Tutorial Tuesday: “As You Wish” Wool

Tutorial Tuesdays header

Of all the things that drew us to wool – The feel of the wool. The vibrant colors. The projects – most of all, we loved the “as you wish” possibilities we kept reading in the instructions. And we were pleasantly surprised at the not-too-steep learning curve – because we thought we had LOTS to learn as we ventured into the new (to us) territory of wool … angora wool, merino wool, worsted wool, over-dyed wool, boiled wool, felted wool.


The felted or not felted quality of wool is a major consideration since the felting process eliminates fraying – which means you will have clean-cut edges to work with.  Maybe the most surprising factoid for us was learning that some felt comes from this

water bottle

Yes that really is a plastic bottle. Recycled it can become (not so soft) felt!

and some comes from this.


You can feel the difference immediately if a real, live sheep once worn the wool!

That would explain why you can pay $3 per yard or you can pay $30 per yard – if you so wish.

That price mark may cause you to felt your own wool. And you can – if you so wish.

Before you try to felt wool, it will help to know if the piece is in fact 100% wool. We discovered that you can find this out if you put a small piece of the fabric in 100% bleach overnight. If it’s pure wool, the bleach will eat it. It will be gone in the morning. If something remains in the bleach then you know that your felting process may not be as successful with that piece of fabric.

The other thing that may cause a felting fail is if the fibers of the wool have been pre-shrunk before they are woven into the fabric. They won’t shrink again. I’m going to find out soon if this piece will felt up nicely or if it is destined to stay in this loose weave forever.

loose weave wool

Something about the subtle teal in this really appeals to me.

Felting isn’t difficult. [You can read a more detailed account HERE.]

Three components of felting:

  1. hot soapy water – just a tiny, little bit of blue Dawn may be your best bet
  2. agitation – the less water, the more agitation
  3. hot drying – watch your dryer filter due to the amazing amount of lint produced
boiled orange wool

You might try boiling the wool which will give you a more bumpy texture like this.

Fortunately, some things are very familiar in this wonderful world of all things wool. Many of the tools are familiar, many of the stitching techniques are familiar and when we do encounter new things, we also encounter the phrase “as you wish” rather than hard and fast rules.


greezer paper

freezer paper from that exclusive shop where you buy groceries


for marking the placement of multiple layers – and it will come off


to hold the pieces in place while you stitch and to stop the fraying in loosely woven or non-felted wool


sharp end and big holes

needle threaders

Threaders have been our stitching helpers a long time.

thread conditioner

Thread conditioner eliminates knotting and twisting. Smooooooth stitching indeed!


So many textures and weights of thread to choose from!


  1. Transfer the pattern onto freezer paper
  2. Rough cut the pattern out
  3. Iron to the wool – waxy side down
  4. Cut on pattern line & remove the freezer paper pattern
  5. Attach to the background fabric – small amount of glue
  6. Choose your thread: embroidery, Perle cotton, wool, silk – 1-3 strands as you wish. Contrasting thread or same color as wool as you wish. The smaller the pattern piece, the lighter weight the thread.
  7. Stitch in place as you wish: blanket / buttonhole stitch (not too tight), whip stitch (use regular thread if you want to have it disappear into the fabric), running stitch, cross stitch, French knots.


… are endless. Almost any of our applique projects can be made with wool – on a wool background or on flannel or on cotton. But we are really happy to show you our Seasons at My Window Autumn Post Cards.

Seasons PC October Pumpkin Tea Cozy outside front only

Tea Cozy – lined with flannel


Table Mat – wool with felted wool acorns


fall towel

flannel towel with felt accents


as you wish!!!



