Today’s the last day in my first “Give It a Month” birthday challenge. Each month this upcoming year, I’m conquering a new quilting technique. This past month, I tried working with wool.
I’ve worked with wool a few times in the past as little accents on wall hangings, but have never dived in. A few years ago, I bought a wool snowman mini kit from Plays with Wool Designs, so thought it was the perfect season to try it!
I started by educating myself. I turned to three books to see how three different designers worked with wool. The authors all used different products and techniques, so it was a great introduction! The three books I read were:
- A Little Something by Roseann Meehan Kermes
- Christmas at Buttermilk Basin by Stacy West
- Celebrate Wool Appliqué by Deborah Gale Tirico
Then I tested all the suggested tools. I think it’s so important when you’re trying a new technique to test things first, so you feel comfortable with the products you’re using. And since all the authors had favorite products, it gave me a chance to figure out which ones I liked best!
I tested three thread types, three needles, two scissors, and four adhesives/pins. I made a little stitch sampler to test the different needles with each of the thread types. I tested two types of stitches (a straight stitch for embroidery accents and a blanket-stitch for wool applique). I held the wool appliqué piece in place with all my adhesive/pin options, and then tested cutting curves and points with the two scissors. I made sure to label everything, so I could remember what products I liked best. Here’s what I tested:
- Tulip Chenille Needle (size 22)
- Clover Embroidery Needles (sizes 3 and 9)
- Valdani #8 Perle Cotton
- Rustic Moire Wool Thread
- Cosmo Embroidery Floss
- Roxanne’s Two-Way Baste-It
- Jillily Appli-Glue
- Clover Fork Pins
- Heat N Bond Lite Iron-On Adhesive
- Fiskars 5″ Razor-Edge Softgrip Fabric Shears
- Fiskars 8″ Easy Action PowerCut Snips
After testing, I chose my favorites! I preferred the chenille needle for sewing through multiple layers of wool and getting accurate stitches, but appreciated the embroidery needles for my detail stitching on one layer of wool. I liked the embroidery floss best, as I’m used to working with it and thought the other options were too bulky for the work I was doing. I liked the iron-on adhesive for smaller wool pieces and the fork pins for larger pieces. I couldn’t get the glues to stick, but have heard from others that they work for them. (Note: I did not test the freezer paper method of doing wool applique, because I ended up loving the iron-on fusible method. But that’s another option to explore in the future!) And I settled on the 5″ shears for the tiny shapes I was cutting, but liked both scissor options.
Next, I started on my project using my favorite tools! I was traveling a lot during the month, so I loved that this project was easily portable! It traveled to both South Dakota and Texas with me. Word of warning: wool requires accurate stitch placement to cover the appliqué edges, so it’s not ideal for very windy or bumpy car rides. (I’m speaking from experience here!)
I used two strands of embroidery floss for my stitches and used blanket stitches, running stitches, whip stitches, and French knots. Here’s a great list of basic stitch instructions.
So after a month of working with wool, would I do it again? Absolutely! I loved the process and it was a lot easier than I expected — and I love how it doesn’t have to be perfect to be charming. Wool isn’t my personal decor aesthetic, so I will most likely save wool for holiday or seasonal projects. Wool is also a little pricey and you usually need multiple colors for a project, so I appreciated buying a kit that had tiny cuts of all the different colors of wool, so I didn’t need to buy more wool than I needed. But it was so relaxing to sit down with fuzzy material and make something by hand.
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Thanks for joining me for “happy hour,”
Have you ever worked with wool? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments!