1. Stitching a simple life: Q & A with Maggie Bonanomi (+ special giveaway!)

    Welcome to the warm, woolly world of Maggie Bonanomi, where whimsical wonders await!

    Come on in, take a seat, and enjoy some slow stitching with this celebrated maker—she’ll lead you on a creative journey inspired by a simpler time.

    Pure & Simple

    In Maggie’s world, hand-drawn patterns and hand-dyed wool combine with artful motifs and casual stitches. The result is Pure & Simple, a rustic collection of primitive projects that are a delight to make, use, and enjoy.

    From Pure & Simple

    No fancy skills to learn, no expensive tools to buy: needle, thread, and wool are about all you need to begin. Create pillows, runners and toppers, wall art, and even clever vegetables crafted into sewing essentials—make them in minutes to warm up any nook or cranny.

    Early Radish and Sweet Peas
    Early Radish and Sweet Peas

    A few things to know about Maggie:

    • Her small appliquéd projects feature an indulgent mix of cozy wools, textured linens, and crisp cottons.
    • When stitching her primitive designs, Maggie uses only ONE type and color of thread: Coats and Clark’s Summer Brown (how simple is that?).
    • Maggie uses a whipstitch to appliqué raw-edge shapes. That’s it! No turning under edges. Although she might toss in a sprinkle of embroidery stitches from time to time.

    Little Brown Bird
    Little Brown Bird

    • She prefers hand-dyed wool by Blackberry Primitives, and the colors she uses are listed in Pure & Simple. (We hear Blackberry Primitives will be hosting a sew-along for the book—stay tuned!)
    • Sometimes Maggie uses found items, like twigs and bits of book pages, in her projects. The results are enchanting.

    May Basket Pin Keep
    May Basket pin keep—note how the paper behind the top button transforms it into a flower!

    • You’ll instantly be put as ease once you learn Maggie’s stitching philosophy: perfection isn’t the goal. It’s supposed to be fun, after all!

    Maggie’s simple, casual style will charm you—as all things do when they’re handmade and from the heart.

    We asked Maggie to answer a few questions about her creative life—read her answers below. And don’t miss the opportunity to enter to win a copy of Pure & Simple AND one of three adorable kits from Blackberry Primitives!

    Maggie BonanomiStitch This!: How did you come to write Pure & Simple?

    Maggie: The way Pure & Simple came to be written is a bit of a roundabout. I started to miss writing a book; it had been a few years since my last one. I put together a monthly newsletter, which included a few wool projects that became a monthly girls’ club through the Country Sampler shop in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Once I had contact with Martingale, those projects became part of an idea for a new book. I guess you’d say the rest is history.

    ST!: Your work is known for being primitive, unfussy, and, well . . . pure and simple! Can you tell us more about your aesthetic? How did it develop?

    Maggie: I just find that working with a muted color palette and simple designs is more pleasing to my eye. I design things I’d want to live with.

    Life is Good pillow
    Life Is Good pillow

    ST!: What’s your typical process for designing, and where do you find inspiration?

    Maggie: I can’t say I have a typical process for designing. I may do some simple drawings, I may be inspired by a purchase of some wonderful wool, or there may be an idea for something I want. Inspiration comes from many places. Most often it’s nature and color, and occasionally a scrap on the floor that I see in a different light!

    ST!: It’s obvious that you love wool and hand sewing; what is it that draws you to them over other fabrics and techniques?

    Maggie: Wool, particularly hand-dyed wool, is wonderful to work with. It’s easy. You can cut out a piece and just stitch it down!

    Sunshine on a Stem
    Sunshine on a Stem

    ST!: What do you love about being a designer?

    Maggie: What I love about being a designer is that I’m able to share what I love, simple as that. Well, and getting to travel to places to teach!

    ST!: Tell us about The Purple Turnip!

    Maggie: The Purple Turnip is my studio and shop in Lexington. It’s in a wonderful building on Main Street, built in 1869. It’s only about four blocks from home. It’s a bit antiques/collectibles, old textiles (if I can part with them), ironstone, wool, my books, and an assortment of things I love. The shop is where I can work and also occasionally hold workshops.

    Potted Topiary
    Potted Topiary

    ST!: Finish these sentences for us:

    One reason working with wool is so satisfying is: there are such great colors and textures, and you don’t have to turn under the raw edges!