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Quilt Guilds & Sisterhood

CO Sister id tag


Life is change and life is the same.  One always makes me thankful for the other.  Too much change and I need a little sameness.  Too much sameness and I need a little change.  This is true in many areas:

  • Food:  Comfort food vs new recipe for those foods
  • Wardrobe: Same clothes vs new parings of those clothes
  • Home:  Same stuff vs new arrangement of stuff
  • Quilts: Same block vs new setting of those blocks
  • Guilds:….well….
stuff for son's appartment sm

Colorado Sew & Tell

class and Sandy sm

A sewing sister













I look forward to our guild meeting each month but it seems the sameness has made me complacent about my involvement AND my enjoyment.  The idea of change for 2016 was brought up last month and I’ve been reflecting on it for the last few weeks.  It will be the same people (hopefully with some new ones joining) doing the same activities (sewing, learning, sharing) but with new methods.  Some of us will like it more than others but the intent is to breathe new life and enjoyment into something that has become a little stale.  It might (WILL) have hiccups along the way but I look for the renewed source of inspiration.

photo2 croppedsm

Florida Sew and Tell

stitchin sisters sm

Trading Stitching Tips











So now what?  The first thing I did was call my sister and ask about her guild.  Actually, she belongs to two and they are different within themselves.  We talked about the purpose of a guild, pros and cons of that, involvement levels for each type of guild, what we liked or would miss if it were different.  It all boiled down to “SISTERHOOD”.  Of course we would see it that way, because we love the sameness of our own sisterhood, but also love the encouraging changes in our sisterhood.

3 siblings a

Sunsuit Sisters


brunch 3

Silly Sisters












Sisters will share the sameness of blood relatives all their lives but the bond will produce changes as well.  In our case, it has made us closer than we were at 12 & 13 (thankfully!).  This is true for sisters in many areas as well:

  • Clothes: sharing the same sweater & shoes vs sizes & color/style choices that change
  • Food: Two straws for the same soda vs “I like coffee & she loved tea”
  • Quilts:  Finishing the same Holly Jolly quilt vs Trading blocks for Starry Night
sewing circle

Sewing Circle

This made me look at our guild as a “sisterhood” of quilters.  We all want to share ideas, learn from each other, talk about how to use our fabric stash, make a charity quilt or two and just enjoy the sister next to us.  All this discussion made us wonder: What do you like about your guild?  What do you wish you could change?

The changes of doing those things by one method or another may come & go, but the sameness found in the sisterhood of quilt guilds will endure.  Long live the GUILD!

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Pillow case: PS Project SN

Here’s a chance for you to have sweet Christmas dreams on pillowcases that coordinate with the Starry Night quilt! SN-pillow-case-


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Adventures in Dying, I mean, Dyeing with Wool

Tutorial Tuesdays header


“So what’s your day going to look like, Sister?”

“I’m so excited! I’m going to go die with wool, I mean dye with wool.” I’m not the spelling bee sister.

“D-I-E or D-Y-E? Please spell it out so I know if I need to call your children and send flowers.”

What can I say, she watches out for me.


As Sisters at Heart completes designs fueled by our shared love of all things wool, it is inevitable that we would investigate how this


becomes this …

original and options

This is what we call a fabric make-over!

So while I went to learn, the Colorado Sister cheered from afar. Ok, that might be a stretch. Let’s say she watched with curiosity from afar. She’s not big about cheering but she is always open to learning new things.

The dyeing process had intrigued me for a while so when I heard my friend Angie Madden say something about over-dying recycled wool, I knew now was the time to learn more. And because Angie is a natural teacher, I knew a learning adventure with her was going to be fun and informative.

pots and microwave

Setting out the tools of the trade.

The world of dyeing fabric is not familiar to me at all, although I have encountered some of the tools of the trade in other contexts – like making jelly.

stirring the pot close

Dyeing pots can’t be used as cooking pots, though.

Here are some of the highlights:

You use different dyes and fixative agents when you are dyeing a plant-based fabric (like cotton or linen) than when you are dyeing a protein based fabric (like wool.) Procion dye and soda ash for cellulose based fabric as opposed to an acid dye and vinegar or citric acid for protein based fabric.

citric acid

I’m just wondering if this is the same concentration as the Fruit Fresh I use for freezing peaches ….

