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Thread: Making a quilt from thrift store wool suits.

  1. #1
    Senior Member Highmtn's Avatar
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    Question Making a quilt from thrift store wool suits.

    I've been collecting wool for a few years now and I'm taking the plunge. I'm going to start assembling/cutting wool for a 100% wool quilt (full size bed). I've hit a few good sales at thrift stores and have managed to get a group of wool suits ready to disassemble. I've also learned you get better sections of useable wool from a pair of slacks then a jacket. I wish I had known that before I got so many jackets, but I'll need more for sure. I'll only purchase wool slacks from now on.

    So... I'm asking for TIPS/TRICKS/IDEAS from those of you who've worked with wool before. I've not done any wool projects of any kind. I have been warned to "KISS" it (Keep It Simple Sweetie). No elaborate blocks or the wool bulk overwhelms the seam intersections. I've Google "wool quilts" and most of them are primitive and/or quaint looking - I'm okay with that. I've been told by a local gal who loves to do felted wool projects to wash and dry the wool prior to cutting or it will be a quilt that has to be dry cleaned. So I'm going to wash it and back it with a veeeeeery light interfacing. She told me wool tends to ravel easily so this feather light interfacing is supposed to keep the edges from misbehaving, but... I still want to really pick people's brains who've made 100% wool quilts.

    I'm at a complete loss of what to use for the backing and binding. I'm not sure this is a great idea, but I've also saved the leather braided cuff buttons to use as decorations around the edges of the quilt.

    I hope some of you can toss me a few great ideas and tips to ease me into this project.

    Thanks in advance!

    "It's a *fine line* between HOBBY and MENTAL ILLNESS"~ Dave Barry

  2. #2
    Super Member Butterflyblue's Avatar
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    I have very limited experience with wool, but if you wash and dry it, shouldn't it be at least partially felted, making the interfacing unncessary?

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    Senior Member Highmtn's Avatar
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    I don't know...lol That's why I'm asking. I'm sure each suit coat will react differently, but the one I washed didn't shrink or change much at all from what I can tell. Good point tho'....
    Thanks
    "It's a *fine line* between HOBBY and MENTAL ILLNESS"~ Dave Barry

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    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    If you own or have a friend that owns a serger , serge the egdes in place of the interfacing. As for a batting , I would just use flannel ( well pre shrunk) . You can use any backing fabric you like. I have seen many wool quilts that used large wool squares or rectangles sewn scrappy style on the back , then they tied the quilt. They were some of the warmest quilts I ever slept under.

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    If the wool pieces you are washing tend to bleed a lot I would not use it. If they shrink a lot I would not use it. It does not have to be felted. The old crazy quilts had wool, velvet, and different siikies including ties and ribbons. Most of those were sewed directed onto a piece of light weight muslin or cotton. Some were then high lighted with the various stitches at each seam, helping to hold the seams in place and preventing the unraveling. Check on the board here for some of the Victorian crazy quilts for some ideas with using your wool. I am planning a tie quilt with names of the men in the family and I will have to remove all the inside of the ties before I wash them. I just saw on here a dresden plate with the ties and it was just wonderful. When you take the arms out of the jackets, you should get a good bit on fabric. Have fun and don't worry too much.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Highmtn's Avatar
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    Another great tip. The one jacket I already lunched (lol) behaved quite well. It's a deep blue, with a small plaid. But... you're right they didn't fuss over that kind of thing back in the "olden days"...they just anchored the fabrics down with stitching. I'm not sure if I'm going to put machine decorative stitches on it or not. I'm in the early planning phase.
    "It's a *fine line* between HOBBY and MENTAL ILLNESS"~ Dave Barry

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    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Butterflyblue View Post
    I have very limited experience with wool, but if you wash and dry it, shouldn't it be at least partially felted, making the interfacing unncessary?

