Last fall I took a class on wool appliqué with Kathy Kansier, a national teacher, judge, and AQS quilt appraiser. After some preliminary discussion on types of wool, techniques, and equipment, we were given a kit to make this "Fruitopia" wallhanging. If you haven't ever tried wool appliqué, I highly recommend it as a nice change-of-pace project. Kathy recommends fusing the wool motifs onto the background for two reasons: ease of embroidery, and to stabilize the wool fibers to prevent raveling, though this is a not a significant problem with washed wool.
Fusing wool is not as simple as fusing cotton. It takes longer for the heat to pass through the thick fabric, and not all fusibles stick to all wool fabrics. Some teachers recommend only a dry iron, but Kathy suggests using steam from the back of the piece to reinforce the adhesion. I tried a variety of products and didn't find one that worked successfully on every type and weight of wool fabric. It's a trial and error process, and I quickly learned to fuse a small sample before applying the fusible product to each different piece of wool for the actual project. HeatnBond® Lite and Wonder-Under® were the two fusibles I used, though next time I'll try others.
Surprisingly, the embroidery turned out to be the most enjoyable part of this project for me, though I dreaded it at the outstart. Maybe because I started out as a hand quilter, I found the hand stitching relaxing and creative, deciding which color perle cotton would enhance each of the motifs. Instead of the two different stitches I used on this piece, I'll try lots of different embroidery stitches on my next wool project.
Kathy is a lovely person and delightful teacher. You can see more of her work at www.KathyKansier.com.