Heat necessary for the wool dyeing can come from a pot of heated water or from the microwave. The microwave takes less time but the color will not be as intense as when the longer time in the pot is used.

stirring the pot

Faster might not always be better.

Prewash fabrics to remove sizing.

Heat water, add wool fabric, mix acid dye in small amount of water and add to pot, gently stir, add citric acid solution (or vinegar) keep water just below a boil for 30 min. Check color of water in 15 min. If  the water in the pot is clear, the fabric has absorbed all it can. If there is still color in the water, you need to add more citric acid or another piece of cloth. When water is clear, remove fabric, cool and dry. (The late addition piece of cloth will not have color as intense as the pieces which have been in the dye the longer length of time. But they are still pretty.)

blue green

first piece in the dye of lots of blue with a little yellow


light green

added later to the same dye pot

After it is dry, you are ready to use the wool in a project or you can felt the fabric by washing in small amount of hot water (you want lots of agitation) with Synthrapol or small amount of blue Dawn and drying in hot dryer (dry it with an “agitation item” to encourage the felting process.)

And then the microwave method is also an option.

We learned that working with roving requires a gentle touch. Roving can be needle felted which is another adventure altogether.

roving process

We learned the gentle touch for roving by making this little pin cushion. The wool keeps needles and pins sharp.

Our experimenting with color combinations, different weights of wool, and different methods gave us these:


sunflower yellow

yellow green

sunflower yellow and a couple of drops of peacock blue


crimsom – my favorite

When I got home I tried a little tea dyeing for the final touch to a piece of muslin that we can decorated with screen printing ink and some Dye Magnet that dries before you immerse the fabric in the dyeing agent. It reminded me of the “magic writing” with lemon juice we did as kids.

tea dyed


There are some warnings: The dye for plant-based fabrics is toxic in it’s powder form. The pots used for dyeing should NEVER be used for cooking. If you wash your wool use cool water and air dry to prevent loss of color as the bond is not as secure as in cellulose-procion dye bonding.

AND … Be warned, the process of taking fabric from dull to dazzling can prove to be addictive.

I’m not qualified to call myself even a novice at this. I’ve passed along only the first layer of details – and I probably won’t become a master dyer. But now I know enough to appreciate the artists who DO know what they are doing so that we all have beautiful wool fabrics to create and stitch with. And you can be sure that Sisters at Heart will be bringing you patterns for wool very soon.

What learning adventure have you had lately?

PS – Angie recommends Dharma Trading as a source for dyeing materials.

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My Favorite Things

Broken water lines, flooded floors and forced dislocation from home – these are NOT my favorite things.

But sometimes in the middle of UNfavorite things we encounter the BEST of our favorite things. And that has been the case this last month while this sister navigates through insurance forms and deconstruction deadlines to get to reconstruction. A business trip took us to South Florida where we arrived at just the right time to help Middle Daughter move.


It was time to take a brief break from boxes and enjoy brunch on the beach.

brunch sm

A Favorite Thing with a Favorite Person! Double goodness!

While the final packing was finished, this Nana’s job included Foosball contests (including a “trash talk” competition where “I’m going to sit on your pancake” won over “I’m going to eat your lunch.”), swimming pool duty, many Minion games, and Art Class.

art sm

Sister wanted to draw “me and Momma and Nana packing boxes” while Big Brother wanted to learn how to draw the Really Big Hat Santa from the Holly Jolly collection!

We also had Music class where we listened to “My Favorite Things” 25,000 times in a row and then wrote our own version.  “Sushi and haircuts and ice cream on toesies” has a nice ring to it.

ice cream

Licking ice cream can make the tongue REALLY cold!

Leaving that spot of sunshine is never easy but at least we didn’t have to face the unfinished floors right away. We headed north to the Georgia mountains.


