Tricks For Preparing Wool Applique Shapes

As part of the Summer Stitch Along that I’m doing for my Joyful Stitcher book, I wanted to quickly share some basics steps on preparing the wool applique shapes.  These steps will apply to any of the projects from the book.


The method I use is the freezer paper method.  (Sometimes I substitute contact paper, which I will talk about below.)  I’ve tried other methods, but these are my favorite.

I have read and heard on many podcasts that people love Steam a Seam 2 for wool applique.  I bought some and tried it, but didn’t care for it at all!  It is really hard to pull the needle through and it gums up your needle.  If you are doing an applique motif that uses the same shape over and over, you have to trace each one because they are not reusable.  (The photo below shows a freezer paper template, next to the Steam a Seam 2 option)

If you do use a fusible, I recommend cutting the middle out of the shape before pressing it to your wool – as shown in the photo below.  This helps reduce stiffness and allows the batting to fill the applique shape and creates nice dimension.  The photo below shows how I like to see a little dimension in my applique shapes and how the batting puffs out the shape a little bit.


After you cut on the drawn line, you peel the paper off.

You can still see the glue around the edges and this is the part that I found hard to get the needle through.

One positive of using a fusible is that it is supposed to keep the edges from fraying if you use felted wool.  I’ve used it with cotton applique and I think it frays horribly, so I’m not sure that it really helps.


So, getting back to the freezer paper method, you trace the shapes to the paper side of the freezer paper, then iron the waxy side to your wool.  (At this point you can do just a round cut around the shapes as shown below).    Next, you cut on the drawn line, then peel of the freezer paper template.


You can save the template and use it again.  See the sample below.  As you can see, the shape is already cut out, so just cut next to the edge.  You can use this template many times over, so it saves a lot of time with tracing.


You can also use this method with contact paper, as I mentioned above.  The advantage to this method, is you don’t have to be next to an iron, but it will still stick to the fabric as you cut the shape out.  It makes for a totally portable project.


You can also reuse this template, though not quite as many times before it looses its stickiness.


What about you guys?  Which method do you prefer?  Feel free to shape any thoughts on your experience that we can all learn from!


One other tip that I want to share –  I only cut a few a few shapes, then audition them on the quilt to see how they look before I cut them all out.  I find that sometimes the applique shapes look different then I expect, depending on the background color of my quilt.  I am at this point with my project now, so it looks kind of rough, but I wanted you to see how this audition process looks.


I’m doing the Mandala quilt, but I’m trying out a scrappy grey background instead of the cream that is shown in the book.  I have found that I need to use way brighter colors so that they show up better on the grey.


If you are joining the stitch along, you can work on preparing the applique shapes using the method you prefer.  I can also talk about my preferred method for turning the edges under if you are using cotton for your applique.  If anyone is interested in my methods, just leave a note in the comments.

Next week, I will be back to share a tip on how to get the applique shapes placed on your background.  Then we will be onto the stitching!


About Heather Peterson

Quilt pattern designer
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10 Responses to Tricks For Preparing Wool Applique Shapes

  1. Nan says:

    I used to use steam a seam all the time but not so much since they did a reformulation. It’s not nearly as user friendly as before. But I was using cottons not wool. Thanks for all the wonderful information! Anything you care to share is wonderful.

    • Hi Nan – Glad you are finding the info useful! I have a question for you – before they did the reformulation, did the Steam a Seam leave a stiff/gummy edge that was hard to pull the needle through? If that product used to be different, then that might explain why it has been recommended by so many people – but is now not as good!

      Thanks for stopping by –


  2. Patty B. says:

    Thanks for your tips. Usually I just cut the shapes and hand buttonhole stitch them to the background. But with alot of duplicate shapes, I’m sure the freezer paper method is great. Thanks again.

  3. Pat D says:

    I like using the freezer paper, especially for wool. Thanks for taking time for this sew along.

  4. Marsha Nelson says:

    I haven’t used wool before, so this is a first for me. I will be using the freezer paper because I have used that before. I use steam a seam on my cotton appliques but can understand why it’s not the best for wool. Thanks for the info.

    • Hi Marsha,

      I’m curious to see what you think of wool vs cotton. I think it’s so much easier to work with, so I hope you will enjoy it. Have you been using Steam and Seam for a long time? Someone commented that they had reformulated it – so I’m wondering what someone who has used it for a while thinks of the change?



  5. Mary says:

    So happy to read this as the last pattern I purchased called for fusible and I was leary. I like to use the freezer paper! I even cut it from the roll to 8 1/2 by 11 and use it in my ink jet printer… (they sell it in paper size sheets as well) I sometimes make one freezer paper copy with tracing the shapes very close together and copy it onto the next fpsheet before cutting….this allows me to save on fabric. I would love to do your sew along as your work is beautiful! If I cannot find more information about it on your website, I’ll get back to you here! Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Pingback: My Contact Paper Trick – Summer Stitch Along Post #5 | Trends and Traditions

  7. Cathy Wilson says:

    don’t know if the contest is ended but here is my comment. You are so super talented and makes me a tad envious. Keep inspiring.

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