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Wool patchwork

leila | Posted in Quilting and Home Decor on

Hello, I’m new to the forum but have been quilting for a while. I have made quilts for 6 of my 7 children. My youngest is 9, so soon I will begin on hers!

Right now I have a question about doing patchwork with rather bulky wool. I inherited a few almost indescribable skirts from the 60s. They are wretched as skirts, but the Scottish wool they are made of is actually quite exciting — heathery yet bright plaids in different colors that will end up being nicely complementary — in a quilt! Not skirts! 🙂

My mother also found many yards of a more subdued (still somewhat bulky) suiting that would be excellent as sashing and backing for my skirt material.

So my question is this: does anyone have experience cutting and patching wool that doesn’t have a tight weave? If I patch normally, will my seams be too bulky? Is there a way to butt the pieces, maybe using the machine, and then crazy-stitch over the machine stitching to hide it?

But — I have done my other quilts by hand, so I have no experience with using the machine, except to be frustrated when the bottom piece gets out of alignment with the top.

Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!


  1. mem | | #1

    maybe if you quilt the open weave onto something very light weight and then cut out the patch that will support it also when using a machine to do patch work use a walking foot . The difference is enormous as the walking foot will stop the layers moving on each other. How about butting them and using a three step zig zag and then using either braid or ribbon to to cover the joins or doing crazy patch workstitches by hand in embroidery or crewel wool over the top of the machine stitching . I have been thinking of felting some of the old woolen sweaters I have kept over the years and making a quilt out of them . I wouldnt  use an iron on fusible as a stabilizer for your loose wovens as you dont know how long that will last and your quilt may well become an heirloom.

  2. Dorothy | | #2

    Hello, Leila.  The wools you have sound like they will be fun to turn into a quilt.  I do some quilting, but also sew garments, so let my share my experience in sewing with loose wools.

    Loose wools are some of the easiest fabrics to sew with--they take shaping very well.  If I were starting on this project, I would try piecing some sample pieces (probably using pieces left over after the squares are cut) with 3/8 inch seams, and steaming each seam open.    In getting seams to match when maching quilting, I use pins. 

    Your idea of butting the pieces together (or overlapping them) and covering the selvages with crazy stitching would work (of course I would do decorative zig-zag stitches with my machine), but would that extra embellishment add to the quilt (you did say these were plaids, right?) or make it too crazy?

    One more thought--have you thought about leaving the edges raw, as in fringing?  Seems like there was a recent article in Threads about fringing wool; this might make a very elegant light weight quilt.

    And, finally, your project reminds me of a skirt I made in high school (almost 40 years ago, that I still wear (after expanding the waist band!)  My mother had made cotton plaid shirts in rainbows of colors, for all of her grandchildren.  I got the remnants and did a basic patchwork of squares, set them on the diagonal, added a zipper, gathering at the waist and a piced waistband, and voila, a bright, cheerful skirt that still cheers me up when I wear it.

    Good luck!  Send us a picture of your finished project!


  3. suesew | | #3

    I think butting the seams together and stitching them with a wider stitich may not hold them together too well. I would try it on a couple of differnt pieces before I'd commit to doing the whole quilt that way. I like the raw edge idea or What if you overlapped them and them and topstitched either with decorative stitches or something that looks like a jeans stitching. This would really flatten the seam allowance. Wool can make great applique, too.

    1. woodruff | | #4

      If you took the skirts apart, and felted the wool with hot water and agitation in the washer and dryer, you might have a whole new, non-fraying fabric adventure.Of course, it would be more prudent to try this with a sample square or two beforehand.

  4. melanie | | #5

    I had an all-boy family, whose standard school and leisure attire in the sixties and seventies always included a pure wool sweater. While the front suffered a lot from frequent staining and the elbows became threadbare, the backs always remained in perfect condition and I was loath to throw them out so used to keep them. Eventually I would cut them in squares, have fun arranging all the different colours and sew them on to cotton flannelette sheets. The natural wool and cotton fabrics adhered to each other beautifully. Finishing was done by a machine zig-zag or hand finished with needle and wool yarn, choice of stitch could be varied. The ribbing of the sweaters I also cut off and kept, stitched them together and the resultant long piece made a perfect binding around the edge. Mounting the wool squares onto the flannelette provided great stability and a nice “handle”. – Hope there’s an idea here!

    1. leila | | #6

      Thanks so much for your suggestions. I can't say I'm ready to commit, but you've all nudged me a little closer :)

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