

I mentioned that I used a whip stitch instead of a blanket stitch.  I find a blanket stitch much more time-consuming, much harder to get even and I don’t like that it curls around points and curved edges (unless you do extra tacking stitches).  Doing a whip stitch instead cures all those problems.  I have more photos coming in my next posts where I will talk/show more about this.  Trust me – you will hardly see the difference, but it’s so much more fun to do.

And don’t you love the variegated thread?  You can really see it on the green stems above, where I did a slanting whip stitch.  The thread is Sue Spargo’s Eleganza (click here to see it)

For this one, I wanted a small wall hanging that I can hang by my back door or in my upstairs hallway in the fall.  I also have a pillow option for this one, which I will show in another post.


That’s it for now, so I hope you will stop back to see the rest of the projects.  I am going to break the preview up into 3 posts, because I have so many photos and things to say.  That way the posts won’t be so long and take forever to load!   You can also go to my online store (click here) to see more photos or order the book.  It is available to ship now, so it will also be showing up at your local quilt shop.  There are 14 projects in the book and it retails for $23.  There are 16 pages of full color instruction, which includes lots of photos of the stitching and projects.  There are also 2 large pattern pulls out with full size applique shapes.

So I’m curious to see how you all feel about wool?  I have shown the projects at a couple of events so far and I’ve had several people say that they weren’t interested in wool until they saw these projects and how I used the wool in a different way.  I thought that was interesting, because I kind of felt that way too!  Of coarse you can use cotton for the applique too, if you aren’t interested in wool.  So please leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts on wool too.  All comments will be entered into a drawing to win a free Joyful Stitcher book.  Thanks!

About Heather Peterson

Quilt pattern designer
This entry was posted in Fabric Trends, Machine Quilting, Pattern of the Week, Quilting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to The Joyful Stitcher

  1. Vicki in MN says:

    I love the look of wool, but haven’t cared for working with regular wool. But, I do like wool felt a lot! This is so different for you, but a great look and I am anxious to see what else is in the book.

  2. Diane W says:

    Ive always loved wool. I hope to someday quilt with it, like my sister is doing. Im inspired by your quilt, Gypsy Star. Doing both, piecing and wool embroidering. I do have a boatload of floss and some other silky looking stuff. Its on my bucket list.

  3. Cyndie S. says:

    Your use of the bright wool is inspiring. I have only done just a bit with more traditional colors. So who knows what the future will hold!

  4. Susi says:

    The vibrant colors struck a chord with me. I love bright colors – they just look so alive – especially if they are solids. I think I would like to try my hand at this. I too love hand projects. Congratulations on a wonderful new accomplishment with your book.

  5. Kris P says:

    I might have to give this wool thing a try… or felt. I have to stay away from wool in mittens, scarves and hats due to allergies, but I love the texture and colors of your new projects.

  6. Linda V says:

    Heather, this is absolutely amazing!! I loved the combination of hand stitching with wool and the cotton with quilting!! Your patterns, and fabric choices, are inspiring as always! Thanks for sharing your talents!!

  7. Elaine Watt says:

    Beautiful patterns. I love working with wool and am looking forward to getting this book.

  8. Theresa says:

    These are beautiful! What gorgeous quilting. Looking forward to seeing what else is in the book.

  9. Deborah A. Manning says:

    As always, your work is beautiful and brilliant. I love wool and felted wool. I love hand work, as well. It is so very soothing, relaxing and therapeutic. I have some felted wool pieces on hand just waiting for a project. Would love to win this book and I know that my future hand project with wool is in this book. Thank you for this opportunity. Deborah A. Manning

  10. Marty says:

    I haven’t tried wool, but your pretty results tempt me!

  11. Dana Bartlett says:

    This is beautiful! I have never worked with wool – it always seemed dark to me. Bewtween you and Fig Tree I am really wanting to give this a try! Thank you for the ideas!