    Wool can be washed without any felting-------------if the washer is careful.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Highmtn's Avatar
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    I do have serger ....so that's a good tip too. We had a wool quilt when I was little and I remember it very well. Very toasty...and heavy. We also had a few REAL army blankets in drab green (my dad was in the military)...and while itchy they were soo warm.
    "It's a *fine line* between HOBBY and MENTAL ILLNESS"~ Dave Barry

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    Super Member hairquilt's Avatar
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    I remember well the Old army blankets I used to sleep under & how warm they were. Even had holes in them. Wonder what ever happened to them> This is very interesting topic. Will watch it closely. Please let us know how this goes!
    Last edited by hairquilt; 03-11-2012 at 06:26 AM. Reason: spelling error

  10. #10
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    This sounds really fascinating to me. Have you considered the technique used by this quilter? http://www.quiltsbycts.com/quilts/wool_quilts.htm

    She fulls the wool so it doesn't fray or ravel, cuts the patchwork pieces to **finished size**, abuts the raw edges (no seam allowance), and joins them with the sewing machine (decorative stitch or zigzag). I wish she showed more examples of her quilts.

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    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    I saw a quilt in a quilt shop that has since gone out of business before selling me the pattern they were going to make up - quilt was made of different squares/rectangles of men's suiting fabric interspersed with decorator fabric, some with a shine, some with a texture. It didn't have batting but the back was a kind of nubby fabric. She quilted it with decorative stitches in different colored threads down the middle or to the sides of some of the blocks. For one rectangular block she would quilt down it's length with one color thread and one stitch. Then for square, another placement and another color thread and another stitch. It was really beautiful. Someone gave me some men's suiting fabric samples and I have been collecting remnants of decorator fabric and that is on my list. I will experiment with how to join the blocks. My plan would be to have it dry cleaned because it probably won't get much use down here!!

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    Super Member clsurz's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Highmtn;5048856
    I've been told by a local gal who loves to do felted wool projects to wash and dry the wool prior to cutting or it will be a quilt that has to be dry cleaned. So I'm going to wash it and back it with a veeeeeery light interfacing. She told me wool tends to ravel easily so this feather light interfacing is supposed to keep the edges from misbehaving, but... I still want to really pick people's brains who've made 100% wool quilts.
    Thanks in advance!

    ♥[/QUOTE]

    The lady is correct! I use a felting machine to do small projects and if I were to do a quilt as you say you want to do you should wash and dry the wool for shrinkage before attempting a quilt.

    Making a wool quilt is not something I've ever considered since I live in the deep south where our summers are 110+ at times and winters seldom get below 30 degrees and that is just for a few days.

    This is something that would be challanging for sure and would be fun to figure out and make.

    I'm curious to see what others have to say about it?
    clsurz

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    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    i pretty much always have wool projects going ---i love working with wool!
    when you disassemble your clothing and wash it---wash it in hot water- with detergent- a regular cycle===rinse in cold water =then dry in a hot dryer---it will not ravel when you work with it- and you will not need an interfacing----i've made very large wool quilts and have never (lined) a single piece of wool- and have never had one ravel or fray.
    i do not understand how you can get more usable wool from a pair of pants then from a jacket- since with a jacket you get a very very large piece from the back---and the sleeves are generally wider than pant legs===i use both but have always thought the jackets were by far the better deal...i will have to (study this) a bit...i'm attaching a picture of one of my wool quilts---also starting a new thread with some of my (in the works) wool blocks for everyone to see
    once i started working with wool i was HOOKED! it is my favorite fabric!
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    Super Member clsurz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckcowl View Post
    i pretty much always have wool projects going ---i love working with wool!
    when you disassemble your clothing and wash it---wash it in hot water- with detergent- a regular cycle===rinse in cold water =then dry in a hot dryer---it will not ravel when you work with it- and you will not need an interfacing----i've made very large wool quilts and have never (lined) a single piece of wool- and have never had one ravel or fray.
    i do not understand how you can get more usable wool from a pair of pants then from a jacket- since with a jacket you get a very very large piece from the back---and the sleeves are generally wider than pant legs===i use both but have always thought the jackets were by far the better deal...i will have to (study this) a bit...i'm attaching a picture of one of my wool quilts---also starting a new thread with some of my (in the works) wool blocks for everyone to see
    once i started working with wool i was HOOKED! it is my favorite fabric!
    OH that is a beautiful quilt for sure.
    clsurz

