Wool applique – the Aussie way (plus giveaway!)

Picture it: Tasmania, Australia, 1865. Convicts are transported from England to build a church on the island. A spectacular church. Celebrated as a remarkable piece of Australian history throughout the decades, the building goes dormant over time. In 2010, the church is advertised on a real-estate website that two Australian quilters just happen to be browsing. Upon seeing the listing, they know their dreams are about to come true.

Those two Aussie quilters? Leonie Bateman and Deirdre Bond-Abel. After many months of red tape, they received approval to turn the 145-year-old church into a quilt shop.

Anyone looking for an excuse to visit Australia? Here you go.

Aside from being known for their one-of-a-kind store, Leonie and Deirdre—the creators of popular designs from The Quilted Crow—are also known for their glorious wool-appliqué quilt patterns. Their designs blend elegant floral motifs with charming reproduction prints. Hence the name of their new book, Elegant Quilts, Country Charm: Appliqué Designs in Cotton and Wool.

I had the opportunity to ask Leonie and Deirdre a few questions about their stunning wool-appliqué quilt patterns, and about how to do wool appliqué. (See their inspiring work at the bottom of this post.) I also asked them to explain an Australian term they use frequently in their emails to our office. Read on for a bit of Australian culture.

My Quick Q&A with Leonie and Deirdre

Your gorgeous quilts pair wool appliqué with reproduction fabrics. How’d you come up with that combination?

Leonie and Deirdre: We stock both reproduction fabrics and woven wool in our store, and we’re madly in love with both. It was only natural that we put the two together. Wool-on-wool can be quite heavy—and expensive.  Working with just a wool background can limit the way in which you design. By combining cotton and wool, you can achieve a much more interesting background, especially when you use a pieced background.

Your appliquéd motifs are stunning. What’s easier—appliquéing with cotton or appliquéing with wool? What wool-appliqué instructions or tricks do you have up your sleeves?

Leonie and Deirdre: Wool wins hands down! Wool is just so easy to use, especially using our technique of glue stick and staples (simply glue and staple the wool to the background fabric to stabilize appliqué pieces, and then remove the staples when you’re done). The wool we use doesn’t fray, and we never use fusible web. You just trace and cut out your shapes, position them in place, and appliqué away! You don’t need to mess about with turning under any edges. One of the tricks when cutting out your wool is to use a sharp pair of pointed scissors. The ones we use are about 4″ in length and allow us to get right down into a point for a sharp finish. Stems and vines are easily cut with a rotary cutter. Wool is really flexible, which allows you to achieve nice flowing curves.

Australia is such an inspiring source when it comes to innovative quiltmaking. Where do you think that innovation comes from—what makes Australian quiltmakers different?

Leonie and Deirdre: Our personal inspiration comes from American antique quilts! Having said that, we think our isolation allows us to think independently and not follow trends. It wasn’t until we attended Quilt Market in the U.S. that we realized how different we were. There is a lot of architecture throughout Australia that also influences our design aesthetic.

And lastly, I gotta ask . . . The two of you have inspired many people in the Martingale office to use the word “chuffed” on a regular basis. What the heck does it mean?

Leonie and Deirdre: Well, we’re chuffed you asked! We are both very excitable girls, and the word “chuffed” to us means that we are proud, happy, excited, and all of the above! And here’s some more “Australian” just for the team at Martingale:

“Streuth Ruth! We both think that you’re all just the bee’s knees. Fairdinkum!”

Thanks for the lesson in Aussie-speak, ladies—we’re chuffed that you’re chuffed!

So, wool appliqué vs. cotton appliqué—which is easier? Quicker? Prettier? More fun? Share your thoughts in the comments and you could win a copy of the Elegant Quilts, Country Charm eBook! We’ll choose a winner one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won. (You can also purchase Leonie and Deirdre’s book here, and if you do, you can download the eBook for free right away.) Good luck!

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing to win the Elegant Quilts, Country Charm eBook! The randomly chosen winner is Di, who said:

"Strewth girls, I have to agree, wool applique is much easier, none of that turning under and trying to hold it there while you get it stitched, the wool has a richness in colour that I love and also you end up with a much warmer quilt because of the wool applique. Twelve months ago I was a raw recruit to patchwork but as soon as I saw wool I knew I had ‘found’ the way I would go. I was chuffed when I met the two ‘Crows’ just as I am whenever I enter that beautiful church."

Di, we’ll email you a special coupon code for your free eBook. Congratulations!


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