Designing & Playing with Wool

Designing & Playing with Wool

By Judy Moore Pullen

If one plays around with fabric and threads, one can discover her own inner creative child, which is what gracious members of the Wimberley Quilt Guild in Wimberley, Texas, did last week. I had been invited to do a lecture and trunk show featuring wool applique, followed by an afternoon workshop. I passed around samples of hand applique using felted wool from the bolt and re-cycled wool. We also cooked/over-dyed wool in crock pots using onion skins, Kool-Aid, and a color transfer technique.

In the afternoon, after a discussion of becoming aware of designs all around us, guild members began thinking and talking about how they could transform several pieces of wool and a bag full of wool scraps into their own personal designs. I just love the process part of a project, and the easy-going interaction of the ladies was an important part of that process. They were encouraged to do “walk-abouts”, and see what others were doing, offer suggestions and comments. Some wanted their design ideas complete before beginning to stitch, while others jumped right in and took needle and thread to fabric.

wool applique prep

Prepping!

Wool applique prep

We also discussed tools: John James and Mary Arden Chenille Needles for wool applique and Tapestry Needles for wrap stitching. Chenille needles work so well with wool. They are strong, have a sharp point, and the shaft opens the fibers of wool so that the thread glides easily through. The elongated eye makes threading easy with Presencia’s Perle Cotton and Embroidery Floss. Tapestry needles are blunt, therefore make sliding the needle under stitches and not penetrating the fabric much easier. Wrapping stitches with contrasting colors of thread with a tapestry needle is part of the fun.

The ladies also played and experimented with Colonial Needle Felting Needles and Box Wool Roving. Needle felting and roving opens up the door to so many design possibilities.

wool roving

Coloinal’s Paint Box Wool

One of the secrets of using roving is to separate the roving into little see-through wisps. Place a piece of wool on a 2”-3” thick block of foam rubber. Layer of wisp of roving on top. Hold the felting needle straight up and down and punch the roving gently into the wool. Add more wisps of different colors to create texture. Gently sweep the tip of the needle against the wisps to make shapes. Couch with Presencia Perle Cotton or Embroidery Floss in a variegated or solid color if you desire.

Eleanor, who is going into the second grade this fall, created a one-of-a-kind piece of over-dyed wool by layering 3 colors of 100% wool and brown onion skins.

Eleanor's Dyed Wool

Eleanor showing off her dyed wool

She rolled up the layers and tied the bundle with strips of wool, then cooked the bundle in a crock pot. She also had great fun cutting her own shapes of wool and stitching with Perle Cotton. Eleanor took to needle felting and hand applique like a proverbial duck to water.

wool applique

“Just Play and have fun!”

Just play and have fun! If it is not perfect and you are, call it a one-of-a-kind piece of folk art. You will improve with practice and play. In my opinion, there is great value in work done by the human hand and not “perfect”. I was so inspired by Eleanor and all of the gracious members of the Wimberley Quilt Guild. They are great teachers, eager to learn, and demonstrate great community spirit and creativity.

Playing with Needle and Thread

Playing with Needle and Thread

By Judy Moore Pullen

Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting a program on “The Wonderful World of Wool” at the Colorado Valley Quilters’ Guild in La Grange, Texas, home of the Texas Quilt Museum. What an amazing group of ladies whose hearts and hands serve not only their families, but their community as well. Many serve as docents for the museum, provide books and quilts for families, and share their talent and creativity with others.

One of the wonderful things about wool is that I can play with threads. John James Chenille Needles, sizes 18-26 provide the opportunity to use beautiful Presencia Finca Floss and all sizes of Presencia Perle Cotton threads.

I have convinced myself that the older I get, the bigger my number, the “finer” I get. This helps me remember that the bigger the number, the finer the thread and hand sewing needles. Machine sewing needles are just the opposite. Presencia Perle Cotton threads, sizes 3, 5, 8, 12, and 16 are the same: the bigger the number the finer, smaller the diameter of the thread.

