Wool applique on your longarm

April 30, 2013

The robins are tweeting, the tulips are popping and the flip-flops are flapping with the arrival of spring. Now you can evaluate your winter wardrobe and decide what to donate to the local charities, just don’t throw out your wool jacket! In fact, when you take your serviceable clothes to the thrift store, shop around for wool skirts, pants and jackets. You can take them home to felt in your washing machine and applique with your longarm!

Did you know you can felt wool right in your regular wash machine?

The process will produce tons of lint. If you have a drain concern for your washer, use a lint trap on the discharge hose and carefully clean out that lint trap frequently. You can felt the entire garment at once, but you may find it much more useful to cut the garment apart along the seams. Remove buttons, zippers, lining, etc. Then put the pieces in a mesh bag to prevent strings from tangling. Felt like colors together – don’t mix lights and darks to prevent fading. Use a hot water wash, cold rinse cycle. Some experts recommend air drying the wool pieces. However, if you want densely packed wool, put it in your dryer and continue to check the lint trap every few minutes.

Once wool is felted, it will not unravel! Now you can cut out your applique patch, using temporary spray baste to adhere it to your project. And you can get creative in your stitching. You can stitch the patch down simply by sewing close to the raw edge with your longarm. Or, you can simulate a blanket stitch. Set your stitch length very small. Stitch along the patch on the background fabric for about 1/4-inch, then move onto the patch at a right angle, stitching into the patch about 1/4-inch. Stitch back out on the same line, and travel on the background fabric again.

You can even quilt tiny circles along the raw edge, quilt cute scallops, or whatever design you choose. For bigger impact, use a heavier thread to do your stitching. As you practice, you’ll get more accurate, but for your first project you may wish to use thread that matches your applique piece so that your wobbles won’t be quite so noticeable. Most importantly, have fun!