Wool appliqué: try it today (tutorial)

Wool applique tutorial

If you already know the joys of doing wool appliqué, you’re not the least surprised it’s enjoying a comeback (plus you’re right on trend!). If you haven’t yet experienced it, there are good reasons to give it a try now. Wool is soft to handle, easy to stitch, and it doesn’t fray. The color options are abundant, whether you repurpose an old skirt or purchase some gorgeous new hand-dyed pieces at your local quilt shop.

From Elegant Quilts, Country Charm From Pennies from Heaven
Projects from Elegant Quilts, Country Charm and Pennies from Heaven

It’s so easy to add wool appliqué to cotton patchwork, and felted-wool projects have a warmth and depth that’s hard to achieve with cotton alone. Ready to find out for yourself? The tutorial below will help you get started.

Wool-appliqué tutorial

From Elegant Quilts, Country Charm by Leonie Bateman and Deirdre Bond-Abel

For best results, use felted wool made from 100% wool fibers. That is, woven fabric that’s washed in hot water and dried with heat, resulting in soft, fluffy fabric. This is not the same as wool felt, which is made up of wool fibers that have been compressed together rather than woven. Wool felt can’t be laundered as successfully as felted wool.

Note: the process for wool-on-cotton appliqué and wool-on-wool appliqué is the same.

1. Trace each appliqué shape onto the dull side of a piece of freezer paper, leaving approximately ¼" to ½" between the shapes. Roughly cut out each shape. With the shiny side down, iron each shape onto the right side of a piece of wool using a dry iron. Try not to press too hard on the wool—you don’t want to flatten the fabric too much.

2. Carefully cut out each piece along the drawn line and remove the freezer paper. Your shapes are now ready to place on the background piece.

Wool-applique instructions

3. Apply a dab of glue to the wrong side of each appliqué shape. Gently press the shapes into place on the background, working from the bottom layer up.

4. Once all the pieces are in place, staple them (yes, staple them!) for a firm hold. Sometimes the glue alone isn’t enough to keep the pieces in place during the stitching. Stapling works beautifully: it’s quick, the staples are easy to remove with your fingers, and because the wool is self-healing, no marks are left on the appliqués.

5. Use a blanket stitch to appliqué the pieces in place using matching thread. Remove the staples.

Blanket stitch

That’s all there is to it!

To help you get started, check out the wide range of projects and tons of inspiration in these books.
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From Elegant Quilts Country Charm
Elegant Quilts, Country Charm by Leonie Bateman and Deirdre Bond-Abel: In addition to quilts in various sizes, projects include pillows, framed pieces, and this stunning scarf.

See more wonderful wool projects from Elegant Quilts, Country Charm >

From Pennies from Heaven
Pennies from Heaven by Gretchen Gibbons: The book’s title comes from the fabulous quilt that graces the cover, but there’s even more to explore than that richly textured quilt. Gretchen designed eight more projects using her quilt as a jumping-off point.

Make table mats, wall hangings, a curtain valance, and more >

From My Enchanted Garden
My Enchanted Garden by Gretchen Gibbons: Here’s another breathtaking floral quilt from Gretchen, this time with fanciful birds and sweet little creatures stitched in cotton batiks. In addition to the quilt on the cover, you’ll find a collection of beautifully stitched and embellished smaller projects.

Don’t miss the hopping bunny pillow! See all nine projects >

Want more wonderful wool projects?

Find more wool-appliqué patterns plus gorgeous, inspiring photos in Country Elegance, the latest book from Leonie Bateman and Deirdre Bond-Abel.

From Country Elegance

Have you tried wool applique? What do you like best about it? Tell us in the comments.


25 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I love wool applique–so addictive!!

    —Karen in Breezy Point on June 15, 2015
  • I like that you don’t have to use bonable web on it and you don’t have to urn the edges under the appliqués I love the primitive look and the blanket stich on it.

    —Barbara on June 15, 2015
  • Wool applique has a rich feeling. It is very forgiving when stitching it to another fabric. Colors are so wonderful.