John James Chenille Needles have a larger, very smooth shaft that opens the fibers on wool. Those wool fibers of course, close again after the thread is pulled through. Presencia Perle Cotton size 5 can easily be threaded through the elongated eye of a size 18 chenille needle. Try playing with a combination of a strand or 2 or 3 of Presencia Finca Floss with a contrasting color of Presencia Perle Cotton and stitch at the same time. Perhaps you would like to test this thread combination on a scrap of wool before stitching on your project or throw caution to the wind and just begin stitching!

I also like to play with what I call a “wrap” stitch. I sew a running stitch line of Perle Cotton size 8, solid color, on a scrap of wool, making my stitches about ¼” long. With a contrasting color of Perle 8 and a John James Tapestry Needle, size 22, I come up from the back of the wool at the bottom of the line of stitching. Then I slide the needle just under the first thread from right to left, not stitching through the wool.  A tapestry needle is dull, so I can easily slide my needle under the next stitch, right to left, and continue with this pattern.  Try it, and take a look at what you have created. Consider doing the “wrap” down the line of running stitches to where you began with yet another color of contrasting thread.  Think of all the times you can use these great decorative applique stitches and have fun while playing.

quilting, applique

Wool applique wrap stitch example

quilting, applique

Up-close view of wool applique using Presencia threads

I think we have some new wool applique enthusiasts from the Colorado Valley Quilt Guild. They also seemed to enjoy seeing all the options and surprises that can result from playing with needles and threads. The choices are endless, and the process is fun and rewarding.

Happy stitching,

Judy Moore Pullen

The joy of sewing – “Learning with Quilts”

The joy of sewing – “Learning with Quilts”

Judy Moore Pullen

Oh, boy!  Oh, joy!  I spent the better part of today visiting with like-minded friends organizing quilts and books for the new school year.  “Learning with Quilts” is one of the community service projects of our Highland Lakes Quilt Guild here in the heart of the Texas hill country.  We select children’s books that are quilt-related, make the accompanying quilts, and distribute them to seven elementary schools in the area.  Those of us who met today are retired educators who have a passion for quilts, books, and of course helping children.  There are some wonderful quilt-related books available with great themes.  Some of the books are about people of other cultures or other countries.  Some are historical fiction or seasonal.  All have themes of core values like kindness, making do, or problem solving.

the tortilla quilt

‘The Tortilla Quilt’ – One of this year’s “Learning with Quilts” books

Making quilts that accompany the books is sometimes a challenge, as there are rarely patterns or instructions for the quilt.  However, brainstorming, teamwork, and drawing on the specific talents of some of our quilter friends, the process of making the quilts is great fun.  We have quite a list of books but are always looking for new titles.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Now, to spend the evening hand quilting an orphan block that will become a table topper, while listening to a good book.  Oh, boy!  Oh, joy!

Happy stitching,

Judy Moore Pullen

Roxanne’s Glue Baste-IT

Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It

New 2-way Applicator

Stick With Me Baby!

New Glue Baste-It Applicator

As if Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It can get any better! At last Spring’s wholesale Quilt Market, Colonial Needle unleashed yet another new applicator for their superb quality Roxanne product, Glue Baste-It. The go-to glue for many crafters, Glue Baste-It is especially appropriate for use with fabrics. The glue is water-soluble but holds firmly until you wash it. It’s ph neutral so it won’t change the color of your fabric. Best of all, it dries clear in a couple of minutes.

Now, the new 2-way applicator bottle gives crafters several application choices. Need tiny little dots of glue? Use the small tip and dot-dot-dot. If you need a wider swath of glue, turn the bottle over and smear with the wide tip. And if you need a narrow but constant line, turn the wide tip on its edge and apply gentle but steady pressure.

This little bottle does it all. From holding down appliques to temporarily setting in zippers, Glue Baste-It is simply the best.