    If I had a three-word sewing mantra, it would be: stitch, stitch, stitch. It can be very meditative.

    My best tip for new stitchers is: NOT to worry about perfection. A lot of time, and sometimes money, is spent on our projects. The process should be enjoyed, and we don’t need to waste time worrying about how we’re doing.

    Before I begin designing a new project, I must have: the materials I think I might want to use as well as a simple drawing to help direct me.

    If I had a sewing superpower, it would be: being able to get to and make all the ideas I have!

    Many thanks to Maggie for answering our pressing questions—and now for more about that warm-and-woolly giveaway!

    Our friends at Blackberry Primitives generously sent us THREE of the cutest little kits we’ve ever seen! They come with all the wool and ribbon you need to make this pretty White Tulips pillow from Pure & Simple, plus a fun little tape measure too!

    To enter your name in the giveaway to win a kit plus a copy of Pure & Simple, tell us:

    Pure & SimpleHow often do you set time aside for a little slow sewing?

    • As often as I can squeeze it in.
    • At least once a week.
    • Every day!
    • Most of my time is spent speed sewing on the machine—but Maggie’s got me thinking about slowing things down here and there!

    Share your answer in the comments! We’ll choose three random winners one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck! And if you feel like you can’t own Maggie’s slow-sewing book fast enough, order Pure & Simple at our website and instantly download the eBook for free.

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  2. 10 smart tips for quilting like a Sister (aka Me and My Sister Designs!)

    Sometimes it’s fun to venture out and try quilting tools and techniques on your own. But sometimes it saves a lot of time and effort to listen to the pros and follow their lead!

    Me and My Sister DesignsBarbara Groves and Mary Jacobson of Me and My Sister Designs are celebrated for their super-simple patterns that look more complex than they are—they make us all look good! They’ve done their share of trial and error to refine their techniques, and in The Double Wide Dresden Book they share their top 10 tips for making quilting time easier and more efficient (read: more fun!). If you’ve ever dreamed of making Dresdens, this is the book to start with—and these are tips you gotta try, for Dresden quilts or any quilt you make.


    1. We use fine glass-head pins when pinning.

    2. In cases where pins might get in the way, like when edge-stitching around Dresden Plates, 0ur new-found love is a water-soluble fabric glue pen. When gluing, make sure you stitch your project sooner rather than later, so the glue does not dry out and leave you unglued.

    3. There are some great point-turning tools out there and we’ve used many. We always come back to the “Purple Thang” as our favorite.

    4. Scrappy quilts are the best! And the best fabric precut for starting a scrap collection is the Moda Layer Cake. It’s a great size. The largest-size wedge in The Double Wide Dresden Book fits nicely on a 10″ square, with enough fabric left over for some smaller wedges.

    Double Wide Dresden quilt
    Double Wide Dresden

    5. Use a ¼" foot with a guide to keep your seams straight and prevent them from swinging in or out at the ends.

    6. It really helps to starch and press all your fabrics before cutting. Starch provides extra stability to small cuts of fabric and bias cuts. Once your quilt has been quilted and finished, always wash the starch out.

    7. While we usually edge-stitch around the inner and outer points of Dresden Plate designs, edge-stitching is not for everyone. It’s okay to use your favorite machine-appliqué stitch instead. Zigzag and blanket stitches work well also.

    8. We always press seam allowances open when we’re making our Dresden Plate quilts. Your seams will lie flatter and it will be much easier to match points.

    Gift Wrap quilt
    Gift Wrap

    9. Something fun you might try is fussy cutting a print for the wedges when you make quilts from The Double Wide Dresden Book. Now that you have a double-wide wedge, there is more room for fun.

    10. Chain piecing can be fun and save some thread at the same time!

    Beach Ball quilt
    Beach Ball

    The sisters sure do know their stuff! And now that you know what they know, you can create the cute quilts in The Double Wide Dresden Book with ease—pick up a copy of the book and dig in to a Dresden quilt today!

    How many of these tips do you already use in your quiltmaking adventures? Tell us in the comments!

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  3. Almost full! Reserve your spot for the sewing retreat of the summer 🌞

    Have you been putting it off? Still on the fence? We’re nearly full—the time to snag your spot for Moda & Martingale’s Quiltstock Retreat is NOW!

