Straight Laced

Stretch yourself beyond cotton fabrics and the straight stitch on your sewing machine. Experiment with your machine's decorative stitches as you couch wool strips on this folk art table runner.
  • 11-x-26-inch rectangle of black felted wool (applique foundation)
  • 9-x-24-inch rectangle of brown felted wool (background applique)
  • 6-x-18-inch rectangle of pink felted wool (flower appliques)
  • 3-x-9-inch rectangle of red felted wool (flower center appliques)
  • 2-x-12-inch strip of green felted wool (leaf appliques)
  • 60-1/4-inch-wide felted wool strips in assorted colors, varying in length from 2 to 12 inches (couched strips)
  • Scraps of cream wool roving
  • 1/4 yard solid black (binding)
  • 3/8 yard backing fabric
  • Variegated thread
  • Lightweight fusible web
  • 36-gauge felting needle
  • Foam block for needle punching
  • White chalk

Finished quilt: 11 x 26 inches

Measurements include 1/4-inch seam allowances.

Kit: To order a wool fabric kit (batting, backing, and binding not included), send $48 ppd. (within U.S.) to Joined at the Hip, 547 1st Ave. SE, Britt, IA 50423;

Cut pieces in the order that follows. Patterns are on Pattern Sheet below.

To felt wool, machine-wash it in a hot-water-wash, cool-rinse cycle with a small amount of detergent; machine-dry it on high heat and steam-press.

To use fusible web for appliqueing, complete these steps.

Pattern Sheet

  1. Lay fusible web, paper side up, over applique patterns. Trace each pattern the number of times indicated in cutting instructions, leaving a small space between tracings. Cut out fusible-web shapes just outside traced lines.
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, press fusible-web shapes onto wrong side of designated fabrics; let cool. Cut out fabric shapes on drawn lines and peel off paper backings to make appliques.

From brown wool, cut:

  • 1 of Pattern A

From pink wool, cut:

  • 3 of Pattern B

From red wool, cut:

  • 3 of Pattern C

From green wool, cut:

  • 3 each of patterns D and D reversed

From solid black, cut:

  • (2) 2-1/2-x-42-inch binding strips
  1. Place the brown A piece on the black 11-x-26-inch applique foundation and lightly chalk around inner and outer edges. Set aside A piece.
  2. Set up your sewing machine for a decorative stitch with variegated thread in the needle. Designer Avis Shirer used an overlock stitch, setting a 1/4-inch stitch width and a short stitch length.
  3. Referring to Couching Diagram, place a wool strip at one foundation end. Beginning and ending 3/8 inch from the foundation long edges, sew over the wool strip, couching it in place. Place a second wool strip next to the first, leaving 1/4 inch between strips; couch second strip in place.

Continue couching strips until foundation is covered outside the inner chalked line; the strip ends can extend across the outer chalked line, as the brown A piece will cover them there.

  1. Arrange appliques on couched foundation (Applique Placement Diagram); fuse in place.
  2. Using threads that match appliques and working from bottom layer to top, machine-blanket-stitch around each applique. Straight-stitch a vein in the center of each leaf.
  3. Tear off a small section of cream wool roving, pulling and stretching it slightly. Roll roving between your fingers to make a 1/8-inch-wide, 4-inch-long strip. Center the foam block under the applique foundation beneath a flower center. Roughly coil wool roving strand atop a flower center.
  4. Use felting needle and a quick up-and-down motion to poke wool roving into place; keep needle perpendicular to foundation and poke several times in the same place, then move a short distance and poke several more times. Continue poking until roving is nearly flush with flower center. Repeat for each flower center to complete quilt top.


The 1/4-inch-wide wool strips used for this project are the same width as No. 8 cut wool strips used in hooked rugs. If you have a nearby shop that sells rug-hooking supplies, check to see if they sell precut strips of hand-dyed wool.

From backing fabric, cut:

  • (1) 11-x-26-inch rectangle
  1. Lay quilt top on the wrong side of backing; baste. Avis left her piece unquilted and did not add batting. (If quilting your piece, you'll need to cut the backing rectangle larger.)
  2. Use solid black binding strips to bind quilt. (For details, see Complete the Quilt.)

Complete the Quilt


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