In my last few posts, I mentioned that I would get to answering some of the questions that you all had about the projects in my new book, The Joyful Stitcher. Many of them centered around where to get materials, so today I will talk a little bit about that.
I also mentioned having a summer stitch along with this book. I asked commenters to tell me what they wanted to make for the stitch along and I got many different answers. Since there was no clear winner among the projects, I decided that we don’t need to pick one project – Why not work on whichever project we want to from the book? Many of the techniques work for all the projects and I can answer all those questions as we go along. I’m pretty sure that I am going to make the Mandala Quilt. I have an empty spot in my kitchen right now that needs something special and this quilt is the perfect size.
Here’s how the stitch along will work – We will be very relaxed! Whenever I get a chance, I will post something related to the stitch along. I will try for once a week or so. We will spend the summer stitching, with no set deadline. Topics will include:
Sourcing materials – Thread, wool, and background fabric
Prepping the materials
Preparing the applique shapes
Tricks for placement of applique shapes on the background
Finishing and Quilting
The first material you will need to locate is the wool for the applique, so today I will talk about finding wool. You will have the next couple weeks to locate the materials – either via ordering, shop hopping, or going through your stash. Many of you mentioned that you have a stash of wools, but you may need to add a few to it. You can also use cotton for this step if you wish. In that case, you have next couple weeks to figure out what those fabrics will be.
I mentioned in a previous post that I used both wool and wool felt in my book. I had questions about what the difference was. Here’s a photo of both –
The wool felt is on the lower left and the felted wool is on the upper right. Felted wool is a fabric made of wool thread that are woven together. On the next photo you will be able to see the individual threads. This fabric is washed and dried so the fibers shrink and tighten together. The felt is made by matting wool fibers together, then compressing them to make a matt like material. When soaked and dried, it has a bumpy texture, rather than a woven look.
Why did I use both? Mainly, I was looking for a variety of colors and I just used whatever was the right color. That is how you get a flower with slight variation in the color of the petals. You could use just one color if you want, but I love the depth and interest it adds to use slight variations.
Cost is also a factor. Felted Wool – which is often hand-dyed – is quite a bit more expensive. In the photo below, the felted wool piece was $17 and the piece of felt was only $2. By mixing in some felt, it really cuts down on the cost. I prefer not to use only felt because I love the patterns and textures that using the felted wool adds – as many are plaids, stripes, houndstooths, etc.
I know many people go to thrift stores and buy wool quite inexpensively and felt it themselves. I have never done this, so if anyone following along wants to talk about it in the comments, please do so. Maybe just share a couple of tips about what to look for. (I will talk about the felting process in a future post).
So – Where did I get my wools?
Wool Felt: I bought all of my wool felt at www.woolfeltcentral.com. Julie (the owner) carries so many colors, that I could find everything I needed in one spot. I bought the 12″ x 18″ pieces, but she also carries yardage (She also carries lots of wool felt and corrdinating bundles). The brand that Julie carries is made by National Nonwovens., so anybody that carries that brand of wool felt is a good option. I don’t recommend going to a store like Joann’s and buying felt there. What they carry is craft felt and contains no wool – it looks and feels horrible! The felt that I used was 20-35% wool.
A couple of tips when selecting wool felt: Sometimes you can find wool felt that is slightly variegated. In the photos below, the felt on the left is all solid in color. The felt pieces on the right are slightly variegated, giving them a really pretty look. Mix these in when you can for added interest, without the price of hand-dyed wool.
Another thing I have done with the wool felt is to over-dye it. In the photo below, I bought a piece of green wool felt and cut it in half. I over-dyed one half using Rit dye. It now looks hand-dyed and I get two coordinated colors to mix into my project. It isn’t hard to do. If you have done tea-dying or anything like that, you will have no problem with this.
Sourcing Felted Wool:
I have been collecting wool from many different places, so I don’t remember where all of my pieces have come from. One of my favorite places to purchase from is http://www.suespargo.com. She carries lots of bright colors and many of you asked about where to find the bright colors. Most shops carry the more primitive colors, so if you have trouble finding the brights, Sue’s shop is a good option. She offers lots of size options in both hand-dyed solids and coordinating bundles. The photo below shows one of the bundles from her. (She also carries the thread that I use, so I will talk about that in a future post).
Two other sources that I purchased felted wool from are All in Stitches in Zumbrota, MN and Quilt Haven on Main in Hutchinson, MN. For those that are fellow Minnesotans, I recommend stopping in. Bear Patch Quilting in White Bear Lake, MN is going to be carrying lots of kits for the projects in this book. If anybody is interested in these kits, just let me know and I will find out if they are ready. If any of you have any favorite shops that carry wools, please leave their name in the comments so others can check them out!
Another brand of felted wool that I like is “In The Patch.” They offer charm packs in coordinating colors, so it is a good way to get a lot of variety without having to purchase large pieces. The packs below were purchased at Quilted Treasures in Rogers, MN and Quilt Haven on Main in Hutchinson, MN. You can also order directly from In the Patch Designs. These packs are great for the smaller projects in the book. If you are looking to get big pieces for the larger projects in the book, their next size up are “Chunks” and “Chubbies” – though they only include one piece.
What’s the best way to collect for this project? – Go to a quilt show! Last year, I went to the Minnesota State Guild Show. There were many, many vendors that carried wool and it was a great way to find it all in one place without driving everywhere or paying shipping. It’s also great to see the wool in person, so you know exactly what the color is!
Wondering how much to purchase? The fabric requirements in the book tell you what size piece you need. I took a photo of my stash, just to show you that you really don’t need much to be able to make these projects. This photo shows my stash AFTER I made all the quilts from the book, plus several others.
Hopefully that will get you started with your wool collecting. If you have any other questions about this topic, please leave them in the comments and check back to see the answer
Next up: Sourcing threads and background fabrics.
If you are on Instagram, I will also post there about the stitch along. In addition to that topic, I also show many photos that never make it to the blog. With two little boys, it’s hard to find time to sit down at the computer, but I can easily do a quick Instagram post from wherever we are playing! My Instagram name is ankastreasures and our tag for the stitching will be #thejoyfulstitcher. Click here for the direct link to my Instagram page.