Fall in the mountains !!! Definitely on the Favorite Things list!

Sisters at Heart presented an Orphan Block Trunk Show at Fabrics Galore & Quilting Store in Blairsville on one Saturday morning followed by the Misty Mountain Quilt show on the next weekend. And our booth was right next to our friends from Fabrics Galore!

patricia fabrics galore sm

Patricia showed me these great expandable rulers! And their double binding demo was great.

The high school gym was filled with creativity.

gym 2

What a variety of quilts were hung – and then there was a boutique, too!


gym sm

Challenge Quilts hung around the edge of the mezzanine.


black quilt sm

The vivid colors of this dazzling quilt made it my favorite.


vintage sm

Vintage quilts and linens have long been a Favorite Thing for both Sisters. Watch for more to come this year.


pink work sm

Pink work featuring adorable nursery rhyme figures.


round butterfly sm

This beautiful butterfly captured “Viewers Choice” and the round setting was drafted the old fashioned way – pencil and paper.

I had the joy of meeting Cathi Gainey, owner of Shakerwood Woolens who we will be partnering with on some future wool projects. Her skills with dying wool produce amazing colors! It was definitely a “right time, right place” meeting and we Sisters are excited about working with Cathi – and her wool.

Cathi Gainey Shakerwood Woolens sm

Cathi Gainey – Shakerwood Woolens

And to make the time even more Favorite, we got to have time with life-long friends (at least since college days) at their cabin where the hospitality is warm, the card games loud and the laughter goes on waaay too late.

friends sm

All of these Favorites should keep us humming as we re-enter the hard work of water disaster recovery. As we work hard to finish, I’ve added another verse to the song …..

floors that are finished

walls that are painted

a room where I stitch on my favorite things …..

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It’s Show Time! Quilt-A-Fair 2015

CO Sister id tagHave you ever wondered about what it is like to be the vendor at the local quilt show?

  • The doors burst open with quilting fans from near and far.
  • The oohs and ahhs are clearly heard.
  • Raffle tickets are sold.
  • Lunch is served.
  • Demos are shared.
  • Inspiration abounds.
  • The shoppers leave with bags of “happiness”.

    Shop til you drop.

     Shop til you drop.

So what happens to the vendor during all this excitement?  How did they get from set-up to tear down?  Well, it is a very similar routine for most of us.  Maybe a little backward since we are on the other side of the worktable.

  • We arrive with bags (and boxes and totes and crates) of happiness to share.
  • We’re inspired to set up our booths in the most attractive way possible for a 10′ x 20′ space.

    Where is the diagram for set up?

                    Where is the diagram for set up?

  • We have our demos prepared for the new tools and patterns.
  • We hope we get lunch (but might work right through).
  • We might even get to buy a raffle ticket before the doors open.
  • The grunts and groans of “hired help” are plainly heard.
"Hired Help"

                                  “Hired Help”

  • The doors, trailers, trunks and tailgates are finely empty and it is SHOWTIME!
New Pattern: Just Ducky

                   New Pattern: Just Ducky

New Pattern: Holly Jolly

                          New Pattern: Holly Jolly

The only thing about shows (and life) is what do you do about the pesky neighbors?  Just kidding, even sisters get to be neighbors at the best of shows!

Sisters' Neighboring Booth

                    Sister 2’s Neighboring Booth

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Tangled Threads of Thought

Threads of thoughts to enrich your day – or maybe bring you a smile.

Be forewarned, though, our threads of  thought are sometimes tangled.

a sistert at hand

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Mark it with a “B”…

Tutorial Tuesdays headerDo you remember the nursery rhyme that included, “mark it with a B for the baby and me”? So the greater question is: What did they mark it with? Ok, so it may not change childhood for anyone in the near future but for quilters marking it with the correct device is sooooo important.  A couple more questions for you to ponder:

Did you ever mark your fabric with something that wouldn’t wash out?