    Take a load off—no need to stress about your stay with us! Here are just a few of the things WE will be doing for YOU at this one-of-a-kind retreat:

    WE will provide YOU with a sewing machine—no need to bring yours (unless you can’t live without it—we understand).

    WE will come to YOU for all four classes—set up camp in the classroom and stay awhile! All five world-class teachers will come to you. Have you met them yet?

    Learn the tips and tricks that help the designers you admire stitch and quilt with style. They’re sharing their secrets at the retreat, and YOU will have a front row seat to learn what they know!

    WE will supply YOU with books from all five designers—you can take them home with you!

    WE will keep YOU entertained with plenty of surprises, prizes, and nightly events that’ll have your sewing machine humming and the joy rolling.

    WE will spoil YOU with plenty of time to mix and mingle, socialize and sew, and laugh and let loose—doesn’t that sound dreamy?

    WE will send YOU home with a limited-edition Quiltstock 2018 Goodie Bag (with a retail value of more than $250). Be sure to leave room in your suitcase—you’re gonna need it for all the goodies we’ve got for you!

    WE will provide YOU with seven meals during your stay. Yep, all included!

    WE can’t wait to give YOU the royal treatment
    as our honored retreat guest!

    Click here to learn more about the retreat and to sign up—before all the spots are gone!

    Got a question about the retreat? Ask away in the comments!

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  4. ’Tis the season for stitching: ring it in with Kathy Schmitz (+ fabric giveaway!)

    We counted (well, with a little help from Google). It’s 198 days until winter begins—and you know it’ll creep up on us all!

    Now’s the time to choose relaxing days of slow stitching over the crazy-fast pace of the most anticipated season (and holiday) of the year. Before the busyness can get the best of us, best-selling author Kathy Schmitz comes to the rescue with the perfect collection of wintry projects for you to start embroidering right now!

    Stitches from the Yuletide

    In Stitches from the Yuletide, you’ll find Kathy’s spectacular embroidered winter scenes, delightful hand-drawn sketches, and beautiful watercolor paintings in page after page of elegant designs.

    From Stitches from the Yuletide

    Create a pillow, tea towels, wall art, ornaments, and more, all perfect for decorating and gift giving.

    From Stitches from the Yuletide

    Motifs range from jolly snowmen to frolicking reindeer, and Kathy’s adorable birds and bunnies also make a special appearance—they’ll inspire you to hippity-hop into a new project today.

    Bunny Hop Sachet
    So sweet!

    Kathy is here today as our guest writer to tell us more about the latest book in her “Stitches” series.

    Kathy SchmitzSome memories never fade, even after many years. Youthful Christmas memories are some of my favorites. Mom baked cookies (she’s still the best baker I know). She let my sisters and me decorate the Christmas tree with homemade decorations. I was so proud to hang my construction-paper beauties on the boughs. My Christmas stocking was hand knit by my Mom, and it’s something I treasure to this day. One winter we had a big enough snowstorm to sled and build decent snowmen.

    Kathy’s childhood home

    All of these memories came flooding back to me when I started Stitches from the Yuletide. I wanted to design a variety of projects, big and small, that would become memories for other families.

    The Christmas stocking pattern, Oh, Deer!, was a fun one to design. I wanted to challenge myself to do something different from my norm. The ecru thread on the red fabric, filled in with chain stitches, gives the stocking the silhouette I was hoping for, and I was really pleased with how it turned out.

    Oh Deer Stocking
    Oh, Deer! Stocking

    I wanted to include projects in the book that could be completed quickly and would make nice gifts, like the Deck the Boughs Tea Towels. The designs use only four thread colors and basic stitches, but they bring that holiday cheer to the kitchen.

    Deck the Boughs Tea Towels
    Deck the Boughs Tea Towels

    Since I’ve been known to listen to Christmas music in September, which sets the mood to stitch all things wintry, it made sense to add a few projects that might need a bit more time to complete. The Winter Fest Table Runner is just such a project.

    I tried a new stitch for me, the angled blanket stitch, on the leaves. I also tackled satin-stitch berries—168 satin-stitched berries, to be exact! Stitching the berries was actually pretty easy once I did a bit of prep. The tip I give in the book is to fuse red fabric circles the size of the berries onto the fabric first. Then satin stitch over the red circles. This makes the berries perfectly round and they look fantastic!