  12. Kristi says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I love the combination of wool and cotton plus the bright colors bring your patterns to life. Congratulations on another outstanding book.

  13. Sandy A in St. Louis says:

    I have looked at working with wool before but don’t know where to begin. I love the look of it on wall hangings and penny rugs but wasn’t sure about table runners. I really like yours!

  14. Jeanne Hopko says:

    I love the colorful wools you used, beautiful!

  15. Maureen says:

    Hi Heather! Your book preview is fantastic….I would buy it even if what you’ve shown are the only projects in it! I love working with wool. Like you, I tend to think primitive (plus, I love all things primitive!) so seeing your work is very inspirational. Thank you so much for enabling us!

  16. Moya o keeffe says:

    Nice to have an idea about what else to do with wool I have felted. Love the felted process, but you do end up with a fair bit, and you can use only so many wool garments in North Australia.

  17. Joy P says:

    I love embroidery and have worked with wool in the past…with a huge bin full of wool I’ve been trying to get motivated to use it up. Your book looks like the perfect motivation. Thanks for the giveaway.

  18. Pat Anderson says:

    I have had wool applique on my radar for years but my lack of understanding if is washable or what care is required has prevented me. This book may well be what puts me over the top though–love your use of color and the wonderful happy designs! Thanks for the giveaway!

  19. Rachael Ramy says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! The colors and textures – lovely! I’ve never worked with wool before, but I would definitely try it now after seeing these!

  20. martha mumaw says:

    I love working with wool!!!

  21. Marie Pearson says:

    I’m excited for this new look & love the story about your stitching group. I’ve never worked with wool but find the new variety and bright colors really inviting. I can’t wait to see all of your beautiful designs.

  22. Ann in NC says:

    I thought the very same things you did about wool! WOW! Love the bright, happy designs! Another wonderful book you have designed!

  23. Pingback: | Jan T's Patchwork School

  24. Karen Wolter says:

    very excited to get your new book. I have done very little applique, but will have to try it now as you make it look so easy. Thanks for sharing

  25. Dorian says:

    Your use of lighter, brighter colored wool sure does make a huge difference! I’ve often looked at wool projects, thinking I might like to do some, but was put off by the dark, primitive look. This looks like such a great book! I love your style and have been reading your blog for quite a long time now 🙂

  26. Darlene B says:

    I tried a wool project and really wanted to love it, but I found it to be less fun for me than cottons. I do love seeing wool projects, though! I would LOVE to have this book! I would just use cottons instead 😊

  27. Liz says:

    Haven’t started working with wool but I am building a small stash for when the desire erupts.

  28. Ruth says:

    I love these projects! The look is different, bright, interesting, etc. I can hardly wait to share your post with my wool loving friend! My birthday is soon….think your new book is on my gift wish list! Congratulations on your new book.

  29. kshackabq says:

    Those are amazing! I especially love Gypsy Star I’ve always been hesitant about wool–maybe I’m afraid I’ll find moth holes in it! But the newer colors sure are inviting. Can’t wait to see more of your beautiful work.

  30. Wow, the colors are so vibrant- love the mix of piecing and appliqué, wool and cotton. I enjoy working with wool on a limited fashion, but haven’t ever used it for more than a penny rug…might be time to try something new!

  31. Pat D says:

    Love, love, love your Gypsy Star quilt. I too have had a hard time getting into wool projects since the colors have always been “dull” to me. I have tried to do wool projects but loose interest-I think because of that. Now I would love to try your colorful projects. Congratulations on your book!!!!

  32. Leslie says:

    Your new book looks marvelous! I’ve loved working with wool for years (with a stitch group that has also met for seventeen years!) and have welcomed the brighter colors and hand dyed wools that have been appearing. The projects you’ve designed showcase them perfectly! I have just about every book you’ve written, and I can tell your newest will be one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing your talent once again!