A Little Something Book

Roseann Meehan Kermes’ new book, ‘A Little Something’

Roseann Meehan Kermes, owner of Rosebud’s Cottage and also the author of the best-selling new book called A Little Something, Cute-as-Can-Be Patterns for Wool Stitchery is a fervent fan of Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It. She uses it for her wool applique projects and has bottles everywhere in her studio. She sent this picture to prove it!

Roseann's Studio Supplies

Roseann’s Studio Supplies

To pick up your bottle of Roxanne Glue Baste-It’s new two-way applicator click here. Or, visit our website to check out the rest of the Roxanne family of products.

Big Stitch Quilting

Big Stitch Quilting

Thoughts on Big Stitch Quilting from Pepper Cory

Big Stitch Quilting

Pepper Cory with her Big Stitch Quilt

Many times I hand sew because I find the rhythm of handling the needle—in, out, back down, in, out while gathering stitches— very therapeutic. The action requires total focus but my hands know more what to do than my brain. After a short while, the work happens without effort. I find myself stitching and my mind wandering. Call it a ‘mental vacation with a needle.’

This summer I pieced and Big Stitch quilted a small, simple quilt. After five days of work, it was done and I felt a sense of accomplishment and peace. The small quilt is coming with me to the upcoming Houston Quilt Market.  If you’re attending, please stop by and see us—the quilt, me, and all the Colonial Needle family—in booths 1328 and 1329.

Line Marking Techniques

Line marking technique used by Pepper on this quilt.

The quilt was pieced from 44 different colors (plus white) of the Peppered Cottons line of Shot Cottons from StudioE Fabrics cut into 3″ squares. The threads used to Big Stitch were varying colors of Size 8 Perle cotton by Presencia (found here).  For the hand stitching I used the largest needle from the Big Stitch sampler pack by Colonial Needle (found here). I marked the lines to follow with stitches by using a big fat tapestry needle (their tips are not sharp) and scoring the fabric alongside a ruler.

The quilting covers the quilt in a plaid of different colors of stitching—just the thing for those of us who love to quilt but bore easily when the work is too much the same.

Big Stitch Quilt

Pepper’s Finished Big Stitch Quilt

More Spring Quilt Market Classes

Judy Moore Pullen’s Quilt Market Class

Applique and All!

Judy Moore Pullen

Judy Moore Pullen

Just when you thought that all forms of quilting have been learned and revisited, yet another tide of applique interest rolls in! We’re lucky at Colonial that we have an applique’ expert on staff. Judy Moore Pullen, a public school teacher for many years, turned her talents to quilting after she retired. Her special love is applique’ and she uses all sorts of fabrics and threads in her work.

 

 

Wool Applique

At the upcoming Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis, Judy is presenting two Take & Teach sessions for Colonial Needle. The first is class #308 called Wool Appliqué–Beginning to Advanced taking place Friday May 18th from 8-9:30 AM (before Market opens). The second is the next day (Saturday the 19th, 8-9:30 AM) and is #408 called Hand Applique’-Tips, Tricks, Tools, and Techniques.

Wool Applique

Photos from Judy’s recent Wool Applique Class

Judy will educate you in a knowledgeable and gentle manner and answer your questions patiently. She is simply an excellent teacher. When you come to Market, you might as well learn from the best!

Nothing written about Judy is quite complete without a mention of her beloved pup Sable.

Sable

Judy’s pup, Sable!

Spring Quilt Market Classes

Pepper Cory’s Spring Quilt Market Class

Apronista!

Presencia Embroidery

Embroidery in Progress!

At the upcoming Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis, Pepper Cory will be talking about taking pride in your work and showing that pride in your store. She chose the common work apron as the canvas for this effort. She’s leading a Take & Teach session for shop owners called “Hand Embroidery for Modern Quilters and Sewists!” that takes place before Quilt Market opens (8-9:30 AM) on Friday May 19.