    Winter Fest Table Runner
    Winter Fest Table Runner

    I hope you find some projects in Stitches from the Yuletide to add to your family traditions!

    Follow Kathy online:
     Website  Facebook  Instagram

    Thank you for sharing your latest book with us, Kathy! You can find all of Kathy’s books in her “Stitches” series here.

    We have a lovely fat-quarter bundle of Kathy’s Oak Grove Lane fabrics for Moda and a copy of Stitches from the Yuletide to give away to one lucky winner today!

    To enter the random drawing, tell us:

    When do you typically start your holiday stitching?

    • I start my winter/holiday themed projects in the fall.
    • I started mine on December 26th of last year.
    • Oh, let’s see . . . around December 24th?

    Leave your answer in the comments to enter—we’ll choose a winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck! And if you’re ready to ring in the holidays with Kathy, you can order Stitches from the Yuletide at our website and instantly download the eBook for free.

    Comments are closed for this post.

    Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winner is Heather, who says:

    “Oh God Christmas!!!! I generally start my projects in November then have a mini nervous breakdown in December and buy people things in general despair.”

    We’ll email you about your prize, Heather—congratulations!

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  5. How to make a design wall (for quilting sanity): 3 easy ideas

    You’ve just finished a pretty pile of quilt blocks—you’re ready to put your quilt top together! If you’ve ever tried to twist and turn blocks on the floor or on a table until they’re just right before you join them, you know it can be a hassle. Add a couple of kids breezing by and a pet who just wants to be near you, and all of a sudden your blocks are a jumble. If you remembered to snap a pic of your layout, you’re lucky!

    There’s a better way to build your quilt top, and that’s by using a design wall. You can buy ready-made design walls, but they’re easy to DIY—so why not give it a try? Whether you want to make a design wall for small quilts or build one for bed-sized quilts, one thing we know for sure: once you start using a design wall, you’ll wonder how you ever quilted without it!

    We’ve rounded up three step-by-step tutorials on how to make a design wall for quilting to make it easy for you to give it a try:

    1. Install a permanent design wall with Christa Watson of Christa Quilts:

    Christa attached her design surface to the wall with screws and decorative washers. (Actually, her sweet husband did that part!)

    2. Use adhesive hanging strips to hang a design wall with Samantha of Aqua Paisley Studio:

    Samantha’s tutorial offers ideas for a three-piece design wall and a larger one-piece wall.

    3. Make a foldable, portable design wall with Becky of Patchwork Posse:

    Becky’s way of making a design wall is super simple—once you have your supplies you can get it whipped up in an hour or less!

    >>> For NINE more ideas on how to make a
    design wall for quilting,
    visit this post. <<<

    How do you decide which blocks go where before you sew your quilt tops together?

    • Design wall all the way!
    • I use the floor—good exercise, right?
    • I lay out my blocks on a table.
    • I love making blocks . . . no quilt tops yet!

    Tell us in the comments!

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  6. International Picnic Day is June 18 🌞 choose an easy picnic quilt to make!

    Picnic Tote from Here Comes SpringAre you ready for summer? Outdoor concerts, seasonal festivals, county fairs, picnics at the park, Fourth of July fireworks, trips to the beach . . . aaah! We can hardly wait!

    There’s one essential item you can sew that’ll make all of your outdoor summer adventures more comfortable and colorful—wherever you celebrate summer, you’ve gotta pack a patchwork picnic quilt!

    Picnic quilts are easy to store in the back of a car, so you can take yours anywhere you go. They provide a place to sit and relax, cover an outdoor table, and keep you cozy after the sun goes down. You might already have everything you need to sew it too. A picnic quilt is meant to be used and loved, and it will become entwined with your summer memories. (Isn’t that always what happens with the quilts we make?)

    There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing fabrics for a picnic quilt. Picnic quilts need to be:

    Washable. Since picnic quilts need to be washed often, choose a high-quality quilting fabric that can withstand a bit of rough and tumble.

    Colorful. Stick with busier prints and deeper colors to camouflage smudges and stains from food, dirt, grass, sand, and other summer elements.