  15. #15
    Senior Member Highmtn's Avatar
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    clsurz...
    Thanks for your pointers too!!

    ckcowl....
    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMGGGGGGGGOODNE S!!! That is breath taking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We cut up 11 wool jackets this afternoon, and what I meant was the jackets we cut into various sections/pieces. The one giant pair of wood slacks I cut up made LARGE clean pieces (lots of blocks from those). On the suit coats we had to cut a lot of interfacings away and it looked like less usable wool, but I could be wrong. My wool quilt will not come CLOSE to your wool quilt!!

    Hairquilt
    Ah yes...the itchy old army green army blankets...lol I remember them well! Ours also had holes in them.


    Hi Dunster!
    Thanks for the link. I checked it out.. WOW.. there were some amazing examples of "fulled wool" crazy quilts that knocked my socks off! Mostly I just Googled "wool quilts" and got some very simple ideas from there. I love a heavy blanket...and this just intrigues the heck out of me...hehe

    I spent 4 hours this afternoon cuttting up wool suits with my local quilting partner in crime. OMG.. her room was just a disaster...we had to vacuume when we were done! There was wool fluff everywhere.

    For SURE I am washing it first, and it was good to hear that I don't HAVE to put interface on all of it. I washed my first batch in warm water, but dried it in a hot dryer. I guess I should rewash it in hot H2O.

    But...we ended up with a lot of nice wool sections to work with.

    Off to make dinner... have a wonderful evening all!
    Last edited by Highmtn; 03-11-2012 at 05:50 PM.
    "It's a *fine line* between HOBBY and MENTAL ILLNESS"~ Dave Barry

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    bjg
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    I've been given a fabulous collection of silk ties and I need advice on how to proceed. Would appreciate any and all.

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    Super Member AZ Jane's Avatar
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    @ Highmtn, love your Boxer. I was thinking you should wash the suits before you cut apart, less unraveling????
    Better to do something imperfectly, than nothing perfectly.
    Done is better than perfect.

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    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjg View Post
    I've been given a fabulous collection of silk ties and I need advice on how to proceed. Would appreciate any and all.
    for working with silks you do need an interfacing- it really depends on what you plan to do with them-how you proceed---you can take apart the seam down the back- remove the interfacing- refold them and use for dresden plate blocks---you can open them up- (there is alot of fabric in a tie) and cut them up to use in other ways---but a lightweight fusable interfacing will make everything easier- be sure to use the silk setting on the iron- i actually put my silk ties into a mesh laundry bag & washed as normal- they came out nice & clean- no ill effects. there are many patterns for ties---including using them for crazy quilting.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

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    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Jane View Post
    @ Highmtn, love your Boxer. I was thinking you should wash the suits before you cut apart, less unraveling????
    i've been working with recycled wools for many many years and have tried many techniques---it really is much easier---better to (de-construct) before washing- you need to remove all of the linings/interfacings-if you wash first all kinds of *stuff*(lint, grit, stuff) is still there after washing then when you do take them apart & you have to rewash them- it saves steps to remove all buttons, zippers, interfacings, linings-then wash= it also helps get rid of creases in the wools-that may stay if still constructed. i simply cut all of the seams right off- and toss the pieces into a mesh bag if they are small- toss them into the washer as is if they are fairly large-

    oh and the ones that you washed in warm water----cut a (snippet) off a corner- if it doesn't fray you do not need to rewash- the hot dryer was enough---agitation - small amount of detergent- cold rinse & hot dryer usually does enough- using hot water speeds up the process some. i actually (generally heat water in my tea kettle & add it a number of times- restarting the agitation over & over and wash my wools for about 30-45 minutes- then cold rinse & into the dryer---experiment as you become more comfortable with working with your wools & you will find what works for you-giving you the exact feeling wools you want to work with---you can also put a number of different tweeds, weaves of wools and (over dye them) to make a (color family)
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