    —Patricia D. Roberts on June 15, 2015
  • I have absolutely fallen in love with wool applique’. Rather than do buttonhole stitch around every edge, though, I use a whip stitch on the big pieces and then decorative embroidery stitches to hold the smaller pieces in place. It is faster, takes less thread and doesn’t distract from the design as much as adding lots of buttonhole stitches has a tendency to do.

    —Janet on June 15, 2015
  • I love wool applique because I can usually bring the smaller pieces with me so I always have something to quilt – even on a trip. The wool is fun to work with and the end product is beautiful.

    —Patty on June 15, 2015
  • I have not tried wool. It’ll be my next adventure in quilting.

    —Eileen on June 15, 2015
  • No, I have never used wool but I love the rich colours, going to have to try it.

    —Sunnybec on June 15, 2015
  • Wool applique has been on my want to try list for a long time. My problem is finding the wool. I’d like a kit, but the kits I"ve seen available aren’t that nice 😛 Any for the above project..now that I’d do! Do you know of any great sources for nice kits?

    Hi Mickey, thanks for your question. The author of My Enchanted Garden and Pennies from Heaven sells wool kits on her website; take a look and see what you think! –Jenny

    —Mickey Louth on June 15, 2015
  • Have never tried wool applique but look forward to do so in the future because I love the texture and the richness of color of the wools.

    —Kate on June 15, 2015
  • I recently made a Pisanki egg in preparation for Easter and enjoyed the bright wool colours I used and of course, just quietly sitting and stitching. Wool is very supple and nice to work with and using DMC threads made it possible to choose complementary colours. I liked my egg.

    —Terri McCallum on June 15, 2015
  • I haven’t tried wool applique as yet, but looks fantastic…will just have to purchase some wool and start in…:)

    —Jeanette S on June 15, 2015
  • Over the past couple of years, I have picked up wool applique. I love it also. Love the feel of the wool, love the colors of the wool, love how easy it is to hand sew. Mostly made a few small items but hope to do more.

    —Karen L. on June 15, 2015
  • I have never tried wool applique…would love to try…

    Susan Paxton on June 15, 2015
  • Have done wool applique for many years.
    I collect wool from re-sale shops and dye and felt it myself.

    —Jan Donovan on June 15, 2015
  • I love the ease of not having to turn under the edges. Also when I started doing it, I discovered wool thread and love the wool-on-wool look. Although wool stitched with Perle is also nice!

    Vivian on June 15, 2015
  • I have yet to try any applique but would like to try wool applique. I like the warm fuzzy look.

    —Diana O. on June 15, 2015
  • I love wool applique. A friend taught a class about a year ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s so easy and the texture it gives the finished piece is wonderful. I’ve made 2 quilts using wool applique and get compliments on them all the time. I collect wool from resale shops and felt it myself, it’s the fun of the hunt to find certain colors. Need to learn how to dye my own wool.

    —connie b on June 16, 2015
  • I have not tried working with wool just yet. I am thinking about maybe finding a kit that I could work on this next winter as I love to do hand work at night in the winter time.

    —Renea on June 19, 2015
  • Love it! Plus it’s relaxing and portable..

    —barb on June 19, 2015
  • I’ve not tried wool appliqué yet but purchased a small wall hanging kit that I hope do accomplish soon.

    —Gail Kelly on June 20, 2015
  • I love doing wool work (even though I’m somewhat allergic – I take an allergy pill and sometimes need to wear those thin, plastic gloves but it’s worth it). Anyway I especially love the ease of not having to turn edges under and the soft, rich colors it comes in.

    —Janet Spaid on June 23, 2015
  • I’ve never done wool application but I am anxious to try. I have a stash of nice wool pieces from clothing projects so I will have to give it a go soon!

    —sharon on June 23, 2015
  • Gorgeous!!

    Kim on June 26, 2015
  • I love wool applique but the problem is where to find the wool. No one seems to carry it in the quilt shops here. I search online and find wool fabrics but not felted and are for garment sewing. Any ideas where to purchase wool?

    —Linda on June 29, 2015
  • I’ve tried two very small projects but I want to feel more accomplished. Thank you for this tutorial.

    —Renee Welton on March 20, 2016

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