    Scrappy. Okay, they don’t have to be scrappy, but a picnic quilt is perfect for putting a dent in your stash! It’s a wonderful way to put those fabrics languishing at the bottom of your fabric piles to good use.

    Here are a few fun quilts to consider making as your 2018 picnic quilt—all of them fast and easy enough to whip up in time for sunny skies on the way.

    Box of Chocolates quilt
    Box of Chocolates by Julie Herman, from
    Skip the Borders. This quick quilt is created with strip sets. Sew, cut, and see what happens next! A quarter-yard each of 32 assorted prints is what you’ll need for the blocks. Your scrap basket awaits!

    The Fourth of July quilt
    The Fourth of July by Sue Pfau, from
    Easy Quilts from Precut Fabrics. Put a patriotic spin on your picnic quilt—red, white, and blue are in style all summer long. This quilt goes together surprisingly fast and the blocks create secondary designs that make it look deceptively complex.

    Building Blocks quilt
    Building Blocks by Amy Ellis, from
    Think Big. Amy’s quilt contains just twenty 18″ x 18″ blocks—you’ll be ready for your first picnic of the summer in no time.

    Fresh Air quilt
    Fresh Air by Pat Sloan, from
    Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Sew Triangles. This beauty is super scrap-friendly and will introduce you to piecing equilateral triangles (if you haven’t sewn them before, don’t worry—anything’s a snap when you’re learning with Pat!). Increase or decrease the width of the border to make the perfect-sized quilt for your picnic companions.

    Pink Daisy quilt
    Pink Daisy by Kate Henderson, from
    Scrappy & Happy Quilts. This quilt grows row by row—into a giant pink daisy! We can envision this design as a picnic quilt with a darker background color. Maybe a happy green or a scrappy blue? And you only need two colors!

    We hope you’re inspired to whip up a quilt for International Picnic Day, and for all those outdoor events you’ll be enjoying this summer! Click here for even more picnic-quilt ideas.

    Where’s your favorite place to picnic?

    • Take me to the beach, stat!
    • You’ll find me at the local park.
    • Summer concert series!
    • No need to go far—the backyard is picnic perfection.

    Tell us your picnic preferences in the comments!

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  7. BIG day: Kim Diehl’s back with a “little” something new (+ fabric giveaway!)

    They’re small, they’re scrappy, they’re heartfelt and happy—Kim Diehl is back with a new batch of quilts on a splendidly small scale!

    Simple Whatnots

    The little quilts in Simple Whatnots have three big benefits: they’re scrap friendly (good!), they’re quick to finish (better!), and they’re as cute as can be (best!). Just try to resist the urge to sew up these little lovelies:

    Quilts from Simple Whatnots

    Create 18 petite quilts in Kim’s signature style while you learn her smart techniques for precise piecing, invisible machine appliqué, and wool appliqué.

    On the Fence quilt
    On the Fence—finished quilt size: 18½" x 18½"
    • finished block size: 2″ x 2″

    Use completed projects as wall quilts and table toppers, or follow Kim’s lead and display projects in other creative ways. As always, Kim shares her “Extra Snippet” sewing tips throughout so that YOU can become a better quilter . . . little by little!

    We’re excited to have Kim as a guest writer today, here to tell us more about her 12th (WOW—do you have them all?) “Simple” book.

    Kim DiehlI’ve been on pins and needles for what seems like FOREVER waiting for the release of my Simple Whatnots book, and the day is finally here!

    What the heck is a whatnot? Well, let me give you a quick 4-1-1.

    Several years ago I was invited to try my hand at fabric design for Henry Glass. Just remembering this makes me want to pinch myself because I still can’t believe it happened. Right away I knew that I wanted my collections to be different than most. Instead of prints that looked very coordinated and planned, my goal was to create fabric lines that looked as though I’d gathered a variety of favorite prints from my scrap basket. Each collection is like a scrap quilt waiting to happen, and you can skip the step of choosing fabrics and jump right into the fun stuff!

    Sunday Supper quilt
    Sunday Supper—finished quilt size: 13½" × 16½"
    • finished block size: 4″ × 4″

    To show the versatility of this scrappy approach, the Simple Whatnots Club was born. For each line of fabric prints, I design a collection of small quilt patterns, which are available through participating quilt shops. Encompassing a wide range of styles, techniques, and skill levels, these mini-quilts are awesome for honing your quiltmaking skills, and their small size means you can finish them without the huge time commitment needed for large quilts.

