Appliqué amateur? Go pro with easy wool appliqué (+ fabric giveaway!)

Twin Beauties from My Enchanted GardenLove the appliqué look, but flustered by technique? Award-winning designer Gretchen Gibbons has your solution: appliqué with wool. With no raw edges to worry about—plus the ability to pin, glue, or staple (yes, staple) appliqué patterns to background fabrics—wool will simplify your appliqué to the point of practically making you a pro, even on your first try.

In Gretchen’s latest book, My Enchanted Garden, appliquéd flowers, birds, and animals gather in a celebration of nature. Both hand-dyed wools and quilting cottons combine to create a feast for the eyes—and the perfect excuse to enjoy some slow sewing. Try one of her small wool-appliqué quilt patterns first, or dive right into a block from Gretchen’s glorious feature quilt:

My Enchanted Garden quilt
“My Enchanted Garden”

We hear your gasps…that’s the same reaction we had!

Now, don’t you think for one minute that you don’t have the skills to complete this beauty. Gretchen is here today to tell you that even beginners can learn how to do wool appliqué, and do it well. How does she know? She’s taught those beginners herself. Welcome, Gretchen!


Weeks Dye WorksGIVEAWAY ALERT! Our friends at Weeks Dye Works have provided six luxurious wool fat quarters to give away to you! Find out how you can win these beautiful fabrics PLUS a copy of My Enchanted Garden at the bottom of this post.

Wool fabrics from Weeks Dye Works


Gretchen GibbonsI love working with wool! It’s so easy, portable, fast, soft, and gorgeous.  Add some interesting, pretty cottons and you have one beautiful quilt!

I was teaching a fairly complicated wool-and-cotton appliqué project the other day and had three beginners in the class. They all expressed concern about how difficult the project looked and their ability to keep up with the rest of the class. I assured them that working with wool would be a more relaxing, not-as-precise way to quilt than piecing.

There are several reasons wool appliqué is so easy and forgiving. First, it takes a minimal amount of time and prep work before you start to sew on your project. You begin by tracing appliqué shapes onto freezer paper and cutting them out. Next, you iron them onto the appropriate wool and cut out the shapes. Baste the shapes onto the background by pinning, spot gluing, or stapling. There are no edges to turn, you can use either side of the wool, and you don’t have to worry about grain lines. A blanket stitch is used to sew the shapes to the background. In no time at all your beautiful wool project is done and you’ll be looking for more! My three newbies did really well and they left the class happy and excited to continue their new-found love of appliqué with wool.

Projects from My Enchanted Garden

Small quilts from My Enchanted Garden
Small projects from
My Enchanted Garden

Where did I get this love for wool? I live in an 18th-century home and saw where wool projects might blend well with my eclectic decorating style. When I was looking to make something for my home I designed a quilt called “Gretchen’s Garden,” which was my first big wool project. It featured a wool background with wool appliqué. That quilt became a block-of-the-month class at the quilt shop where I worked. I loved working on it so much that I designed another wool block-of-the-month quilt for the shop called “Pennies from Heaven.” It was a big hit!

My Enchanted GardenA year later “Pennies from Heaven” was accepted into Country Living magazine’s 30th Anniversary Quilt Exhibit, which traveled for a year to quilt shows around the US. With encouragement from an author friend, I started writing my first book, Pennies from Heaven. It was released by Martingale in November of 2010.  It was all very exciting!

This brings me to my new book, My Enchanted Garden. Back in 2010 while working at my local quilt shop, I was inspired by an appliqué quilt that was made in the 1850s called “Bird of Paradise.” I started to design a block-of-the-month quilt around that idea. During this time I was introduced to hand-dyed wools. I remember my wool dyer coming into the quilt shop with bags full of yummy, gorgeous wools in every colorway. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I decided that not only was I going to use these stunning hand-dyed wools, but I was going to add cotton appliqué as well.

Wool-applique quilt blocks from My Enchanted Garden
Detail of blocks from Gretchen’s “My Enchanted Garden” quilt

I became excited as I picked out beautiful, charming, interesting, and crazy cotton fabrics to add to my wool appliqués. It made the quilt come alive like I had never seen before. I could have my gorgeous wools and add some of the great cottons that are available today.

Now I’m sharing it all with you in My Enchanted Garden. In the book I’ve included eight additional wool/cotton projects. They all reflect my love of nature, wool and cotton appliqué, and my quest to always celebrate life! So give wool and cotton appliqué a try. I think you’ll like it! I hope you join me in “my enchanted garden.”


Thanks for your appliqué encouragement, Gretchen—we’d love to join you in your garden!

Have you tried wool appliqué? How do you compare it to appliquéing with cotton? Share your thoughts in the comments and you could win a copy of My Enchanted Garden PLUS the six wool fat quarters from Weeks Dye Works! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

Comments are closed for this post.

Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winner is Susan, who writes:

“I enjoy wool applique – it’s very forgiving. Gretchen your quilts are lovely.”

Susan, we’ll email you about your prize. Congratulations!


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