Wool Applique

Last month for our Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, Volume 5 blog tour, I shared my “Some-Bunny” block, made with wool applique.

QMMS 120022 STODDARD 300x300 Wool Applique


Some of you expressed interest in learning how to do wool applique, so I pulled together a wool applique tutorial to show you how I do wool applique. There are lots of ways to do wool applique, so this is just how I do it. I hope you’ll try it!!

Are you ready to play with wool? It’s too fun!

First, you gather together everything you need. Your wool needs to be felted. To felt your wool, soak it in a sink of really hot water or run it thru a cycle of hot water in your washing machine, then rinse in cold water. Dry it in your dryer till it’s good and dry. (Wash or soak like colors together so they don’t bleed.) Felting makes your wool all soft and yummy and keeps it from fraying as you work with it. (If you don’t know if your wool is felted, you can always felt it again to be sure. It won’t hurt it to felt it again.)

Then you need your paper backed fusible web. I’ve used heat n bond, wonder under, steam a seam, and soft fuse. They all work fine, but soft fuse is my most favorite. It’s lite, adheres really well, and I like it the best. But they all work fine.

 Wool Applique

When you are ready to trace your pattern, make sure that the image has been reversed first. If it’s been reversed already, the pattern usually says so. If it hasn’t been reversed, then you need to use a window or a light box and trace from the back of the pattern.

Place your fusible web, paper side up, over your pattern, and trace your pattern pieces. Leave 1/8″ to 1/4″ space between each traced shape. If any shapes on your pattern overlap, you need to trace them seperately – don’t overlap your tracing! Label all your shapes. If you have pieces that are small and should all be one color of wool (like the sheep feet, ear, face, and tail), trace them close together.

 Wool Applique
After you are done tracing, cut out each shape JUST OUTSIDE the drawn line. See how there is a little space around each shape? Do that. Since the little black sheep pieces are very small, I just cut them out all together in one big chunk.

 Wool Applique
By the way, I love my label maker.

 Wool Applique
Lay your traced shapes, paper side up, on the correct color of wool. Be frugal with your spacing. If you have many traced pieces on one color of wool (such as flower petals), place them close together.

 Wool Applique
Press with your iron for 5 or so seconds. After it’s cooled a bit, check the edges and press for another couple of seconds if you need to.

 Wool Applique
After you have fused all of your paper shapes onto the wool, cut out the shapes DIRECTLY ON the line.

 Wool Applique
Cut out all of your wool shapes. (This is a good time to sit in front of a movie.)

 Wool Applique
When you’re done cutting out your wool pieces you’ll have little scraps like these. Unless they are incredibly teeny tiny, I save them. Wool is not cheap, and you’d be surprised what you can do with little scraps.

 Wool Applique
After your wool has cooled, peel off the paper backing. I throw those away. (I’m frugal, not crazy.)

 Wool Applique
Following your pattern, diagram, or picture, lay out your pieces. I like to lay out everything all at once, even if there are layers. Some people like to press layer by layer, but I don’t. There is nothing worse than pressing some pieces down, then realizing that something should have been placed under something else. (Believe me.) But, if you like to layer, you go right ahead. Whatever makes you happy.

Be sure to leave enough room around the outside of your block to allow for your 1/4″ seam allowance.

 Wool Applique
After you have placed all your pieces and you are happy with how they look, you can press them down. Very carefully, so as not to move anything, lay your iron down on the pieces and hold it there for 8-10 seconds. Gently move your iron around to fuse all the pieces.

 Wool Applique
Use lots of steam, baby, lots of steam. Just steam the heck out of it. Don’t hold your iron down in one place for too long though, because it is possible to burn your wool! Better to do lots of little pressing motions than one big long burning pressing motion. See my steam?

 Wool Applique
When everything is fused, turn your block over and steam it from the back. (I just realized you can sort of see my reflection in the iron. Good thing I got out of my jammies.)

 Wool Applique
After your block has cooled, you can use your favorite marking tool to draw the flower stems.

 Wool Applique
And look at that! You have yourself a block!