    True Blue quilt
    True Blue—finished quilt size: 23½" × 23½"
    • finished block size: 6″ × 6″

    Simple Whatnots quiltsAs I’ve shared my Simple Whatnots Club projects through the years, one request continually comes through loud and clear: to make these quilts available to those who don’t have access to the club or who missed the early designs. I’m happy to say that together, Martingale and I have been able to make this happen!

    Simple Whatnots includes some of my favorite designs (which were harder to choose than I can say from the early retired collections!). To sweeten the pot, I’ve included several all-new designs, including things you won’t find in the Club—we’re talking fun threads, French knots, and . . . wool!

    French Pennies
    French Pennies—finished size: approximately 4¾" × 5¼", unframed

    It’s my hope that Simple Whatnots will bring you tons of enjoyment as you stitch and sew, and that you’ll discover good things truly do come in small packages.

    Follow Kim on Instagram

    Thanks for sharing a “little” about your new book with us, Kim!

    Kim Diehl books + Henry Glass fabrics = magic in the making. We’d love to give a little of that magic to one lucky winner today!

    To enter to win a copy of Simple Whatnots plus this pretty bundle of Kim’s Sunday Best fabrics from Henry Glass, tell us in the comments:

    Simple WhatnotsWhat do you do with the little quilts you make?

    • Hang them on walls
    • Drape them on furniture
    • Tuck them into nooks and crannies
    • Quilt stack!
    • All of the above

    We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck! And if you’re ready to start something small with Kim today, order Simple Whatnots at our website and instantly download the eBook version for free.

    Comments are closed for this post.

    Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winner is Jilly, who says:

    “I’m  going to make them all to line my hallway to the bedrooms…..so beautiful…..”

    We’ll email you about your prize, Jilly—congratulations!

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  8. Wondering about wool? 2 wool-applique tutorials to inspire your stitching

    Wool is all the rage in sewing circles, but if you’re new to working with wool you might have some questions: how to find it, how to felt it, and how to sew with it. We’ve got the answers to all of your fuzzy-wuzzy wool questions today!

    Debbie Busby’s book Sew Many Notions is all about celebrating wool and celebrating sewing. In the following excerpt from Debbie’s book, she explains the three kinds of wool to seek out, and also shares how she felts wool to create a dense, textured fabric that promises to never unravel. We’ve also got a video of Debbie sewing with wool—sew easy, and so pretty too!

    (And by the way, if you’ve ever referred to appliqué as the “A” word, you’ve got to give these wool-appliqué tutorials a try—it’s the easiest way to embrace appliqué!)

    Wool Appliqué
    Excerpted from Sew Many Notions by Debbie Busby

    If there’s anything you should know about wool appliqué, it’s this: it’s fun, easy, quick, and addicting! There are no edges to turn, no right or wrong sides, and no worries about fabric grainline. It’s one of the simplest and most forgiving forms of appliqué.

    Wool appliqué is very portable, so you can work on it almost anywhere. It’s so easy and relaxing that you can visit with a friend and not lose your place while stitching. Small wool projects are fun to work on with a group around a table, and they don’t take up much room.

    Types of Wool

    All of the projects in Sew Many Notions are made with 100% wool that has been felted. When choosing and purchasing wool, you have a few options.

    New wool or wool off the bolt. New wool, cut off the bolt, can be found at fabric stores, woolen mills, and quilt shops. The wool comes in a variety of weights, textures, and colors. When choosing wool off the bolt, look for fabric that is at least 80% wool, or it won’t felt. My recommendation is to choose 100% wool whenever possible. Suit-weight wools tend to be too light, and coat-weight wools are too heavy. Wool cut from the bolt will need to be felted before using. (See “Felting Wool” below for directions.)

    Found or repurposed wool. You can also look for wool at garage sales, estate sales, thrift shops, and in Grandma’s attic in the form of blankets, jackets, skirts, and more. It can be hard to know what percentage of wool is in a found piece if there’s no label. You can experiment to see if it felts. If the piece is a garment, take it apart before you felt it and be aware that if it has fusible interfacing, it won’t felt. The best finds are wool skirts and lightweight wool blankets. Found wool can be used as is, or you can overdye it.