  33. Love the wool cotton combo. My favorite is the stars because of the setting. All are beautiful!

  34. Kathy Y says:

    I love wool combined with cotton and I love your projects. You are on the right course.

  35. Colleen Coffman says:

    These are beautiful! I too, have felt like you as far as primitive wool projects. Too many penny mats. I have no use for those. And I love bright color! Can’t wait to see what else you have designed!

  36. marie says:

    I love wool! Have been doing penny rugs for about 4 years, and for 3 years have been making quilts with wool on cotton. It now led me to start rug hooking also. The wool has now taken up more space than my fabric.

  37. Chookyblue says:

    Nice bright and colourful……. Goodluck…..

  38. Shelly J says:

    I love the bright colors of wool you used and have always liked to combine wool and cotton together. Your creativity always amazes me! It looks like you have another great book.

  39. Bobbie says:

    Love, love, love these quilts. I am looking forward to trying some of these looks!

  40. Jo Anne Hawks says:

    I really enjoy working with wool, though I haven’t done much mixing it with cottons.

  41. Jane Eilderts says:

    Beautiful, beautiful work!! I have always wanted to work with wool! Your book is in my list. I love brights too so this was very attracting to me! Now you will have to offer us newbies your inside about where to purchase the thread and wool.

  42. Melanie says:

    Wow! They are all absolutely stunning!!! You’ve done a beautiful job! ❤️❤️

  43. Lisa Marie says:

    I’m another one who wasn’t interested in wool until I saw this. Like you, the dark colors left me unexcited. I always enjoy your books, and I like the looks of this one too.

  44. Kathleen Gee says:

    I love working with wool, and also use a whip stitch. Your colors are great–did you hand-dye the wool or just find a good source?

  45. Sharon Peterson says:

    I love the thought of wool and getting back to more hand projects. My husband and I are now retired and spend a great deal of time traveling around the country which makes it difficult to sit at a sewing machine. I have always loved your projects so am looking forward to getting this book!

  46. SHAUNA SCHOLES says:

    I love the wool that you used. I never liked wool until i saw the beautiful colors. Thank you for inspiring me to do something new.

  47. Linda says:

    Oh Heather—I am so excited by these projects….they are beautiful…..thanks for the chance to win…

  48. Tina McNamara says:

    I love the combination of the fabric & wool together. I would love a book & plan on showing this to my local quilt shop which carry a lot of wool aplique kits & supplies. Your samples are beautiful!

  49. Denny A. says:

    It looks amazing Heather. I’m with Tina, above…what’s the difference between them? The wool and felted wool. I take it— that whatever you make with wool or felted wool would never be washed? so, you would only use these on small quilts, or wall hangings? I LOVE the looks of all the projects, so far. I am a bright color type of person too! So much of the wool projects for years seemed to be such dark colors! This is a “Breath of Fresh air” to see these bright colors! Thanks for sharing them with us!

  50. Gale says:

    I have never worked with wool, however these projects have me wanting to try. Love how bright and beautiful they are. Congratulations on the new book.

  51. Deb G. in VA says:

    I have never worked with wool, but would love to give it a try!

  52. Julie T. says:

    I think the wool adds a lot of dimension to the quilts. I am, however, curious as to how the quilt will wash with the wool.

  53. Shirley J B says:


  54. Therese says:

    I like the techniques together and the more contemporary look to the wool!

  55. I love wool and they way you’ve combined it with cottons! The colors! The variegated thread! The whip stitch! I’m intimidated by the hand blanket stitch . . . I might just try the whip stitch. I have some beautiful wools that I’ve been saving . . .

  56. Pingback: The Joyful Stitcher – Part 2 | Trends and Traditions

  57. v dale says:

    Wow, you have some wonderful ideas. I love working with wool, have not tried doing it in combination with cottons, but will have to try.