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    Dont throw away the interfaced parts. That part makes great applique wool for decoration or other projects. I only get jackets with no seams in back and in great colors. Otherwise, I stick to skirts and pants. Right now I have collected about 12 boxes of washed pieces from recycled clothing to use in my hooked rugs. The parts will be an appliqued wall hanging. See the book, Wool Crazy.

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    Oh, I forgot. I toss all the clothing in the washer and dryer as soon as i get it home and before any cutting. So much easier and less mess and fuss. I use just warm water because I dont want to make felt. I dont care about the lining or anything and for over 50+ garments this has worked beautifully. I prefer cutting up a clean garment.

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    Super Member jmabby's Avatar
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    I remember several things I washed that were all wool. One an army blanket, shrunk to the size of a lap quilt, the other a wool jacket, it was so stiff and small my 6 year old couldn't get in it - was funny shaped.

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    Senior Member Highmtn's Avatar
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    Thank you all... and I will say my athsma was kicking up after alll that wool cutting. The suits appeared to be sanitized when I got them. They all smelled the same anyhow..nothing aromatic...lol

    I super appreciate the tip on cutting a corner to see IF the suit I washed would fray! It didn't! Love that...

    I got to thinking of WHY I prefer wool slacks to the suit coats. Most the the suit coats have tayloring darts, and other things (button holes, double breasts etc) that change the line of the fabrics. Most of the slacks all have nice straight lines of the plaids and herringbones.

    Also, someone said I need to put a piece of cedar wood into my wool drawer to keep the moths out of it... REALLY??

    AZJane
    I love alllllllllll the bull breeds, but I've had nothing but rescue boxers since 1970. The little sweetie that's my AV was a skeleton 2 years ago. She bloomed into a perfect little princess, and the second year I had her she was trained and is now my husband's hearing alert service dog. She was a natural so the training went super easy. She's very mellow for a boxer, and so amazingly gentle with our grandchildren it melts my heart. I cannot imagine WHY she ran as a terrified stray for awhile before she was caught. I love your AV too! I could *kiss* every smooooshie faced dog I see... I just love the bull breeds to bits.
    Last edited by Highmtn; 03-12-2012 at 07:43 PM.
    "It's a *fine line* between HOBBY and MENTAL ILLNESS"~ Dave Barry

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    Super Member sewbeadit's Avatar
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    Your holey army blankets are at my house. Dh loves them.lol


    Quote Originally Posted by hairquilt View Post
    I remember well the Old army blankets I used to sleep under & how warm they were. Even had holes in them. Wonder what ever happened to them> This is very interesting topic. Will watch it closely. Please let us know how this goes!
    Sewbeadit
    W. Washington

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    My first quilt, and it's wool

    I have been wanting to post these pictures but I didn't know how to upload photos until now. This is my first ever quilt, and it's made from clothing from our closets and from the Sally Army. It was a lot of fun looking for the clothes and working with them. They all went straight into the washing machine and were washed and then machine dried using the hottest, longest cycles available. Some of the fabrics didn't felt, so were left out.

    The leaves were traced from ones I collected while walking the dogs. Except for the red, 3-lobed leaf (bottom left of first picture), which is poison ivy, which I didn't want to touch, so I used my imagination. Easy to do, we have a ton of it around here.

    The finished top was longarm quilted by a lady who lived nearby at that time. The batting is thin, and the backing is cotton, but it is still quite heavy and so cozy!

    I never used cedar or mothballs with this but I did keep bags of whole cloves with it, but one small moth hole appeared. I embroidered a bee over the hole!

    I have been working on another wool quilt for the past few years, I will try to take some pictures of that one too.
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