Has anybody been shopping for wool yet?
If you have, there might be some prep that you need to do – It will depend on what you bought.
If you bought felted wool that is hand-dyed, you don’t need to do anything. If it isn’t hand-dyed (or you purchased it off the bolt) and you aren’t sure if it has been felted yet, throw it in a sink of hot water to soak for a bit. Repeat if necessary until all any excess color bleeds out. Then switch the water to cold. The temperature change will help with the felting process. Now press the excess water out and throw it in the dryer on high heat. This process will shrink the wool and meld the fibers together a bit, so it frays less when sewn.
If you purchased wool felt, you can also choose to do this process to it. I did with all of mine because I love the texture it produces (and I want any excess dye out of it). In the photo below I show the difference in the before and after. The wool felt on the right is straight off the bolt – totally flat with little texture. The pieces on the left have gone through the felting process and have a wonderful texture and are much more interesting (IMO).
For those still looking for wool for the stitch along, you can view my last post for more info. I also wanted to update you on a couple of places that are offering kits for the Joyful Stitcher book. Bear Patch Quilting is working on getting kits ready for all the projects in the book. The kits aren’t ready yet, but they are going to let me know when they are. I will post those options as soon as I get the info.
I have had many questions about adding wool to your quilts and one of the main questions is – Are the quilts washable?
Technically, I would say they are. If you have felted your wool and gotten all the excess dye out, you could wash them. I personally wouldn’t, just like I prefer not to wash my quilts that have fusible raw edge applique. I just don’t think that the applique holds up well and washing ages it so quickly. After all that work, I want it to stay looking nice! If I do have to wash a quilt with raw edge applique, I don’t throw it in the washing machine. I spot clean them OR hand wash them in the tub and lay them flat to dry. I would do the same with a quilt with wool applique. That is the main reason that I only included designs in the book that are small – runners, pillows, and wall quilts. They aren’t going to be on a bed where they need to be washed regularly.
Next, let’s talk about thread. The photo below shows my stash of thread for wool and hand applique. I also have a box this size of embroidery floss that can also be used for applique. It’s my old box of cross stitch supplies, that comes in handy every so often. The nice thing about embroidery floss is that it is inexpensive, comes in many colors, and is available in almost any town. My issue with it is that it isn’t very exciting and I hate separating the strands.
I prefer Pearl Cotton wound on a ball or cone that is ready to use. Another reason I prefer pearl cotton is because you can find variegated pearl cotton. Love, Love, Love! Not boring at all – but a little more expensive and a little harder to find. I’ve tied lots of different kinds and I prefer to use Sue Spargo’s Eleganza or Valdani. You get the most yardage for your money and it comes ready to use. No soaking in water first and winding your own bobbins.
One thing I want to mention – You don’t need to invest in such a large box of thread. I’ve learned that there are a few colors that I use over and over again. The photo below shows my favorites. The spools are all Eleganza and I have one ball of Valdani green, shown in the bottom of the photo. I find that the Valdani colors aren’t nearly as bright as the Eleganza, but that line is missing a good medium green so that is why I mix in the Valdani. I prefer to use size 5, though sometimes I use size 8 on small applique shapes.
The colors shown are: Wildfire, Pretty Please, Hibiscus, Solar Yellow, Lettuce Wrap, Tree Frog, Bird’s Eye View, Riptide and Lagoon. You can view all of Sue’s colors here. Unfortunately I’ve lost my label on the Valdani one, so I can’t give you that color name.
These detail shots show how beautiful the variegated thread is –
Another supply that I thought you might want to know about the background fabric that I used for many of my projects. I don’t generally use the same fabric over and over again (Why? when there are so many beautiful options to choose from).
But for this book, I used Kauffman’s Yarn Dyed Essex Linen for the background fabric on most of the grey quilts. In fact, I have gone through 2 bolts of this fabric just on my own quilts. It goes with so many things! The main color I used is called Graphite. You can see it in the photo below.
It is the “Yarn Dyed” part that makes it special – it is woven with a grey thread going one direction and a cream thread going the other way, creating this beautiful woven fabric.
I used it in the following quilts:
(All quilts found in my book, the Joyful Stitcher)
I’ve listed some of this color in my online store, if you are interested. Otherwise check at your local shop and ask for Yarn Dyed Essex Linen. The photo below shows two other colors that I’ve tried – steel and charcoal.
I have also listed the Charcoal Essex Linen in my shop, which I used in this pillow:
A couple other items you might want to have on hand – Freezer paper and Roxanne’s Glue Baste-it. I also used contact paper to help with the placement of my applique shapes – which I will talk more about in the next post.
Next week I will talk about preparing the applique shapes. If there are any other questions, just let me know in the comments.