  58. Laurie Gelo says:

    Absolutely stunning. I love how you have mixed regular cotton fabrics with wool to make these projects. And your designs are so fun and do-able for anyone. I cannot wait to get this book and begin some of your patterns.

  59. Jean says:

    I admire your appliqué. I also love seeing the close-ups of the quilting.

  60. Joan M says:

    Beautiful book and gorgeous designs! This book is on my list. Thanks for sharing.

  61. Martina says:

    Yess! This is also the reason why I got into handstitching. Being able to slow down and be creative and still spend time with our kids. During the past years I started to collect some wool fabrics as I loved the look, especially together with other cotton fabrics. And now seeing your beautiful projects just makes my heart beat jumping. Thank you so much for sharing. I definitely have to look out for your book,lol!

  62. Connie Kresin Campbell says:

    Beautiful designs and book!

  63. Jocelyn says:

    I have never tried wool. And I have not done much applique. I love your blanket stitches.

  64. Laura Gingerich says:

    Heather, I think this is my favorite thing you have ever done. Love, love, love it!!!

  65. Janice Taylor says:

    Wow! These are beautiful!💜💙 I just love the bright colors and the gray background. I’ve never used much wool but I’m going to have to rethink that after looking at your quilts! Love! Love! Love Them!

  66. Pingback: The Joyful Stitcher – Part 3 | Trends and Traditions

  67. Milla says:

    Congratulations on your new book! The projects you are featuring from your book are fantastic. I, too, love your Gypsy Star quilt. It is absolutely amazing!! I love everything about it – the vibrant colors, the wool appliqué, and the spectacular machine quilting!! I recently started doing wool appliqué and I thoroughly enjoy it. I find it very relaxing and pleasurable to hand stitch. So glad I decided to give it a try.

  68. Renea Yarolim says:

    I love your new book. I am sure it will have to sneak into my quilting library. I have never worked with wool but I know a couple of quilters who absolutely love it. Thanks for the chance to win this gorgeous book.

  69. R Buckley says:

    The Fall wall hanging is very pretty. I just like the change from traditional green/gold/red to the brighter colors that include my favorite, aqua. Your work is great. Not sure how you find the time to get it all done! Thanks for the chance to win!

  70. This joyful quilter LOVES your Joyful Stitcher (I know…silly)

  71. Chris O'Dorisio says:

    WOW! The combination of wool and cotton, not to mention the bright colors is wonderful! I have just recently (last two years) begun to get back into stitching by hand, although the dark colors and more primitive designs are not as appealing to me as the beautiful blues, pinks and yellows. The dimension the wool creates along with the quilting is really pretty. This book looks yummy!

  72. Megan Ziegler says:

    I love both the Gypsy Star quilt and the Bloom table runner! Love the use of color! So bright and happy! Could you give some places you found your bright colored wool? Other than the Wooly Ladies, I always struggle with finding the brighter wools. Also, what about washing? Are these projects able to be washed? Thanks and another beautiful release! Congrats!

  73. Pockets says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE wool appliqué and you’ve done such a gorgeous job with your projects. I would be thrilled to be able to do the stitch along with you of any of these quilts. I can’t believe you managed to write a book and have two small children, how did you do it, absolutely incredible!! Can I ask how you got from inspiration to projects to published works?? Thanks so much, my email is 🤗

    • Hi Kate – Thanks for stopping by the blog and wanting to do the summer stitch along!

      You can read more about my inspiration for the book here:

      I self-publish my books, so I didn’t have to go through the process of trying to get published. I’ve worked with a publisher in the past, but I prefer to do it myself. As far as having the time to do it, let’s just say I’m efficient! I have my stitching with me everywhere I go, I stitch while the boys clean, I don’t watch much TV, and listen to audiobooks while I work, and I joke about giving up cleaning 😉

      Thanks again for stopping by!

  74. Susan says:

    I love piecing and applique together and your designs !

  75. Shirley Drury says:

    These are absolutely stunning!

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