Stitching for Spain: Improvisational Embroidery on Wool

In March I’m teaching two classes for the Asociación Española de Patchwork in Spain. This festival of fiber art is held in the lovely city of Sitges on the Mediterranean Sea or as I like to call it the Med.

In the class Improvisational Hand Embroidery on Wool or Bordado a Mano Sobre Lana students create a densely hand-embroidered vignette on wool fabric with colorful embroidery threads. This class is all about making line, texture, pattern, and stitch combinations with thread to create a personal story. I can hardly wait to see what they make!

Stitch Tip #11: Combine Wool and Felt

Something is comforting about having wool or felt in your hands. They are both soft and easy to stitch but they also have body, something sturdy to grip while stitching.

I also like the matte texture of felt and wool. They are cozy, comforting fabrics.
So why not combine the two fabrics when doing free-form embroidery?

Today’s Stitch Tip: Combine Wool and Felt

The sheep, birdhouse, and backing in A Friend’s House from Playful Free-Form Embroidery are made with felt. Felt consists of fibers that are compressed or felted together. Felt made with at least 20% wool content works best. I get my felt from Commonwealth Felt.

The cloud and background fabrics are hand-dyed wool from Tracy Trevethan. She dyes woven wool fabrics in intense clear colors in a weight that is perfect for stitching. Another joy when stitching wool and felt? Neither fabric frays. Try a felt and wool combination today!

A Gentle Fabric for Stitching

stitchingonwool1For those of you who love to hand stitch, I highly recommend hand embroidery on wool. Thread glides smoothly through the cloth, no hoop is needed, your hands are caressed by the fabric, and knots (if you use them) hide in the bulky fabric. It’s a rich, gentle fabric ideal for hand embroidery.

Cut out wool shapes with sharp scissors and attach them to the background fabric with a pin or tacking stitches.Usually I stitch a Blanket Stitch around the edges to hold the shape in place.

stitchingonwool3Here you see that the Blanket Stitch in red has a second thread (green) whipped through the top edge of the stitch to give more definition to the outline of the shape. I’m also experimenting with stacking Fly Stitches to make leaf shapes using a variegated size 8 thread called Lettuce. Although the Fly Stitches are stitched closely together, it is easy to stitch through the wool.

tracytrevethanwoolMy favorite source for colorful wool is hand dyed by Tracy Trevethan. The Wooly Ladies also carry wool suitable for hand work as do many of your local quilt shops. In the Rare Songbird project from my book, Joyful Stitching, I use a hand-dyed wool for the background. And many of these free tutorials on my Rare Songbird project from my book, Tutorial Page use their hand dyed wools as well. Give it a try. Your hands will thank you!