    Hand-dyed wool. Hand-dyed wool is my favorite. Although hand-dyed wool can be expensive, it has already been felted through the dyeing process. It’s ready to use and very convenient. Hand-dyed wools are soft and wonderful to stitch, plus they offer many different texture and color options. Look at your projects as works of art and heirlooms that you will pass down, and the cost will be worth it.

    Felting Wool

    Felting wool requires moisture, agitation, and heat. When these things are applied to the woven wool, it shrinks the wool fibers and makes them mat together, which eliminates raveling. Most wool shrinks about 10% to 20% depending on the fabric, the water temperature, the length of the agitation, and the dryer temperature. The longer you agitate and the hotter the setting, the thicker the wool will become. Be careful not to overdo it or your wool will become too thick and stiff to use for appliqué.

    When felting, sort your wool pieces by color or by lights and darks. I felt wool using a small amount of laundry soap and a normal wash cycle, using hot water followed by a cold rinse. If you have loosely woven wool, you may want to run it through twice or on a longer cycle. Dry the wool in a hot dryer and remove it promptly, as over-drying can cause set-in wrinkles. Felting wool can produce a lot of lint, so be sure to clean out the lint trap.

    As with any creative endeavor, having the right tools can make the job easier and more fun. You can find my tool recommendations in Sew Many Notions.

    Now that you know all you need to know about wool types and how to felt wool, the only other thing you need to know is how to sew wool! It couldn’t be easier—visit this post for a step-by-step tutorial on appliquéing wool. (No turning under edges, no fancy stitches, no unraveling. No sweat!)

    You can also watch Debbie Busby’s how-to video for using a blanket stitch to appliqué on wool here—easy as can be.

    Reading this post in email? Click here to view the video.

    Here’s what Stitch This! readers say about sewing with wool:

    “I like that you don’t have to use bondable web and you don’t have to turn the edges under the appliqués. I love the primitive look.”  —Barbara

     “Wool appliqué has a rich feeling. It is very forgiving when stitching it to another fabric. The colors are so wonderful.”  —Patricia

     “I have absolutely fallen in love with wool appliqué. Rather than do a buttonhole stitch around every edge, I use a whipstitch on big pieces and decorative embroidery stitches to hold smaller pieces in place. It is faster, takes less thread, and doesn’t distract from the design.”  —Janet

    Browse more books full of wool-appliqué projects here.

    Are you ready to give wool appliqué a try—or are you already head over heels in love with wool? Tell us in the comments!

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  9. Only the best for Mom 💖 12 heartfelt gift ideas for Mother’s Day

    Mother’s Day is right around the corner—Sunday, May 13. How will you pamper the moms in your life this year?

    We say there’s no better way to say “I love you” than by sharing your creativity and talent—by choosing handmade, of course! We’ve gathered some memorable Mother’s Day project and gift ideas for you today, sure to make Mom say, “Wow!”

    For the mom who loves to stitch (as much as you do):

    Daisy Chain Sewing Notions
    Daisy Chain Sewing Notions from
    A Cottage Garden

    And the mom who’s an awesome cook.

    Sunday Supper
    Sunday Supper from
    Simple Whatnots

    For the mom who loves to dream:

    A Quilter’s Journal
    A Quilter’s Journal by Lisa Bongean

    And the mom who loves to travel.

    Pretty Pinwheel Clutch
    Pretty Pinwheel Clutch from
    Lunch-Hour Patchwork

    For moms with green thumbs:

    Garden Tote
    Garden Tote from
    Super Cute Paper Piecing

    And moms with sewing spaces.

    Homespun Sampler
    Homespun Sampler from
    Sew Many Notions

    For the mom who loves her hexies:

    From The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar
    The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar

    And for the mom who’s made your life good:

    Life is Good Pillow
    Life Is Good pillow from
    Pure & Simple

    Our gorgeous, hardcover coffee table books (we straight-up call ’em our “beauty books” in the office!) are a perfect Mother’s Day gift that she’ll enjoy for many more Mother’s Days to come:

    American Quilt Treasures Minick and Simpson Blue & WhiteA Common Thread Stitches to Savor
    Click on a cover to see more details about each book.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who meet us here at Stitch This! We hope your day is as special as you are!