This apron is a chef’s apron, downloadable free all over the web. It’s super easy to make! This one is lined and features two embroidered pockets. The lower pocket is a sweet little row of flowers stitched in brightly-colored Presencia floss. Click here to see Presencia color options.

Embroidery Detail

Upper Pocket Embroidery Detail

The embroidery pattern is a heat-transfer from one of the Colonial Pattern Company’s “Stitcher’s Revolution“ series—#SR24 called ‘Flower Power.’ The upper eyeglass pocket is a single posey from the row. Outline Big Stitch quilting over machine stitching completes the embellishment.

Embroidery Detail

Lower Pocket Embroidery Detail

While both companies are called Colonial something- that’s just serendipity! We, Colonial Needle, are in White Plains, New York while Colonial Pattern is out of Kansas City, Missouri. A link to their website can be found here. The two companies cooperate nicely as they print the patterns while we have the needles and thread to finish them!

The wind was blowing when the pictures were taken but we hope you can see the details!

And just in case you need it, a DMC to Presencia conversion chart can be found here!

 

Embroidered Apron

Pepper Cory modeling her completed Apron

Thread Hack

What do you do when your spool is too big for the spindle?

Thread Travel Hack #1

Advice from Pepper Cory

Spool Hack Step 1

This is what happens when I travel and must borrow a sewing machine to work while in a motel room. The loaner machine is almost always someone’s vintage Singer Featherweight. It’s a workhorse machine but has only a skinny vertical unmovable spool spindle. Putting a Presencia spool directly on a Featherweight spindle means the spool rattles around the spindle when sewing and can even go flying off!

Note that Presencia, like most machine sewing threads, is wound on tall spools with large holes in the center. The spools are designed for horizontal positioning (laying sideways) on the top of the machine.

Spool Hack Step 2

The solution to the skinny vertical spindle vs the big spool hole is to beef up the spindle thickness. Easy-peasy. Get two drinking straws, one thin and the other slightly thicker. Cut a 4″ piece off both. Slide the skinny straw over the spindle followed by the larger straw. That’s it! Now the spindle is large enough to hold the Presencia spool securely in place. Happy sewing!

Spool Hack Step 3

Presencia #40 Weight Sewing Thread

Presencia #40 Weight Sewing Thread

Pepper Cory loves Presenica’s #40 weight thread

40w Presencia Thread

Color #182

If you want an excellent hand quilting thread (strong, color-fast, soft, and non-kinky) consider Presencia #40 weight thread. It comes 500 meters on a spool and in a variety of colors. It also comes in cones for those who need a LOT of thread or are machine quilting.

Presencia Cones on a Rack

Presencia Cones on a Rack

I have been using Presencia exclusively for five years and been very happy. Can’t find it locally? Do not despair–you can order as a retail customer straight from the Colonial Needle Company website. The #40 weight 500 meter spools can be found here, and the #40 weight cones can be found here. And don’t forget to pick up your needles while you’re there too. Colonial Needle has all your favorites from John James, to S. Thomas, Richard Hemming, Mary Arden, and so many more!

 

Colonial Needle Organic Cotton Thread

Colonial Goes Organic

Introducing Colonial Needle’s Newest Family of Products: Organic Cotton Thread

CNC's Organic Cotton Thread Color Selection

We are happy to announce that we are now carrying GOTS Certified* organic cotton thread! Organic cotton production uses no toxic chemicals. Instead, it employs natural methods, such as beneficial insect releases, to protect crops. By opting for organic cotton, you are choosing a healthier alternative for yourself and your loved ones, as well as contributing to a cleaner, chemical free environment.

Our Organic Cotton thread is 100% Egyptian Extra-Long Staple Cotton and is currently available in 34 colors.

*GOTS Certified: Strict rules of Global Organic Textile Standard are followed throughout the production process.

 

 

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