Did you ever mark your fabric with something that vanished before you were finished?


Color Pens

Proper tools make any job easier and ensure success,   so here’s a bit of info that we’ve collected about marking tools.

CHALK MARKING—can all be rubbed away or brushed with a damp cloth

  • Chalk pencils—can be sharpened with a standard pencil sharpener
  • Chalk markers—a container that holds loose chalk and marks with chalk powder run through a serrated wheel
  • Chalk powder—a small fabric bag containing loose chalk to be “pounced” on a perforated pattern or stencil

TEMPLATE MARKING—a standard pencil form with a special lead for marking on plastic templates; remove from plastic with damp cloth; do NOT use on fabric.

Air soluble

Air soluble

TEMPORARY FABRIC MARKING—used to transfer quilting, applique or embroidery lines onto fabric; some have extra fine points.

  • Water soluble—can be removed with plain water (some detergents have chemicals that will make the ink permanent), usually blue in color
  • Disappearing-ink or air-soluble—disappears within 24-72 hours of marking or can be removed with plain water
  • FriXion pens—iron out inks; best with dry iron and pre-washed fabrics


PERMANENT FABRIC MARKING—for journaling, labeling, or signature quilts

  • Black Fine Line—ink will not wash out. Better for detailing
  • Colored Inks—for specific shading or coordination

FABRIC MARKING PENCILS—for transferring quilting line or embroidery designs

  • Water-soluble Pencil—marks can be removed with damp cloth; blue or white for light and dark fabrics; Erasable with a fabric eraser
  • Mechanical pencil—lead marks lines for consistent thickness; lead thickness fits most additional tools (ruler slots; ¼” wheels, etc.)
  • Soapstone—naturally soft, fabric safe substance. Good on dark fabrics; gently rub off marks.
Water soluable

Water soluble

So there you have it.  Mark it with a “B” for Best Tool Tips.

PS: Did you notice that this Tutorial is coming to you on Wednesday? Not Tuesday.  “Someone” marked it wrong!



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Mug Mat & Place card: PS Project TYG

Just in time to find your place at the table & put your mug on the mat!  This additional project is for the Thank You, God for Everything collection.

Click here to get started with your FREE download: PS Patterns-TYG Mug mats instructions

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PANIC! No-Stop-Wait!

This was to be the countdown week to the most fun of the year.  Sisters together week at the quilt show.  Instead, we are counting the number of times we almost had a panic attack.  And it is only Tuesday.


The first time was when Sister 1 flew into Denver and found that she might have to borrow clothes for the week from Sister 2.  Panic was avoided when the airlines found the lost luggage.


The next time we almost reached for the panic button was when Sister 2 showed Sister 1 what she found in the yard on her walk yesterday.  Sister 2 decided not to panic but they were NOT going to go walking, instead they would start packing.  snake

All seemed to be going well.  You could say we thought we had our ducks all in a row. (HINT: See the new pattern Just Ducky at the show.) ducks

Suddenly, both sisters realized that the newest pattern was missing a FULL PAGE of pattern!  Yikes!  Panic!  No, stop, wait… With today’s technology, we found the file “on the cloud”, emailed the jpg to the local printer (90 miles away)  and will insert while we set up.  So now our boots are in the bag (HINT: See our newest pattern at the show)!


Come see Sisters At Heart, Miles Apart at the Colorado Quilt-a-Fair. Info from CQC site is posted below.

September 25, 26, 2015
9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Boulder County Fairgrounds
9595 Nelson Rd, Longmont, CO

Quilt-a-Fair is held annually on the 4th Friday and Saturday of September at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, Colorado.  Our admission is $5.00 each day (children under 10 admitted free), hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. both days, and parking is free.  Friday Only: No strollers allowed.  A concessionaire sells food and non-alcoholic drinks on site and there is a large hospitality area for eating in.

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