 Wool Applique

To finish your block, blanket stitch with matching thread around each applique shape. I use black thread around the sheep. Stem stitch or back stitch the flower stems.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful, and that you’ll give it a try! And by the way, you can do applique this way with regular cotton fabric too. You can machine or hand blanket stitch around the shapes. If you have any questions leave a comment and I’ll check back to try and answer any questions.

Happy stitching!



About Paula

I'm an Associate Editor at Quiltmaker in Golden, CO. I've been quilting for 18 years, including teaching, long arm quilting, designing, and stash building. I also love to read, run, stitch, play with my boston terrier and spend time with my family.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Wool Applique

  1. Aimee Aimee says:

    Thank you for a great explanation. I was looking online for a similar idea and really appreciate it
    Embroidery Digitizing Services

  2. Karen says:

    Can you machine applique wool? If so, what settings do you use and type of thread? Love your little sheep!!!!!

  3. Pingback: Wool appliqué tutorial : All About Applique

  4. donna c says:

    thanks! do you find that all the ironing flattens out the wool at all? the texture of wool is so yummy, i want to keep it. :)

  5. Wilburn No says:

    I truly got into this post. I found it to be interesting and loaded with unique points of interest. I like to digest material that makes me think. ThanksThank you for writing this great content.

  6. Bob Banik says:

    As a website developer I believe the content here is truly awesome, regards.

  7. Thanks for sharing your post. I am usually searching for new suggestions to improve my business.

  8. Pingback: Snow Days: Do you want to Build a Snowman? | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  9. Pingback: Cut It Out! Brother’s Innovation for Applique | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  10. Pingback: 25 Giveaways: QM Rocks the Blocks | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  11. Pingback: » New and Different ThingsThe Quilter on Osage Hill

  12. judy says:

    So glad I found this tutorial. I had my first lesson in wool applique last week and I am hooked. You gave a lot of good info. that I will be using.
    Thank You

  13. Paula says:

    Hi Sandi,
    Yay!! So glad it worked!! Good luck on all future wool projects. :)
    Happy stitching, Paula

  14. Sandi says:

    WOW! Thanks so much! I steamed it a lot and it went back into shape!! Can’t believe it. You made my day!

  15. Paula says:

    Hi Sandi,
    Without seeing the project I’ll make a couple of suggestions. I would first try to press and steam it with the iron. And steam the heck out of it. Steam and try to manipulate it back into shape and to lay flat. You’d be surprised what you can do with an iron and steam on wool. I’d try that a couple of times. LOTS of steam. If that doesn’t work, then maybe use the backing to help stabilize it. Simple basting to the backing maybe? Or even fusing it to backing? Depends on how brave you are! But first I’d try the steam. Good luck! Let me know how it goes and if you need any more help. Paula

  16. Sandi says:

    Hi, I am finishing up an oval wool table mat that is 19 x 24 inches. Now that I am almost finished, I noticed that the wool has stretched where the curve of the oval is the most pronounced. Is there any way to get this back to the correct shape? It does not lay flat on the table. I have not yet attached the backing to it.

  17. Paula says:

    Hi Mary Ann,
    I don’t use any interfacing on the back of my fabric. I haven’t ever found that I need it. The fused piece of wool is stable enough. And no, I don’t use a hoop-you’re right it would stretch the fabric and make me crazy. Just fuse those pieces and start stitching! Be sure to send me a picture of your project, or you can post it on facebook. If you need any more help, just holler! Paula

  18. Jo King says:

    Oh my Mary Ann, I just bought a wool kit also from the Lancaster Quilt Show. What a wonderful show.
    This is my 2nd wool project I bought Paula and I am just scared to ruin it. Does the heat and bond have a substance that when you iron it to the wool, it holds it in place? I don’t know why this confuses me. I have been working way too many hours and I want to hand sew this project so I can relax the little time I do have. I have the pieces cut out and I had to reverse them so I just need to iron them to the background and start sewing. As an accountant everything needs to be perfect in my world so I just don’t do it.
    Thanks Paula

    • Paula says:

      Hi Jo-
      Yes, the fusible web (whether it’s heat-n-bond, steam-a-seam, soft fuse (my favorite) or other brands, will hold your applique shapes in place after you fuse them. It’s awesome. Hold your iron over the pieces for 5-6 seconds, then check it and do it again if you need to. It’s a piece of cake. Let us know how it goes!! I’d love to see your project! Paula

  19. Mary Ann says:

    Love your instructions. I’ve done a few pieces, with different materials preparation techniques. I’m going to try yours, though, because they make sense. My only question is, do you apply any type of fusible interfacing to the back of the background piece? I’m guessing you do, to give it more stability. Would I use the Soft Fuse for that? Also, I have never used a hoop, as I thought it would stretch my piece beyond repair, and it seems to work out fine not using one. Do you? Thanks a bunch. Just got some darling wool kits at the AQS Show in Lancaster, PA, and I’m dying to get started on them.

  20. Pingback: Fun and Free Wool Tutorials and Beginner Sewing Projects- wool challenge « easy sewing projects, beginner sewing projects, sewing techniques, tips on sewing,

  21. Gabby Quint says:

    Loved your wool appliqué tutorial!

  22. Pingback: Wool appliqué tutorial : All About Applique

  23. Thank you Paula! Have a super day!

  24. Paula says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks! That sheep is actually a version of my block from 100 Blocks vol. 2.

    You can fuse wool to cotton just fine. I’ve done it a lot. I actually have only made a couple of quilts where I fuse wool on wool because it’s so heavy. I usually do that for smaller table runners and projects. For quilts, I’ve done a lot of fusing on cotton and flannel because it’s lighter, cheaper, and easier to handle. Good luck!

  25. So cute! Isn’t that sheep from a volume of 100 Blocks? I think I’ve seen it before. I’ve been drooling over the wool online lately & so want to try it. Do you have to fuse it to a wool background, too, or can you use muslin? Which is better to do?

  26. Paula says:

    Hi Kristin,
    I very rarely wash the quilts with wool applique. When I do, I wash them by hand in the bathtub with very little gentle detergent, then hang to dry.

    Hi Sue,
    When I’ve salvaged wool clothing, I’ve cut it apart first then washed/felted it. I’ve never put the wool in little laundry bags, but the pieces I use are usually big enough that I don’t worry about it. If I were to wash small pieces a laundry bag would be a good idea.
    I’ve mixed wool and cotton in quilts a lot, and it seems to work fine for me. I’ve not made a lot of bed size quilts, but the throw sizes I have made seem to fare fine. They don’t get a lot of use, so I very rarely wash them.

    Good luck to you both!! Paula

  27. Sue Monsey says:

    Thank you for the information about preparing your wool – a friend gave me a wool jacket to use and I haven’t done anything with it yet because I was afraid – should I cut it apart first or just toss the whole think in the washer/dryer and cut it apart afterwards? Do you use those little laundry bags if you cut it apart first? I am new to making my own felted wool and excited to get started. I have done a few projects but they have been kits. Also interested in mixing wools and cottons and how they fair when used in quilts that are not just wall hangings.

    Thanks for all your help.

  28. Kristin M says:

    Quick question… do you have any problems washing the quilts made with cotton and wool together? What washing technique do you use?

  29. Pingback: Free Quilting Pattern; Free Quilting Tips; Free Quilting Techniques | DailyCraft - Your Daily Dose of Arts & Crafts Tips, Projects, & Inspiration. Quilting, Sewing, Knitting, Scrapbooking, Card Making and more!

  30. Claudia says:

    PS. I would have used a press cloth over the pieces when I did my steaming. Guess that is from my old “sewing with wool” days.

  31. Claudia says:

    I have a wool project I plan to make over the summer. It will require some dyeing of fabric, so I’m in the “getting myself organized” phase for that. In digging, I discovered I have lots of wool from my working days, so I think I will be making something other than small applique projects as well. First, I have to rip all those clothes apart to felt the pieces. Just a chuckle… I did rip apart an old white wool skirt (size 8) and a pair of mom’s wool pants (size 14). They would now fit about a 7 yr old!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>