    How do you celebrate Mother’s Day: a fancy meal out, a homemade meal in, a picnic, a party? Tell us in the comments!

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  10. Wish List Day! Fat quarters, doodles, mending, and embroidery (+ giveaway!)

    Welcome to Wish-List Day! We’ve got a fun sneak peek for you—a look at new books coming your way in June (including one from yours truly!). Keep track of the books you want by using the “Notify Me” and “Wish List” options at ShopMartingale. Browse the latest batch of Martingale books below—then enter to win your favorite at the end of this post!

    Subscribe to our blog and you’ll always be first to see new Martingale quilt books, plus special sales, freebies, tutorials, and more.

    Fat-Quarter FavoritesFat-Quarter Favorites
    13 Eye-Catching Quilts You’ll Love to Make
    Compiled by Karen M. Burns

    Fat-quarter fans: start your sewing engines! Find fun ways to use more of your fat quarters in this all-new collection of fat-quarter-friendly designs. Take those fun little chunks of fabric in fantastic new directions, trying fresh spins on classic quilt blocks such as Jacob’s Ladder, Churn Dash, and Pinwheel. Or, take a page from nature’s design book and turn fat quarters into fabric flower gardens or sparkling stars. Dive into a variety of fun techniques, including traditional piecing and fusible appliqué. With today’s popular designers leading the way (including Melissa Corry, Sherri K. Falls, Roseann Kermes, Katja Marek, Peta Peace, and Christa Watson), it’s easier than ever to have fun with fat quarters!

    From Fat-Quarter Favorites

    See more fat-quarter faves >

    180 More Doodle Quilting Designs180 More Doodle Quilting Designs
    Free-Motion Ideas for Blocks, Borders, and Corners
    Compiled by Karen M. Burns and Amelia Johanson

    Doodle quilting has taken the quilt world by storm—and here are 180 more doodle designs at your fingertips! In this sequel to the best seller 180 Doodle Quilting Designs you’ll learn to free-motion quilt in three easy steps: trace a doodle, draw a doodle, and quilt a doodle with ease. Tracing and drawing help your eyes, hands, and muscles learn a motif. All three parts work together to create delightful doodles in thread! Design sets for blocks, borders, and corners include lines, waves, squiggles, loops, curves, pebbles, swirls, curls, feathers, flowers, and more, while an introductory section sets you up for success. There’s never been a better time to discover this fun way to machine quilt.

    From 180 More Doodle Quilting Designs

    A doodle a day keeps the UFOs away >

    Visible MendingVisible Mending
    Artful Stitchery to Repair and Refresh Your Favorite Things
    Jenny Wilding Cardon

    Rip in your jeans? Snag in a sweater? Tear in a tea towel? They all present an opportunity for one-of-a-kind creativity! With this fun introduction to unconventional mending techniques in a format that’s half how-to guide, half idea book, anyone can give worn and torn items new life. Start by learning hand-mending methods, including boro, embroidery, patching, and darning. Then rev up the sewing machine for fast mends that put the pedal to the metal. Even with a limited budget and not much time to spare, you can create eye-catching repairs with visible mending—35 examples and more than 150 photos make it easy to put your unique mark on everything you mend.

    From Visible Mending

    Repair it and wear it! See more >

    Floral Motifs to EmbroiderFloral Motifs to Embroider
    Reiko Mori

    Visit an exquisite embroidered garden in this awe-inspiring book from Japanese master embroidery artist Reiko Mori. In seven chapters, Ms. Mori shares an abundance of motifs inspired by flowers, from delicate sprigs and bouquets to climbing vines and perching birds. Blossoms as showy as roses and as modest as dandelions become masterpieces under Ms. Mori’s hand. Themes within each chapter showcase each embroidered bloom. Delicate bridal accessories, precious teapots and teacups, a ballet slipper, and an astonishing floral alphabet are just a few of the elements embellished with elaborate floral embroidery. A guide to embroidery-floss colors, essential notions and tools, basic techniques, and a how-to library of embroidery stitches will help aspiring embroidery artists find success.

    From Floral Motifs to Embroider

    Take your embroidery to a whole new level >

    Which book above would make you jump for joy in June? Tell us in the comments and you could win it when it’s released! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

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